Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Guest Author April

During the month of April this year you will see various posts appearing on this blog by other authors promoting their work. A number of years ago I took part in the A to Z Blogging Challenge and interviewed all manner of artists and illustrators about their work.

This year I'm not committing myself to 26 blog posts over the month, but I am going to give my fellow wordsmiths a crack of the whip and let them tell you about what they've got coming up next that might be of interest to you.

So keep an eye on over the coming weeks for blog posts from the likes of William King, Graham McNeill, Nicola Vincent-Abnett, Ian Whates and many more...

The Sharkpunk Interview - Amy & Andy Taylor

The second couple to have contributed a story to SHARKPUNK are Amy & Andy Taylor. Here's what they had to say about the experience...

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks?
A&A: It’s Jaws. If you want an example of the power of movies, look no further than the Jaws franchise. Without that film, sharks would not be the source of fascination that they are. The fin. The music. The bigger boat. And now we’re all scared of sharks.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Shirley?
A&A: We thought shark and we thought ‘Great White’, which never swims near Britain. That didn’t feel right for our story. It got us thinking of which shark could be thought of as ‘British’ and that led us to Lamna Nasus, the Porbeagle shark, amongst others. Thinking of animals as having nationalities took us down a unique creative path, and the common perception that all sharks are aggressive (not true) also intrigued us. These two lines of thinking quickly sparked the creation of both the world and plot of our story.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story?
A&A: It was our first collaborative writing project and discovering, by trial and error, how to successfully combine on story development, character detail and writing style was a real challenge. The biggest surprise was how much we wanted and needed to know about an animal in order to make it the main character in a story. The Porbeagle is not a famous shark (until now) and we really got drawn into finding out all we could about it.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be?
A&A: Well, no contest really. Our new favourite animal, and probably the one creature (other than our cat) which we know the most about. Lamna Nasus, the Porbeagle shark. Shirley. And don’t you dare call her a mackerel (even though, technically, she is one).

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)?
A&A: Sharky from Sharky and George… the crime-busters of the sea! Oh ok, not really… it’s Jaws.

SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Amy and Andy Taylor?
A&A: This has been our first collaboration, but we would love to do more. Otherwise, Amy will be writing more short stories. Andy is writing, filming and directing a short film for an upcoming festival.

Thanks, guys!

Amy and Andy Taylor are a married couple from Twickenham who until now have written separately and individually, Shirley is their first collaborative piece. Amy’s last short story The Count was featured in Limehouse’s 2011 anthology Bloody Vampires, while Andy has recently been writing short and feature length films. Amy’s background is literature and theatre, Andy’s is radio and film. Perhaps it is unsurprising that Amy loves to write character driven prose, while Andy is drawn to high-concept screenplays. SHARKPUNK provided the opportunity to indulge both passions. 

To find out more about Amy and Andy’s writing, both individual and collaborative, please visit: 

Follow Andy Taylor on Twitter: @ProducerAndy

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Five reasons why YOU should back the Steve Jackson's Trolltooth Wars Kickstarter

As of the moment this post goes live, there are just 48 hours left to run on the Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars Kickstarter. As of writing this blog post, the project still needs almost £2,400 to reach its funding goal, so now, more than ever, writer PJ Montgomery and artist Gavin Mitchell need your help.

"But why should I help?" I hear you cry. Well here are five reasons...

1) It's Fighting Fantasy - And Fighting Fantasy has found a natural home on Kickstarter, which enables creators to contact the fans who would buy FF products directly, without the hassle of middlemen and all the hoops that would have to be jumped through to get something published. And the more Fighting Fantasy projects that are backed and are successful, the more other creators will follow in their footsteps, and the more FF material there will be in the future. Ian Livingstone himself has said that there may be plans to launch a Kickstarter based on Damien Sparkes' FF sculpts, but only if the demand is there and what better way of demonstrating that than by backing another Fighting Fantasy project?

2) It's a British graphic novel - In a world dominated by American comics we have the chance to back a brand new British graphic novel that doesn't rely on tired concepts and predictable heroes. Comic fans will love The Trolltooth Wars, whether they're into FF and RPGs or not, particularly considering the popularity of fantasy at the moment, in the wake of TV's Games of Thrones and the Hobbit movies. At the same time the book will introduce a whole new generation of fans to a forgotten classic of fantasy literature, written by one of the godfathers of the games industry who, along with Ian Livingstone got reluctant readers (especially boys) reading, long before young upstarts like Harry Potter were even a twinkle in their creators' eyes. The graphic novel adaptation is also being undertaken by two highly experienced and celebrated comics creators - PJ Montgomery and Gavin Mitchell. Just check out some of their work for the book here...

3) Malcolm Barter will be providing brand new art for the book - Announced on Monday, legendary FF artist Malcolm Barter, the man behind the iconic illustrations for The Forest of Doom - the man who brought us the Fire Demon and FF Werewolf for the first time - will be producing brand new pin-up art for the book. Now, for fans of FF and fantasy art, that fact alone has got to warrant pledging at the Rhino-Man level or above.

4) It's Kickstarter - Without your help the book will not happen! You have the power to make this graphic novel a reality. You could be the person whose pledge takes The Trolltooth Wars past its funding target. Yes, YOU! And all for the price of what? A curry? The taxi home afterwards? It's certainly a lot less than the price of a night out. And if cash is a little tight, why not ask someone else to pledge for you and consider it as an early birthday present? Or pledge yourself and think of it as an early Christmas present! Remember - if the project is shy of just £1 its creators will receive nothing, and none of us will get to read The Trolltooth Wars graphic novel!

5) You can get hold of a copy of YOU ARE THE HERO - That's right, if you don't already have a copy of the critically-acclaimed History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, certain pledge levels come with a signed copy. If you're not sure why owning a copy of YOU ARE THE HERO should be such an incentive, just check out the reviews over on Amazon.

So there you have it. If you have already pledged, consider raising your pledge level, or ordering a second copy of the book.

If you haven't pledged yet, and you've been meaning to all along, don't dilly-dally any longer. If the project funds and you're not a part of it, you'll be gutted in the long run, Trust me.

And whether you've pledged or not, maybe you know someone who would appreciate this project, so tell all your friends by whatever means at your disposal. The more people talk about Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars the greater the chance of it picking up new backers.

So, what are you waiting for? Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars needs heroes to help make it happen - heroes like YOU!

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Sharkpunk Saturday - Gary McMahon

Gary McMahon is the award-winning author of several novels and numerous short stories, who was described by The Guardian as one of the authors, "leading the resurgence of British horror fiction." So, as you can imagine, we were delighted when Gary said he would contribute a story to SHARKPUNK.

Sharkpunk: What, do you think, is the reason for people's enduring fascination with sharks? 
Gary McMahon: I think it might have something to do with the beauty of the beast, and how much danger is wrapped up in that sleek, unforgiving package. There’s also the mystery of the deep to factor in: we’re all fascinated by the ocean, and what those deep seas might be hiding – things we haven’t yet discovered.

SP: What was the inspiration behind your story Silent Waters, Running Deep
GM: Well, I knew I couldn’t write a pulp horror story about a shark – that isn’t my style. So I imagined a kind of conceptual shark, one that might or might not exist in the real world but certainly existed inside a character’s head. The rest of the story followed on from there.

SP: What challenges, or surprises, did you encounter in writing your story? 
GM: Nothing out of the ordinary, really, just the usual challenge of writing a decent tale. I needed to make sure that it didn’t lapse into melodrama, so I spent a lot of time on the tone of the piece, making sure I got that right.

SP: If you had to pick a favourite shark, which would it be? 
GM: It’s got to be the Great White – I’m sure that’s everyone’s favourite. I do also have a soft spot for the Hammerhead, though, because of how it looks. It’s a scary looking thing: monstrous.

SP: Do you have a favourite fictional shark (in books, comics, films, or video games)? 
GM: Hookjaw, from the old Action comic. I loved that comic strip. It was gory, frightening, beautifully drawn, and really stuck in my mind. I remember a childhood friend had a Hookjaw poster on his wall. I was always jealous of that.

SP: Apart from your story in Sharkpunk, what's coming next from Gary McMahon? 
GM: I’ve been working on my next novel for over three years now, so I hope to get that finished and sent to potential agents before the end of the year. I have a short story coming in Black Static, and a couple of other commissioned stories that I’m working on now. There’s also a novella called The Grieving Stones due to be published by Spectral Press later this year to mark the fifth anniversary of the press.

Thanks, Gary!

Gary McMahon is the award-winning author of nine novels and several short story collections. His latest novel releases are THE END and THE BONES OF YOU. His acclaimed short fiction has been reprinted in various “Year’s Best” volumes. 

Gary lives with his family in West Yorkshire, where he trains in Shotokan karate and cycles up and down the Yorkshire hills. Website:

Friday, 27 March 2015

Gamebook Friday: The Trolltooth Wars, YOU ARE THE HERO, and Radio Saltire

First off, Steve Jackson's The Trolltooth Wars on Kickstarter... This has already raised over £10,000 but there's still a fair bit more to raise and only 5 days to raise it in. Remember - Kickstarter takes no money from you unless the project achieves its funding level, and then the payment only goes through when the Kickstarter has run its course. So, if you've been thinking about it, or saying you'll back it tomorrow, back it today and let's make another Fighting Fantasy project a reality, thanks to crowdfunding!

Secondly, I was interviewed by Kevin Hall recently about YOU ARE THE HERO*. You can read the interview here. And on the same subject, thirdly, I am going to be on Kevin's radio show on Radio Saltire on Sunday (29th March) at around 3.15pm. So, if you're able, why not tune in?

* Which is now also available from Google Books!

Thursday, 26 March 2015

SHARKPUNK - The Forbidden Planet Launch!

I am very pleased to be able to announce that SHARKPUNK - the anthology of killer shark stories that I've put together - will be launching at Forbidden Planet, London, on Saturday 9th May at 1.00pm GMT.

I shall be there along with publisher Emma Barnes and twelve of the contributing authors - and you're all invited! So please share the Facebook event page, tell all your friends, and if you're in London on 9th May stop by the Shaftesbury Avenue store and say "Hi!" and (even better) buy the book! :-)