Sunday, 29 May 2016

Shakespeare Sunday: The “Iä”s of March

Andrew Lane's contribution to Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu is unusual because it is one of only two stories in the anthology not set during the last 600 years or so. As you have probably already guessed, it was inspired by Julius Caesar, and so takes place before the birth of Christ.
Here's a taster...

The figure up ahead suddenly darted down a narrow alley. When he got to the corner, Casca gazed down its shadowed length. He looked around, checking that he was still alone. If he investigated it was likely he would arrive late at Brutus’s residence for dinner, but given what they were going to be talking about he felt that he ought to investigate. Perhaps Caesar was visiting some mistress whose identity would cause a convenient scandal if revealed. So he followed.
At its end the alley opened out into a small square that Casca had never been in before. A few twisted trees emerged from holes in the pavement around it, and oddly they all seemed to be leaning away from the centre, as if trying to escape it, rather than all being bent the same way by the winds that sometimes swept through the city. In the centre of the square was a temple of grey, weathered marble, raised up on a wide platform of five steps. It was one of the many hundreds of temples scattered around Rome dedicated to one or another of the many gods in the Roman pantheon – a fair number of which had been appropriated from other religions and bought under Roman control. The steps were cracked, and grass was growing out of the gaps between the slabs that formed them. Abandoned, perhaps – its worshippers a small cult or a foreign minority who had gradually died off?
The temple itself looked… wrong. The pillars all appeared straight when Casca looked at them, and the roof was set firmly and properly on top of them, but whichever part of it he concentrated on, his eyes tried to tell him that the other features were somehow twisted, or joined each other at odd angles. It was as if he was trying to make sense of the architecture while drunk, although he hadn’t had any wine since the afternoon, and that had been weak. He might have ascribed the askew look of the place to the results of a long-ago earthquake, or some subsidence in the ground beneath it, but when he looked at it straight there was nothing wrong. It was just when he looked away, or past it, that it was disturbing. It made him feel queasy, and not just in his stomach. Queasy in his head.
Caesar glanced around, and Casca moved back into the shadow of the alley’s walls. Seeing nobody, he climbed the steps and entered the temple.
Nerving himself, Casca crossed the open space and climbed those same steps.

Andrew Lane is the author of eight books in the Young Sherlock Holmes series as well as several Doctor Who-related dramas for Big Finish Audio, and is currently working on a new set of adventure books with the overall title Crusoe. He has recently written Cthulhoid fiction based in the South-West of England for the anthologies 'Secret Invasion' and 'Dead Letters'. He studied 'Julius Caesar' for his 'O' Level English, which renders him suitably qualified to be included in this anthology...

Friday, 27 May 2016

Gamebook Friday: The UK Games Expo

Eight days from now I shall be attending the UK Games Expo (which is in its tenth year, this year) as one of the weekend's visiting authors.

I shall of course be promoting Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, as well as giving a sneak preview of a couple of forthcoming crowdfunding projects. (If you want to know what they are, make sure you pop along to stand A23 in NEC Hall One and say "Hi!")

In anticipation of the event, Dirge Magazine has posted a piece entitled '6 Dark Gaming Delights We’re Looking Forward To At The UK Games Expo'. Among the dark delights they're looking for are Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition, The Dark Souls Board Game... and Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland. Which is nice.

In other news, a piece appeared in The Irish Times this week, proclaiming that the gamebook is back, and my Tin Man Games app Temple of the Spider God got a mention, which was nice too.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Sherwood Wednesday: Multimedia Maelstrom!

Andrew Orton, official historian of Robin of Sherwood, has released the chapter about The Knights of the Apocalypse audio drama (available to pre-order now from Spiteful Puppet), from the revised and updated second edition of The Hooded Man Volume 2, as a free PDF download.

If you want to know all there is to know about how this special episode of the series came to be, then click this link.

Also, if you're in the BBC South region, apparently on BBC South Today this evening at 6.30pm, there will be a piece about the premiere that I attended a few weekends ago.

Update - The piece went out this evening and is now available for viewing on YouTube, and here (and the novelisation gets a mention too).

"Look, Mum, I'm on the telly!"

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Shakespeare Sunday - Something Wicked This Way Comes...

Another coup for Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu was getting renowned Black Library scribe Graham McNeill to pen a tale for the anthology. Having been a fan of his work for a long time, and knowing that he has written a trilogy of Lovecraftian novels, I also knew that he would be a perfect fit. And when this Scottish author said that he would like to take his inspiration from a certain Scottish play, I knew we were on to a winner.
Don’t listen to this.
Seriously, don’t.
I’m not joking, put down the damn phone or whatever the hell it is you’re listening to me on, and do yourself a favour by smashing it with the first heavy object you can find. Or if you’re somehow reading this, burn it. Find some matches and light it up. Please.
I know, I know, why bother recording this if I’m just going to tell you to smash it up, right? Well, if you know who I am, then you’ll know I’m an actor; a narcissistic, egomaniacal prick of an actor. If you don’t know me, then for God’s sake go and see a play sometime.
Still here? Have it your way then. Let me introduce myself. My name is Mackenzie Baladan, and if you’re going to stick around to listen to my last words, then I damn well want you to pay attention to what I’m going to say. So what if I ended the world? What actor could ask for a greater curtain call than that?
Hailing from Scotland, Graham McNeill worked for over six years as a Games Developer in Games Workshop’s Design Studio before taking the plunge to become a full-time writer. Graham’s written thirty SF and Fantasy novels and comics, as well as a number of side projects that keep him busy and (mostly) out of trouble. His Horus Heresy novel, A Thousand Sons, was a New York Times bestseller and his Time of Legends novel, Empire, won the 2010 David Gemmell Legend Award. Graham lives and works in Los Angeles for Riot Games, and you can keep up to date with where he’ll be and what he’s working on by visiting his
Award-winning and New York Times best-selling author Graham McNeill
Award-winning and New York Times best-selling author Graham McNeill

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Sharkpunk Saturday: The sharks are circling...

I have already received a number of submissions for SHARKPUNK 2 and there's still almost six weeks until the deadline.

If you're considering submitting a story yourself, please pay careful attention to the following.

The stories in SHARKPUNK 2 can – and indeed should – cover the whole range of speculative fiction genres, from horror and steampunk, through to science fiction and action-adventure; the only stipulation is that they must all feature sharks in some way. Alternate historical settings for stories are welcomed. I am also very happy that the stories feature recurring characters of your own creation, as long as including them in the anthology won’t infringe upon anyone’s copyright. (In other words, you need to own the rights to the character yourself, or have permission from the copyright owner to have them appear in SHARKPUNK 2 at no charge.)

Stories need to be between 3,500 and 7,000 words in length (although there will be some flexibility with this, depending on the individual stories) and the deadline for first drafts is 1st July 2016SHARKPUNK (Volume 1) features stories involving space sharks, ghost sharks, Franken-sharks, psychological sharks, and “sharks with frikkin’ laser-beams attached to their heads” (just about). However, we’ve yet to read any stories about zombie sharks, Hawaiian were-sharks, alien sharks, or tales featuring vampires and sharks, for example, so please bear this in mind when you are working up your idea. I don’t mind if some themes are revisited, but obviously I don’t want an anthology of nothing but steam-powered sharks made out of brass and walnut panelling – heaven forbid!

The plan is to publish SHARKPUNK 2 in 2017 and I am going to be running a Kickstarter (either towards the end of 2016 or early 2017) to raise funds to produce the book and, just as importantly, to pay the contributors. If your story is selected for publication, subject to a successful Kickstarter, you will be paid £50 and will receive a physical copy of the book. However, you will also receive royalties from copies of the book sold outside of the initial Kickstarter, which will be paid on top of your fee. Not instead of, not offset against royalties, but as well as! One of the Kickstarter rewards will be a signed copy of the book and you need to be prepared to sign however many copies are required to fulfil this reward level.

In terms of rights, Snowbooks ask for exclusive World English language rights for six months from the date of publication, dropping to non-exclusive World English language rights thereafter, with an option for foreign language translation within the anthology should offers be made for overseas editions. They also require rights to special editions, omnibus editions or other anthology editions, where appropriate.

If you are interested in being a part of SHARKPUNK 2, then please read the submission guidelines below very carefully, as any submissions not adhering to them will be automatically rejected.

SHARKPUNK 2 submission guidelines 

1. Fonts – choose something easy on the eye for proofing, something like Palatino, Calibri or Times New Roman.

2. Dialogue – “double quote marks” around speech, ‘rather than single’, which can be used for quoting within speech.

3. Formatting – indent new paragraphs, rather than leave a single line break, but use two (or more) line breaks for a change of scene/time/point of view. Please use a single space between sentences rather than two spaces. Please leave a space after an ellipsis but not before one. Submit your story double line spaced.

4. Spelling – please use English spellings throughout, and ‘s’ over ‘z’ in words like ‘realise’.

5. Proof-reading – please proof-read your story carefully before you send it, and remember that a Spellchecker is your friend (although not infallible).

6. Poetry – SHARKPUNK 2 is an anthology of short stories, not a poetry collection, so no poetry please.

7. Contact details – make sure your name and contacts details (including email) appear on the first page of your story.

8. Document name – this should include SHARKPUNK 2, the name of your story, and your name, for ease of identification.

9. Emailing your submission – send your submission to The subject of your email must include your name, story title, and the words ‘SHARKPUNK 2 submission’ in the subject line. For example, SHARKPUNK 2 submission – The Sharks of Wrath – Jonathan Green’. Please include your real name, your writing name (if different), the title of your story and a one sentence synopsis of your submission. Send your story as a document in .doc (Word) or .rtf (Rich Text) format as an attachment to your email, and not pasted into the body of the email itself. Submissions will only be accepted via email.

10. Reading period – the reading period will be from 1st July – 1st October 2016. Formal feedback will not be given on submissions, unless they are accepted for publication, and discussions will not be entered into regarding reasons for rejection. Please do not submit your story anywhere else, until you know of our decision, and if you are not happy working to the terms outlined above, please do not submit.

I shall look forward to reading your submission in due course, but in the meantime my advice would be, stay out of the water…