Thursday, December 4, 2014
Monday, November 10, 2014
Sunday, October 12, 2014
Called, imaginatively enough, duncanlay.com, it's got news and reviews about the books, as well as writing tips and a few other goodies.
Keep an eye on it for the latest updates about The Last Quarrel and what else I am doing!
Thursday, October 2, 2014
I've given you a little taster of the story, now meet some of the characters ...
Fallon: He's been a village sergeant for more years than he cares to remember but has always dreamed of something more, and of being a hero. He knows that time is slipping away now and when fate finally gives him a chance, he leaps at it - without bothering to look where he's going...
Bridgit: Fallon's wife, she has been deeply scarred by all the children they have lost over the years. Beset by fears, constantly worrying about their one boy, Kerrin, she sees dangers everywhere. She only wants the quiet life but will find herself responsible for the lives of many, not just one ...
Kerrin: Their son, protected and pampered for all his life. He is about to be exposed to a real nightmare and given the responsibility of saving not just his parents but perhaps the entire lands ...
Prince Cavan: The Crown prince of Gaelland, forced to be the public face of the throne to cover for his father and brother. He knows it is not witches snatching children from the streets but getting anyone to believe even a prince of the realm seems impossible...
Prince Swane: Despised and maligned, yet strangely becoming far better looking. Cavan suspects he is behind the troubles plaguing Gaelland, or is it perhaps his mysterious hooded guest...?
King Aidan: Unpredictable, violent, prone to rage and yet also utterly charming. What role does he have to play in Gaelland's struggles?
Prince Kemal: The Crown Prince of the Kotterman Empire. This vast, sprawling confederation of lands is greatly admired by the Gaellish. But do they have something to do with the evil stalking the streets and counties?
Duchess Dina: When her husband's ship sails into Fallon's village, completely deserted and without even a sign of a fight, she wants to know what happened. But while she is willing to help Fallon, it has to be done her way. Or else.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
But, you may well ask, what is the book about?
Firstly, it is set in the same world as the first two series, but a completely different set of lands. Time-wise, it is set before the events of the Dragon Sword Histories and there is no real link to either of the previous series, so obviously you don't have to have read them
Here's a little teaser, with more to come on some of the characters, later ...
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
After months of uncertainty, I can't tell you what a relief it is to have a way forward again.
So what does that mean and how does it all work?
Let me take you through it ...
So, despite the success of my February-March tour for Wall Of Spears, HarperCollins Australia only offered me an eBook deal for my proposed new series.
After talking it over with my agent, we decided to instead speak to Pan Macmillan's eBook arm, Momentum, which has been achieving fantastic results with its eBook sales.
I'm delighted to say they will be taking on the new series and this will be a worldwide eBook release, not just Australia-NZ, as has been the case with the first two series.
Momentum also does things a little differently.
Instead of the book being released at $13 or $16 as an eBook, each of the new trilogy will be released in five parts, each of about 120 pages or 35,000 words.
So The Last Quarrel Part I will be out early next year (actual date to follow soon), then Part II will be out exactly a month later, Part III a month after that and so on and so forth. A month after Part V is released, you will be able to purchase the omnibus edition - the entire book as one.
As far as pricing goes, it will be much sharper than the previous pricing of my other two series.
Part I will be FREE and the subsequent parts will be a minimal cost, around the $1.99 mark, but will go up and down due to demand. You should be able to purchase the entire book for $10.
Momentum will also offer The Last Quarrel as print-on-demand. This may be available at the same time as the omnibus edition, or even earlier. And these are "bookstore quality" POD books as well, they don't look like self-published books.
Now, if the eBooks sell as well as we hope, then Pan Macmillan has the option of a full print run.
So who knows how that will go ...
One thing though - it will means the end of my grand tours, certainly in the short term. I may look to concentrate on conventions, or do some limited touring with print products - I am yet to decide.
But rest assured I'll be getting out and about somehow!
Anyway, that's the story and I do hope you will come along for the ride.
Next time, I need to tell you a little bit about the new series ...
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
But in the last week, it's now been opened up as an eBook and may well be available in trade paperback format later through the HarperCollins 360 program, which means you won't be able to walk into a shop and buy it but you can order it online and a real copy will be posted to you from America, not from Australia.
Meanwhile, the entire Empire Of Bones series, Bridge Of Swords, Valley Of Shields and Wall Of Spears, is now available as an eBook, in all formats, in America.
With so many thousands of page views on this blog from the US, it certainly made sense!
And, of course, if there is plenty of interest, there's always the possibility of a full American release.
So, please, pass the word!
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
You may have already read why I think dystopia is a much better genre for teenage girls to be reading than vampire fluff and I can say, having read the book and watched the movie, nothing has changed my mind there!
This is not a movie review by the way, although it will contain some spoilers ... rather it's a case of how I felt the movie-makers fell into a couple of classic writing traps.
Discussing the movie versus the book with my daughter, it got me thinking about how easy it would have been to take the movie to the next level.
The movie was pretty good and in fact I think handled some aspects of the story better than the book.
For instance, the battle to capture the flag was a great deal more intense and exciting than the book. Likewise the sequences where Tris has to get through her fear simulations in front of the Dauntless leadership made much more sense in the movie. In the book, she does display Divergent tendencies in her simulations - which would surely see her dragged off and killed, about 2 books too early. The way the movie handles it makes much more sense.
But where the movie falls down is its emphasis on external action over internal action. It may be that a Director's Cut of Divergent comes out, which will fix those issues. But the cinematic edition was flawed.
Take, for instance, Al's suicide. In the book, Tris is rightly devastated because, when Al was at his lowest, when he was struggling to come to terms with fighting and hurting other people, she rejected his advances. She blames herself.
None of that made it into the film, so you don't feel the same towards Al's death. After all, he tried to kill her - why does he deserve our sympathy?
Likewise when she is forced to kill a mind-controlled Will. In the book, Will's friendship has helped her survive training and protected her when Peter and his cronies were after her. Plus he is in love with her best friend Christina. Little of that makes it into the film, so you find yourself saying to her - shoot him! He's going to shoot you otherwise! Yet in the book you feel her anguish at being forced into this situation.
The emotional angle, which gives so much more meaning to the action, has been stripped out of the movie.
And that is a classic trap for writers - particularly writers of spec fiction. Never discount the emotional angle and remember that action should have an effect on characters' relationships, as well as everything else. It just makes the effect on the reader all the more powerful.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
WALL of Spears is the third and final book in Duncan Lay’s epic Empire Of Bones series. It provides an engaging, action-packed conclusion to this excellent trilogy, deftly combining intrigue and magic with brilliantly realistic battle scenes. The characters are enmeshed in a complex tapestry of honour and love, scheming and betrayal, against the backdrop of an entire culture’s fight for the right to freedom. At the same time, the plot never loses sight of the personal motivations, strengths and weaknesses of each character. Lay has gone from strength to strength in this series, vividly imagining a world of great complexity, where gritty historical reality meets fantasy. -The battle between the two human tribes is complicated not only by the war between human and elf, but by the conflicting desires and romantic entanglements of the major characters. Lovers of fantasy will surely enjoy this final book in the series.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Martil, of course, is the hero of my first trilogy, the Dragon Sword Histories, while Sendatsu is the hero of the new series, the Empire of Bones.
They are very different but both are the best warriors of their generation.
Now this question actually had me stumped. Apart from living 300 years apart, so they could never meet, I certainly hadn't planned they would ever try to fight to the death!
Then it got me thinking.
Firstly, it depends on which Martil and Sendatsu were to meet.
The Sendatsu from Bridge Of Swords and Valley Of Shields would be defeated by Martil, without a doubt. The Sendatsu from Wall Of Spears, however, would prove a much harder opponent.
Equally, Martil before he met Karia would fight in a different manner. For some time there, he had nothing to live for and truly didn't care if he lived or died. If that Martil was to meet the Sendatsu from the third book of the series, then the outcome really would be in doubt.
If Sendatsu's children, Mai and Cheijun, were at stake, then my money would be on Sendatsu.
Yet if Karia's life was also at stake then the game would change again.
Also, we would have to assume that Martil couldn't use the Dragon Sword, for that would be an impossible advantage.
Equally, Sendatsu wouldn't be able to use even a little magic to help tilt the contest his way.
So, we need to set some ground rules.
Both Mai and Cheijun, and Karia, are at stake. This is the Sendatsu from the end of Wall Of Spears, tempered and hardened by what he has had to do. No armour and no magic to be used.
It is also the Martil from the end of Radiant Child, minus the Dragon Sword and accepting of his dark past.
It is clear to see from the start that Sendatsu's unusual skill gives him the early advantage and Martil has to use all his speed and experience to hold him off. Martil will throw dirt and stones, try to use the sun and the surroundings to put Sendatsu off and get some sort of advantage.
As Martil grows more used to Sendatsu's style of fighting and different sword, the tempo of the fight will change. Martil will try to get closer, to use his shorter swords and cramp up Sendatsu's extravagant strokeplay.
Sendatsu hasn't fought anyone who can improvise the way Martil can and will have to use all his own speed to hold him off.
Sendatsu is used to losing (to his father) and this strengthens him.
Martil has never lost - and this also strengthens him.
It will all come down to one tiny slip or mistake and the other will pounce.
But, remember, their children rest on the other fighter not walking out of the arena.
Neither will let that happen.
I see Martil sacrificing himself to get in the fatal blow. Sendatsu will not be expecting someone to give up their own life like that and won't be able to stop himself from delivering a killer strike - but that has got Martil close enough to use his swords.
Technically neither would win - and neither would lose. Sendatsu will get in the first, fatal blow but Martil will live long enough to say goodbye.
And that's the best answer I can give ...
Monday, April 7, 2014
MY daughter thinks that society is rotten, governments corrupt, television a way of brainwashing the masses and authority not to be trusted.
I couldn’t be happier.
She’s not talking about Australia, of course, rather she’s hooked on dystopian novels. The good news is, dystopia is the hot subject for teenagers these days, having replaced the stupid sparkly vampires and the impossibly buff werewolves.
Dystopia is the opposite of utopia — a vision of an unpleasant future. But that’s fantastic. Because, instead of heroines who swoon about helplessly, waiting for their Undead saviour, dystopia features heroines who get out there and take charge themselves, who save not just themselves and their families but their whole world.
It’s big now but it’s about to get even bigger.
This year we have four huge dystopian films hitting the big screen, kicking off with Divergent this Thursday, based on the bestseller by Veronica Roth. Behind that will come The Maze Runner (book by James Dashner), The Giver (book by Lois Lowry, film to star Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes) and then part one of Mockingjay, the finish to Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy.
They feature heroines like Katniss and Tris, who are everything you want a teenage girl’s role model to be: courageous, idealistic, resourceful and above all a little flawed.
After seeing teenage girls devouring vampire and werewolf stories, with heroines who just wanted to find a man who treated them badly, it is fantastic that the swing is on to dystopian novels. My daughter never read Twilight — I made her watch the spoof movie Vampires Suck instead, so she never took the genre seriously, instead devouring dystopia.
It’s great to see the movies but, of course, the books are far better.
And there are stacks more dysto-pian novels out there that haven’t been turned into movies yet.
Perhaps there could be an amnesty. For every ridiculous vampire story handed in, you get half-price off a dystopian novel.
Then we could ceremonially drive a stake through the bloody things. Forget about being turned into vampires or werewolves with a bite — those books are more likely to infect teenagers with the idea that women are helpless and need to be rescued.
Much better to have them think they can change things if they stand up and fight for them. That they can make a better world with their courage and insight.
So come on, fight the vampires. Not with garlic and holy water but books about gutsy heroines willing to stand up and fight for a better society. You never know, one day we might need them …
Duncan Lay is a fantasy author with HarperCollins. His latest book, Wall Of Spears, is out now.
Sunday, March 30, 2014
Firstly, a massive thankyou to all those people who stopped and chatted to me about the books - it was a pleasure and a privilege to speak to you.
Another huge vote of thanks to the bookstores and their staff who helped me.
Thanks also to all my friends who helped me around the country - you made it all possible.
So here's a few random thoughts about the tour:
Best question asked:
Hands down, one from a young couple out at Penrith. "Who would win in a fight between Martil and Sendatsu?" It made me smile and it made me think. I'll have to put together a blog entry giving my answer in the next few weeks!
Weirdest reply to my opening line of "Do you like to read?"
From two seniors, one in Melbourne and the other in Perth. "I only read pornos!" What are our seniors up to these days?!?!?!!
Most popular questions:
A dead heat between "How long does it take you to write a book?" and "How do you get published?". The first is obviously easier to answer than the second. In fact, these days, the second question is very tricky to answer. It's very easy to self-publish but nobody has the magic answer to how to get a mainstream publishing contract.
Sadly, I received this one multiple times. "I can't read, I'm illiterate!" Now those words by themselves would be sad, but when said with a proud smile, really turn my stomach. If people tell me they don't like to read, then that's fair enough. But when they take pride in it, then that's alarming.
"Are these available as eBooks?" The growth in this question has been enormous on this tour, compared to my previous tours.
Strangest reaction to saying I write fantasy:
Many people pull a face and then tell me they don't read fantasy. One woman ranted and raved for nearly a minute about how much she hated the genre. I thought she was never going to shut up about it! And one woman in Wollongong told me - 'I don't read that crap!' with an expression of pure disgust on her face. Then she looked at me and her face fell. She reached out to grab my arm and said earnestly: "But I'm sure yours is great!"
Hopeful but no:
On several occasions, people told me they only read biographies. Then they looked wistfully at the table covered in fantasy books. "Do you have any biographies?"
"Do you sell calendars?" Only what I have here!
"Do you know where the Post Office is?" Madam, I'm not even from this state, let alone this suburb. I'm afraid I can't help!
"How could I write a relationship between a warrior and a little girl, like you did with Martil and Karia?" Weeelll ... maybe start by having a daughter and go from there!
Penrith Dymocks was the clear winner. I arrived a few minutes late and quickly set up my massive banner. By then a couple of people were looking at the table of books. I chatted to them and they picked up the Empire Of Bones series. I was about to sign them when I looked up and saw about 15 people waiting for me, eager looks on their faces and books in their arms. "You'd better go and pay for those and then join the queue!" I said.
Best sales result:
Dymocks Belconnen, with exactly 50 books sold. Dymocks Erina went fantastically well and I might well have beaten it there - except I sold out of books at 43! Belconnen was great, with a mix of new and returning readers.
Secretly funniest moment:
I was at Cronulla with my Viking warrior Uthred when a surfie told us that he hated books and he was proud to be illiterate. As he walked away, Uthred pulled out his throwing axe. 'I can hit him from here - I can you know!' he said, miming it.
Most shocking moment:
I was chatting with a lovely lady in Perth when she noticed that two of the main characters in Empire Of Bones are called Huw and Rhiannon. "That's my son's name, only he spells it Hugh and that's my daughter's name!" she exclaimed.
`Wow, what a coincidence!' I said, thinking that surely she is going to want to buy the series now.
But then her face fell.
`My daughter died two years ago today,' she said, her voice choking up.
I didn't know what to do. Inadequately, I told her how sorry I was, then she left, visibly upset. I certainly couldn't talk to anyone else for a few minutes after that, either.
Every time somebody bought a book, or returned to buy the next in the series, or brought in previously bought books to be signed. It is a thrill that never goes away. I love writing, I love bringing stories and characters to life and I love the chance to share them with others. It is what I have wanted to do since I was seven.
Thank you all for making a dream come true.
Sunday, March 23, 2014
The trip down was delayed, firstly by a breakdown on the F3 Freeway, then by a succession of "roadworks" on the Hume Highway south.
Fixing up the road surface is one thing but do we have to slow down to one lane and 40km/h just so two guys can put up a new sign at the side of the road?!?! I've heard of OH&S regulations but surely this was a little ridiculous ...
First cab off the rank was Paperchain Manuka, a beautiful little store in a rather posh part of Canberra. Of course I had forgotten to bring some change with me, because there's no such thing as free parking in Canberra. As far as the government is concerned, there's always a free lunch in Canberra but that's another story ...
So I had to get money out, get change and then buy parking before putting up the big banner and getting down to work.
I met some wonderful people there but also had a few amusing moments.
After chatting to one lady, I was sure she'd buy The Wounded Guardian - but at the point where I was about to offer to sign it for her, this dog started sniffing around the bottom of my huge pop-up banner. I jokingly said that I hoped it wasn't about to wee over my banner (hey, everyone's a critic these days ...!) but she got quite indignant.
`That's my dog and she'd never do anything like that!'
Off she went and, after a few moments, off went the insulted dog as well.
A few minutes later I was chatting to a bloke who didn't like fantasy but said his partner did. So I told him about the books, making special mention of Karia, the feisty orphan girl with magic powers and Merren, the Queen fighting for her throne.
`Oh, that doesn't sound like the sort of thing HE'D like,' the man said.
`But it has great battle scenes,' I said, performing a verbal backflip that would have had most of Canberra's politicians nodding with approval.
Too late ...
After selling quite nicely at Paperchain, it was off to Dymocks Civic, in the heart of Canberra Central. This store has changed position recently and I couldn't find it. In fact, I had to get one of the store assistants to talk me through the centre to get there! In my defence, it is hiding behind the escalators at the food court ...
Richard and Alison, the delightful store owners, were on hand to help me when I put up the banner only to have it fall to pieces! Luckily Richard was able to fix it while I sold a trilogy to one of their customers!
It was a quiet afternoon, with few people about, but the ones I met were fantastic!
Second day was much busier, however.
I started at Dymocks Belconnen. Every author has to go here once. It's like author tour nirvana. An endless procession of people who love to read and are excited to meet authors.
Owners Andrew and Steve kept the green tea and the replacement books up to me and people just kept buying - 50 books exactly!
One of the highlights was seeing Shaheen from Speculate Fiction, an online book review blog that you should sign up for - and I'm not just saying that because she keeps giving my books five star reviews!
Next stop was Dymocks Tuggeranong, the other perfect spot for authors. My personal record of 52 books sold was set here and owner Fiona was delighted to hear she was still the queen, that I hadn't quite beaten her record at Belconnen!
Thanks again to the likes of Rebecca and Jessica, who came in to pick up Wall Of Spears, after coming in previously to get the other books. It's a huge pleasure to see those people!
40 books later, it was time to wave a fond farewell to Canberra.
Day three kicked off at Hooked On Books at Batemans Bay, a lovely store that went indie after the collapse of A&R. They'd even advertised my arrival in the Bay Post!
This was a sell-out, selling all Wounded Guardians, Bridge Of Swords and Valley Of Shields in the store and meeting many fantastic people along the way.
All done by 11.45am, I hit the road to Nowra, a store I hadn't visited since 2010, on my Radiant Child tour. I struck a caravan convention on the road and was a little slower than I expected into town.
But I arrived in time to meet a bunch of great people, including Alex, who had bought Bridge Of Swords off me at Kinokuniya and had driven down from Wollongong to get the rest of my books signed. That was a fantastic honour!
Sadly Nowra was cut short by an enormous thunderstorm, which emptied the high street of people. Spookily, my last trip to Nowra was also cut short by a massive thunderstorm. I do hope there was no connection ...!
So ended my last interstate trip, with big smiles and 1146 books hand-sold in total, smashing my Radiant Child total of 1032, with four stores left to go.
Friday, March 14, 2014
This was my third trip to Perth and the longest as well - nine bookstores across three days.
And it was a fantastic trip, with more than 200 books sold across the three days, plus more than 100 extra signed and left at the various bookstores across the city.
Perth had been suffering with plenty of hot days and little rain and the first day showed that off, with a steamy 37 degrees of sunshine.
Luckily I was inside for all but the last of the three stores!
It kicked off at Dymocks Belmont, which is a fantastic store, made all the better in my opinion because all three of the staff there love fantasy and bought my books!
Next stop was specialist fantasy store Stefen's Books in the city, where there was quite the queue waiting for me.
This is a wonderful store if you like fantasy or sci-fi and it was great to see people like Kris and Garry who had come back for the second and even third time to get signed books from me, as well as some of the new friends I made like Crystal, who bought all six of the books.
One of the more hilarious moments was when one guy's three-year-old daughter wanted me to sign her Tarzan picture book, so it could be like the Wall Of Spears I signed for her dad!
Last stop for the day was Kaleido Books, above Perth train station, which I managed to sell out. One of the highlights was selling a book to Jesus (not the guy with the flowing hair and sandals, able to walk on water but pronounced Hey-zeus). This Spanish guy wanted to make sure he could read The Wounded Guardian, as English was his second language. One chapter later it was viva Espana!
I was staying at the Miss Maud Hotel in the city. Not the most glamourous but certainly possessing the best buffet breakfast in Australia. I've never had better. After eggs, bacon and sausages, followed by pancakes and maple syrup, then muffins or pastries with fresh fruit, I was able to work right through lunchtime selling books!
Day two kicked off at Joondalup and proved to be both successful and emotional.
I sold more than 30 books but had some interesting experiences as well.
First up I had an older lady tell me she doesn't read books - only pornos! That followed the old guy in Melbourne who gave me the same answer. What is it with our seniors these days? Have they gone all frisky?
Next up was an encounter with a bloke who gave me a curious reply.
`Do you read fantasy?' I asked him.
`No, only the Bible,' he replied.
A few comebacks about some of the more outlandish stories in the Bible did spring to mind but I held my tongue!
Bu the third encounter was the most emotional. I was chatting to a lovely lady when she noticed the name of the main characters.
`Rhiannon - that's my daughter's name! And Huw, that's my son's name, only he spells it Hugh!' she exclaimed as she read the back page.
Naturally I thought this is going to be a guaranteed sale - she'll buy it for them if not for herself. Then her face crumpled.
`My daughter died two years ago today,' she said.
Instantly I was horrified. `I'm so sorry,' I said, inadequately.
She walked away, visibly upset.
I couldn't talk to anyone for a couple of minutes as I had to compose myself as well. In all the encounters I have had with people, that was perhaps the most shocking.
Next up was Dymocks Morley, where I met an amazing group of people, including a mum and daughter whose husband and dad is a huge fan and they were delighted to get all six books signed.
Finally it was off to Garden City, a very affluent area where, strangely enough, most people didn't want the deal and instead just bought one book. Still, they'll be back!
One mum and daughter were delighted to see me - they were huge fans of the Dragon Sword Histories and then bought Empire Of Bones series. When they are so excited they are almost shaking as they pose for a photo, it is a special moment indeed for an author!
The last day was going to outlying suburbs - first up was Rockingham, which went fantastically well. I met a great assortment of fans both new and old before heading to Midlands and then Carousel.
I hit 209 books for the three days and was able to head to the airport absolutely knackered, with a voice going hoarse but feeling very happy at the very warm welcome I had in Perth!
Monday, March 10, 2014
Thanks to Queensland steadfastly refusing to switch to daylight savings time, I flew out at 6.20am and arrived in Brisbane 10 minutes later. The perfect time to hit bookstores - not!
First up was TLC Books, a delightful bookstore in Manly, a waterside village on Moreton Bay. It's exactly the sort of indie bookstore I love to support but there was one problem. No books!
The HarperCollins delivery driver was stuck at a Kmart shop about 15 minutes away. Now, what he was doing being stuck at Kmart I have no idea and, frankly, don't really want to know. It's his business entirely. But all I could do was chat with owner Tanya and then sign some books when they arrived exactly five minutes before I was due to leave. Now that's timing ...
Next up was the big city Dymocks store. This is a great store but almost all the books are upstairs, so I have to get people to stop and talk before they are on the escalator up. Not easy. But I met many wonderful people, including a couple from Singapore who bought all six books to have them shipped back home.
There were also a few people who insisted they hated to read, even though they were in a giant bookstore. Hmmm ....
Next up was Angus and Robertson, around the corner, or so I remembered. I didn't remember that well, because I spent 15 minutes wandering the streets before I found it. Nothing like a brisk walk in 30C heat to get you cool, calm and collected ...
The table was also set up in the sun, which meant I and the table kept inching backwards as the sun chased us into the store.
This was a challenging one - not helped by about 25 Japanese tourists posing for photos with stuffed animals out the front of the store for most of the time I was there. Seriously, don't they have stuffed animals back home? If it was a display of live marsupials I would have understood but 150 selfies with a toy tiger?
Anyway, thanks to Jamie who came in specially to buy the new series, after picking up the originals last time I was there, as well as a bunch of other lovely people, it was still a pleasant afternoon.
Then I was off to Carindale, a huge shopping centre with a great Dymocks. That went superbly, highlighted by meeting Aaron.
He was the perfect example of why you can't tell who might read fantasy. About six feet tall and the same across the shoulders, with plenty of tatts, it turned out he was a David Gemmell fan and bought my original series, then came back to say he'd read chapter one and loved it. He's the sort of bloke that makes me love coming out to stores and meeting readers!
Then there was Tony, who posed for a selfie with me on his iPad, after coming in specially to pick up the rest of the books after he got hooked on the first series and had been following me on the blog. That is fantastic for a writer!
After a short 40 minute wait for a taxi (!) I collapsed, ready for day two.
This kicked off at Pulp Fiction, the specialist fantasy store in Brissie. But, again, the delivery was missing and they only had Wall Of Spears. Not an easy sell to someone who hasn't read book 1, let alone book 2 ...
Next stop was Dymocks Indooroopilly, which is undergoing renovations and I'd never been to before. No problem, because the people were great and we sold out in under 2 hours.
Highlights included the lovely lady from Mackay who bought the whole new series in case she was stuck in Brisbane with nothing to read because of the cyclone forecast to hit her home town and the lady who bought the new series for her fantasy-loving husband's 45th birthday the next day!
Last stop for the day was Chermside, truly one of the biggest shopping centres in Sydney. First time I visited there, I wandered, lost and bewildered, for what seemed like hours. On my third trip back, I actually went in the right door and walked into Dymocks a few minutes early.
The delightful Anne and her daughter Eden were waiting for me and bought the new series, having picked up the earlier books already. We compared tendon scars - mine is pretty much healed but hers needs more operations, which is a bizarre way to start but lovely to catch up once again!
It was an interesting mix of people, some who wanted to grab the whole series, others who wanted the books but didn't have the money that day. Still, as long as they remember the name ...
I also had to control myself from laughing at one point. A young woman was walking past, wearing almost nothing so she could show off the tattoos that covered her. That wasn't hilarious - the expression on the face of the middle-aged woman walking behind as she pointed and gestured and silently commented on this sight to her teenage daughters was. But, of course, I couldn't give away what was going on behind the tattooed girl by smiling myself ...
Chermside was busy but always lurking in the back of my mind was the need to catch a taxi to the airport and the huge wait I'd had at Carindale, plus the rush hour traffic that was surely building. By 4.15pm I couldn't wait any longer but needn't have worried - after just five minutes I jumped in a cab to the airport.
Brisbane. It was indeed beautiful one day and perfect the next ...
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
One thing I have noticed about the Wall Of Spears tour is how many more people are declaring they only read the books digitally.
Now there's nothing wrong with eBooks and I'm always happy to pose for a photo with the books, so people know what to look for online (although I'd prefer it if they had a Kobo or Sony or iPad rather than a Kindle ...).
But while my books have received fantastic reviews online and in newspapers (thanks Tsana's Blog, Speculate Fiction and Newtown Review Of Books!), plus stacks of great reviews on Goodreads, these haven't been posted directly to the various eBook sites.
After The Wounded Guardian was featured on iTunes earlier this year, it has picked up some great reviews but that is the exception to the rule. If you look on iTunes, Amazon, Kobo - hardly any reviews at all. Bridge Of Swords, for instance, doesn't have a single one.
So, if you have read my books, then perhaps you can help remedy that by reviewing and rating the books on iTunes, Amazon and Kobo.
Now I do appreciate that is time and effort on your part, so here's the giveaway: I'll be giving out a prize for the two most creative reviews. I do want to stress here that I'm not looking for the most suckworthy reviews but rather one that shows you've read and enjoyed the books and reveals some aspect of that.
The prize is simple - you will get to have a character named after you in my next series. You will also get to choose whether you want that character to be a goodie or a baddie. It can also be named after your first name or a nickname, whatever you wish.
The competition will run until the end of April 2014, to give everyone I meet on my Wall Of Spears tour a chance to enter.All you have to do is post the review and then let me know you've done so, either through a comment on this post or through Twitter, Facebook or via my email address on the top of the blog.
At the end of April I'll contact the winners and let them choose how they want to be named.
Finally, please be honest, I'm not looking to swamp these sites with five-star reviews but rather more accurately reflect how my books are regarded.
Thanks and good luck for the giveaway!
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Luckily it was a resounding success, with more than 250 books hand-sold, plus more than 100 signed and left at various stores across Victoria and NSW.
The week kicked off in Melbourne with another 4.15am wake-up for the flight down south. Oh, how I love those 4am starts ...!
First port of call was Minotaur, the specialist comic/fantasy store in the heart of Melbourne.
Actually, the first port of call was a chemist to buy an umbrella, as Melbourne was drizzling down nicely!
Minotaur is a fantastic store but they do have an unusual approach to meeting authors. I was informed that they'd had to leave a fresh cup of coffee to talk to me (they could have kept drinking, or even offered me one, I suppose) and that they were in a rush, as there was a fresh delivery of comics coming. But, they added mournfully, there was hardly anyone about anyway ...
Having escaped from that weirdness, after signing two sets of trilogies for them, it was the real start of the day, the big Melbourne Dymocks at Collins St.
The people there were fantastic - an endless stream of them. I sold out within two hours and even sold a copy of Risen Queen to someone who desperately wanted a signed copy of something!
Then I met my friend Jason, a Melburnian who drove me around that town to the various bookstores. No doubt I drove him around the bend but it was great to have that help and support and it made things so much easier!
Day one finished at Victoria Gardens, a big shopping centre where the Dymocks has a Boost Juice outside the front. I thought that might cause all sorts of problems but actually brought extra people over, who could hear the spiel and got interested. Some of the highlights included a delightful Asian couple who wanted me to pose for pictures with them after buying Empire Of Bones, plus a bloke who hadn't read fantasy since David Gemmell died but who was delighted to hear that I write the best battle scenes since Gemmell and bought Wounded Guardian to celebrate!
Day two was four stores long and a tough one - kicking off at Glen Waverley. After a slow start we kicked into gear but I found it hard after a shocking encounter with an elderly gent. The clientele there were mostly senior and very well dressed. They were happy to respond to my usual question of "Do you like to read?" although fantasy wasn't their thing. Except for this well-dressed 60-something bloke who replied: "No, I only read pornos!"
It took me a few minutes to regain the composure after that ...!
After almost selling out there, I sold out both the Collins and Dymocks stores at Fountain Gate (Not Fountain Lakes, there was no Kath and Kim there) before heading down to Chelsea and fantasy store Notions Unlimited.
If you are in Melbourne and like fantasy or sci-fi or comics, then you need to go there. Owner Chuck has a stunning store and well worth a visit.
It was his 2nd birthday as well as a launch for Wall Of Spears and it was great to meet Chuck and his customers. It was also fantastic to meet the Ormsbys, who had driven an hour up from the south to chat. They run Satalyte Publishing, an independent publisher who is into steampunk, fantasy, sci-fi and more. Also worth checking out!
Day three of Melbourne kicked off at Knox Gardens (sold them out) then finished at Southlands (sold them out) where I ran into David, the fantastic manager of both Dymocks Southlands and Fountains Gate.
I even made it early to the airport - although Jetstar wanted $400+ for an earlier flight. I don't think so!
Saturday it was back in Sydney and first up was Dymocks Carlingford, where I ran into Michael, who decided to appoint himself my offsider for the day. Michael was about 13 and hanging around the shops while his mum worked at Fitness First. He loved the idea of the books, chatted to me in between customers - tried out the seat behind the desk that I never used - and was giving me thumbs-up for each sale and waves of encouragement. At the end, he offered me a $1.20 tip for the show and entertainment!
Next up was Dymocks Castle Hill, which was unbelievably busy. Almost too busy, and I was getting exhausted - not least by the 30 minutes it took to find a parking spot there! Still met some great people there, making it all worth it.
Sunday it was off to Dymocks Burwood, which was unbelievably good. Trilogies were flying out the door as people got particularly excited about Newtown Review Of Books giving Wall Of Spears a rave review through the week. (Newtown is just around the corner from Burwood). That was a great way to end a week where I racked up more than 250 sales.
Now for a little rest before I arrive at Brisbane ...!
Sunday, February 23, 2014
It's been over 40 degrees there for about two months, followed by ridiculous floods, so I was a little nervous as to what weather would hit me. Turned out it was mild 22C on both days - but the South Australians were so used to stinking hot, many were wrapped up in scarves and jackets!
Things started well at the big Dymocks store in the city, where I was delighted to meet Sharon Lomman once again, who bought the original series from me and then has come in each time for each new book, finishing with Wall Of Spears this time. As usual, there were so many lovely people there and I was down to the last Bridge Of Swords when it was time to go.
Then it was off to the Angus and Robertson store in the Myer Centre across the road. It's a great little store and they're big fans of the Dragon Sword Histories, which is fantastic. There were a couple of strange characters there though ... a young guy in army uniform who kept playing with the animal puppets and asking people if they wanted to enlist and a bloke from country SA who wanted to buy my books but only if I could post them out to him ... anyway, there were many other wonderful readers!
Last store for the day was Mostly Books in Torrens Park and that was a lot of fun. At first I was worried, as there was a stand spruiking electricity deals just outside and competing spruikers are death to chatty authors! Luckily they were packing up and, even more luckily, the guy there, Lachlan, was a huge fantasy fan. We chatted on and off for an hour while he waited for a lift, then bought the whole of the new series. Meanwhile, I sold the rest of the Wounded Guardians and Bridge Of Swords. It's a lovely store and a great spot to chat to people!
Second day kicked off at Dillons Books Norwood. last time I was there, they had a massive storm and blackout, which cramped the style a little. This time they had been burgled overnight! Obviously thieves, being stupid, didn't touch the valuable books but instead tried for the safe, which they failed to open with a sledgehammer. Perhaps they couldn't read the instruction manual on the oxy torch ...
Anyway, despite me suspecting I might be some sort of unlucky charm for a great book shop, I met some fantastic people and sold out of all my Wounded Guardians and Bridge Of Swords. I actually had two people fighting over the last Wounded Guardian - it went to the very charming Ryan!
Then it was Collins Edwardstown and the fantastic Tarran Jones - if there is a bookstore more supportive of Australian fantasy in Adelaide, I am yet to find it!
Finally I was at Dymocks Glenelg. Last time I was there it was so cold I could barely sign my name. This time it was warmer but seemed to be packed with German backpackers. For a while there, I was spending more time showing them pictures of the German translation books of The Wounded Guardian than I was talking about my English-language ones!
Saturday it was off to Dymocks Warringah, which is an interesting store. It was one of the few that didn't want to do the three-for-two special offer, which was a shame for the good people of the peninsula. Also, it was one of the few bookstores where eReaders outnumbered book readers. At most stores, there's always a few people who want to take a shot of the cover so they can get it as an eBook. At Warringah, it was almost 50-50.
And then Sunday I was off to Dymocks Penrith. That was simply fantastic. There was a queue of people waiting for me at the start and then it finished with a delightful lady called Enid (surname not Blyton!) who loved the Dragon Sword Histories and was there to buy Empire Of Bones. Penrith is, simply, wonderful to visit.
And then the week ended with Bridge Of Swords going into reprint again - for the third time.
Awaiting me is the biggest week of the tour - 12 stores in two states. Here we go ...
Monday, February 17, 2014
I kicked off at Kinokuniya in the heart of Sydney, which is a fantastic store just near Town Hall.
Kino wasn't running the 3 for 2 deal but instead had 20% off all my books, which made things interesting, as then it came down to a straight shootout between the two series - would people like the idea of Empire Of Bones or Dragon Sword Histories more?
After selling out of every copy of Bridge Of Swords and The Wounded Guardian they had, I can say that people like them both!
It was a real thrill to have people come in to buy the remainder of a series and particularly for a young bloke called Kai who bought the original series plus Wall Of Spears for his grandfather Mark!
Then it was off to the Gold Coast and a tussle with the taxis!
First up was Collins Tweed Heads, where the wonderful Leanne Ellis of Bloody Cake News was waiting for me, wanting five copies of Wall Of Spears!
I sold the store out of every copy of the new series they had - everyone wanted the trilogy deal, which was great, but then the hassle started.
I rang for a taxi but couldn't get one to turn up! Instead I was stuck in a loooooooong queue of pensioners heading home with their shopping. Not good.
The whole idea of doing the Gold Coast was to use the time difference between NSW and Queensland to allow me to sell across TWO lunchtimes. Spending said lunchtime in a taxi queue was not the plan!
Next time I'll definitely be hiring a car.
Anyway, finally I got to Love That Book Helensvale, where Rebecca Ponting was waiting for me. I'd sold my original trilogy to the Pontings when they were living out at Rouse Hill. Now they were back for the new series!
After my taxi nightmare of earlier I was paranoid about missing my flight home so had to leave with just one copy of Bridge Of Swords remaining.
I checked out the shopping centre taxi rank and saw - nothing! With visions of camping out overnight dancing through my head, the lovely staff at Love That Book told me to walk across to the station and - cue flood of relief - there was a queue of taxis, not people.
Saturday saw me head down to Chatswood in the rain and hit gridlock. Everyone wants to get into Chatswood on a Saturday but there's not enough room for them. It was insane. 45 minutes to crawl about 400m through the streets and then find a parking spot.
Luckily the Dymocks store there is so good!
Steve "The Bookman" was there to buy two copies of Wall Of Spears to complete his bookshelf. If there's a more enthusiastic supporter of Aussie fantasy, I'm yet to find them. He needs to be cloned!
Plus I ran into Brandon, who had bought The Wounded Guardian from me in Canberra and now wanted to complete the series, which I was delighted to do!
Again, we sold out of all first books from two series.
Sunday was out at Parramatta, in company with my faithful warrior friend Uthred Kadarn.
We got a park easily enough (a relief after the day before) and then we got some VERY strange looks from shoppers as we walked through the shopping centre in costume!
The day started brilliantly, with Wall Of Spears the No.1 selling book in that shop. Doesn't get better than seeing that on the shelf!
We ran into so many marvellous people, including Jasmyn, who wanted to complete her Dragon Sword Histories and Andrew, who needed Wall Of Spears. Plus Mark Curnow from HarperCollins!
We posed for many, many photos - including many kids - and sold out of Bridge Of Swords, plus almost all Wounded Guardians as well.
Robin and Perry - the owners of Parramatta Dymocks - have a fantastic store and I'm not just saying that because I had their No.1 selling book!
With more than 250 books hand-sold in the first two weeks, it's going well - and now the interstates are really going to crank things up!
Hope to see you on the road somewhere on tour!
Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Sunday, February 2nd
Shop 2038 Level 2 Westfield/50 Wyong Rd, Tuggerah NSW 2259
Phone: (02) 4353 0360
11am – 2.30pm
Thursday, February 6th
131 York St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:(02) 9267 7222
11am – 2.30pm
Saturday, February 8th
Terrigal Drive, Shop 315, Erina Fair Shopping Centre, Erina NSW 2250
Phone:(02) 4367 7800
11am – 2.30pm
Sunday, February 9th
Dymocks Rouse Hill
Shop GRO23 Rouse Hill Town Centre, Windsor Road, Rouse Hill, 2155
Phone: (02) 8883 3055
Thursday, February 13th
Level 2, The Galeries/500 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
Phone:(02) 9262 7996
Friday, February 14th
Collins Tweed Heads
Wharf St, Tweed Heads NSW 2485
Phone:(07) 5599 3600
Friday, February 14th
Love that Book
Shop 1075 Westfield Shopping Centre Millaroo Drv
Helensvale QLD 4212
(07) 5502 7744
Saturday, February 15th
1 Anderson Street, Shop 301, Westfield Shopping Centre, Chatswood NSW 2067
Phone:(02) 9412 1630
Sunday, February 16th
Shop 2115, Westfield Shoppingtown, Parramatta NSW 2150
Phone:(02) 9633 5929
Thursday, February 20th
Dymocks Rundle Mall
135 Rundle Mall, Adelaide, 5000
Contact – Louise. (08 82235 380)
Myer Centre, Rundle Mall
22 Rundle Mall, Adelaide SA 5000
Contact – Dina. (82313601)
Mostly Books. Shop 12-17, Mitcham Square, 119 Belair Rd, Torrens Park. Contact – Charmaine. (83735190)
5pm – 7pm
Friday, February 21st
162-166 The Parade, Norwood. Contact – Laura. (83310946)
55 Jetty Rd, Glenelg.
Contact – Daniel/Ashton. (82948665)
2:30pm – 4pm
Saturday, February 22nd
Shop 524, Warringah Mall Shopping Centre, Warringah Mall NSW 2100
Phone:(02) 9938 2823
Sunday, February 23rd
Level 1 Shop 145 Westfield Penrith Plaza,/Henry St, Penrith NSW 2750
Phone:(02) 4731 5986
Wednesday, February 26th
121 Elizabeth St, Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone:(03) 9670 5414
Lower Ground Floor/234 Collins St
(03) 9663 0900
Dymocks Victoria Gardens
Shop F11, Victoria Gardens Centre/Victoria St, Richmond VIC 3121
Phone:(03) 9428 6100
Thursday, February 27th
Dymocks Glen Waverley
173/235 Springvale Rd, Glen Waverley VIC 3150
Phone:(03) 9886 3011
Collins Fountain Gate
Shop 2040 Fountain Gate Shopping Centre Lvl 2 Magid Drive
Ph 03 9703 0790
Dymocks Fountain Gate
(03) 9704 1245
Chelsea Beach Arcade, Shop 9, 426 Nepean Hwy
Chelsea, VIC, 3196
(03) 9773 1102
Friday, February 28th
Shop 3110C, Knox City Shopping Centre, 425 Burwood Highway, Wantirna South, VIC 3152
Phone: (03) 9800 0880
Shop 3067/8 Westfield Southland, 1239 Nepean Highway, Cheltenham, 3192
Phone: (03) 9584 1245
Saturday, March 1st
L02,205/206,Carlingford Court/Carlingford Rd, Carlingford NSW 2118
Phone:(02) 9873 5011
Dymocks Castle Hill
Shop 390, Castle Towers/Old Castle Hill Rd, Castle Hill NSW 2154
Phone:(02) 9634 3108
Sunday, March 2nd
Top Floor, Shop 323, Westfield Shopping Centre/Burwood Rd, Burwood NSW 2134
Phone:(02) 9744 1286
Thursday, March 6th
TLC Books Manly
Shop 3, 7 Day Markets
50 Cambridge Pde
Manly QLD 4179
Phn: 3393 5130
Shop D17 177 Albert Street (Cnr Elizabeth & Albert), Brisbane, 4000
Phone: (07) 3007 2800
Friday, March 7th
Shop 28-29 Anzac Square Arcade
265-269 Edward Street Brisbane QLD 4000
Tel (07) 3236-2750
Shop 3013 Indooroopilly Shopping Centre, 318-322 Moggill Road, Indooroopilly, 4068
Phone: (07) 3878 5544
Shops 249 Westfield Shoppingtown, Cnr Gympie & Hamilton Roads, Chermside, 4032
Phone: (07) 3350 5255
Wednesday, March 12th
Shop G 125, Belmont Forum Shopping Centre, 227 Belmont Ave, Cloverdale, 6105
8 Shafto Lane, 397 Murray St, Perth
Phone: 08 9481 8393
Kaleido books - Sabian Wilde
Shop , City Concourse, Perth Train Station, 6000
2/2.30pm - 5.30pm
Thursday, March 13th
Dymocks Joondalup Teresa Dunne or Joanna Brown , confirmed
Shop T16 Lakeside Shopping Centre, Joondalup WA 6027
Dymocks Morley – Pattie Stafford, confirmed
Shop133 Galleria Shopping Centre Collier Rd, Morley WA 6062
Dymocks Garden City – Ann Poublon, confirmed
shop 33 garden city s/c Booragoon 6154
Friday, March 14th
Rockingham books – Jim Sewell
Shop 12 Rockingham City Shopping Centre, Rockingham WA 6168
Dymocks Midland – Russell Crew , Manager Chris
Great Eastern Hwy, Midland WA 6056
Dymocks Carousel – Russell Crew
Shop 1018 Carousel Shopping Centre, Cannington WA 6107
10 am – 12 noon
1pm – 3 pm
Sunday, March 16th
29 Cronulla Stairs, Cronulla NSW 2230
Phone:(02) 9544 4790
Thursday, March 20th
34 Franklin St, Manuka ACT 2603
Phone:(02) 6295 6723
Shop DF 18, Canberra Centre/Bunda St
(02) 6257 5057
Friday, March 21st
T210, Westfield Shopping Centre/Benjamin Way, Belconnen ACT 2617
Phone:(02) 6251 2850
Level 1 Shop 111-112, Tuggeranong Hyperdome, Anketell St, Greenway ACT 2900
Phone:(02) 6293 9055
Saturday, March 22nd
Stockland Batemans Bay, Shop G32, Vesper St, Batemans Bay, NSW 2536, 2536
Phone:(02) 4472 9250
68 Kinghorne St, Nowra NSW 2541
Phone:(02) 4421 8699
Thursday, March 27th
Shop B30-33, Level 3
Westfield Shopping Centre, Pacific Highway Hornsby NSW 2077
02 9987 2393
Friday, March 28th
L03 320-321. Wollongong Central, 174/200 Crown Street, Wollongong, 2500
Phone: (02) 4229 7125
Saturday, March 29th
9/327 West St, Umina Beach NSW 2257
Phone:(02) 4342 2482
T210, Westfield Shopping Centre/Benjamin Way, Belconnen ACT 2617
Phone:(02) 6251 2850