Tag Archives: ancient wonders

Ancient Wonders: Misha Herwin

And today my lovely people, we have our interview of Ancient Wonders author Misha Herwin!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I am compulsive writer who’s been writing ever since I could hold a pen. Rather to my surprise I’ve ended up living in Stoke with an ever patient husband and a moaning cat, who is convinced we don’t feed her enough.  I write books and short stories for adults and kids and my work usually has a supernatural and fantasy element to it.

What inspired you to write “The Satan Stones”?

“The Satan Stones” was inspired by the Devil’s Ring and Finger, a pair of Neolithic standing stones near where I used to live in Shropshire. They have very powerful hold on my imagination and also appear in my latest novel, House of Shadows.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

If I could leap into the TARDIS I’d definitely find my way back to the Devil’s Ring and Finger because I would love to know what really went on there.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

The appeal of ancient sites and landscapes is their atmosphere of mystery and magic.

What do you have coming out next?

At the moment House of Shadows is with my agent and I’m working on a YA novel about a dystopian future where wars will be fought over water rather than oil. Juggler of Shapes, my second book in the Dragonfire Trilogy, is now out as an e book.

[Misha Herwin has been writing for many years. At twelve she wrote and staged her first play in a theatre made from a cardboard box. Since then her plays for teenagers have been performed in schools by the Stagefright Theatre Company and at the Canadian High Commission in Jamaica. She has published the Dragonfire Trilogy for kids and her stories can be found in a number of anthologies and magazines including Hens, Bitch Lit and Ghostly Reflections. “The Dragon Who Came to School” was broadcast by ABC Tales.]

Ancient Wonders: John Howard

Annnnd, the next Ancient Wonders author up for interrogation is: John Howard!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I like to write about things which interest me – often to do with forgotten or alternate histories, obscure places, ambiguous people.

What inspired you to write “Time and the City”?

The title of the anthology! Something ancient, something wonderful. I love SF pulp magazine artwork from the 1920s and ’30s: those cities and buildings, wonderful machines and spaceships by the likes of Frank R Paul and Leo Morey. So a story about an incredibly ancient city full of wonders came into my mind…

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

Rome.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

The sense of standing on the edge of the abyss of time.

What do you have coming out next?

A couple of stories in anthologies, plus a collection from Swan River Press called Written by Daylight.

[John Howard was born in London. He is the author of the collection The Silver Voices and the novella The Defeat of Grief. His short fiction has appeared in several anthologies, including Beneath the Ground, Never Again, and The Touch of the Sea. John has collaborated with Mark Valentine on a number of short stories, six of which featured Valentine’s long-running occult detective The Connoisseur. These tales have been reprinted in The Collected Connoisseur. Most recent to appear is Secret Europe, (written with Mark Valentine) to which John contributed ten of the twenty-five stories, set in a variety of real and fictional European locations.]

Ancient Wonders: William Meikle

Next in the Ancient Wonders author interview series: William Meikle!

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I’m a Scottish writer. Around 1991 I started to submit stories to the UK small press mags. It’s been a slow but steady progression from there. I now have over twenty five professional short story sales and have fifteen novels published in genre presses.

I’ve been asked many times why I write what I do. I choose to write mainly at the pulpy end of the market, populating my stories with monsters, myths, men who like a drink and a smoke, and more monsters. People who like this sort of thing like it.

I write to escape.

I grew up on a West of Scotland council estate and I spent a lot of time alone or at my grandparent’s house.

My granddad was housebound, and a voracious reader. I got the habit from him, and through him I discovered the Pan Books of Horror and Lovecraft, but I also discovered westerns, science fiction, war novels and the likes of Mickey Spillane, Ed McBain, Alistair MacLean, Dennis Wheatley, Nigel Tranter, Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov. When you mix all that together with DC Comics, Tarzan, Gerry Anderson and Dr Who then, later on, Hammer and Universal movies on the BBC, you can see how the pulp became embedded in my psyche.

I think you have to have grown up with pulp to get it. A lot of writers have been told that pulp equals bad plotting and that you must have deep psychological insight in your work for it to be valid. They’ve also been told that pulp equals bad writing, and they believe it. Whereas I remember the joy I got from early Moorcock, from Spillane and further back, A Merritt and H Rider Haggard. I’d love to have a chance to write a Tarzan, John Carter, Allan Quartermain, Mike Hammer or Conan novel, whereas a lot of writers I know would sniff and turn their noses up at the very thought of it.

I write to escape. I haven’t managed it yet, but I’m working on it

What inspired you to write “The Cauldron of Camulos”?

I’ve tried my hand at several works of fantasy over the years, and they almost always come out the same way – pulpy, with swords, sorcery, monsters and bloody battles to the fore. It’s the way I roll.

I may start with good intentions, of writing high fantasy with political intrigue and courtly goings on but, as in the Watchers series, Berserker and the Augustus Seton stories, my inner barbarian muscles to the fore, says Bugger this for a lark, and starts hacking.

The blame for my enthusiasm can be laid squarely at several doors. There’s Conan, of course, and Elric, Corum, Hawkmoon and the whole pantheon of Eternal Champions; there’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Solomon Kane, Jon Shannow, the princes of Amber and the shades of a thousand more from the likes of Poul Anderson, A Merritt, Edgar Rice Burroughs, H Rider Haggard, Karl Edward Wagner and many others

So, there’s that, and a long standing fascination with Arthur going way back to my childhood and reading The Sword in the Stone, Elidor and a big book of medieval romances with exciting colourful prints of knights and damsels and dragons.

In “The Cauldron” I wanted to strip away the medieval and go back to the Celtic and Saxon versions of the legends, although I suspect Arthur and the Grail as archetypes go back even further than that.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go?

I’d love to see Orkney, during the mound-building, menhirs-raising years. I’d love to see Maes Howe and the Ring of Brodgar going up and discover why they were built as they were. Or Carnac in Brittany. I’d love to revisit it while it was getting put up.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

I have a deep love of old places, in particular menhirs and stone circles, and I’ve spent quite a lot of time travelling the UK and Europe just to visit archaeological remains. I also love what is widely known as “weird shit”. I’ve spent far too much time surfing and reading Fortean, paranormal and cryptozoological websites. The cryptozoological stuff especially fascinates me, and provides a direct stimulus for a lot of my fiction.

But there’s just something about the misty landscapes and old places that speaks straight to my soul. Bloody Celts … we get all sentimental at the least wee thing.

What do you have coming out next?

Next up is a weird Sherlock Holmes collection, The Quality of Mercy and Other Stories from a new imprint, Dark Renaissance. It’s in deluxe limited edition hardcover and trade paperback editions, with a dozen illustrations by Wayne Miller who has previously done a lot of work on my covers for Dark Regions Press.

“When I first set out to document the casebook of my good friend Sherlock Holmes, there were some cases I approached with a certain degree of trepidation. Holmes has a public face as a man of strict rationality, a stickler for method and observation. But Holmes himself has always been open to more extreme possibilities.”

In these pages you’ll find, among other things, a Jade pendant that bestows great power, a fiddle that holds the key to an ancient secret, a lost overcoat that wants to return to its owner, and an encounter with an old foe that imperils the whole of Great Britain. All of them are cases that Holmes and Watson must solve, even if they have to open themselves to extreme possibilities to do so.

[William Meikle is a Scottish writer with fifteen novels published and over 250 short story credits in thirteen countries. His work has appeared in a number of anthologies; recent short stories were sold to Nature Futures, Penumbra and Daily Science Fiction. He now lives in a remote corner of Newfoundland, Canada, with icebergs, whales and bald eagles for company. In the winters he gets warm vicariously through the lives of others in cyberspace.]

Ancient Wonders: Adrian Tchaikovsky

adrian tTo celebrate the release of the ebook editions of Ancient Wonders, we gently harassed our faaaaaabulous authors for a little behind the scenes action…

First up to the chopping block – Adrian Tchaikovsky

Tell us a little about yourself, and what you like to write?

I’m a writer of epic fantasy, with eight books out in my series Shadows of the Apt and the ninth coming out this August. I’m also a lawyer (civil litigation) and my interests include LARP, RPGs (games, not grenades), sword techniques and zoology, but I had been working towards becoming a published author for a long time.

My current series is set to run to ten books, charting a conflict between the insect-kinden that takes them into their equivalent of the 20th century, and a world war. I’m currently working on a number of future projects in different settings.

What inspired you to write “Bones”?

“Bones” is set in the same world as the Shadows of the Apt series, and draws on a chance reference a character makes in The Sea Watch to an archaeological site where the deep past of the insect-kinden’s world appears to have been uncovered. This sparked a lot of speculation amongst readers, so I decided that the site deserved a story of its own. When the call for the Ancient Wonders anthology came along it seemed the perfect opportunity to write it.

If the TARDIS could drop you off to any one site in its heyday, where would you go? 

With deep apologies to the whole of human history, I think that I would need to tool up and go see the truth behind the fossils. The choice isn’t Ancient Rome or da Vinci’s studio, for me, it’s Cretaceous or Carboniferous, or scuba diving through the Burgess Shale fauna.

What appeals to you most about ancient sites/landscapes?

There is nothing more evocative than an ancient landscape, civilisation or relic that still retains its mystery. All too often that turns out to be something of a false promise, but when confronted by something like the Antikythera mechanism, or the as-yet unopened tomb of Qin Shi Huang, it’s a window onto a past that remains as mysterious and elusive as myth.

What do you have coming out next? 

The last two volumes of Shadows of the Apt should be out this year and next, after which I have a stand-alone fantasy, Guns of the Dawn, which takes place in a sort of alternate 1800-style of setting, concerning a bitter war between two formerly close nations. My personal tagline is “Jane Austen meets Bernard Cornwell by way of Ursula le Guin.”

[Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Lincolnshire, studied and trained in Reading and now lives in Leeds. He is known for the Shadows of the Apt fantasy series starting with Empire in Black and Gold, and currently up to book eight, The Air War. His hobbies include stage-fighting, and tabletop, live and online role-playing.]

Seeing the Sites: Introduction

As you might be able to tell from Ancient Wonders, I’ve got a bit of a thing for ancient sites for a wide variety of reasons. From a historical perspective you’ve got all the mystery about who built them and why, what they did with them and what other people did later, and how exactly do you go about lugging bloody great bluestones all the way from the Welsh mountains or cutting so many weirdly shaped blocks and getting them to fit perfectly in a wall? And let’s face it, the finished product, regardless of intent and construction technology, are still very impressive things to see.

But beyond the sensible historical stuff, there’s something about ancient sites that gets the imagination running rampant. When I was a teenager I tended to view them from a burgeoning New Agey Pagan perspective, drinking in the wonder of a living landscape that promised potential magic, though I never could get my head around that whole worship thing – but then, any kind of organised religion makes me twitchy, regardless of whether it’s contained in a church or spread out among stones in a field somewhere.

Then there are the wilder possibilities, the gateways to other realms, the lost cities waiting to rise, legends that could easily manifest from the physical markers left, and those ones, I think, hold an appeal for me that is easily as strong as the archaeological attractions.

In his Age of Misrule series, Mark Chadbourn wrote (among many other things) about a ley-line superhighway, marked by stone monuments, and that was such a perfect concept that somewhere, somewhen, it has to have been true. There are barrow entrances that are so obviously entrances to the underworld or other worlds that it’s a wonder that the National Trust don’t post warning signs up; and any temple that’s managed to stay relatively intact has absolutely got to have at least one secret chamber with the associated booby traps, treasure and guardian beasties.

Which brings me nicely to the Seeing the Sites series – where I’ll be posting about the sites I’ve got a particular fondness for (both real and legendary) and occasionally roping in others to add their two-penneth. So stay tuned for the first post in the series – West Kennet Long Barrow.

Ancient Wonders Goes Ebook!

wonders1Oh yes my fine and funky people, Ancient Wonders is now officially up on the Kindle.  Available from Amazon UK here for the bargain price of £3.28 (and a variety of prices from the other Amazons) but if you’d prefer an epub format, email Peter Coleborn via  alchemypress[at]gmail.com and he’ll sell you it directly (and if you ask nice, he can probably sort you out with a DRM free mobi copy if you object to the Amazon locked version.)  Paperback editions are still available for those that prefer their stories dead-tree, so either way, you, gallant reader, have nothing but win!

And if you’ve forgotten what loveliness awaits behind that glorious piece of Dominic Harman artwork, then check it out:

A fabulous introduction by Kari Sperring
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Bones
James Brogden – If Street
Shannon Connor Winward – Passage
Pauline E. Dungate – One Man’s Folly
Anne Nicholls – Dragonsbridge
Peter Crowther – Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day
Misha Herwin – The Satan Stones
Lynn M. Cochrane – Ringfenced
Bryn Fortey – Ithica or Bust
Adrian Cole – The Sound of Distant Gunfire
William Meikle – The Cauldron of Camulos
John Howard – Time and the City
Selina Lock – The Great and Powerful
Aliette de Bodard – Ys

Alchemy Goodness for 2013

Following the rather lovely launch of Ancient (Buy it! Buy it now!) Wonders, am dead chuffed to announce that me and m’funky co-editor Jan Edwards will be doing another Alchemy anthology next year! It will be called ::drum roll:: The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic and will be launching at WFC next year.

Can I get a woohoo? Woohoo! 😉

Now then…this does, of course, mean we’re looking for subs…

The basics: For The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, we are seeking contemporary tales with all the magic and wonder of myth and legend, blending modern life with the traditions of folklore from around the world. Whether lurking in dark alleys or brash shopping malls; from shanty towns to the floating cities of Venice, Bangkok or Dubai; swanky riverside penthouse lofts or humble suburban semis, we want to see how the mythic is woven into the everyday.

We want fantasy that entertains but also pushes beyond the usual urban fantasy boundaries; fast-paced action; folk tales re-imagined; mythic creatures adapting to the urban environment; noir; humour; horror (with recognisable mythic elements); literary or lighter styles. Fully realised characters are a must and solid plots extremely desirable.

We don’t want: secondary worlds, steampunk, SF, zombies, paranormal romance or erotica. Also, no human sacrifice, magic help-lines, heaven/hell as a corporation, mythic-beastie love triangles or relentless gore. No poetry.

We are seeking original fiction. Reprints only accepted by agreement with the editors (and will be very few). No simultaneous or multiple submissions. Contributions between 3,000 and 8,000 words. Submission period runs from January 1st to March 31st 2013. Do not submit outside of those dates.

More details to be found on the official APBOUM page here.

We’re interested in settings and cultures not traditionally covered in urban fantasy but make sure they’re well researched and not exoticised.* We’d also like to help make the field of speculative fiction more inclusive and welcoming to both authors and readers from traditionally underrepresented groups, so we’re interested in seeing stories from diverse perspectives and backgrounds.

~ # ~

And if that wasn’t enough, we’ll also be launching a range of Alchemy Novellas! Full guidelines and wotnot here

In very short – in 2013 there will be 4 e-novellas, which will be collected into a print book at end of the year. Open subs months are December 2012, March 2013, June 2013 & September 2013. Length range: 15,000 – 35,000 words. (The big boss prefers 20,000 – 25,000.) No reprints.

Genre-wise, they’ll cover almost all areas of fantasy: heroic fantasy, alternate world fantasy, urban fantasy, supernatural, dark crime and horror. Comic fantasy will be considered but not if it’s a parade of puns or bad gags. We are not fans of zombies or heroic vampires. We will not publish hard science fiction. Though there is some flexibility depending on how well the novella works for the editors considering them. Of which I am one! 🙂

That guidelines link again!

~ # ~

*Handy links for things to bear in mind:
 Appropriate Cultural Appropriation by Nisi Shawl
What is Cultural Appropriation by the Angry Black Woman also posted here with additional comments.
Safe Exoticism, part 2: Culture by Athena Andreadis
From Aliette deBodard:
–  Writing Cultures: Insider vs. Outsider
–  On Worldbuilding, Patchwork and Filing off the Serial Numbers
–  The Prevalance of U.S. Tropes in Storytelling

(I’m sure there are more, but I can’t track them down at the mo. Any additional links on the above/similar topics gratefully accepted!)

More funky things…

So today saw the delivery of the books for my next history module – this one being on Empires and a level 3 course (gulp).  But, still, shiny new books with shiny new book smells!  Alas, the new OU policy of not letting you know your assignments until the website officially opens at end of the month has completely buggered my intentions of getting ahead of things… Ah well, there’s still lovely booksies to read…

In other news, the fabulous Adele over at her new imprint Fox Spirit, has just published the excellent sounding Tales of the Nun and Dragon…  Behold! The cover….

 

Have got my copy and will be reading it ever so shortly…

In other-other news, I do believe I have found the perfect hairstyle thingy for evil-twin’s Wedding-of-the-Century.

 

Thank you Katy Perry for doing all the work and modelling it! Nice and simple and purple!

Oh, and, of course, I really should be mentioning that order details for that there Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders are emerging -paperback editions available from Amazon UK, Amazon USABarnes & Noble or The Book Depository for £10 / $15 – though can be had for the bargain price of £8 if you buy it at Fantasycon in a couple of weeks.  No news on the e-book editions as yet, but rumour has it our beloved publisher is working hard to crunch files and sort that out…

Annnnnnd, not only that, but m’fine and funky co-editor Jan and I will be doing another anthology next year – that one will be the APB of Urban Mythic and details on that shall be forthcoming after Fantasycon…

Ancient Wonders innards!

Let there be w00t! We now have the final table of contents for the upcoming Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders!

Introduction from Kari Sperring
Adrian Tchaikovsky – Bones
James Brogden – If Street
Shannon Connor Winward – Passage
Pauline E. Dungate – One Man’s Folly
Anne Nicholls – Dragonsbridge
Peter Crowther – Gandalph Cohen and the Land at the End of the Working Day
Misha Herwin – The Satan Stones
Lynn M. Cochrane – Ringfenced
Bryn Fortey – Ithica or Bust
Adrian Cole – The Sound of Distant Gunfire
William Meikle – The Cauldron of Camulos
John Howard – Time and the City
Selina Lock – The Great and Powerful
Aliette de Bodard – Ys

Ancient Wonders will be launched in Brighton at Fantasycon on Saturday 29th September, at 10am. News on ordering details to follow shortly on the Alchemy Press website.

Meanwhile, we shall be dancing on the furniture and shrieking like mad things… ::bouncybouncybouncy::

Cover-tastic!

Hurrah! We can haz cover! Behold, the gorgeousness that is the Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders… ta daaaah!

The fabulous artwork is by Dominic Harmon and to say we’re a bit thrilled about it would be an understatement of epic proportions.

In other news, there’s, ooh, less than a week left for you to get your submissions in.  Check out the the posts here, here and here for the details.  Read the guidelines, burn them into your brain, and pay attention to the theme – we’re flexible on what your ancient wonder is, but real or made up, it needs to be in there somewhere.

Meanwhile, we shall be happy-dancing all over the sofa. 😉