Thursday 19 July 2012

Vive la France!

Continuing in my green habits of recycling and avoiding waste - here's an interview I did for a French magazine, en Anglais here for those of you not fluent in French and/or not subscribing to a host of French magazines...

1. Your main character is thirteen year-old. Why did you choose such a young boy to be the hero?

The reasons for the choice are simple and several-fold. Firstly the inspiration for the book was Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange wherein the violent protagonist is of a similar age leading a gang of older reprobates. Secondly, and for quite possibly similar reasons to Burgess, I chose a young age to:

i)  cloud the issue of guilt in his crimes.
ii)  highlight the matter of nature vs nurture
iii) place the protagonist close to the events that have shaped him.
iv) give him potential for growth.
v) explore the changes that are wrought in us through experience in contrast to those that occur through simply growing.
vi) and to focus on the business of moving from childhood to adulthood even when the former has been stolen rather than discarded.

2. Jorg is very cruel, ready to kill his fellows when they are not agree with him. Then, can we still speak about a hero? Is Jorg an anti-hero?

Neither. The great writers (and I make no claims of being one) turn the spotlight on us, reveal truths, reframe them and offer them up without judgement. If fantasy insists that each book be about a hero, or the opposite, then the genre will never have anything any more important to say than do bodice-ripping romances or slick thrillers sold in airports.

I’ve always felt that a genre in which there are no limits in terms of imagination should not find itself corralled by simplistic expectations regarding its characters. Other authors have led the way in expanding the fantasy genre toward its full potential and I’m hurrying along behind.

I wrote a book about a person and stamping a label across his forehead implies we’re dealing with characters from a role-playing game, paladin, thief, etc. Fantasy writing is much more than that.

3. It asks the question of good and evil. It seems that every characters of The Prince of Thorns are on this evil side ! Was it something intentional ?

I think there are a number of characters in the book who are decent people. They aren’t a major focus but they are there. It’s certainly true that the men Jorg surrounds himself with are unpleasant and dangerous.

I don’t think I could say anything in the book was unintentional – I’m not sure how that would work! The book does ask questions concerning good and evil, but the main intention was to present a person who does bad things but who is able, initially through his charisma and cleverness, but later through his back-story, to make the reader want him to succeed and to like him despite their horror at what he does.

4. Is there any details of the book that could be interpreted  as a description of the 21st century?

No. The inspiration came from A Clockwork Orange which is set in the near future and did offer a critique/satire on current society, but if Prince of Thorns says anything deeper than the story presented then it’s about the business of being human rather than about the particulars of our society.

5. Is Jorg inspired by the young people or the world of nowadays?

No. He’s inspired by the strange combination of nihilism and excess that characterise many people’s transition from child to adult, and by the uncompromising and violent reaction that tragedy can evoke in a person when it hits during that period. I think those things are more timeless than contemporary.

6. These acts of wanton violence, torture? What’s your point of view about that?

Um . . . wanton violence and torture are bad things.

7. You have four children? Did they inspire you to create your main character?

No. My children are all angels . . . *cough*

8. You’re a scientist, working on AI. We could expect Science-Fiction from you? How did you come to Fantasy?

I’m asked this a lot but I don’t follow the logic. All the other fantasy writers have jobs that might inspire them to write things other than fantasy. I doubt any of them tend unicorns for a living. My mother read me Lord of the Rings when I was seven (I cried when Gandalf died), so I was introduced to fantasy a long time before anyone noticed I was good at mathematics. I’ve read fantasy books ever since and been involved in fantasy gaming.

9. By the way, how the idea of The Prince of Thorns was born?

I guess the same way most book ideas are born – an open page with nothing on it. I just started typing and this is what came to me.

10. Reading the book, it seems beer have is importance for the characters. Is it true you make your own beer?

I do make my own beer but I wouldn’t like to pretend that I’m good at it. We’re talking about a big plastic barrel and beer-making kits here, with the motivation being that it’s so much cheaper than buying in a shop and paying all that tax to the government. It’s quite fun to do.

11. Your book is a Fantasy and nevertheless it seems god is some kind the Christian one. You also speak about Jesu ! Why Jesu and not Jesus?

You might ask why Crath City isn’t called Paris. The book is set a long time in the future and the language and names have changed – as language and names do. The reason I made the change explicit is to put a little distance between the faith practiced in the book and the one practiced today.

12. How can we place your story in history?

The setting is something I would prefer readers to discover while reading the book, but anyone reading reviews or interviews before reading a book must expect some spoilers. . . The events take place about a thousand years after a nuclear war that occurs a few decades into our future.

13. Last but not least question : Your book is very humoristic even if it’s very dramatic and violent. Where does this point of view comes from?

Part of it is simply that it is through Jorg that we see events unfold and Jorg does take a savage delight in his endeavours – he has a quick tongue and a sharp one, it’s part of his charm. And also I guess that being able to joke even in the darkest of times is part of what being human is about. For the most part though it’s a subtle and observational humour.

Tuesday 17 July 2012

King of Thorns excerpt!

A short non-spoilery King of Thorns excerpt is available on Staffer's Book Review along with a guest blog by me on writing book 2. It's all part of a series of posts on the topic by ten authors who debuted in 2011 and like me are onto their second volume now. Check out the schedule here - I've read Hulick, Mazarkis, Frohock & Schafer all of whom are well worth a look.

And here's the Polish cover for Prince of Thorns. What's a blog post without eye candy?

Saturday 14 July 2012

Stupidly Huge & Given away.

You may recall The Stupidly Huge Giveaway and the rather excellent entries ...

I can't tell you how pleased & impressed I was by so many people taking the time and producing such wonderful works of creativity. Very many thanks to all entrants.

The results are shown in the graph below. The top scoring entries align closely with my own picks but the excellence continues down the field with the 5th placed entry #14 being the personal favourite of several voters who I know have no connection to the contestant.

1st place #10
2nd place #6
3rd place #16
4th place #12

In addition to the popular vote Hollywood insider Stephen Susco cast his eye over the entries and his top 4 closely aligns with the that above (he chose 6/10/16/12).

So Charlotte Freyja Mattey is our grand prize winner, congratulations!

#6 gets a King of Thorns T-shirt
#16 gets a Prince of Thorns T-shirt or a copy of King of Thorns
#12 gets a Prince of Thorns T-shirt or a copy of King of Thorns (depending on which #16 chooses!)

Very many thanks to all involved and here are the winning entries again, in order, for your viewing pleasure:

1st prize!

2nd prize

3rd prize

4th prize

Tuesday 10 July 2012

VOTE - It's The Stupidly Huge Giveaway Entries!

So - listed below are links to the 16 entries to The Stupidly Huge Giveaway. Click on them, take a look, make your mind up. It's you who decides who wins!

I want to offer my thanks to all the entrants for not leaving me hanging on this one! When I annonounced the competition I hadn't realised what a diverse and creative set of submissions would come in. It has been very impressive. Having tried my own hand at a movie I can say with authority that even a simple production can involve a LOT of effort . . . and many of these entries are far from simple!

We have entries from across the globe - US, UK, Europe, Middle East etc - and as a poor linguist I have to applaud the entries from non-native speakers of English.

Results so far...
(early days yet!)

Voting: You may award points to up to 10 entries. You will award between 1 and 10 points. The highest scoring entry will win. You can't give the same point score twice.

Examples of legitimate votes:
Example 1:  10 points to #4
Example 2:  7 points to #2
Example 3:  9 points to #7 and 6 points to #3
Example 4:  10 points to #8, 9 to #3, 8 to #1, 7 to #2, 6 to #5, 5 to #11,4 to #3

i.e you can score as many entries as you like (so long as it's not more than 10) and you can score them 1 to 10 points (so long as you don't use the same score twice).

You can vote for yourself. Once.

How/Where to vote: To promote transparency and fairness

i) If you're one of my 385 facebook friends you can vote on my voting thread there or message me there.
ii) If you're one of my 250 Goodreads friends or 295 Goodreads fans or just an established Goodreads member - you can mail me your vote there or put it on the comments of my TSHG blog entry.
iii) If you're one of my 832 twitter followers you can tweet your vote to me (put #TSHG at the end). Or if you have a twitter account and don't follow me (shame on you) that works too.
iv) If you've made any of the 247 previous comments on this blog or you follow the blog you can put your vote in the comments on this post.
v) If none of that works for you, email me at empire_of_thorns(remove this)

Be generous with your points - let's not let anyone go home with zero!

I will chart the ongoing scores fairly regularly so people can see how things stand.

If you have problems with any of the movies, let me know. They have different audio levels - some need the sound whacked way up.

Some of the links look dull (i.e no picture) but they lead to great movies, so check 'em!

Entries (listed in order of submission)

Entry 15 (at the top because somehow I missed it and it's gone in late :/  )

Entry 16: (movie! Another one that was in time & I missed... I'm going senile, clearly. Give extra love to 15&16, it wasn't their fault!)

Entry 1: (movie!)


Entry 2:


Entry 3: (entrant may have had help from grand-daughter)

Entry 4: (something the entrant made at home I believe)

Entry 5: (movie! someone believes in speaking to their plants)

Entry 6: (movie! the only actor who dares show his/her face!)

Entry 7: (Animals snapped in entrant's garden!)

Entry 8 (movie! Animation & reading):

Entry 9: (Looks to me like this dog's been reading King of Thorns!)

Entry10: (movie!)

Entry 11:

Entry 12:

Entry 13:

Entry 14:

Sunday 8 July 2012

The Stupidly Huge Giveaway - more entries!

Only 2 days left to enter The Stupidly Huge Giveaway (TSGH) - closes 10th July

Here are some of the latest entries:

Jorg deals with Gemt (click for movie)

Jorg Final Summary

& animals in my garden (higher resolution in contest display)!

so, you can see the contest is hotting up. Remember - I don't choose, it will be a vote.

Friday 6 July 2012

The Scale of the Bookiverse

So this is a little movie I put together, inspired by THE BEST THING ON THE INTERNET:

Seriously give this a go Scale of the Universe

And my own effort where the scales (areas of the circles) are proportional to the number of ratings each named book has on Goodreads. The inserted video below has been disappointingly blurred by blogspot so use this link for a better quality version:

Tuesday 3 July 2012

The Stupidly Huge Giveaway, early entries!

Here are a few of the entries that will be open to public vote - the highest scoring to win TSHG.

Just a reminder of the PRIZE (1) (2)


No voting on these yet, just a display to inspire you to take part. As you can see, the bar isn't set sky-high :)

Monday 2 July 2012


I just got 2 copies of King of Thorns - turns out it's quite chunky! I've added it here to a subset of prize for The Stupidly Huge Giveaway.