Friday 28 March 2014

David A Trampier - thanks for illustrating my imagination.

So David A Trampier died four days ago. I will be honest and say that until today I'd never heard the man's name. I do however owe him a debt.

I've seen his initials a thousand times DAT. The reason? Between age 11 and 16 I was a huge D&D addict. I played on through my late teens and for the whole of my first stint at university, though having discovered girls I was less faithful than in my earlier years.

David Trampier literally illustrated my imagination. He drew the pictures in the D&D Monster Manual and this was a period where fantasy illustration was essentially confined to book and album covers (where it often involved muscly barbarians and women in fur bikinis). Trampier offered something entirely different.

Call me shallow but I tended to populate my campaigns with the monsters that looked coolest - the ones Trampier's pen brought to life best.

You couldn't swing a cat in my dungeons without hitting a lizardman.
I loved the shield in this one. I was always trying to copy it and failing.

Basilisks, were-rats, medusas, fire giants - Trampier's images are fixed in my mind - they're my default.

I plead guilty to putting far too many remorhazs and giant wasps in my campaigns just because I liked Trampier's pictures so much. I loved covering the stats with one hand, turning the book around and saying ... "It looks a bit like that..."

People ask me who my influences are and generally I can't say. I certainly don't cite D&D as an influence on my writing - D&D makes for very poor anecdotes in my experience. A whole book's worth would be pretty dire. However this is the cover of possibly the very first Official D&D Campaign I ever saw.

The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl - circa 1978

& I have just written a book with jarls, Vikings, and ice cliffs in ...

RIP DAT. And thanks.

Thursday 27 March 2014


So, I've been signing a lot of books lately. It's part of an author's lot. For the Unfettered Anthology I had a stack of 750 pages to sign ... it takes a while, and if I start listening to music or some other distraction I start to make mistakes.

Anyhow, I've seen a lot of these lately!

And when you're signing time after time you can't help but start to think about the signature itself and the process of forming it. And inevitably, when you start thinking about it your signature starts misbehaving. The act of signing is an explosive reflex action, over-think it and it suddenly falls apart.

Ostensibly my signature is on the 'readable' side of author sigs. It actually looks vaguely like my name. Though on close inspection it does deteriorate!

So, with a stack of pages needing signing I thought, "Why not blog about signatures instead?" So here I am, doing that.

While my signature may tend toward readable, a certain JRR Tolkien, most famous of all fantasy writers, who presumably signed a few books in his time, set out the most readable signatures ever! In fact it's less a signature than it is his name in his handwriting...

Here we see another old school fantasy writer (Robert Jordan) with an entirely legible signature, and his successor, Brandon Sanderson, who appears to be doing his best to cross out the print version of his name and claim a signature at the same time...

George RR Martin also seems to be in the 'scribble over everything' school of signatures:

Peter V Brett shows more restraint but again makes very little attempt at forming any of the actual letters in his name.

Of all these highly lauded authors I think perhaps Pat Rothfuss is closest in style to my own efforts. We both have a shot at it. We both get some actual letters in there then rush the ending, and neither of us are very successful with the letter 'a'.

In the end, though, we all of us have made our mark. We've scribbled on the page and spoiled your book, and somehow made it more valuable, either emotionally, financially, or both. So while I may scowl at the pile of sheets before me with a hard done by look ... in the end I know it's all in a good cause, forming a connection with those most excellent of people who go out and buy the things!

Sunday 23 March 2014

The 5 stages of Waiting for a Book

The 5 stages of waiting for a book

The Kubler-Ross 5-stage model of grief appears to apply to waiting for books too...

Denial: This book will never get written.

Anger: This is taking forever!

Bargaining: If you could just email me the first draft I wouldn't let anyone know...

Depression: Oh God, I'm never going to get to read it.

Acceptance: Yes, it's out!

Which stage are you in?

Sunday 16 March 2014

US Covers vs UK Covers!

Is there a UK cover style vs a US one? Certainly very different choices are made in many instances.

Here are 8 covers suggest to me on twitter as very different in their incarnations. Below the images is a poll where you can vote which version you like best... will there be a pattern I wonder?

UK covers                                      US covers
67% 33%
54% 46%

72% 28%






78% of 161 voters prefer UK covers overall

Saturday 15 March 2014

Prince of Fools Advance Reader Copy - charity auction!

[Auction over - book won with a very generous bid of $413 (£250)]

We've had Prince of Fools Advance Reader Copy opportunities for the lucky, and for the skilled (ongoing contest!), but what about the rich? Will nobody think of the poor rich people? Or indeed the poor poor people who are just very generous?

To remedy this situation I am (with publisher approval) auctioning this very rare signed ARC for charity. Specifically the Children's Hospice charity that helps with my youngest daughter, Celyn, and many other children not expected to reach adulthood.

Make me an offer! The highest offer wins & you can donate directly to the hospice then send me a copy of the electronic receipt.

Bid in the comments, or email me at to make an anonymous bid.

Celyn at Charlton Farm Hospice handing over checks from previous charity auctions.

Don't be worried about making a small bid - we have to start somewhere and any bid will just encourage someone to up the stakes.

Auction ends Tuesday 12pm GMT

Remember - it's for a great cause and you'll be able to pat yourself on the back all year if you win  :)

The current winning bid is $413.00