24/10/2014

Some (very bad) pics and nice memories of a great day out at Loncon Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival 2014

Back in the middle of August I (along with the author Mike French of the 'Convergence' trilogy) went to the last day of Loncon 2014 at the Excel Centre in London Docklands, the first time in many years that this major fantasy/Science Fiction Convention has been held in the capital. My publishers Elsewhen Press had a pretty impressive stand in one of the vast halls which were stuffed to bursting with all sorts of sci-fi paraphernalia. There was a Hugo Awards stand opposite with every Hugo (the sci-fi writers' Oscar) statuette since the thirties, all in gleaming chrome, or hand-carved wood and ranging from 30's art-deco to something that wouldn't look out of place on a 60's Chevrolet's tail-fin. All of the various halls were vast hangers seemingly awaiting the return of their Apollo rockets; the main concourse with all its food stalls seemed to go on for miles. My publishers, basically Peter and Alison Buck, had already been at their station for days gamely plugging away at selling the marvellous Elsewhen catalogue to anyone who wandered in reach. Other EP authors were already in attendance; namely Christopher Nuttall (best-selling sci-fi author), Ira Nayman (very funny sci-fantasy), Sanim Ozdural (author of the fascinating LiGa sci-fi life/game distopia) and Caspian the magician who's new book 'The Magician in the Attic (first of a trilogy) was being launched later that morning by Elsewhen. Ira and Sanim had both travelled from their native countries just for this event (Canada and Turkey respectively) and had been staying over at nearby hotels (Ira's looked to me like a ship floating on the edge of Dockland's wharf, admittedly after we'd been in the pub for awhile) so a big effort had been made to support Team Elsewhen, and it was really nice to see Ira and Christopher (and his wife) again, and to meet Sanem for the first time. We cross paths digitally but actual personal contact can't be beaten. We all had a great day, especially Caspian's book-launch complete with dazzling magic tricks, ending with a lovely meal at a nearby restaurant with our tired but hopefully pleased hosts Pete and Al.
These pictures (admittedly poorly shot from my crappy phone and rather belated) are some glimpse of a very special day spent with my Elsewhen Press buddies. Next up for the EP team is Nottingham Fantasycon on November 16th; can't wait. 


Here we go, ready for a great day spent in this huge bizarrely-proportioned building which has the feel of an aircraft hanger gradually mutating into a Blade Runner-type shopping maul. Or something like that. It's both impressive and slightly surreal.

The wonderful and indefatigable Alison Buck of Elsewhen Press selling yet another
entertaining E.P. work to some lucky Con-goer (I don't mean she was dancing at the time).
 Peter Buck announcing the launch of Caspian's first YA novel in his upcoming trilogy.

 And the man himself about to read an excerpt from 'The Magician in the Attic' before wowing us with a number of baffling magic card tricks. Amazement/applause all round.
 Just one of a number of cavernous halls/hangers full of sci-fi/fantasy stuff - we're somewhere in the middle of that lot.
Somewhere near here I bought one of the biggest Cornish pasties I've ever seen (and eaten). It was lovely, if not particularly Cornish.
 A tents situation developing at Loncon.

Thanks for looking - Dave.



10/09/2014

'Take It Cool' by Jon Pinnock; a reggae odyssey

Apart from being the same rather extreme height as myself and an ex-Verulam Writers' Circler my good friend Jon Pinnock has just had his third successful novel published; 'Take It Cool' is Jon's attempt (for 'attempt' read obsession) to trace his white home counties Pinnock roots all the way to the way more exotic Pinnock's of the West Indies; an idea inspired by his discovery a few years ago of the nearly-famous reggae singer Dennis Pinnock's body of musical work. Would this quest bring him the cool his seemingly staid English heritage had, in Jon's eyes at least, so far denied him? Would he unlock the mystery of the two very different branches of Pinnock family connection? Would he get to meet the man in person? It's a great story from a superb raconteur; Jon couldn't tell a dull tale if his life depended on it and this book is laced with his usual acerbic wit and keen observation for human foibles, including his own, from start to climatic finish. In other words, its a great read.

Here's Jon's own take on 'Take It Cool':

TAKE IT COOL had its genesis back in the early 1980s, when I came across a secondhand reggae single with that name by a chap called Dennis Pinnock. It was pretty good, too, and I especially liked the dub B side, ‘Pinnock’s Paranormal Payback’. It intrigued me to think of a man of apparently West Indian heritage being saddled with the same daft two-consonants-away-from-disaster surname as me, but I didn’t take it any further until around ten years ago, when it suddenly struck me that I could Google him to see if he’d come up with anything else.

It turned out that he had. In fact, his discography ran to over twenty records, although he’d never got as far as making an album of his own, despite working with some of the biggest names in black British music. I began to wonder. What if I were to try and track him down? Might we be related somehow? There might be a story there, although at that point it seemed a bit thin to stretch out to an entire book.

But I wrote up a first draft of a chapter anyway and read it out to my local writers group, the Verulam Writers Circle. It went down very well, and during the discussion, one of the members of the group wondered if there might be a slavery angle behind our shared name. And that was the point at which the project suddenly became a whole load more interesting, because very soon afterwards I tracked down a Pinnock who – among other things – was a big deal plantation owner in Jamaica in the 18th century.

I now had several strands to work with. First of all, who was Dennis Pinnock? Was he still alive? Could I track him down? Secondly, what about all these other records? Were they any good? Maybe I could collect them all! (Sad, I know) Thirdly, what about the Jamaican connection? Was it even possible that – horror of horrors – I could be descended from a slave owner? So perhaps I needed to dig around in my past as well…

It took me almost a decade to pull all this together, partly because of all the research I had to do and also partly because I had no idea if it was ever going to be publishable. The one thing I did have in my favour was that no-one else was likely to come along and beat me to it. I’m still smarting from the way that Pride and Prejudice and Zombies waltzed in and stole all the glory while I was still writing Mrs Darcy versus the Aliens. But this one was always going to be a Pinnock project.

But finish it I did, and I did find a publisher in the end, in the shape of the wonderful Two Ravens Press. The finished book looks lovely – it’s even got colour pictures in the middle! – and everyone who’s read it so far seems to love it. As my publisher says, it’s unlike anything else on the market – which is both a problem and an opportunity. It’s a problem because there isn’t anything I can point to and say “It’s like that.” And it’s an opportunity for exactly the same reason.

Here’s where you can hear me reading the first chapter, which will give you an idea of what it’s all about:
https://soundcloud.com/jonpinnock/take-it-cool-chapter-one-two-consonants-away <https://soundcloud.com/jonpinnock/take-it-cool-chapter-one-two-consonants-away> . The text below it has details of where you can order the book, which of course you’ll want to be doing once you’ve had a listen.
        

  

21/05/2014

Waterstones St. Albans Launch Japanese Daisy Chain - Thursday 22nd May, 7.30pm

Launch Night for my second novel from Elsewhen Press, 'Japanese Daisy Chain', will be tomorrow evening at Waterstones St. Albans, 7.30pm, Thursday 22nd May.


Drinks and nibbles, parking free in town multi-storey. Please come if you can, I'll be reading one of the shorter stories. If you can make it I hope to see you there. Should be fun!
Japanese Daisy Chain takes us on a very individualistic journey around contemporary Japan through the eyes of the participants in a series of apparently unrelated incidents. Events that, to an outsider may seem a little strange or hard to explain, but to which we are given an exclusive insight – enabling us to see the consequence of contact with the paranormal, fantastic or downright weird. As each episode unfurls and our journey progresses, we alone can see the invisible thread that connects these events, albeit tenuously. A participant on each occasion, a minor character if you will, becomes the main protagonist in the next, creating a human daisy-chain. Just like a daisy-chain, what goes around comes around. The chain is completed and we finally understand karma…

25/04/2014

New sci-fi novel 'The Black Hole Bar' to be published by Elsewhen later this year

My new novel, 'The Black Hole Bar', is due to be published in e-book and paperback by Elsewhen Press later this year. Set in the year 2085 its about a Methane Gas company PR man called Simon who stumbles into a writers' group meeting in the aforementioned Black Hole Bar on level five of Docklands Spaceport on the fringes of the dirty bomb ruined city of London. He's a part-time writer as well and persuades them to let him join in with their monthly competition to win the much coveted Black Hole 'Rock' first prize. Simon's on his way to Titan, work not pleasure, and as the competition continues and more stories are told, including his own, he's split between staying until its conclusion or catching his flight; and the presence of an enigmatically beautiful girl called Dani isn't' helping him to reach a decision that could change the rest of his life. Here's the link to Elsewhen's press release:
http://elsewhen.alnpetepress.co.uk/index.php/2014/04/new-novel-compared-to-chaucers-canterbury-tales-and-boccaccios-decameron/

23/04/2014

Authorcon UK: Saturday 26th April at MadLab

I'll be making the trek up to Manchester on Saturday 26th April for Authorcon UK at the MadLab, 36-40 Edge Street. This is a convention largely for self-published authors or small presses but as two of my fellow Elsewhen authors have novels in the finals of the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards ('Bookworm' by Christopher Nuttall and 'Arteess: Conflict' by James Starling) I thought I'd go along and support them. It should be fun; I'll also be having a good chat with my publishers Peter and Alison Buck of Elsewhen Press, and may be able to pick up the first printed copies of my second novel 'Japanese Daisy Chain' (out in paperback on May 12th) if the printers have gotten a move on.
Anyway, it'll be a fab day out with some pretty nice people. Link to the event's site:
http://authorconuk.blogspot.co.uk/p/author-con-2014-details.html

09/01/2014

'Six Loners' short stories published on Amazon Kindle

My short collection of six stories seen from the famous protagonist's point of view 'Six Loners' is now live on Amazon Kindle. I feel these subjects are all 'loners' in one way or another, and was interested in what their personal view of well known events concerning their lives might be, as opposed to the public's general perception of what might have happened. Needless to say, I actually admire all six of these individuals greatly for various different reasons but collectively for having the guts to remain true to themselves under the most immense of pressures.
(Note: some of these stories have already been published with different titles in my 'Girl in a Shoebox collection but this is the whole set gathered in one place)

07/11/2013

Jacey's Kingdom Talk at Hertford Writers' Circle Wednesday 13th November

I shall be giving a talk to Hertford Writers' Circle about my new YA-crossover fantasy novel Jacey's Kingdom next Wednesday 13th November starting at 8.00pm. The venue will be The White Horse, Castle Street, Hertford SG14 1HH.
I'll be reading some extracts from the novel and my essay regarding the nameless fantasy genre I feel the book 'belongs' to; 'I'm Here But I'm Really There...'
Hopefully all will enjoy, looking forward to it.