A few weeks ago, Justin Landon interviewed Sam Sykes (self-proclaimed Angriest Man on the Internet) over at Rocket Talk. While discussing various important issues in the SFF world, they made the following comments:
Sam: ‘Cause I — it really bugs me when people, like, send me pug pictures. I have a pug. His name is Otis. And he’s awesome. And I post a lot of pictures of him – Justin: — A lot. – Sam: — A lot. Because I think he’s awesome and he’s funny-looking and he does strange things. But, you know, people seem to think this means I am like one of those old ladies who has ceramic pugs, and my welcome mat says “Beware of pugs”. Justin: Have fans sent you pugs? Sam: Like, pug, like, little… Justin: Like little porcelain pugs? Sam: No, no. Justin: Can I just say that if anybody listening to this podcast sends Sam a porcelain pug, I will send you something. Sam: I will send you a bomb! Justin: If a fan sends you a porcelain pug, I will send that fan a gift.
[You can listen to the podcast HERE — relevant portion is at the 39:47 mark]
If you want to see the pug-egg with real Swarovski crystals in all its glory, I’m sure Sam Sykes will be bringing it with him on tour for his forthcoming book, A City Stained Red. Or you can click HERE.
If you just want to be mean to Sam, tweet or FB him, “Pugs leave paw prints on our hearts.” He loves that.
Fantasy authors, nearly as fun as romance writers.
The second half of the two-part Speculate Podcast is now live! Go HERE to listen to Brent, Peter V. Brett, Brad Beaulieu, and Gregory A. Wilson discuss what’s unique about graphic novels, giving up control, and the process of adaptation.
Brent sat down for a chat about comics with Peter V. Brett over at the Speculate! Podcast. Hosts Brad Beaulieu and Gregory A. Wilson grilled them about Brett’s Red Sonja projects, the graphic novel adaptation of The Way of Shadows, and more. You can tune in HERE. And next week they’ll be posting part 2!
Shawn Speakman, proprietor of The Signed Page, will once again be offering signed copies of Brent’s latest book as soon after publication as possible. This time, you can order hardcover copy of The Broken Eye — personalized by Brent, to the person of your choice — for $33.00. The books will be signed on August 30, 2014, and then shipped as soon as possible.
Fan artist Chris Z. has put together some great illustrations over on the fan forum page, and he’s agreed to let us share them here (click to see larger versions). If you’d like to see more fan art, go HERE.
Brent has some new writing advice. We’re trying out a new interview-based format. I ask Brent your questions, and he jabbers. You can check out the latest one HERE, now with 100% more bedhead, and pictures of Brent’s workspaces.
Sword & Laser, a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club, has just posted their interview with Brent! If you’d like to hear how he went from writing on bar napkins to a New York Times bestselling author — you can find the interview HERE.
Opportunities to blurb one’s nemesis are rare indeed. Having been published in ye olde aught-7, Joe Abercrombie is the elder in our Sith-padawan duo, whilst I have only been in print since late, late 2008. Our careers have followed similar trajectories: each of us receiving early and effusive critical praise (oh wait, that was him), each of us selling millions of books (him more millions–or a more… ebullient publicist), each of us winning the David Gemmell Legend Award (oh wait, that was me), each of us being dubbed George R. R. Martin’s heir apparent (oh wait, that was neither of us). I taught swing dancing in college; Joe does a wicked hip-hop-folk-dance-locomotion-twist-Macarena fusion that you wouldn’t believe. As you can see, the similarities are eerie.
When I opened the package containing Joe’s book (not addressed to me), I rubbed my hands together. I cackled. I stroked my beard. I got to work.
The trick, of course, is to write something that sounds positive, but may not be. You also have to avoid fragments that can be pulled that undermine your snarkish intent: “I love John’s frequent use of correct punctuation in his work!” could be undermined. A canny publicist will pull real praise out of a reckless phrase, like so: “I love John’s…work.” or, stretching morality, even “I love [this] work!”
If you write something the publisher doesn’t use at all, you’ve failed. (That is, unless you can get it to stick on Goodreads or Amazon.) And if you write something amazing but not specific to the target, people will just attribute it to Mark Twain. (“Any brilliant double-edged quote from an American author will be attributed to Mark Twain.” –Mark Twain) As you can see, a daunting task indeed.
So… a quote for Joe Abercrombie, eh? *cracks knuckles*
There are myriad correct ways to address Joe Abercrombie’s work; one of them even involves praise.
Let’s just get this out of the way. The low-hanging fruit*:
Though slender, I wouldn’t call it half a novel. Half a King isn’t half bad!
Is Half a King Abercrombie’s best yet? You’ll half to see for yourself!
*reviewers punning on the Half in the titles of this series, that there is a sin of weakness–unless you can make many puns in your review or find one that others have overlooked. I know, it’s hard to resist. You’ll be forgiven the “half” puns on this first novel. Do it on novel two and three, and you’ll earn sighs and derision, respectively.
Hitting where it hurts (the wallet):
There is only one way to show how much I enjoyed this book: I scanned it and am distributing it to the whole internet for free!
Here’s a good one for readers who like to believe they don’t look down on the YA genre:
Now writing Young Adult fantasy, Joe Abercrombie has finally found his intellectual home.
The baffling, yet catchy:
This book seals it: Joe Abercrombie is the Kanye West of fantasy.
The sneaky slander:
Critics have wondered, is there a Joe Abercrombie without the f-word? Fuck yes!
The secretly snarky:**
Will this novel make shortlists everywhere? Well, I certainly wouldn’t give it the axe!
**Only works if you know a rarely-used idiom, AND that the Gemmell Award is a battle axe.
The grimdark (the challenge here being to attach the mildly pejorative label “grimdark” to Joe’s work without ever using the term directly):
Some worried that Abercrombie’s move to Young Adult novels would mean a loss of his grim, dark tone. Though the events of this novel are often grim, dark themes aren’t overwhelming. Much as in the Brothers Grimm, dark colors are used to highlight moments of humor.
The needlessly cruel (may be attributed to Mark Twain):
Definitely worth picking up from the remainders shelf.
Worth every penny I paid for it. (My thanks to the publisher for the free review copy.)
I look forward to being able to get the whole series for half off.
My real blurb:
Perhaps his most technically proficient novel yet, I dare you to read the first chapter and try not to turn the next page. Some wondered if what makes Joe Abercrombie so different would survive the transition to YA. Abercrombie fans, have no fear: Polished and sharp, the un-adult-rated Abercrombie is still unadulterated Abercrombie.
Ugh, you have no idea how my stomach sinks to write actual praise. Dammit, Joe.
A few months ago, I teased about a book I’d read that I loved, but I didn’t tell you what it was. Partly because I didn’t want to scoop the author’s own marketing efforts, and partly because, hey, I believe in obnoxiously enjoying small perks to the hilt. But here’s what I was enjoying:
Robert Jackson Bennett is one of those quirky-bright writers whose quirky-brightness will serve him in the long run, but has seemed to handicap him in the short term. There’s a gap to bridge between even a great book, and that book finding the right readers. In my opinion, Robert’s books have been hard to shelve because they straddle genres. He’s drawn comparisons to voices as diverse as Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and Madeleine L’Engle, and has gotten good mentions from people as widely dispersed in the genre as Jim C. Hines, Jeff Vandermeer, Nisi Shawl, and…me! His debut novel, Mr. Shivers, certainly wasn’t my normal favored milieu, but I really enjoyed the book despite a setting I quite frankly usually avoid. (A quirk of mine, nothing more.) And I could tell immediately that Mr. Bennett was going to grow. That’s the thing about smart writers—they learn, they adapt, they get better.
I’m proud to say that I was right. (I love being right.) With City of Stairs, I think that RJB has done something really impressive: fans of his early work will see plenty of what they have come to love about Robert’s work, but new readers looking for an exciting, kick-ass story in a deep setting will enjoy this book too. Readers love great books, but people fall in love with great characters, and in City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett introduces one in a way that is clever, graceful, and over the top all at once. Sigrud is a side character, but he’s a GREAT side character.
Robert, don’t f**k up Sigrud.
Other people have nicethings to say about City of Stairs, and I’m sure many more are to come.In the interest of being pithy and hitting different points than others had, I said this:
“Robert Bennett Jackson deserves a huge audience. This is the book that will earn it for him. A story that draws you in, brilliant world building, and oh my God, Sigrud. You guys are going to love Sigrud.” -Brent Weeks
As you may know, Robert has opted for an… eccentric online persona, so in that spirit, I also sent them the following blurb, but… I don’t think it’ll make it onto a cover:
“Please don’t read this book. I am jealous of the success of others, and would not like Robert Jackson Bennett to enjoy the hordes of fans he deserves.” -Brent Weeks