So, today marks the official launch date of Blood and Feathers, by Lou Morgan.
I was very lucky to pick this up at the start of the week, the local Waterstones having a single copy out for sale which I immediately snapped up. Of course, it has not been replaced since – that’s Hull for you; endless piles of slice-of-life nostalgia wank in the style of James Herriot, single or zero copies of smoking-hot genre releases.
Did I say smoking hot? Oh yes, I should mention that. It’s bloody good. Working on the premise that the War between Heaven and Hell is starting to gather momentum, the main character Alice finds herself stuck smack dab in the middle of it. Far from being asked to pick a side, it becomes abundantly and immediately clear that both sides have plans for her, and neither seems overly worried about her opinion on the matter.
It’s a tricky balance, but Morgan handles the telling with aplomb. Sailing the course between Scylla and Charybdis (I know I used this description on Twitter already, but I can’t type “rock” and “hard place” together without thinking of Paul Bettany in A Knight’s Tale), the reader’s sympathy stays rooted in the most important part: the human one.
With the sequel already due August next year, it’ll be interesting to see where things go from here.
Also release today are The City’s Son by Tom Pollock, and the paperback of Department 19: The Rising by Will Hill. Sadly neither of these were in stock when I’ve been into town so my comments on those will have to wait.
Release days are an interesting bonus to the convention scene. I originally started going to cons for two reasons. Firstly, I was sick of trying to just guess what books were like based on the blurb, and I wanted to talk to REAL ACTUAL PEOPLE instead of trawling through blogs in the hope of finding someone with similar taste. Secondly, I wanted to find out more about this writing malarkey with a view to improving my own. While I’m not naive enough to expect anything to literally rub off of the authors I meet, the drive and the enthusiasm of pretty much everyone I’ve met has had a positive effect.
What I didn’t expect to find myself doing three years down the line was cheering and doing a little dance because I found a copy of a friend’s debut book in REAL ACTUAL PRINT and then running up to the counter with a face-splitting grin to buy it. I didn’t expect that at all. Aside from the odd road race, I’ve never really had occasion to cheer people on before. While that may seem like an odd way to put it, there’s a certain vicarious satisfaction in seeing your friend crossing the finish line. It’s something I’d like to see more of.
In other friends-writing-stuff-related news, I got to read something that very few other people have read so far, and it was so good I literally told my laptop to fuck off at one point. So good, I swore incoherently at a computer screen. There’s your cover quote right there.
In writing of my own news, I finished the first major editing pass of Kingdom’s Fall. Still not sold on the title. I like the Fall – it fits the titles I have in mind for the rest of the series – but not sure about the Kingdom. In any case, I sent off the draft to beta readers. Well, I say that and what I did was I sent it off to roughly half of the beta readers and had a small breakdown every time I hit the Send button. I’ll send the rest this weekend once my nerves have recovered.
Writing on Gunslinger Symphony was stalled until a couple of nights ago, as I was stuck figuring out how the plot was going to resolve itself. I ended up writing out plot points in different coloured pens down a page until I could see where the major sticking points were. You know when you think of something awesome, put it into a story and it hamstrings everything else? That was the problem. As awesome as it was, it had to go. Kill your darlings, as the saying goes.