Monday, 17 November 2014

Alec Worley interviewed

Last month Alec Worley launched our latest 2000 AD tie-in series with his new eNovella Judge Anderson Rookie: Heartbreaker, a brand new prose title which saw us taking readers back to veteran Psi-Judge 

AB: SO WHAT’S ‘JUDGE ANDERSON: HEARTBREAKER’ ABOUT?

AW: Like the Dredd: Year Zero books, this is set during the character’s first year after graduation. So at this point Anderson is still fresh out of the Academy of Law and getting to grips with life on the streets. You don’t need to know anything at all about Anderson’s history from the comics or even the movie. You can just dive right in and meet her for the first time.

Anyway, about the story: Anderson is on the trail of a telepathic killer who has been selecting victims via ‘Meet Market’, Mega-City One’s premier dating agency – a sort of cross between eHarmony and eBay. Anderson has to go undercover and bring the murderer to justice before the citizens attending the upcoming Valentine’s Parade find themselves smitten with something even deadlier than love.

AB: WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO WRITE ANDERSON INSTEAD OF DREDD?

AW: Anderson’s one of my favourite 2000 AD characters. She’s just awesome. In those early stories she’s so full of life, such a perfect foil for Dredd. I just really, really wanted to write her. But also, prose is perfect for getting inside a character’s head and I think the effectiveness of Dredd’s character lies, for the most part, in you not being allowed inside.
With this story, I know a lot of readers will be coming to it from having watched Anderson in the 2012 Dredd movie, so I wanted to apply that grimy procedural feel to the world of the comics in which this is set. But I also wanted to make Anderson more sure of herself than she was in the movie and show what she’s made of right from the beginning. This may be her first year on the street, but she’s no pushover. I really wanted to emphasise her strength, smarts and determination as someone who’s survived 15 gruelling years of life-or-death Judicial training. Despite her ‘rookie’ status, she doesn’t need to prove herself to anybody. She’s a Judge!

I’m fascinated by the idea of what it might be like to be psychic. Make that character a cop and you can really go to town. This is a woman who can literally hear what people are thinking. How does that work exactly? What does it feel like? How would that affect you as a person and your view of everyone around you? When I was pitching ideas, I found this article I’d read about online dating and got imagining about how you could take that to an extreme in the crazy world of Mega-City One. Straight away that suggested all these cool conflicts and ideas about how people relate to each other. A psychic like Anderson was perfect for that setting. I’m not sure I could imagine Dredd going undercover at dating agency!

AB: DREDD IS A NOTORIOUSLY TOUGH CHARACTER TO WRITE. WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES OF WRITING ANDERSON? HOW DO THEY DIFFER?

AW: Dredd needs more contrast, I think. You have to have these contrasting supporting characters or else place Dredd in situations that bring out just how much of a badass he is. Let’s face it, all Judges are hard-as-nails law-machines, dedicated to nailing perps, so Dredd stories have to dramatise just how dedicated and ruthless Dredd is compared to everyone else in the Department. Anderson is more human, more volatile and unpredictable, and as soon as I started writing her I realised that I had to come up with a very specific way in which she perceives the world.

The fact that she’s psychic also makes her a nightmare to deal with when it comes to plotting. This is another way in which magic and the supernatural can poison a story if you’re not careful. Scenes often rely on characters withholding information from each other, so Anderson has the potential to kill a scene stone-dead the minute she walks into it. If Anderson was the detective in, say, Chinatown or Silence Of The Lambs, the movie would be over within ten minutes. And this story had to be a whodunit, which presented so many difficulties when it came to breaking down the story. I can see now why so many of Anderson’s adventures in the comics tend to be action-adventure or psychedelic supernatural stuff where her psi-talents have less opportunity to directly impact the story.

AB: THE SCENES WHERE YOU’RE DESCRIBING HER READING PEOPLE’S MINDS, RETRIEVING THEIR MEMORIES AND SO ON, WORK REALLY WELL. HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THEM? WAS THERE A LOT OF RESEARCH INVOLVED IN THE BOOK OVERALL?

AW: Loads. I read a lot on neurology and dug out of lot of New Scientist articles about how the brain works, how memories work and wotnot. Of course, there’s a lot of poetic license, and I used it really as a starting point. The thing is you have to articulate all this stuff. When you have Anderson reading people’s minds or engaging in psychic duals in the comics you can have all that wonderful Boo Cook-style phantasmagoria. You know, brain-waves radiating off her, weird images bursting from her head, all that stuff. But how do you express that in prose? Unless you can describe exactly what she’s going through, a psychic dual ends up more like a staring contest! Plus, there’s different kinds of psychic in the Dreddworld – telepaths who can hear thoughts, empaths who can feel feelings, and so on – so different psychics perceive things in different ways.
I was also reading a lot of non-fiction about police tactics and procedure, including David Simon’s Homicide, which is just amazing, beautifully written and full of detail. Reading this stuff I was thinking about how a psychic would read that room or conduct that field interview.

I think real world details have become increasingly important in Dredd. It’s a series that’s become steadily rationalised over the years, which has probably got a lot to do with the aging readership. But it’s a very tricky balance trying to bring a sort of adult rationality to something that was dreamed up for the amusement of little boys in the ‘70s. I think ‘realistic’ and ‘believable’ are two different things, but, for me, you can make a story both if you just see the world through the character’s eyes, which is an even more interesting proposition with a character like Anderson as she’s seeing the world through everyone else’s eyes too.

AB: THE FIGHT SCENES IN THIS REALLY STOOD OUT. I’M NOT SURE WE’VE EVER SEEN ANDERSON GET QUITE SO HANDS ON IN THE COMICS…

AW: Again, I wanted to bring in the grittiness of the movie. In the comics, I guess all these sort of kickboxing moves look pretty cool, but I wanted the fights in my story to be more real-world. All this came about just by thinking through who she was, thinking through the way cops and marines fight. It’s all elbows and chokeholds and it’s over in seconds. Plus, I’d just seen the Gina Curano movie Haywire and loved it. But you can’t put that sort of technical fighting in 2000 AD as it eats up too many panels. So again, prose proved ideal. My best friend does MMA. He’s also a massive geek. I showed him a picture of Olivia Thirlby and asked him if a woman of that build and height take out a room full of guys if she knew what she was doing. ‘Absolutely,’ he said and spent the rest of the evening showing me exactly how. I tried to get as much ferocity in there as I could without it getting too technical. It’s also less about how she looks and more about what she can do.

AB: TO SUM UP, WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON ANDERSON?

AW: I see Anderson as someone who – despite the Academy’s efforts to drill all these things out of her – is cheeky, hip and full of wisecracks and often struggles to keep her thoughts to herself. She can also be laid back to point of being cocky. She’s changed an awful lot since she first appeared in 2000 AD, but I’ve always seen her as someone who believes the city is worth fighting for and not just out of a robotic sense of duty like Dredd, but genuine compassion. She’s a brilliant character and I think she’s a terrific entry-point into the world of Judge Dredd.


***

Mega-City One, 2100 AD. Psi-Judge Cassandra Anderson’s first year on the streets as a full-Eagle Judge.

After a string of apparently random, deadly assaults by customers at Meet Market – Mega-City One’s biggest, trashiest dating agency – Anderson is convinced a telepathic killer is to blame. Putting her career on the line, the newly-trained Psi-Judge goes undercover to bring the murderer to justice.

She'll have to act fast. Mega-City One's annual huge, riotous Valentine’s Day Parade is fast approaching, and the killer has a particularly grand gesture 

Heartbreaker is out now on the kindle (UK | US) and via our DRM-free eBook store.

About the author: Alec Worley was a projectionist and a film critic before completing his Future Shock apprenticeship for 2000 AD and creating two original series: werewolf apocalypse saga Age Of The Wolf (with Jon Davis-Hunt) and 'spookpunk' adventure comedy Dandridge (with Warren Pleece). He's also written Judge Dredd, Robo-Hunter, Tharg's 3rillers and Tales From The Black Museum.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Exclusive excerpt: Gods and Monsters: Mythbreaker by Stephen Blackmoore (NSFW)

Before you continue please head the warning tag - this post is really not safe for work. Also, if you are at work you probably should get back to it before you get yourself fired. 


***
GODS & MONSTERS: MYTHBREAKER
by Stephen Blackmoore





CHAPTER 1


AFTER YEARS of doing everything from smoking crushed-up Quaaludes in a Skid Row homeless camp to snorting cocaine with Miami “businessmen,” Fitz has come to one inescapable conclusion.
Getting high is a huge pain in the ass.
You’d think it wouldn’t be that hard. Doesn’t matter if it’s pot, opium, ecstasy or Viagra; it all works the same way. You take a thing, and put it in your body. It goes up your nose, or down your mouth, in a vein, up your butt. Simple, right? But no.
People, man. Fucking people. Got to make everything complicated. Pipes, domes, vaporizers, spoons, butane torches, screens, papers, irons, ash catchers, straws, grinders, nails, syringes, chillums, hookahs, clips, masks.
Not that that’s ever stopped him, of course. Whether he’s popping prescription anti-psychotics or doing opium out of a glass pipe, it’s all worth it. To keep the voices out of his head.
“Gimme a hit,” Marty says. He leans into him on the bed, wraps his leg around Fitz’s own. They fucked the sheets off the mattress an hour ago, their clothes scattered across the floor.
Or is it Matty? Marvin? Fitz can’t remember. That’s fine. He’ll be gone by morning, and he’ll never see him again. Dark brown hair, thin to the point of ribs showing, eyes a shade of green that makes Fitz think of the ocean. He’ll remember those eyes, even if he never remembers his name.
Fitz passes him the pipe, runs the lighter underneath until the dab of opium dissolves into a little dark pool. Marvin sucks down the vapor, holding it in for a moment and then blowing it out through his nostrils.
“Oh, I like that,” Matty-Maybe-Marvin says.
Last week there was a girl. Patty? Pamela? He did a lot of coke with her. And the week before was a couple of Mormon missionaries who weren’t quite as devout as their nice white shirts and straight black ties would suggest.
“It’s good, isn’t it?” Fitz takes the pipe from him, packs another dot of opium into it and lights up. He sucks in the vapor and his mind goes still.
If it didn’t, there wouldn’t be much point. He’s not in it for the high. He’s in it for the way it shuts his brain up. All the backchatter and noise. Like being in a crowded bar. And the sights. Images that crowd out his own vision, sometimes; make it hard to tell what’s real and what isn’t.
A mix of anti-psychotics and benzos does the trick most of the time, shuts things up enough where he can function. But sometimes it gets too much. Everything’s too loud, too bright, too everything. And that’s when he goes out, gets himself a nice little brown ball of pure joy and a twink like Matty here and spends the weekend in a hotel room getting fucked up and sucked off.
“I’ve never tried it before,” Marty says. Dammit, maybe it’s Michael? “It’s... different. What’s the craziest stuff you’ve ever tried?”
“Toads,” Fitz says, his voice hazy like smoke.
“Toads?”
Bufo alvarius,” he says. “Colorado river toad. They secrete a toxin on their backs that’s like doing acid. It’ll really fuck you up.”
“So, like, you suck the toad?”
“No. God, no. Eew. They taste nasty,” Fitz says, remembering when he’d heard about the toads and tried exactly that. “You squeeze it. And when it starts to secrete the toxin you slap it against a windshield and smear it all over. You get this gross, goopy gel. And then you let it dry in the sun and scrape it off and smoke it.”
Marty shudders. “That’s disgusting. Seriously?”
Fitz shrugs. “No idea, really. I just smoked the shit.”
“But what about the stuff we just did? You got any more? I want another hit.”
“Pace yourself. This shit ain’t for amateurs. And it costs more than you do.”
“Fuck you,” Matthew says, less admonishment than suggestion. “I’m plenty expensive.”
“My point exactly.”
He trails a long fingernail from Fitz’s neck to his cock, his fingers wrapping lightly around the shaft. “What’ll it take to get another hit?”
“That’s a good start.”
“How about I smoke your toad?”
“Is that what we’re calling it now?”
He kisses his way down Fitz’s chest and stomach until he’s taken him in his mouth. Fitz rides the high of the opium, the feeling of lips around his cock. Drifts away on the sensation.
Then the visions slam into him like a truck through a convenience store window. They punch through the opium haze, sear into his brain.
Panic and howling winds. Angels and demons fucking in mid-air, tearing into each other with swords of fire. A raven-haired woman in green pulls the still-beating heart out of a man’s chest and holds it high, before tearing dripping chunks from it with razor teeth. Bulls and bears battle in a pit of money while high above them the sky fills with clouds of numbers in an unending stream of data that watches and waits and passes judgment. The images tear through him, fill him like an empty basin, crack and burst through the sides.
And through it all is the high, keening wail of someone screaming like they’re on fire, like their skin is being flayed from their bones, their eyes being put out with nails.
It isn’t until the police break down the door that he realizes it’s him.


Hospitals. Full of sick people. The old, the frail, the dying. The constant stink of disease and antiseptic, of rot and bodily fluids seeping out of holes that should never leak. They die in their beds, bleed all over them. Shit in them, too. Beds just like the one Fitz is currently lying in and handcuffed to. He’s wearing nothing but a badly fit gown that’s cut too high and leaves his ass exposed. His head hurts, and when he reaches up to touch it he feels a bandaged lump on his forehead.
But there is good news, as good news goes. He overheard a cop and a doctor outside his room talking. Fitz isn’t being locked up on a 5150, an involuntary psych hold. It’s happened a few times and he’s narrowly avoided doctors admitting him for a longer stay so they can turn him into a case study. He’s not schizophrenic, they say. He’s too lucid, they say. He has hallucinations, but not delusions. He’s not bipolar, not depressed, not manic. They don’t know what he is, though they all agree ‘crazier than a shithouse rat’ is a pretty good description.
If only that was a listing in the DSM-V.
But of course, there’s bad news, too. He’s probably going to do some time for the drug charge. He’s got a record, and judges don’t like records. He got picked up for heroin a while back and avoided an eighteen-month stint in the state penal system by going to rehab. He’s probably not going to get that again.
Even with a good lawyer, he’s probably going to do a stint in County.
This is a problem. A very big problem.
“Louie Fitzsimmons?” the doctor says as he comes in through the door. He’s young, like Doogie Howser young. Asian, with wide, dark eyes. Is this what happens when you get older? You see people in their twenties and they look like they should still be at their mother’s tit?
“Far as I know.” He’s having a hard time remembering everything he saw when he freaked out in the hotel room. Mostly he remembers blood.
The doctor chuckles. “You’re doing better than you were. Can you tell me what you were on? The young man you were with didn’t say.”
“Benadryl. Maybe some Advil. You know. I had a headache. And I got allergies. Must have had a bad reaction.”
“Right,” the doctor says. “And this Advil it was, uh, smoked, was it?”
“Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about, doc.”
“Uh huh. I hope those allergies clear up, Mister Fitzsimmons. I don’t think you’re going to be getting any Benadryl for a while.”
“How about some Advil?”
“Sorry,” the doctor says. “We only do Tylenol here.” He closes his chart, heads to the door. Stops when a six-foot-plus wall of muscle steps in his way. He looks up at the giant woman standing there.
“I don’t think you’re supposed to be in here,” the doctor says, his voice suddenly very small.
Samantha Kellerman looms. At six-foot-five, with eyes like carved jade and a shock of bright red hair, Sam can’t help but loom. It’s built into her DNA. She is not fat, she is big-boned. This only explains her girth because those bones are wrapped in two-hundred-and-twenty pounds of densely packed muscle built doing MMA before she lost a bout in a bad way. She is big-boned surrounded by big-meat.
“Cops said I could,” she says, pointing over her shoulder with a thumb.
“Oh,” is all the doctor can seem to get out. “Okay, then.” He edges past Sam and scuttles away down the hall.
“What’s eatin’ him?” Sam says. She slings a backpack off her shoulder and onto the hospital bed.
“I think you scared him.”
“Don’t know why. I’m just a big ol’ teddy bear. You doin’ all right?”
Fitz holds up his left arm as far as the cuff securing him to the hospital bed will let him. “Been better. How’d you get in here, anyway?”
“Couple of the cops are Blake’s customers. They gave me a few minutes.”
“He got any prosecutors in his pocket?”
Sam shrugs. It’s like watching a mountain shrug. Fitz half expects to see boulders tumble to the floor. “Used to. But these days? Dunno.”
“I gotta get out of here, man,” Fitz says. “I am not going to do well in prison.”
“Jail. The prisons are all full up. And you know you won’t do a full stretch. Blake’ll take care of you, man. He always does. They gotta get you squared away here and then book you. Then they’ll probably move you to County for a few days before they get you in front of a judge.”
Any other time that would be a relief. Fitz and Sam have known each other, and worked together, for almost twenty years. Fitz to cook books and hide money, and Sam to break legs and hide bodies. All in the service of Blake Kaplan, a record producer who moved into selling drugs when his boy bands didn’t quite get there. Wasn’t much of a stretch; he was supplying his kids with enough coke to frost the Alps, so moving into a wider distribution was a natural progression.
No matter what happened, Blake always took care of his boys. Then, as now, whether it’s getting someone out of jail, fixing a parking ticket, scoring some Zoloft and Haldol for Fitz to take the edge off, Blake’s always come through.
But as soon as Blake figures out a couple of things Fitz has done, that’s all going to stop, and Fitz needs to get out of here before it does.
“Yeah,” Fitz says.
“Oh, come on. Why so glum? You’ve done time before.”
“I got a suspended sentence and rehab,” Fitz says. “I was in for a weekend.”
“And that’s what this is. Three days max and Blake’ll post bail.” Sam pulls up a chair. “So what happened? You have another one of those episodes?”
Those episodes. Explaining to Sam that when they hit it’s like having his mind turned inside out and poured down the drain is like trying to teach a dog orbital mechanics. Sam’s good as murderous thugs go, but anything outside of MMA, craft beer and the best places in Los Angeles to hide a body never seems to fully register with her.
“This one was pretty bad.”
“Huh. Well, Blake wanted me to tell you he’s got you covered. He has all the updated passwords, right? He’ll take over the books while you’re out of commission.”
“He can’t do that,” Fitz says a little too quickly, trying to hold his panic down.
“How come?”
“I need to clean a few things up. The numbers are off. I think I transposed some digits. They won’t add up.”
“I don’t know what any of that means,” Sam says. “But Blake’ll figure it out.” She gets up, pats Fitz’s hand. It feels like she’s slamming a Christmas ham across Fitz’s knuckles. “We’ll get you taken care of. I know you don’t want nobody to help you with these episodes, but if they’re getting this bad, you need to see somebody. Like, for real this time. Not that dealer in Koreatown you keep talking to.”
“But—”
“I mean it. Like a real doctor. But right now, don’t worry about it. Oh, before I go.” She unzips the backpack, pulls out a shirt, pants, socks, shoes and a jacket. “They said they brought you in naked. So I hit your place and grabbed you some stuff. I wasn’t gonna touch your underwear. Figure if you’re going to lock-up you should at least have something to wear besides a hospital gown for the ride over. There’s nothing else in there. I had to promise the guys outside I wasn’t sneaking anything in and I don’t want them gettin’ into trouble.”
“You’re the most honest crook I know.”
“Thanks. So take care and don’t worry. We got your back.”
Fitz waits until Sam disappears through the door before he really starts to lose his shit. Blake’s going to look at the books. And when he does he’s going to figure out that things aren’t adding up. It won’t take him long to see it.
After all, it’s hard to hide fifteen million dollars.
Not that Fitz hasn’t tried. He’s been skimming from Blake for almost ten years now. He doesn’t want to be an accountant the rest of his life, after all. He’d like to retire sooner rather than later. So he’s taken a little bit here, little bit there. Funneled it all into an offshore account in the Caymans and covered his tracks.
But in the last few months he’s gotten more aggressive about it, and just a week ago he grabbed nine million out of some of Blake’s own offshore accounts and he hasn’t figured out how to hide it all yet. When Blake goes looking, he’s going to find it.
And the next time Fitz sees Sam, she’s not going to be bringing him a change of clothes.


Gods & Monsters: Mythbreaker is out in the US December 2nd 2014.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Eric Brown and Una McCormack Weird Space collaboration announcement

The Rebellion eBook Halloween sale now on - selected titles just £1.50


Abaddon Books is delighted to announce the summer 2015 publication of New York Times Bestseller Una McCormack and critically acclaimed author Eric Brown’s first collaboration.

McCormack and Brown are set to publish The Baba Yaga, a space-opera novel set in Abaddon BooksWeird Space series, for summer 2015. 

In the on-going Weird Space series it has been only a few years since humanity made peace with the fierce Vetch, drawing the lines between their vast, interstellar territories, and relations are still tense. But are the warlike aliens our greatest threat? The Weird – monstrous, bizarre entities from outside reality – are breaking into our universe, and the Expansion, the oppressive government of the human diaspora, will stop at nothing to protect itself…

Now in McCormack and Brown’s The Baba Yaga the growing threat of the Weird has driven the Expansion to paranoia and oppression. Mandatory testing for infection is introduced, and the colony Braun’s World – following reports of a new portal opening – is purged from orbit, at an unimaginable cost in lives.

Delia Walker, a senior analyst in the Expansions’s intelligence bureau, protests the new policies and is drummed out. Desperate for a sign of hope, she charters the decrepit freighter the Baba Yaga and heads into Satan’s Reach, following rumours of a world where humans and the Weird live peacefully side by side.

Hunted by the Bureau, Walker, her pilot Yershov, and Failt – a Vetch child stowaway, fleeing slavery – will uncover secrets about both the Weird and the Expansion; secrets that could prevent the seemingly inevitable war...

“Take a dash of Blake's 7, a hint of Serenity, stir in some classic science-fiction mystery adventure and then give it a good shake with a steady hand”
Starburst Magazine on The Devil’s Nebula

Exclusive cover reveal
When we asked Brown – creator of the world of Weird Space and author of the first novels in the series – who he’d most like to pass the baton on to, McCormack was top of the list. The Baba Yaga will be the third title in the series, and marks the end of one era and the start of another, with McCormack at the helm.

Una McCormack is a New York Times bestselling author of novels based on Star Trek and Doctor Who. Her audio plays based on Doctor Who and Blake's 7 have been produced by Big Finish, and her short fiction has been anthologised by Farah Mendlesohn, Ian  Whates, and Gardner Dozois. She has a doctorate in sociology and teaches creative writing at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge. She lives in Cambridge with her partner, Matthew, and their daughter, Verity.

“An eerie, sorrowful story”
– Bleeding Cool on McCormack’s Good Night, Sweet Ladies

Eric Brown is the award-winning author of a huge number of SF novels, such as Helix, Engineman, Necropath, and The Kings of Eternity, as well as many children’s books, radio plays, articles and reviews.

“Brown’s novel is serious fun, a modern SF spin on Rudyard Kipling and H Rider Haggard, with a resourceful heroine, enough derring-do to keep the pages turning, and some sincere points about imperialism.”
- The Financial Times on Brown’s Jani and the Greater Game

Available:
US: June 30th 2015 * 978 1 78108 364 2 * $7.99
UK: July 16th 2015 * 978 1 78108 363 5 * £7.99

Monday, 27 October 2014

Pumpkin Reveal!

Hi All, 

So every year the Moore household carves several pumpkins, and as I've blogged before, I sometimes like to ask our readership for their thoughts and preferences as to suitably horrific or interesting designs. This year, I poked the Facebook and Twitter accounts asking for thoughts, and two came out that I was up for: Pumpkinstein's Monster, and Judge Pumpkin.


Of course, Judge Pumpkin has never taken off his gourd. Only the hint of a flicker shows the true candle underneath.



Pumpkinstein's Monster is quite sad. His existence is one of angst and suffering. He deserves your empathy...

Many thanks for your suggestions! I'll be sure and poke you next year...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Publication review round up: Two Hundred Twenty-One Baker Streets



“Plenty to write Holmes about… Holmes is like the Doctor – geeky, dangerous, supremely intelligent.” – SFX Magazine

"No one can deny the cleverness of this collection and as a casual fan, it has inspired me to read the original Doyle novels. 9/10" - The Cult Den

"It’s the sheer quality of this storytelling ability—by this handful of authors—that makes Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets a cut-above the rest" - Spec Fiction Hub 

"Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streetsis a worthy addition to the ever-expanding universe of Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation." - Criminal Element

"Precise and neat yet immensely engaging, it’s a great example of the craft of short story telling" - The Book Beard

"This anthology is for any Sherlock Holmes fan; there’s something here for everyone, and the writing is just that damn good." - Ventureadlaxre

"Two Hundred And Twenty-One Baker Streets has a story for everyone. It’s full of brilliantly written tales that any fan of Sherlock can appreciate." - Readingbifrost

"Excellent book written from a new angle. A really great book that keeps you wanting to read on until the end. The modern day setting gives the book a more realistic storyline that will be popular with readers of all ages in contrast to the usual Victorian London background." - Catherine Bryce, netgalley

"With such a wide array of stories about Holmes in this anthology there truly is something for everyone. If you’re a fan of Sherlock Holmes then I highly recommend that you check out this anthology ASAP." - Bibliognome

"Great addition to my Holmes collection!" - Lauren Koller, netgalley

"LOVED this book. As a fan of Sherlock Holmes, I enjoyed seeing him and Dr. Watson in alternate scenarios... Recommended for all lovers of Holmes & Watson!" - Kelli Kohrherr, netgalley librarian

"The imaginative stories about Sherlock Holmes and his down-to-earth counterpart, Doctor Watson, make for compelling reading." - L. Wayne Hicks, netgalley

"The quality of the writing is universally excellent" - Tea, Talks, Books

"A good selection of stories... I definitely recommend it to Sherlock Holmes fans." - Take a walk on the writeside

"All-in-all a fine idea, well edited and presented." - something interesting this way comes

"Most of the stores I was sad to see end so quickly. I have read all of the original Holmes stores written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and I found these to be complimentary of those original works. 4/5" - John Purvis

"With such diversity, there will certainly be something here for everyone. And so, whether you are a traditionalist or more experimental when it comes to the Holmes canon, you should definitely give this anthology a try." - Nicki J Marcus

"Highly recommended to all Sherlock fans, looking for something different." - Mark Coulter, netgalley

"What a great collection of short stories. The diversity of characters and settings is fantastic. This is a great resource for studies of reversioning. It's also very entertaining." - Trish Lunt, netgalley educator

"If you like all (or most) things Sherlock, then you'll want to read this book." - Second Bookshelf on the Right


Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets is OUT NOW


 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Guest Post: James Lovegrove on super heroes and Sherlock Homes

Hi, Lydia.

Here you are.  The first two paragraphs are optional (by which I mean, not for publication). Obviously.

Best,
James

David Thomas Moore is quite clearly the greatest man who has ever lived and will ever live, a colossus who bestrides the world of publishing and every other world, showering those around him, those lucky enough to know him, with his genius.  His talent for just about everything exceeds that of the foremost experts in any field.  He also has a beard.

But enough about David Thomas Moore.  Here’s a blog piece about my tale for 221 Baker Streets.
[ED: Err not sure this was meant to be included Gittins - have you been at Guy Adams' drink cabinet again?]

***

I'm a fan of superheroes. 

Always have been.  

I was into superheroes long before it was fashionable,long before Marvel movies were raking in billions at the box office and everyone knew who Green Arrow was thanks to the hit TV show.  Since the early 1970s I've eagerly followed the exploits of comic book costumed folk with super powers.  I've stuck with them through the lean years, when even the people responsible for writing and drawing stories about them seemed to lose faith and be overwhelmed with a sense of futility and despair, and will continue to stick with them despite the fact they’re now ubiquitous and big business.

I've also always been a massive Sherlock Holmes fan.  My father read me the Conan Doyle stories when I was little, and the character and his world have stuck with me ever since.  Holmes is, I would argue, a superhero himself, a prototype of the caped adventurer who rights wrongs and fights for justice with a loyal sidekick forever accompanying him.  Holmes’s super power is his brain, his amazing ability to analyse, deduce and ratiocinate, his unerring eye for the small, telling detail which leads him to unlock mysteries and collar crooks.  Like many a superhero he is flawed, sometimes insufferable, his main Achilles heel being his boredom-driven manic depressive episodes and his penchant for pharmaceutical stimulants – but you can still be sure that, come what may, he is staunchly, resolutely on the side of the angels and will never succumb to his dark side.

When I was asked by David Moore to contribute to an anthology of short stories featuring Sherlock Holmes in various different settings and configurations, my immediate thought was to write something which involved super powers.  From there it was a short hop to imagining a world where everyone had a power of some sort, a preternatural attribute which they could utilise to varying degrees.  There could be people who were extraordinarily strong, people who could fly, people who could swim underwater…  The setting would be the Victorian era, exactly as we know it, with this one major twist.

And then I thought, what if Sherlock Holmes was someone who lacked any such power?  What if he was a rare anomaly, born vanilla, without the abilities which everyone else took for granted?  How would that change him?  Would it alter what he does?  Would he still be the world’s first and only consulting detective?

Of course he damn well would!

And so I wrote “The Innocent Icarus”.  It isn't my first Holmes outing, not by a long shot.  I have written two novels featuring the character (The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War) with a third (The Thinking Engine) due out in 2015.  I have also penned a short story, “The Fallen Financier”, which appeared in George Mann's Encounters Of Sherlock Holmes anthology, and I am starting work next year on a trilogy which pits Holmes against creatures from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

“The Innocent Icarus” is, though, I think the sheerest fun I've had with a Holmes tale.  It’s a fusion of classic detective yarn and superhero fantasy, and thus reconciles my two earliest and most enduring literary passions in a single, unified whole.  

You could say it’s a story I've been waiting all my life to write.

***

James Lovegrove (jameslovegrove.com) was born on Christmas Eve 1965 and is the author of more than 40 books. His novels include The Hope, Days, Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed, the New York Timesbestselling Pantheonseries—so far Age Of Ra, The Age Of Zeus, The Age Of Odin, Age Of Aztec, Age Of Voodoo and Age Of Shiva, plus a collection of three novellas, Age Of Godpunk—and Redlaw and Redlaw: Red Eye, the first two volumes in a trilogy about a policeman charged with protecting humans from vampires and vice versa. He has produced two Sherlock Holmes novels, The Stuff Of Nightmares and Gods Of War.

James has sold well over 40 short stories, the majority of them gathered in two collections, Imagined Slights and Diversifications. He has written a four-volume fantasy saga for teenagers, The Clouded World (under the pseudonym Jay Amory), and has produced a dozen short books for readers with 
reading difficulties, including Wings, Kill Swap, Free Runner, Dead Brigade, and the 5 Lords Of Painseries.

James has been shortlisted for numerous awards, including the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, the Bram Stoker Award, the British Fantasy Society Award and the Manchester Book Award. His short story ‘Carry The Moon In My Pocket’ won the 2011 Seiun Award in Japan for Best Translated Short Story.

James’s work has been translated into twelve languages. His journalism has appeared in periodicals as diverse as Literary Review, Interzone and BBC MindGames, and he is a regular reviewer of fiction for the Financial Times and contributes features and reviews about comic books to the magazine Comic Heroes.

He lives with his wife, two sons and cat in Eastbourne, a town famously genteel and favoured by the elderly, but in spite of that he isn't planning to retire just yet.

James Lovegrove is the author of The Innocent Icarus in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Guest Post: Glen Mehn on David Moore, that giant among men

What can I say about David Moore, that giant among men? He knows his way around a pub and a book launch, for certain. So much so that, after a launch sometime in the distant past at Forbidden Planet he, after a few pints, thought it would be big and clever to ask me to write a story “anywhere in time or space except Victorian London” about Holmes and Watson.

I’m a fan, and I was all excited and rushed home and told my partner, and then waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Mostly during the waiting I thought “I really shouldn’t have told anyone. David probably thought I was James Smythe - the other tall writer, but the one with talent and craft. It was surely not happening. He must’ve been drunk. Other sightings of Moore at London literary events showed no evidence of the anthology or his kind offer.

Until months and months time later when I got an email inquiring as to whether I’d any idea where and when. Publishing: It does not move at any sort of speed, not even that of molasses.
I had, indeed, thought about my setting for Holmes and Watson and I thought I’d look at something medieval, in the Inquisition, and see if I could get up an earlier, more rational Holmes, but I’d been listening to some old punk bands - New York Dolls and Patti Smith and the Talking Heads - and so I said “Maybe 70s New York, the birth of punk” as well.

David was happy with whatever I’d do but said he was more keen on the 70s punk thing.
As happens when you dig into the early days of punk, you keep bumping into Lou Reed, John Cale, and Mo Tucker. They’re everywhere, and they lead you back to the Factory.


The Factory is this critical time and place in American history. Whether you’re a fan of Warhol’s or not, this coming together of culture, of exploration and change that’s very, very different in New York compared to San Francisco and the Summer of Love or much of what’s thought of as the 60s - the American war in Viet Nam, race riots, and the first wave of feminism.

I tried to imagine who these characters would be - despite the action in the story, I don’t tend to be someone who builds relationships between the two - but in this particular time and place, with the experimentation and the drugs going around, I thought that it actually made serious sense.

Valerie Solanas is famous, of course for two things: the S.C.U.M. Manifesto and for shooting Andy Warhol. The manifesto is brilliant and witty and incisive - absolutely worth a read - as is Solanas’ play Up your ass that Andy refused to produce. The shooting is blamed on madness, but I thought that there had to be more to it, and thus, a mystery was born.

As we know, there’s only one person for a mystery: That’s Sherlock bloody Holmes. Erudite. Educated. Here part of the American upper classes that sound - almost - English. Having dropped out of his life and spending it in search of something different, something meaningful, something diverting.


The moral of this story, if there is one, is to make sure you spend as much time drinking pints with David Moore, that giant of men. 

***

Glen Mehn (glen.mehn.net) was born and raised in New Orleans, and has since lived in San rancisco, North Carolina, Oxford, Uganda, Zambia, and now lives in London. He’s previously been published by Random House Struik and Jurassic London, and is currently working on his first hopefully publishable novel. 

When not writing, Glen designs innovation programmes that use technology for social good for the Social Innovation Camp and is head of programme at Bethnal Green Ventures. Glen holds a BA in English Literature and Sociology from the University of New Orleans and an MBA from the niversity of Oxford.

Glen has been a bookseller, line cook, lighting and set designer, house painter, IT director, carbon finance consultant, soldier, dishwasher, and innovation programme designer. One day, he might be a writer. He lives in Brixton, which is where you live if you move from New Orleans to London. He moved country five times in two years once, and happy to stick around for a while.

Glen Mehn is the author of Half There/All There in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Guest Post: Gini Koch on "How I Met My (Noble) Editor"

I was encouraged to go to my first WorldCon this past year (September 2013) by prolific author L.E. Modesitt, Jr. We had a long discussion about the pros and cons of going, and Lee certainly made the pros sound far more exceptional than the cons.

So, because I’m a girl who’s definitely able to follow instructions (you know, when I wanna), and because Lee gave me quite a long list of benefits I could expect to reap by dint of attending and participating on panels and such, I headed off to San Antonio for what was a really wonderful convention experience.

It was the last day, and so far, everything Lee had said would happen had so happened, other than one thing: I hadn’t run into an editor and had them invite me into an anthology. Oh sure, Lee hadn’t said that this was a given, but he’d made the point that many times one only got invited into an anthology if one was right in front of an editor pulling said anthology together.

I was in the middle of the dealer room, chatting with Ellen Datlow, Carrie Vaughn, David Lee Summers, and a variety of attendees, when two tall men with British accents came up and started to talk to Ellen. As often happens when there are a lot of people around all talking to each other in a fluid group, people move off in and out of smaller groups, still there but talking amongst themselves. This happened here, leaving one of the Brits and me standing near each other and yet alone.

So, I introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Gini Koch, I’m an author.”
 “I’m David Moore,” he replied pleasantly. “I’m an editor.”
“Oh? What do you edit?”
“WELL, I’m working on an anthology of Sherlock Holmes stories.”

At this moment I began to geek out like David was One Direction and I was a preteen girl. “Oh my GOD, I am a GIGANTIC Holmes fan!”
David, whose expression had been normally pleasant until now, got incredibly animated. “Me, too! Which Holmes do you like?”
“All of them! I used to swear I was a purist, that I only wanted ‘real’ Holmes, but now I realize it was a lie – I love any and every Holmes there is.”
“ME TOO! My anthology is going to put Holmes and Watson any time, anywhere, and in any way.”

At this point, David and I were both geeking out at the same level, having our own private Holmesian convention – albeit a convention of two, but two really PASSIONATE attendees – while everyone else was still enjoying WorldCon. However, as excited as we were, I’m sure we weren’t jumping up and down. Okay, not much jumping. Okay, we probably were, but I don’t believe there’s photographic proof, so it didn’t happen.

We were sharing our thoughts on every Holmes we could think of. “Sherlock”, “Elementary”, the Robert Downey, Jr. steampunk versions? Check. Jeremy Brett as possibly the best screen Holmes ever? Check. The awesomeness of Lucy Liu as a female Watson? Yep. Older Holmes movies? Naturally. Obscure Holmes movies only David and I had ever heard of? Double check.
By this time, I was squealing, “I HAVE TO BE IN THIS ANTHOLOGY!” And David was saying, “YOU’RE IN!”

I gave him my card and then spent the next week terrified that I’d somehow given him someone else’s card.

But I had not. And the rest is history.

Or rather, the rest is my story, “All the Single Ladies”, with a Holmes and Watson I’m really proud of. David was a joy to work with, the book is chockfull of great stories from wonderful authors, the cover art is beyond beautiful, and I’m still excited every time I think about the whole experience.

By the way, the moral of this story? Do whatever L.E. Modesitt, Jr. tells you to do – apparently he’s never wrong. And the other moral? One can never, ever, have enough Holmes.

***

Gini Koch writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” 
Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. Alien in the House, Book 7 in her long-running Alien series, won the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award as the Best Futuristic Romance of 2013. Alien Collective, Book 9, released in May, and Universal Alien is coming this December. 

As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series and she’s made the most of multiple personality disorder by writing under a variety of other pen names as well, including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch. Currently, Gini has stories featured in the Unidentified Funny Objects 3, Clockwork Universe: Steampunk vs. Aliens, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthologies, and, writing as J.C. Koch, in Kaiju Rising: Age of Monsters, The Madness of Cthulhu, Vol. 1, and A Darke Phantastique anthologies. She will also have a story in the first book in an X-Files anthology series coming out in 2015. 

Gini can be reached via her website: www.ginikoch.com

Gina Koch is the author of All the single ladies in the Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology out now from Abaddon Books!



Order UK | US

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Guest Post: Kasey Lansdale on Her First Pastiche



I’d never done a pastiche before. I’d read plenty of them, heard them discussed quite often, but it wasn’t something I had considered trying until David gave me the opportunity. I found it to be a more difficult type of writing than I had previously experienced. (Though everything has its own challenges)

 I felt a real responsibility to do it correctly, to honor the original characters and stories in a way that felt authentic. In the end, this may have added more pressure than was required. I realized early on there was no way I was going to capture the voice of the British Victorian era, so it was better to make it a present day experience using a character that was distantly related.

I suppose the idea to make it a patchwork killer came from my recent interest in knitting. I was working on a square, a knitting thing, and thought how fascinating it would be if someone had human skin rather than yarn. I actually didn’t focus on the mystery so much as the attempt to show the bond between the characters. Some people like this approach, some don’t. I always found that personally I cared less about the puzzle at hand and more about how the characters interact. Now, after having lived with those guys a little while, it seems like it might be fun to try again with another mystery.

***

Miss Jenkins took a bow, lingered as her head tipped downwards and her breasts fought to stay tucked into her burgundy corset. She moved offstage, but for the life of me I couldn’t see that her feet had even made contact. She moved like a crowd of men followed behind her. Most times, they did.

As the whistles and claps faded into the black behind her, she found herself at the lighted mirror where she had prepared only hours ago. She released the black clip which held a feather band to her head and shook loose her fire-red locks. Stuck in the corner of the mirror was a small white envelope. She peeled it open and smiled.

It was him again.

This time, though, something was different. He seemed more urgent, desperate to see her. He was going to have to wait. Men don’t want a woman who comes running every time they are called. He had a wife for that. This, this was something else. It meant more to him than it did her, but she didn’t mind. He was sweet and reliable and she got free botox out of the deal so it seemed like a win win.

Now changed and fresh faced, she shoved her stilettos into the bag flung over her shoulder and exited out the rear door into the alleyway as the door slammed shut behind her.

Tonight the crowd that waited for her out back was smaller than usual. Actually, it had been like that the last few times, but she couldn’t let that get her down.

“I still got it,” she said to herself as a sudden thud caught her attention.  

She could see the workers at the ice cream parlor down the way through the glass windows. Buzzing around, rushing to close up shop.

She signed a few autographs and posed for a few kissie-faced pictures as she walked to the parking lot that housed her new black Mustang convertible. She’d worked a long time to afford a car like that, and then just three weeks of being with him, she had it. All her own.

She stopped outside the vehicle under the street lamp which flickered above when she heard another loud noise. This time, she felt a sting in the back of her head.

She opened her eyes and the world spun. On the ground now, gravel embedded into the backs of her thighs she reached around to touch her head. It was wet, and the smell of dirty copper was strong. There was so much blood.

The spinning began to lessen and through the beams of light she could make out a figure standing over her.

“You’re gonna be famous forever,” said the voice.

Jenkins let out a whimper, and then the world went black.

***


First published at the tender age of 8, Kasey Lansdale is the author of numerous short stories as well as editor to several anthology collections. Her most recent project, Impossible Monsters, was released from Subterranean Press summer of 2013. A full time singer/songwriter, she has also just completed her first novel. She is the daughter of acclaimed author, Joe R. Lansdale.

She is the author of The Patchwork Killer in the new Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets anthology, out now from Abaddon Books!


Order: UK | US