Lord Of Silence – Get It Before It’s Gone

A quick heads up to anyone thinking of purchasing Lord of Silence, which has been getting some very nice reviews – don’t wait too long.

The publisher, Solaris, is up for sale, and even if the company is bought, the new owners don’t have the rights to Lord of Silence. Though I haven’t seen any figures, I have a sneaking suspicion the initial print run won’t have been huge as Solaris won’t want any spare books sitting in the warehouse when the new owners come in or the doors shut for good.

I’ve already had reports of quick sell-outs in US book stores. I don’t know how many books are left, but it’s worth stressing that – in the immediate future – this book won’t be permanently available like Age of Misrule.

Lord Of Silence Cover

Here’s a first look at the cover for Lord of Silence, my fantasy novel coming from Solaris on August 3.

lordofsilence

It’s by John Picacio, who has also completed the art for the US editions of the Age of Misrule sequence. Solaris describe it as “a rip-roaring, carcass-surfing (yes,really!) fantasy” which definitely captures the flavour. The blurb: “Vidar is a man tormented – by a lost memory and a vampiric jewel that demands the life energy of others. Now, with a killer loose within his home city, Vidar must solve a three thousand year old religious mystery to unlock the terrifying secrets of his own past.”

You can pre-order the UK version from Amazon here or from your favourite bricks and mortar bookshop.

Or you can pre-order the US version here.

Year’s Best Fantasy

My short story, Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast, starring Will Swyfte, Elizabethan England’s greatest spy, has been selected as one of the best short stories of the year for the prestigious Year’s Best Fantasy anthology.

Edited by David G Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, the annual book – this one is number eight – also features work by Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Tad Williams, Elizabeth Hand, Jeffrey Ford and more. Full list on the link above.

The story, originally published in the Solaris Book of New Fantasy has received a fair amount of pleasing praise from various corners, including media commentator and editor Lou Anders among others.

All of this bodes very well for more tales of Will Swyfte and his secret war with faerie.

New Book Deal – The Lord Of Silence

A press release issued today by Solaris:

Solaris is proud to announce a new acquisition from popular British fantasy novelist Mark Chadbourn.

The Lord of Silence is a thrilling new epic fantasy. When the great hero of the city of Idriss is murdered, Vidar, the Lord of Silence, must take his place as chief defender against the mysterious terrors lurking in the dense forest beyond the city’s walls. But Vidar is a man tormented—by a lost memory and a vampiric jewel that demands the life energy of others. Now, with a killer loose within Idriss, and the threat from without mounting, Vidar must solve a three thousand year old religious mystery to unlock the terrifying secrets of his own past.

A two-time winner of the British Fantasy Award, Mark Chadbourn is the author of eleven novels and one non-fiction book. A former journalist, he is now a screenwriter for BBC television drama. His other jobs have included running an independent record company, managing rock bands, working on a production line, and as an engineer’s “mate”. He lives in a forest in the English Midlands.

Mark Chadbourn said, “After several years writing my own particular and peculiar brand of urban fantasy, I wanted to try something completely different. The Lord of Silence is me cutting loose and experimenting way out of my comfort zone—a completely new world, new characters, a twisted take on magic, and a mystery that spans several thousand years. It’s a sword and sorcery, noir, puzzle-cracking, romance, serial killer, adventure-mystery. With mad, dancing magicians.”

Publisher Marc Gascoigne added: “It’s always been puzzling to me why a writer of Mark’s immense talent, and with such a huge British fanbase, has rarely been offered the opportunity to release his books in the US. It’s time to remedy that, with the best book of his career so far.”

The Lord of Silence will be released in 2009 in the US and UK.

Please note – this book will be in addition to my regularly scheduled novels published by Victor Gollancz.

Selling Fantasy By The Pound

Fantasy and SF for the connoisseur or for mainstream tastes: which path should a publishing house follow? That’s an interesting debate which the ever-erudite Lou Anders has raised on his blog. When founding the excellent Pyr imprint, Lou and his team took the conscious decision to publish what Norman Spinrad called “science fiction written specifically for experienced and intelligent readers of science fiction, with a bit of fantasy more or less in the same mode thrown in”.

I think that’s an excellent policy for Pyr. It’s certainly a truism that the more you indulge in a particular taste the more refined that taste becomes (which can also be a problem for critics, who, as Stephen King puts it, “lose their taste for pizza”). The core readership of fantasy and SF – the fans, although they probably don’t categorise themselves that way – deserve some gourmet dishes.

But there is a wider debate here. On The Genre Files, Ariel gives a smart overview of marketing genre books in the 21st century, a post that all authors and publishers should read. And in a separate article, editor George Mann writes about Solaris’ choice of traditional covers for their genre titles.

Both these articles get right to the heart of trying to sell books to a fragmented audience in the 21st century, and it’s something the music industry in particular, and TV and Film, are all struggling to deal with. Do you go for the hardcore fan or reach out to the wider audience? There are pros and cons for both. It seems that Lou, Ariel and George are all swinging towards an approach that caters to the dedicated reader, and I think that’s a business model that will work very well for Pyr and Solaris.

But if it was applied to the whole industry I would have real problems. In the music industry, where I worked for a while, the marketeers have struggled. By focusing on the tribalist music fan that has emerged over the last twenty years, they have had trouble gaining breakout hits from genres. Attention shifted to marketing bland fare that would appeal to all tastes to gain those mainstream hits, and sales have fallen dramatically (yes, I know there are many other factors, but this is a core concern).

The comics industry in particular has faced a great many problems because of the loss of its mainstream audience. That was caused by the collapse of its distribution network in the late seventies and early eighties and the shift to specialist comics shops. But the comics producers then found that to maintain sales in this rarefied atmosphere required stories that excited the jaded palates of the core fan – and were nigh-on incomprehensible to the casual reader. Sales fell further, the core fan market had to be shored up to a greater extent, and a desperate retreat from the centre ground took place, that is still damaging the industry.

The issue of covers and marketing is not just an industry issue. I’ve had several readers complain about my move away from traditional illustrative fantasy covers to the latest design-oriented ones. I’ve had just as many applaud the move. These covers are a personal choice. I like design; they work for me. And, I have to say, sales have been much, much better. But I don’t think you can extrapolate too much from that for the wider market. If all covers were designery, mine wouldn’t have had the same impact.

I love fantasy, science fiction and horror. I believe these three genres are appealing to mainstream tastes, if some way can be found to communicate their values to the casual browser. I’m afraid that an across-the-board retreat to the ‘core fan model’ will ghettoize them even further and lead to a long-term decline. The best way for the industry, I think is – to use music industry analogy – hardcore labels for the purist, and general labels to attract new users.

But that is a fiendish and crippling trap for the writer. Once you establish yourself in one pool or the other it will be very hard to crossover and gain, on the one hand, the new readers and wider sales that sustain your career, and, on the other, credibility that is just as valuable a commodity in the internet-empowered world.

Elizabethan England’s Greatest Spy

Will Swyfte, who made his debut in the Elizabethan chapter of Jack of Ravens will be going solo in a new short story to appear in a prestigious fantasy anthology from Solaris later this year.

Entitled ‘Who Slays the Gyant, Wounds the Beast’, the tale fits into the mythos established in my recent books. It’s Christmas Eve, 1598, and the aristocracy of Elizabeth’s court has gathered at a country house for a night of debauchery. Will Swyfte, Elizabethan England’s greatest spy, is despatched by spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham to prevent a terrible turning point in the cold war with Faerie. But the Tuatha de Danann are gathered in the cold wastes beyond the house and will do anything to achieve their aim before dawn breaks.

Details on publication date and other authors coming shortly.