Wednesday, December 31, 2008

(Was intended to be the...) Bumper Final Issue (for the year that is...)

Well, 2008 has come and nigh gone again (indeed, it is gone!) and all the while I have been wrestling through some book I am supposed to write *rolls eyes* ;P The previous two books of the Monster-Blood Tattoo series so far has been a distinct journey and this third is now different - as another author once said you never learn how to write your next book, just the one you are currently working on.

How true that is. Book 3 - the infamously long-to-wait-for Factotum - has been a process all its own, with its own momentum, its own surprises. It is frightening and wonderful to go out in the story on a hunch that it is the correct direction and have it rewarded with an unexpected unfolding of whole unforeseen and richer moments in the tale.

One of the hardest things has been facing the finish the text, fear fear fear; is this story good enough? Does it do what it needs to do? Will folks like it? The great thing is that now it is not even 18 months to release folks, so hang in there.

A recent high point was when Katie - a fellow metaphoric citizen of the Half-Continent - sent through images of a costume she has been working on. I won't tell you who it is of, 'cause you ought to know...

(c) Copyright Katie/ Spacetart 2008+9. Used with permission.

I could not help but ask Katie how it works as a functional piece of clothing to which she responded:

"As a functional piece of clothing, I'm not really sure. For me, it was fine, since I was at work and didn't have a huge range of movement,but for the actual characters, I'm not sure how it would stand up to the whirling fighting movements without the benefit of spandex/lycra.Though you can't see it, the sleeves do tie on like it's said in the book, so that wouldn't be an issue, but around the inseam, it might be a problem. The stomacher actually worked well, and stayed on fine with the ties. I have new respect for the seamstresses of the clave if they have to paint that diamond pattern, and even more if they have to quilt or sew them together."

My thoughts on that last statement are that the cloth comes dyed that way by request - still, it'd be a heck of a job for the dye house then and prodigiously expensive to boot. You can see the rest of the images of her astonishing creation and Katie's comments on them here! Thank you, Katie!

Next bit o' niceness (my how that word has change in meaning!) is this piece of superb well, I suppose you might call it "fan art" (somehow that does not seem to cut it with me) from our own curiousmouth - and again I shall leave you to figure who the two figures are...(c) Copyright Katie/ Spacetart 2008+9. Used with permission.

(c) Copyright Curiousmouth 2008+9. Used with permission.

Thank you all so much for another excellent blogging year, you all make writing and creating better, "funner", a bit more real; I hope I might do the same for you sometimes.

New Year's Resolution: to get the Varificon up and running fully - there are too many genuinely excellent new words in there, I think a couple might make it in to Book 3. I am hoping it might become a corporate cooperative dictionary we can all dip into, so help yourselves peoples (with proper credit of course).

Welcome to 2009!

On with the new year!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Thing!

Merry Jesus-birthday!

Bless you one and all, may this be an excellent day for you - and congratulations on reaching over 80 comments!
(I knew you could do it... I certainly gave you a read hot go by taking so long to post)

And welcome back Anna from your African adventure - hope all went well.

Bumper issue post coming soon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

(Intentionally left blank)

It is about time I answer Pearlius' question: "About how old is Europe? She looks either a very tired young woman or a good looking old woman."

I have always thought of the Branden Rose as about 29, as we currently know her, more in the line of a tired, world-weary young(ish) woman who has seen and done about as much as there is to see and do in the Half-Continent. I have to admit I think I overdid the careworn-ness of her portrait in Lamplighter, just a touch too haggard perhaps - ah well, live and learn.

Pearlius was also wondering: "...does Europe have any heroic, awesome scar that she can show off?"

I reckon she would have the scars, yes, but would be unlikely to show away with them... not her style I am thinking. (Perhaps if you asked nicely..?)

I have been over to the Monster-Blood Cult on FaceBook started by Patrick Brooks. I have not said hello yet (on account that I do not have a Bookface account :) but perhaps folks from our neck of the woods could engage in a little cross pollination (or something) between here and there.

Finally, we have a new poll... check it! (said with cool street voice) You may have to plunder the Explicarium of both books to refresh you memories - wow, that is almost like homework - what am I thinking!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ompholascepsis [SPOILER WARNING]

I tell you, the navel issue has been baking my noodle for a few years now, but I am of the notion that our hero would possess an ompholic dent that would pass enough as a navel. With the often more rudimentary delivery of babies in the Half-Continent I am thinking that there would be such a variety of quality of "belly-buttons" that Rossamünd's little dent would not look too out of place.

As to theroid (or therian or theraphim) for monster but teratologist for monster-hunter (thank you, master portals):

~ "thera" and "teratos" are both Attic words for monster, so it is simply the use of different root words that accounts for this variation. More-over, it is common in both Attic and the English language (and therefore Brandenard too) that "t" and "th"are exchanged with each other in the development of a word, especially "th" being shortened to "t".

How's that for some answers?

BTW, ompholascepsis means "navel-gazing".

Monday, December 08, 2008

Aurealis Awards 2008 Shortlist.

Hello, hello, long time no post...

Here is some happy news to put up - I just learnt today that Monster-blood Tattoo 2, Lamplighter has been shortlisted in the 2008 Aurealis Awards in the Best Young Adult Long Fiction category AND to add to that the fantasy series, The Sorcerer’s Tower (being
Thorn Castle, Giant’s Lair, Black Crypt & Wizardry Crag) written by the eminent Ian Irvine and illustrated by yours truly, has also been shortlisted in the Best Children’s (8-12 years) Illustrated Work/Picture Book category.

Thank you very much the goodly folks and Aurealis! ... and to all of you too!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Terre des Monstres 2: Marque de Sang

A hasty post to share the absolutely splendid rough for the proposed cover of the French edition of what we commonly know as MBT2 Lamplighter. Mr Lacombe you have made my day!

And I am liking the spontaneous character descriptions, too - will seek to do something with them in the new year I reckon...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


...& and here is the link to my Winter Blog Blast Tour interview at Finding Wonderland from yesterday. Thank you so much TadMack & Aquafortis for such excellent questions, they were a joy to answer.

Please make sure you check out all the other interviews this week past a present - so much authorly goodness... if I was not needing to get back to writing I'd say more on it. Only a short while left before I am handing the 1st draft in.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Twilight for HP... or 75 comments! Woohoo!

My word, you folks sure got close to 80 comments. Impressive - but you are not a jedi yet... I certainly gave you enough time to have a red hot go, as "they" say. But alas, guilt has got the better of me and here I am posting after a bit too long not posting... um... I'm like, an excellent writer and stuff...

On with the show!

As much as the hype is off-putting, I am very glad the Twilight series has my niece reading; she would not look sideways at a book before. Now, who knows, she might venture out further into the realms of the written word and for that I can only be grateful.

The uber-series is an interesting creature - perhaps making reading cool again; I often marvel that without Master Potter's 7 tomes there would probably be no MBT, not through any influences (though I read a review today that suggested I was apparently employing the good ol' school-environment shtick a-la Harry P, to make Lamplighter work...) but because Ms Rowling has forged such ground that publishers are willing to give odd ideas like mine some listroom. For that I salute you, Ms Rowling!

For the funness of it all the Winter Blog Blast Tour begins! Organised by the tireless Chasing Ray, it is a veritable smorgasbord of author interviews. Mine own interview will be found on Tuesday 18th November (why else would I be telling you, right?) over at Finding Wonderland.

Oh, and shouts out to Portals whom I had the wonder of meeting in living flesh not last weekend but the one before, I hope it was not too underwhelming...

BTW the ever increasing vocabulary of the Varificon or "Word Varification Dictionary" is growing at an impressive and rather funny rate. Please, continued...

Friday, November 07, 2008

Freecon, Sydney Saturday November 8th & Sunday November 9th

Nothing like last minute information but here goes...

People living in or near Sydney will find me if they dare to look in at this year's FreeCon 2008 Science Fiction Convention, both on Saturday 8th & Sunday 9th, at the Norman Selfe Room of the Sydney Mechanics School of the Arts (SMSA) building, 280 Pitt Street, good ol' Sydenytown. No charge for entry or any part of it, which is nice.

Here is their website for even more detail.

Sorry for the very late notice... I sure hope I see some of you there.
(especially you, Anna, because you live soooo close and all...)

Monday, November 03, 2008

A word by any other word.

This week's word is:


I have no idea what it means yet, just found it today as the word verification code to place my comment on the previous post. It could either have something to do with potives - maybe a piece of equipment; perhaps some type of swamp, or the name for a place... hmmm.

It is always a joy to find new things that grow the Half-Continent and once I have settled on new word and its meaning, or developed a concept further, though it might be freshly minted it always feels like it has ever been that way far back into time. Odd, huh?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

'Tis The Season to be Chosing (for some anyway...)

Here were are, November and even though I am an Ossee (to use the American pronunciation ;) and having once been a keen student of US history, I have one question burning in my mind:

Obama or McCain?

I wonder what Europe would be like as the ruler of a state? and I wonder what life in a place ruled by the Branden Rose might be like for Joe the Plumber...? Who would you like from the Half-Continent to rule your own land? (Just to keep things a little on topic - is it terrible of me to be so topical?)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Europe v 3.11

me was wondering: "It's nice to see that there are upgrades, add-ons, plugins, etc [Europe v3.11, perhaps?]. in the half-continent. Are these upgrades limited to internal organs only? Are there pugnators out there who figure an extra eye/arm/thorny-bark-like-skin-in-sensitive-areas/claw/magic-big-toe in addition to their modified innards might improve their trade [and fees]?."

You have hit the nail on the head about the "upgrades", (actually called scirrhitus) I do have a list of rare but existing outwardly editions to a person's self - not so much extra limbs but claws (actylls), thorns on back (which might even shoot out of the person- I forget their name off the top of my head and am not sure they quite fit the H-c "vibe"), different kind of teeth for a bit o' combat biting - known as sagital (sharp) or trenchant (blunt) maws, toughened skin, weird snapping jaws a bit like Aliens TM (called labiachus - though I am not so sure about this one, either), foul spit, and some other stuff. I have been thinking this might be a bit more in the Half-Continents future rather than right now in Rossamünd's time (HIR 1601) - we shall have to wait and see.

Interestingly enough I was just talking to Will and Mandii last night about how the Europe of Book 2 and 3 is a v 2.01 fulgar - she went and had her organs checked after vaoriating (spasming) in Book 1 and while the transmogrifer is there having a gander, she has the funds to have him do some major improvements... She gets to "kick butt" (as they say...) in Book 3... or was that too much of a spoiler?!

edwarrd asked: "With the spoors, is it something that a lahzar has to have, or is it something they choose to have to promote what they are? Also, can they have variations of the spoors?"

Some lahzars will chose to hide their nature, yes, or not make it obvious and so go without spoors or have them places not easily spotted. Others like to mark themselves with more than the usual signs, so that faces and bodies will be patterned with all manner of markings. As with our world such spooring is considered a step into the wilder side of society.

Just adding a bit more to anna's enquiries about literary traditions, I wrote this recently to a friend: The longest standing literary tradition is plays and folk songs... (I am thinking epic poems of the Attics and Tutelarchs would be included in this too) Novels - as Threnody reads - are a more modern innovation and are yet to be seen as a "literary tradition" as such.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Advice for young players

This weeks piece of folksy wisdom: do not stay up way past your bedtime, tap yourself a glass o' water when overtired, go to bed and have your wife/partner/flatmate wake up 3 hours later to find that said tap (faucet) has not been properly turned off and the kitchen bench, floor and draws are all swimming, then spend next hour+ ladling water out of draws that can not be removed and towel dry every stinking piece that dwelt in said drawers. If you can avoid this, I would recommend it.

Noelle asked: "Is it possible to be both a wit and fulgar? This just occurred to me and it's going to bother me."

Well Noelle be bothered no longer! It is indeed possible to be a wit and fulgar in one person - a super-lahzar, such maddened souls are generally called dexters and typically have short lives full of violence, pain and a whole lot of treacle-taking. Not recommended for any but "power players".

Anna asks: "By the way Mr Cornish, how is the culture-life in H-C? Authors, painters, genealogy ..?"

There surely are these things, I touch on such a little more in Book 3 - though Rossamünd not being overly cultural does not give me great play with such things. However a brief mention in the story does give me licence to go too far in the Explicarium, which is yet to be properly worked up. I tend to add brief entries as I write the main tale, points to be elaborated while the main text is in Celia's/Tim's most excellent hands.

Ah, Monday, you spotted my H.P! I feel like I have been caught with my petticoat showing ;)

Thank you all! for your encouragements last post, I clearly see you all know full well the personal insanity that is writing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Going back to go forward...

Something I find frustrating when I write is those times when I am keen to press on with the story but it occurs to me that one of the characters (usually Rossamünd, bless him) is not being quite true to himself in an earlier chapter. Sometimes I will try to write on, enjoying too much the sensation of the word count increasing and chapters being marked off (especially with the hot breath of deadlines panting on my nape).

Inevitably, however, I can avoid it no longer and must put the advance of the words on hold and correct the earlier discord, work the changes all through the text until I am satisfied - which can cost frustratingly large amounts of time. Yet once the agony is grappled the text invariably is far improved and my sense of direction stronger, and I leap off once more into 'storm front' of the tale with fresh vigour.

Sometimes I also just get stuck...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Map Prototype

Just a quick heads-up that there is a prototype version of the Zoomable Map of the Half-Continent up and functioning. My esteemed comrade G.R. Morton and I shall be working to make it a tad more Halfcontinenty over the next x period, but I figured folks had waited long enough, so sneak preview away!

(oh, and if it seems to stay blury, just give the map some time and maybe a click and it should focus)

Ok, back to writing, writing, writing...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Words, Invented & Real

A great little post I found over at Whatever by John Scalzi (and its original source @ xkcd - thank you Tom) regarding word length of a book as being conversely proportional to is unreadability. The comments are illuminating too, MBT even gets a mention from a Seattle-based bookseller friend of mine in comment #51. Have a read if you will and come on back...

In reading the aforementioned blog and its associated comments, I too had the guilts for insisting on such circumlocutions as pediteer instead of "infantry" or leonguile instead of "cheetah" etc etc etc... though I tell myself I have good reason to alter these: sometimes the existing word/s are too our-world specific in their etymology or too modern-sounding to be appropriate in the H-c. I do not know the origin of every word but those I do I change - language is key when making otherworldliness, the dilemma is knowing when to reinvent, how much to reinvent and when to just go with the real stuff... I certainly won't be re-doing the parts for a flintlock, for example, they are perfectly acceptable as they are, cheers.

I recall someone railing at me once for daring to have a type of fly called a wurtembottle - "why can't he just call it a fly!" she said - to which I reply:
a/ know just how many species and therefore different names for flies there are in the real world; without even reaching for a textbook let us just try to name a few: house fly, blow fly, bluebottle, vinegar fly, horse fly, bot fly...
b/ why the heck not!

I tell you, the thoughtlessly contrary fun-crushers get a tad tiring; like Ayn Rand says, those who can't create, destroy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick Pointing to Other Place

I should probably say more but if I spend too long Rossamünd will get eaten by a very large s.... ah but that would be telling.

Just quickly Jack is asking over at the Unofficial MBT Forum if folks want a Q&A section to it. Given that I do tend to miss a lot of questions here I certainly am all for it - would make it very clear what I had and had not responded too (I hope). So, please please, head on over and give us your thought - if you don't mind, that is.


Friday, September 26, 2008

A New Button to Push!

Folks might notice my rather enthusiastic response to Jack so excellently putting up an Unofficial Forum in the form a snazzy link image to that very same place! Thank you very much, sir!/... I guess that answers the poll question then...

Plus: Carlita's expectoratingly insightful question: "If anything, happens if a leer catches a cold and still uses his sthenicon. And what would happen if a wit or a fulgar caught a cold? Would they just be miserable, or would their transplanted organs cause them trouble?"

Any of the H-c's more knowledgeable physicians would heartily recommend to any leer with a strong head cold to leave off using the sthenicon or olfactologue until the malady had passed. To ignore this advice can be both very messy (can you imagine a snotty sneeze inside a box), painful and will very likely extend the duration if not increase the severity of a cold. I guess that means, too, that hay fever suffers with dreams of leering best find themselves a new dream.

As to lahzars with colds, they suffer no more or less than everymen, though an exceptional fever might increase the risk of their mimeotes (inserted organs) vaoriating (spasming) - so again, a transmogrifier would suggest bed rest and avoidance of the use of one's potencies until better.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Forum for Horses

So, I am thinking I shall keep up with this blog (indeed, that was my hope and intention) - I very much look forward to a forum happening though (hint hint - am I allowed to do that...?) - probably a powerful benefit I see is having some kind of section where questions are asked of me so I can clearly see what I have and have not answered.

I am afraid to think of the number of questions that have gone unanswered here at Monster Blog Tattoo because I lose track of them in all the comments. Sorry to anyone who feels a bit snubbed by such an oversight, please, if you dare, ask again.

In light of this contrition I shall now attempt to answer a question.

Dear portals was axing a quekstion... "So far all the Haacobin Empire's armies seem to all be made up of foot soldiers and suchlike. from what I know about history, cavalry always seems to be a great asset to any army, so why does the Empire have none.Sorry if they do have some, but with the definition for the Armies of the Empire, the Battle of the Gates, and the different city states in the Explicarium, nothing was mentioned about cavalry."

An excellent inquiry. If you look in the Explicarium of Book 1, under the entry for equiteer you shall find the very reason why cavalries are so little used. The long and the short of it is many monsters find our equine friends rather toothsome making the fielding of a substantial force of cavalry a sure way to attract a monster or three right into the fray of battle. That is why horses go out shabraqued and covered in nullodour but this makes a large force of them even more expensive and high maintenance. In Book 3 (ie, Factotum) I introduce the concept of cabaline lands - regions tamed (cicurated) for so long that they are considered generally safe for horses. If battles occur in such regions you could well expect to see a greater use of equiteers, indeed, perhaps this is why the lords of the H-c like stouching with each other in their boutique wars, a chance to crack out the cavalry and give it a good run.

Oh, and there was an excellent article/interview over at the Galaxy Express about steam-punk, where good ol' MBT gets a wee plug - nice to have a home, though I still don't think I'm strictly true steam-punk (due largely to the absence of steam in the H-c)... but now I am being picky.

And for those a French-speaking persuasion I was gratified to find not one but two positive reviews of the French edition of MBT, Terre de Monstres ("GROUND OF THE MONSTERS") - if my understanding of the tongue of France is correct, though in correction to the first review: En fait, l'auteur a dessiné les illustrations internes.

For breakfast I had honied flakey things, Irish Breakfast tea and a good pray.

I nearly forgot the most shattering news of all! Today I shaved off my beard! Dun dun dunnnnnn....

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Post, New Poll

So, to the question of a forum.

Do I? Don't I?

I shall be running a poll regarding this for the rest of the year. Just so folks know I will be unlikely to be able both blog and moderate a forum, and given the choice I would rather stay with the blogging (I wonder if I will have to eat my hat with that statement later...?) So if a forum did go up it would most likely be moderated by another party, with me appearing a little less frequently.

Looking forward to people's answers.

(And I blame MooseGuy for this... ;)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Did someone say 'Release Date'?

Should I tell you..?

Do you really want to know?

...Want to know just how long you will have to wait?

Well... Monster-Blood Tattoo Book 3: Factotum (English language editions) will be released ~

MAY 2010

Please don't be too dismayed or beat up on me; it is a bit of a wait yes, but it will be worth it... he says in faith... =/

In the meantime I found this very cool bit of "fan art" - if I may call it that - by a young soul by the name of ponkkaa. I hope they do not mind me send folks their way.

Also there is the wonderful work of our very own E.N.Reinmuth - both MBT and non; I dig you work very much ma'am! - and yes, I shall attempt to put up just how a vialimn works some day soon (certainly between now and the release of Book 3).

Anyone else got a bit of MBT related (or not) stuff they want to show off?

Last but not least, a new poll, in an oblique response to portal's excellent question. (please be seeing the text to the right)

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Handsome Grackle ... or, Spring is sprung and I missed it!

(Following to be read with some strange accent in mind - I have no idea why, just cause...)
Please being 'Hello!' to my good friend, the Handsome Grackle.
(Cease with accent, please.)

He is what is called nadderer - a sea-nicker, a water-dwelling monster - with neither head nor tail, but both at once, being able to walk on either end when he/she/it ventures on land. A very very robust creature, it recovers quickly from hurts, so much so that he has been swallowed more than once by much larger sea-beasts, travelled the length of their alimentary canals before being "poo-ed" (if I may use that word...) out again, relatively unharmed to get about his/her/its business. Oh what fun...

There have been many excellent questions put to me here over the last couple of posts. Unfortunately I do not have time right now to address many of them - but I hope a couple of answers might suffice for the mo...?

Portals was wondering, "I have questions about lahzars' weapons. Is a fulgar's fuse used as a kind of spear, or more like a lightsaber from Star Wars? Do wits have any kind of weapon that they use? Thanks"

A fuse is used more as a quarterstaff than anything else, a way to extend reach (though with a the wire wrapped about a pole of cane or wood I am actually not so sure a magnetic field would occur as has been suggested elsewhere - sorry whoever posted, I thought the wire needed to be coiled about metal to achieve this - but please correct me if I am wrong, physics at high school was my weakness).

Wits would generally see it as being beneath them to resort to weapons, the control and manipulation of frission is everything to them. Saying that a pure wit would probably look down on a bane, and in turn a bane would probably see a purist wit as lacking versatility.

Another question was regarding the status of the Gottlands, which are in fact not a part of the Haacobin Empire but an empire to itself - a hegemony of kingdoms, duchies and the like allied and treatied to the Sigismundian dynasty that currently rules the Gottskylds. They are protected from the Haacobins by the great big threwdish swamp of the Ichormeer, though battles have been fought between the two giants, with little gain for either side. The Haacobins regard the Sigismunds with sullen respect.

I shall get to the problem of lamps as soon as I might, honest - time is really crimping me now...

Monday, August 18, 2008

A post at last! (Would you believe it?)

So much commenting goodness with the last post! I was going to respond there but thought maybe it might work just as well here... (given I am feeling a tad stuck with post ideas right now because a certain 3rd book has most of my attention).

Amongst all the excellent ideas batted forth and back I wanted to answer two things:

Firstly, to fulgars using swords: well, the idea is feasible - it has certainly crossed my addled thoughts (especially the reverse, ie. the dangers of using a metal weapon against a fulgar). The conclusion I am running with is that most fulgars would regard to use of a sword as some kind of admission of weakness - that their ability with their eclatics is not quite up to rigours of the stouche. It also strikes me that the more sword using pugnators (sagaars, sabrine adepts) might look a little darkly on such a practice - a kind of "demarcation dispute", that's our technique! Get your own! - and in return a fulgar would never stoop to admitting that another profession's technique might be worthy of use... Note that I say most, not all... I am trying not to be painful, but, you know, I have been thinking about how the H-C works for a little while now...

As to wire-swords (barbed or otherwise) well there is a concept though aforementioned demarcation would still be a problem here, and as far as "charged" bullets go, well the nature of electricity is that once the source of the current is no longer present then there is no current = once the ball had left the firelock it would no longer be charged (am I being annoying yet?) Having said that, it certainly is a snazzy idea, though I reckon you've got to allow pistoleers and scourges and the like their own specialty.

This leads rather niftily into my second topic of choice, technicality v fastasticality (is that even a word?). Some rules from our own world are fun to break (we cannot even do with all our technology what the transmogrifers do with lahzars or the masacaars with gudgeons), others I like to adhere to (certain laws of physics, for example). What I think makes for good ideation is not the consistency with our own world but the internal consistency of all the ideas together. Unfortunately I am no genius so I live in a fairly continuous concern that I am not being as internally consistent as I could be with the H-c - but I do try. Probably my main guiding factor is feel - does this idea feel like it could work? Does if feel right? Does it fit the feel of the H-c overall?

Part of that feel is the sense (I hope) of plausibility within the construct of the H-c itself. After years and years of laying down layers on layer of ideas I have begun to develop a kind of "box" of rules, a space - a vibe - in which it becomes easier to fashion ideas that fit well within the whole. This I reckon is the best thing to aim for (if world building is your thing of course) to take your time and let your ideas collect and meld and create their own distinct feel that is your own.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

FREE RICE - A worthy undertaking, surely.

Here is something worthy that Will has brought to my attention: Free Rice - a vocabulary guessing game where every word you get correct has the organisers donating 20 - yes 20! - grains of rice to the hungry and disadvantaged. Better still I suppose, is to help folks fend for themselves but they still need to eat in the meantime.

20 rice grains does not sound like much but it all adds up if you get into it, I found the challenge to my vocab very stimulating indeed and they give you a VOCAB LEVEL (a stat!) which for old role players who like numerical levels like me is a great incentive to keep getting words right (as if helping others was not...)

Does anyone here dare post up their best Vocab Level?

I hope folks can forgive me for going off topic in this way... and cheers very much to you all for the very stimulating discussions regarding the social status of teratologists.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Poor, Down-trodden Teratologists

Taylor - by email - asked this recently:

"I have a question that has been rankling at me for a bit as I've become immersed in Monster Blood Tattoo, and it is this: In a world as monster-ridden and monster-phobic as the Half-Continent, why do people tend to have a negative view of lazhars, skolds, scourges, and any kinds of terotologists? I realize people might be a bit afraid of them due to their powers, but, for example, why does Felicitine refuse to allow Europe to stay at the Harefoot Dig? Or why, when Europe comes to see Rossamund at Winstermill, do most people "habitually disapprove of her trade"? It always seems that people are disdainful of those who have altered themselves for the protection of the Half-Continent, and in a land where showing the slightest bit of sympathy for monsters gets a person exiled or worse, this seems a bit narrow-minded of the population. What do you think?"

To which I responded:

I think you have hit the nail firmly on the head - people are inconsistent, and no less so in the Half-Continent. I found this very tension an excellent vehicle to quietly explore this inconsistency, which is essentially: people do not want the problem but neither are they happy about the solution.

What-is-more, while we certainly have Madam Felicitine being snobbish, Master Billetus is not; Madam Oubliette has established an entire wayhouse for the patronage and support of the teratologist (albeit because they are generally not wanted in the towns). There I go again: Why are they not wanted in the towns when they do such a service? Teratologists with their much-needed yet dangerous powers are seen as the "necessary evil", like a rat catcher or a garbage collector. They kill the monsters but have to have contact with them in order to do so, placing them in a kind of half-way status.

Skolds will receive the best reception (indeed in some parts of the H-c they are truly revered), then pistolleers, laggards, lurksmen, peltrymen, tractors - your more unaltered types; followed by scourges (who, while appreciated for their efforts are mistrusted for the deadly power of their chemistry and that they look so odd wrapped so completely in their fascins) and then falsemen (no one likes to think that the person they are talking to knows what they are thinking).

Of lahzars, the disapproval goes much deeper, for there continues a rigourous debate as to what exactly they are - some hold that through the surgeries they have become a kind of gudgeon - and no one likes gudgeons - something other, whose capacities make them hard to control, place them outside the existing caste system, therefore upsetting the status quo, and very few in the H-c appreciate this (especially those of the higher situations, or with aspirations of social climbing).

So what we find in the Half-Continent is a lot of ignorance riddled with rumour; add to this "classists" snobbery - like Felicitine with her airs and graces - and the fact that a large proportion of the population are naivines (ie: never seen a monster) - and I reckon such inconsistency is valid (and a bit fun too - for me at least).

And never fear, there are those who are indeed fans of the lahzars - the obsequines, some of whom you might meet in Book 3.

Thank you Taylor!

... to this I might add (more in response to the query from Ben Bryddia) that the strange status lahzars have - the position of needful and powerful outsider - is an excellent mechanism for women to improve their lot in the commonly more patriarchal H-c / Haacobin society; hence there being a greater proportion of girl-lahzars. Never-the-less there are still plenty of boy ones too (the black-eyed wit, the Boanerges, the Knave of Diamonds - all in Book 2), it is just that they have not become the focus of my tale yet.

A question to the lady readers (if I may): how would you feel about changing your eyes by becoming a leer?

Breakfast = Vita Brits [TM] with Milo [TM] sprinkled on it and a cup of free-trade tea.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Monster-Blood Tattoo & YouTube

Well, it has finally happened - a YouTube [TM] book trailer of MBT!

Made by the skillfully deft and technically versatile Courtney Wood over at Putnam (my US publisher). (A bit of trivia about Courtney; she set up this blog in the first place for me to go on with - if you go right back to the beginning of it all you will find a test post from her...)

I must say it is rather odd to see MBT out there in "That's what they - those other people do" computer land.

Also: for an extra bit of linkage fun here is a post about the panel I joined at the Sydney Writers' Fest. a couple of months ago, written by the most excellent Judith Ridge.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Monsters & Music

Do you know (in response to a couple of posits last post on the titular notion above), my firsts thoughts about the monsters is that musically they are largely quiet. They sing softly to themselves, to Providence, in sympathy with the cosmos, in sorrow; perhaps some of the more feral might gather together to spontaneously hoot and jabber at Phoebe, while others might chortle off some rhyme or ditty they heard once when secretly watching children at play or people at a dance or stalking some unwary band of happy, vigil-day picnickers.

Monsters' own music will be impromptu, vocal, rolling, raw yet often oddly complex, wild and disconcertingly alien unless informed by everyman tunes previously encountered.

My sense of it is that the making of structured musics is the domain of everymen, based on the notion - the historied order of things - that monsters make life, everymen make things.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Europe and Sebastipole fall in love?

Well, that was a (tongue in cheek) offering last post. Could it be possible? Would it be probable? If ever they married I would expect Sebastipole to get eaten at the end of the wedding night like some poor male praying mantis.

Monday had a question (similar to one I received via email from Nick Nitsch of Nashville):

"What kinds of music are most prevalent on the h-c?"

Such a topic is indeed not distracting but fundamental to my conception of the H-c - there is a beautiful piece by Strauss (the younger I think) Invitation to a Dance which though actually truly too new, has been an abiding inspiration to me. Monday rightly deduces that there are regional and social differences, but in the main when I think music for the Half-Continent I think late Baroque (as it is called in our world) and early Classical - Handel, Vivaldi, Bach, counterpoint and the private chamber ensembles merging with and developing into Boccherini, Mozart, Haydn - essentially what is sometimes called a Rococo style. (I have as yet to come up with the H-c names for some of these music styles - an interesting and I hope rewarding diversion!) This of course would be the more citified musics, out in the parishes it would more strident, the instruments more antiquated, the pieces more folk style or popular balladry. Hero of Clunes for example, in her tour of Sulk End and the Idlewild (as seen in MBT Book 1 & 2) would be doing a combination of popular shanty (albeit taking it to a more sophisticated and sonorous level) and high-brow choral numbers written by the current and more popular/fashionable composers (such as Stumphelhose of Witzingerod, Cappelluto of Seville, or Attic Nehme or Brandenbrass).

Oh, and as requested, for breakfast I had Vita Brits with sultanas and a cup of tea sweetened with honey.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Shouldn't I be Writing?

Two possible thoughts for further Half-Continent stories:

- roving the vinegar seas hunting pirates and kraulschwimmen and any other tasks required in the Emperor's service = sea battles, vinegaroon life, wider politics;

- some kind of expedition (ala. King Solomon's Mines H. Rider Haggard - a most excellent book!) for lost and longed-for secrets in monstrous places = monsters, history, more monsters.

Should I be telling you all this?

Given certain revelations of admiration for a certain leer and lamplighters' agent, should he have a story of his own, too?

Maybe I should just get on with finishing Book 3 of MBT - enough with this presumptuous whimsical dayfancying! Back to ADWC (see previous post)...

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Average Daily Word Count

... or AWDC - as I have just cunningly coined it.

I am going to reveal this knowing full well there are many authors out there who do a goodly bit more in a day - and my publishers will be crying "Write faster, dang it!", yet since fellow word-wrestler R.J. Anderson has asked I shall dare to admit:

1000 words/day


I have had brilliant days of 1500+ (even 2700 one day) but when all is averaged, time searching through all my notebooks for the right snippets of information and periods a.f.k. (away from keyboard) are included (including several trips interstate) it works out to the above.

If you want to go on the usual word count I achieve on the days I actually write it creeps up a little to about:

1300 words/day or so.

I feel a bit better about that.

I hope this helps Ms Anderson - how does it compare?

Dare I ask what ADWCs do you other writers achieve?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Young Writer braves germ-warfare to offer a solution to my problem

I was at the Young Writers' Night last night (with my ragging lurgy and all - doing my best for germ warfare by spreading it around). It is an event where authors sit with a group of 10 children or so from around the state (that being South Australia for all you out-of-towners) and listen to them read out their prose or poetry then give encouragement - I am not sure how much use I am to the brave souls who expose their souls through there writing so, I always feel like my comments are a tad thin.

Anyway, one of young lady wrote a fine piece about a magical quill that when the character picked it up amazing ideas filled their head and stories wrote themselves. I am thinking this would be an excellent solution to Sam Hranac's proposition, "Crank yourself up out of your deathbed and put quill to parchment." If it could just be that magical quill we'd be set.

So a shout out to all the children who took part last night, I am sorry if I gave you my cold... :(

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Get out your violins...

Just letting you all know that I am still here folks... I have a bad head cold, am madly writing and trying not to feel sorry for myself. As femina recently admitted, I cannot decide whether to wear my cranky pants or my grumpy trousers.

I hope you all are doing well, though - sunshine and cheer will return soon enough, Lord willing.

Anyone else out there got the dreaded lurgy?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

L'édition en Français

I very excited - nay! I am le plus merveilleusement excité!! - to see a sneak preview of the French cover of Foundling over at Monsieur Benjamin Lacombe's excellent site (English translation version here).

As you will see, Mr Lacombe has illustrated so much more than just a gorgeously maudlin Rossamünd, but Europe, Licurius (ahhh, old Boxface!) and a rather serious looking chap who I cannot decide is Sebastipole or Gosling (apologies Benjamin - I am not very bright but I can lift heavy things...)

As if i was not before I now am trés, trés! excited about getting my copy of the French edition now - from Mr Lacombe's comments it is a very beautifully produced edition indeed!

Merci, Monsiuer Lacombe! Merci, Milan! (my French publisher)

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hippo Birdy Two Ewes!

Today in the Queen's Birthday Holiday and I would like to say Happy Birthday! to our dear Queen, bless her and the fact we get a day off here Oz.

On a lighter note ;) I found this review thingy over at OF Blog of the Fallen the other day and just wanted to share because I so love it when a fellow soul is on the same wavelength - don't we all...

Oh, and I am as yet to have breakfast.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The day after...

So the Official Launch [TM] happened last night, and I believe it went rather well - public appearances are difficult things but deeply rewarding at the same time (which is a tad frustrating when all you want to do his hide away and write... or procrastinate). I was very gratified (happy in fact - even delighted) to meet MadBomber - one of "the gang" here at Monster Blog Tattoo (if I may use that term), a fine fellow - thank you for making yourself known Mr Bomber, a face to the name and better sense of the goodly soul you have already shown yourself to be here at MBT.

Thank you to all who could be there at the short notice I ended up giving you.

Looking back to the Sydney Writers' Festival I must say what an excellent thing it was to be on the panel with David Kowalski, Stuart Mayne and Judith Ridge and wax as clever as we knew how on genre and truth and editing and all that. Thank you to the three of you for an excellent evening. A shout out too to everyone I talked with afterwards, including Jeremy Gordon - fellow writer/illustrator/dreamer - with whom I had a good though too brief chat afterwards about possibilities and keeping true. He has put something of the night up here - including an odd little image of me, for those of you who want to spoil the visions you might have of the "dashing young author" ;)

Another part of the Syd. Writs'. Fest. 2008 was a couple of workshops with students where we tried our hand together at world building. I would ask folks for a few of their favourite things and from that we began to build our own distinct world settings. What was astounding is just how different the ideas and directions each group took - I had a great time and I hope the others there did too!

So joy and thankfulness all round.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A comical thing.

Well it has actually happened: MBT has been mentioned in a comic context over at my elves are different and I am as pleased as punch.

Thank you, Steve, you are a cunning pundit, sir.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Goings Forth (by which I mean a book launch)

And I am back!

Thank you for your patience - I shall say more on my time in Sydney-town soon: it was certainly a good as well as stretching time. Met some most excellet souls, fellow creatives seeking their own yet similar path in this great maze of life (hmm... deep).

Today, however, I am wanting to let all Adelaide folks know of the launch party next Tuesday night, where we shall officially send Lamplighter off into the wide blue. Details are as follows:

3rd June ~ 7 pm for 7:30 start
St Peters Library
101 Payneham Road, St Peters
RSVP 8334 0200

I would love to meet folks so come along - though I warn you that I am very ordinary (just in case you were expecting to meet some monstrous genius with an amazing pulsating brain ;)

See you there... and don't forget to rsvp!

Monday, May 19, 2008

The Sound of Silence

Please excuse the paucity of posts that is likely to occur over the next week or so, I shall be in Sydney pretending that I am clever and interesting.

My schedule will be:

Tuesday 20th May 2008
Riverside Theatre, corner Church & Market Streets, Parramatta.
~ this will be on World Building - of all things...
GENERAL TALK: 1.25-2.00 pm
~ My Life & What lead to Monster Blood Tattoo.

Tuesday 20th May 2008
Right Down to the Plumbing: Speculative Fiction and World-building
Venue: Blacktown City Max Webber Library, cnr Flushcombe Road and Alpha Street, Blacktown, 6:30-7:30 pm
Facilitator: Judith Ridge
Speculative and fantasy fiction continues to grow in popularity with readers of all ages. How do writers create engaging and believable worlds? How does character contribute to world-building and what cultural influences are at play?
D.M. Cornish, David Kowalski and Stuart Mayne discuss.

Wednesday 21st May 2008
Sydney Theatre, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.
~ this will be on World Building - of all things...
GENERAL TALK: 1.25-2.00 pm
~ My Life & What lead to Monster Blood Tattoo.

Dare I admit I feel a bit more worthy to participate now that I have two books out. 'Tis a daft feeling but it is there none-the-less.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Out in public - Sydney Writer's Festival

For those who will be in Sydney-town on the 20th of this month (that being May and one week away) should know that I will be part of a panel discussing world building (of all things!) from 6:30 in the evening.

I shall be getting together with Stuart Mayne, editor of Aurealis magazine, David Kowalski author of The Company of the Dead, and Judith Ridge our erstwhile compare, who is - among other things - the Western Sydney Young People’s Literature Officer.

Further details are here.

Might see some of you there.

A word

Today I have a new word for you:

tarsoplumbic = lead-footed, ie: one who drives their car (or other conveyance) too fast.

This condition has been known to afflict me sometimes, though, thank the Lord, not too often. However, if you go by accident record, then my wife is the better driver.

Monday, May 05, 2008

The aftermath

Well, here we are in the post Lamplighter release phase of my plans for world domination (did I just say that or think it..?) I thought I might do a little Q&A for folks to mull on.

1600H (not their real name) - over at the Myspace page for MBT asked me via email:
"... does the H-c still evolve in your mind? Do places, people, monsters, etc. still change, or are they a bit more fixed since you began writing the books?"
And my reply:
The whole H-c and the land beyond is very much a growing thing: as you can see above, you yourself have had an effect on it with your query. Another good example would be trying to decide what to call the whole world that the H-c exists within; it was the Alltgird at one point, though I am thinking to make this the name of the entire continent of which the Half-Continent is but a portion, Harth Alle - or maybe more properly, harth alle (a common noun instead, perhaps) - is the current notion I am rolling about my noggin. So many things are fixed and thunk up, but much is still unfolding, writing novels certainly shows me where my previous ideation was lacking detail, and this makes it all the more exciting for me, because I explore the H-c when I write and discover more on it than I first conceived or, sometimes, even thought possible.

1600H also pondered (more for themselves than me, though I answered anyway):
"I was just wondering whether the H-c is currently in the midst of it's own industrial revolution?"
And my reply:
"As to notions of an industrial revolution, well that question had me thinking and scribbling notes as just how the H-c works technology-wise (what were you thinking asking such provoking things?! ;) The answer is not simple, but firstly I think the folks of the H-c innovate much more slowly than we, that gastrine "technology" has been about for a little while now and insinuated itself of society gradually but steadily. The H-c does not boom like our western society does, it is cautious with innovation and suspicious of the new (lahzars have been a feature of the world for just over 200 years - first appearing properly at the Battle of the Gates HIR 1395 - yet they are still regarded as modern innovations and distrusted as such). Such a technological marvel as a ram are built slowly, a few at a time, taking many years to complete, then treasured and preserved when at sea. Great gastrine hammers slowly pound out the iron-cladding but not on the steam-powered scale that we expect from our own world's period of mechanisation.The people of the H-c and beyond think differently to us, have a take on the world we would find somewhat foreign, their co-existence with monsters being a large influence on this. When thinking of the folks of the H-c it is important not to impose our own ideas of how things are on to them, their perspective is vastly different."

Today's other feature:
My current definition for discipline ~ being prepared to hurt in order to get to a better place.

Easy to say, hard to do...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

It's a Book!

English language version of Monster-Blood Tattoo Book 2: Lamplighter is now officially out!
(This, of course, is written from an Australian perspective, so might be a tad premature regarding other countries - also some stores might not stinking well have copies in yet, even if it is meant to be out; for that I apologise...)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


The quote and question posed in the previous post just shows how puzzle-headed I can be! What is the point of me asking you thoughts about Book 2 when many as yet have not had the chance to read it? Apologies about that...

*rolls eyes at self*

Anyway, Elizabeth (Betsy) Bird's review of Lamplighter was also featured over at School Library Journal with Fuse #8 Production. Check it, but mind the spoilerage.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

On the eve of the next...

I have been aware of this review of Monster-Blood Tattoo: Foundling by Elizabeth Bird for a little while now and, happy to find it as the Review of the Day over at Fuse 8 on the School Library Journal site, thought some might like to head on over and see. She has also posted a review of Lamplighter for those who are interested. They are both astounding in its breadth and the level to which Ms Bird understands and appreciates the whole Half-Continent thing, and also very helpful to encourage me as I wrestle with some tough bits in Book 3. Thank you, EB!

Speaking of Book 3, I received this email from Conner Ernst:

"A few people at my school have read book two and they like Numps and I am trying to convince you to have Numps in the third book and make Europe have more hatred."

Hmmm, very pertinent notions, Conner, and things I am tackling with even as I blog to procrastinate. What do other people think? What to do with Numps? Should Europe be meaner? more of an invidist or less?

Less than a week till official Lamplighter release - counting down the days!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Land of Wine & Vines

Just had a very brief break with my lovely bestest friend up in the Barossa Valley - (arguably) Australia's premium wine making district, and she and I agree that we would very much like to live out there. Good for the writing soul; rolling stramineous hills, row upon row of vines, with good friends and tasty drinks and readings of Aidan Coleman and Shel Silverstein to add lyrical beauty to the pulchritudinous surrounds. Came up with a stack of bizarre new foods for the H-c, plus some scenes that will - Lord willing - make their way into Book 3.

Wonderful, wonderful.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Breaking News

Fellow writer, Damien Brand, of Brisbane has let it been known that he has already been able to purchase a copy of Lamplighter from a local, independent bookseller in his home town. So it might be worth a squizz (as we say in Oz) at your own favourite book store to see if it is already in stock.

Just thought I'd let you know.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A sennight pair to go!

This is high-falutin' Half-Continent speak for two weeks to go! - well a little over two weeks, but close enough for the call!

"To go till what?" I hear you not actually ask, because this is a blog and I am in my wife's study typing it, all on my own, just me and the terror of the blank page. But I shall answer anyway, because conducting pretend conversations is professional risk; it is just a little over TWO WEEKS until Lamplighter officially hits the shelves in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and US.

Very excited, though it must be said that it is a rather small deal in light of Tibet and China and that blasted torch-thingy - where I do not believe sport can some how be mysteriously separated from politics as if one part of human existence could be hermetically seal away from another, or the infuriating egomania of Mugabe and all the misery he inflicts - watching such transparent deception and manipulation is so infuriating it makes me want to roar.

Anyway, welcome to a new week.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Romanian Edition of Foundling

Shauki from Romania has sent me this add for the up-coming Romanian edition and I could not help but have a little show off of it. Very pleased too that Corint Junior (my Romanina publisher) have gone with the original cover. Not a big deal in the scheme of things, but I am very excited. Thank you Shauki!

Speaking of gratitude, Drew has handed in his review and interview to SFRevu so they are now officially "up" - for those of you who do not want to have even a brief outline of the plot of Lamplighter told to you, I would recommend you restricting yourself to the interview only. Cheers very muchly Drew and the SFRevu!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

MBT Professions-gluttony Query

Well MooseGuy was wanting to be a scourge-leer-pistoleer-strivener and I said I would come up with a name for such a person/profession. Well... I came up with everything but:
  • scourge-pistoleer = flagrant, orspirator/orspiratine
  • scourge-wit = severine
  • scourge-leer = staide, austerine
  • skold-leer = scryer, saltscry, saltstrait
  • skold-pistoleer = locksalt (though really, such a person is really a skold with a penchant for delivering potives from a firelock)
  • leer-pistoleer = scrylock, lockstrait, straitlock
  • wit-leer = looksooth, straitsooth

...and I could go on. Now, it must be said at any such combinations are not as common as you might think, especially as true pistoleers - like sagaars - see themselves as a set apart, with secret knowledge and dedication to a singular expertise in a single skill. Indeed, sagaars are even more rigourous about this; for them it is all about the purity of the Dance with out taints, cheats or augmentations . A person might gain some fundamental moves of the dance (akin to basic and more intermediate martial arts), but if you call yourself a sagaar it is because you have committed to a way off living, to a higher plan of existence. (sorry, giantfan)

As for Mr Guy-of-Moose's combination, well I was thinking, sir, you might want to have a go at coming up with your own name, for such a combination would be most probably unique to you and therefore have no common name in the Half-Continent. FYI - messing about with highly unstable and dangerous potives whilst wrestling with the instability of you mimeotes (foreign organs) you could expect to have a rather short life span, even without the ubiquitous threat of a terrible gashing end.

It is worth noting that these names might change over time and with further thinking and revision; just like most other things H-c, I am constantly reworking and adding and subtracting to ideas - especially as I get deeper and deeper into the world with each novel. It can be a tad disconcerting to discover in writing a story that something I thought pretty well thought out over many years of natural accretion plus solid hours of think-time proves to be just barely enough to start with, that I need to go much further into notions and inventions than I had ever anticipated.

It is a good problem to have, I reckon.

(Oh! I have realised it is April Fools today, but I cannot think of anything funny - though plenty that is foolish)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A new poll question!

All I can think of - other than that I am doing prayers for church this Sunday - as in Easter Sunday (dun dun dun) a bit of a responsibility - not sure if I can be trusted... I find writing prayers harder than MBT, would you believe it - but otherwise all I can think of is: nominative, vocative, accustative, genitive, dative, ablative - nominative, vocative, accustative, genitive, dative, ablative - nomi...

Oh - and I formulated a new poll question for added Easter fun; just think of it as a little digital chocolate egg... or don't, as you see fit.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Is it May yet?"

Pertinent title provided by Kate, I myself am getting very impatient, but day by day we are getting closer to release.

Last post madbomber said: "As I read your post it occurred to me there aren't any cool kids in Latin class..." and it got me thinking, what is cool anyway? Now, I have never been "cool", surprise surprise - except in the art room. By this I mean I have never fit with that fickle bunch of alpha kids lording over the rest at school. But then there were always levels, the sporty cools, the smoking, Dead Kennedy's listening cools (almost made it with these fellows, learnt lessons about being true to myself here), the funny, sassy cools.

And what is cool in the adult world? I mean, one of the defining characteristics of the 'nerds' at school was/is their passion, their love and devotion to something more that looking unaffected and detached and wearing the right things. In adult life this seems to often grow into success, so do the nerds become the 'cool' ones (if cool is measured in professional success)? Does nerdiness become coolness once you grow up? Or is it that as you get on you reconcile that 'cool' and 'nerd' are just nonsense and get on with life as you find it as best you can?

I think I am rambling now...

Pete was asking: "I know you've answered this before, but I can't for the life of me remember what the answer was. How does one go about posting an illo with their character bio?"
I think the best thing to do for those of you interested would be to send me an image via email (which you will find in my profile). For those of you who do not know what we are talking about it is reference to a bunch of questions I posed late last year - feel free to answer if you like, I put up peoples' responses on the right just for a bit o' fun [TM]. and any illustrations of their character, if provided, hence the question from Pete.

I really am in a rambly frame of mind today - hope this bodes well for the day's word-count... this might give my US publishers some kind of heart-attack (ie not fast enough for them) but I am currently at 41,000 words for Book 3 as of penning this - my target being about 100,000. Getting there, getting there

BTW, I noticed a little while ago that li'l old MBT Book 1 got noticed on Does this mean Rossamünd has made it? It is too early to be so cheeky, really, but this attention has set in me a notion to one day ask if Harry and Rossamünd would be friends if they met, and who'd win a fight between them. But this would be silly, not to mention presumptuous, so I won't (and mostly because I don't think I'll like the answer...)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Vade Mecum

I have begun Latin lessons today!

Yes, just when I had successfully presented the illusion of being a Latin expert (thanks to my trusty Collins Compact Latin Dictionary and some advice and assistance from femina) here I am bursting it with admissions of banal humanity.

It was a mere introduction - a potted version of Roman history with Latin phrases thrown in for relevance. For example the title of this post actually means (or so I am told) "come with me" and was used when referring to a diary or information guide or even a notebook! Feeling suddenly very smart, I wrote "VADE MECUM" proudly in the front of my newest notebook.

Very odd to be back in a classroom (of sorts) again. I wonder if I will be one of the cool kids or with the uber-nerds as usual.

I am feeling greatly improved in spirits, thank you in no small part of the encouragements left last post. To those of you who reached out and gave a little, I am so very grateful.

Book 3 proves to be a different road again to the last two books, but a common problem haunts me - I think I am getting bogged in minute details at the expense of character and - more importantly - relationships.
(Don't tell anyone I admitted this or some might think I am human after all and not some word-smithing demi-god whose every turn of phrase is pure uneditable poetry...)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Flat Stanley

Feeling pretty low at the moment - no good reason to, just been on a peak with Book 3 for the last few weeks and the inevitable trough has arrived. I don't know why books just can't write themselves then give their "authors" the glory...

Sorry to be a downer for you all. May be it has something to do with the fact I have not had breakfast yet today?

Happy note: Benjamin Lacombe has posted the finished illustration and design of the French cover for Terres des Monstres: L'enfant Trouvé (Monster-Blood Tattoo: Foundling and actually meaning "land of monsters: the found child"). The site is, unsurprisingly, in French, but the images speak in every language and they are tre magnifique!

It is a beautiful thing to share.

Also, just in case it was not noticed, I have refreshed the character profile - now Citizens of the Hlf-Continent - with a new personage of the H-c. I hope it is edifying.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Europe - Stages of Development

Today I reckon I would like to show folks the growth of Europe's character design. Being one of what I think of as the intermediate stage characters she pops first into existence in 2001.

This was back when frockcoats and jackcoats were not yet a major feature of the Half-Continent. What she wears is called a lambrequin, what I have now-a-days as cheap easy to produce proofing for quickly armouring a semi-professional mass. As you can see the crow's-foot hair tine has always been a feature. Indeed, early on the day I penned this, I was drawing a crow for a puzzle at Catchphrase and thinking the structure of their feet was rather exquisite - one thing flows into another. At this stage Europe is a slightly friendlier soul.

And so she remained until 3 years on I have an opportunity to put her in a story and there she gets meaner, colder, sharper and I needed to know how she appear in her refreshed guise.

By now frockcoats and tricorns and all that a right in and here I am simply attempting to get a feel for the Branden Rose even as I am writing her. I formalise the flowing fringe here, the precise look of her sleeves and vambrins (those proofed fore-arm/hand coverings) and the wrap-around fastenings of her coat.

From here I proceed to a final character drawing, about A2 in size and very close to the one in Book 1 now.

Yet something was not quite right here either... You shall win the esteem of everyone else in the room if you can tell what the difference is between this and the final image.

Once I solved this for the final book illustration (which dare I admit, involved a very sturdy eraser) I then went on to colour the version of the Branden Rose you see as a background to this very site. I would dearly love to have that produced as a poster some day - I guess it goes on the pile with the full-size map.

Monday, March 03, 2008

And the winner is...

... well not Monster-blood Tattoo anyway. The top dog in the Childrens' Literature section of the 2008 Festival Awards for Literature was actually (the roll of drums - or "flams and parradiddles" as Craumpalin would call them):

Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Bauer, published by Omnibus Books (my own publisher BTW)


Worthy worthy worthy.

It is a funny feeling when another gets the prize; certainly no bitterness or rage or any such thing, just a honest yet muted disappointment overborne by delight a/ just to have been shortlisted & b/ that someone has one - everyone likes a winner - in this case a someone I very much admire.

Truly it is just amazing to me that a 'fantasy' book (I used the term loosely) was even allowed to inhabit the shortlist of a literary prize, that not just you and I believe that the genre does not only have to be thin and/or derivative but can be done to a higher level.

It also struck me recently that it is a most Providential thing that I am a part of the YA scene where eyes and minds are wide open and hearts ready to receive what ever innovations authors care to cunjour. I do not think ol' MBT might have received quite the same attention had it been released through the more usual adult channels. How things can work out, even from the depths I found myself in during 2003 still amaze me. Halelujah! All those years of fuddling about with book after book of obscure little ideas only a very few understood, like some nerdy Jekyll suddenly, with the insight of one woman (Dyan Blacklock, Omnibis Books) I am propelled to bigger better things.

So to all of you, fellow Jekyll fuddlers, fuddle on - who knows where it will take us!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I have just come up with a new term:

midi-chlorian effect, the ~ where you take a perfectly excellent idea and stuff it.

May I never suffer from it.

That is all - a short one for a change.
(apologies to those who like Ep 1 - I salute you... Please excuse my cheekiness this is truly meant in jest.)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Audio & previews

I have just got off the phone with Humphrey Bower, a gentleman, a scholar and the narrator of the audio edition of MBT. He had a long list of pronunciation clarifications to go through, which took us about an hour yet only got us about 2/3 the way through the text. Sharing the work in this way is a great joy; Humphrey knows more about Latin (and almost every other language I plunder) and brings his learning into the process, saying what might be the most correct sounds. We do not always go with these but it is very edifying and a joy to share with someone who also loves a bit of linguistic play.

It is actually sometimes a little baffling just how to say some words because they sound fine in my head but come out oddly on the tongue. I have been hacked at in the past for making words too complex, too "wordy" - but when you are playing with language what is the point if you can't invent a few apparently unpronouncables [not a real word].

So, spare a thought for Humphrey this week, clambering through the tangled texts of Lamplighter.

On another positive, Drew has put up a preview of his review of Book 2 - a very mild bit of spoilage (if you don't mind me saying so, Drew) just for those who want to be completely fresh when they read the Lamplighter (is it just me or does April/May seem like forever away..? Probably not very helpful of me to say that... We are getting there, not much longer now really).

Also, upon advice from my wife, I have grown a beard for the first time in my life. I feel very manly, very Ernest Hemingway.