Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Nik Vincent on naming the Aux

Dan had set quite a precedent when he named the Aux he wrote about in Kingdom. I loved Gene the Hackman.

He had a cast, but, in comics, casts are often small, and Gene was soon alone. 

Out now in print & kindle (US)
Writing a novel is an entirely different prospect, and with not only one Aux tribe, but several and with an ensemble cast, and with no pictures, so many more characters have to be named. It was a much taller order to come up with a convincing cast list.

Needless to say that cast list was my job.

Naming characters can be a lot of fun, and names are important for lots of reasons. I’ve named characters before, my own in my independent fiction and I’ve named characters in tie-in fiction, too. 

Fiefdom is set in a different time and on another continent, so while it was fine for me to name some of the characters after movie stars, I wanted to bring in other cultural reference, and, because Fiefdom is set in Europe I thought it might be nice to look at Art and Literature. It didn’t hurt that those are two areas in which I also have a pretty keen interest.

Of course, the names also had to have some significance of their own, and they all had to show some qualities related to the Aux as a race. Gene the Hackman was, quite literally, a Hack Man, after all.

Oberon and Evelyn War, father and daughter were named after Evelyn and Auberon Waugh, the writers, father and son. War was an obvious choice, the spelling of Oberon was changed to reflect the King of the Fairies and, of course, we wanted a key female character. For what it’s worth, Evelyn also means ‘life’.

On the one hand, naming the leader of the Aux after the poet Ezra Pound was a simple choice, because the name conjures both the act of pounding the enemy to death and a dog pound. On the other hand it was a complex choice because the poet was a controversial literary figure. For those who are interested, a look at the poet’s biography explains it, for the rest the simple knowledge that Pound wrote a poem entitled In a Station of the Metro is probably enough.

All of the Aux characters in the novel were named in this way, for artists, writers, characters in novels, films, tv shows and so on. They all bear some reference. Some will seem obscure. 

Some readers will not have heard of Frank Brangwyn, (BrangWIN, because who wants to lose?) who produced over 80 WWI poster designs, despite never being an official war artist. Austin Spar (SPAR as in practice fighting) was named after Austin Osman Spare, another favourite artist, who was employed as a war artist during WWI and who remained in London throughout WWII after trying to enlist, but being deemed too old. His home was bombed and all his work destroyed as a result, but he continued, regardless, and by the end of the war he was living in a cellar with two chairs for a bed and a number of stray cats.

Of course, names have been altered to fit the purpose, so that brothers Peter and William Blade derive from Peter Blake and William Blake, for example, Damien Hurts from Damien Hirst and Dorothy Barker from Dorothy Parker.

Naming the female characters was tougher than the males. We all look forward to a time when women are the equals of men in the arts, or at least when they are equally represented. It was never clearer that this has never been the case than when I was looking up eighteenth and nineteenth century artists and writers. Some men’s names sounded sufficiently feminine to be borrowed for female characters, hence Singer Sergeant after John Singer Sargent and Somerset Mourn after Somerset Maugham. But I wish there had been more great women to draw upon. 

I did enjoy using Becky Sharp. Long may she reign!

Fiefdom is out now in the US in print and on the kindle.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Gods & Monsters Cover Reveal

Coming Winter 2014

Gods & Monsters: Myth Breaker

As a child Louie had conversations with "invisible friends" and could see patterns in the world no one else could see.

In other times he would have been a prophet - someone to make people believe in the gods.

But he grew out of the visions and into a life in the underworld as a drug runner.

Now thirty-five and burnt out, he's had enough. With access to the mob's money he plans to go out in a big way. Only he can't. A broken down car, a missed flight; it's bad enough being hunted by the mob, but now the gods - kicked out of the Heavens - need someone to tell their stories, and they aren't letting go.

Caught between two warring factions of gods and the mob Louie hatches a plan to get out, if it doesn't get him killed first.

Gods & Monsters: Myth Breaker by Stephen Blackmoore 
Out December 2014

Pre-order for the UK and US today.
Available on the Rebellion Store from December 4th 2014.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Afterblight Chronology

To celebrate last week's UK release of The Journal of the Plague Year we sat down with Abaddon Editor David Moore to work through the chronology of The Afterblight series so far.*

In the Beginning

1. Orbital Decay by Malcolm Cross. This one’s easy, as it starts as the virus is just getting started.

=2. School’s Out by Scott K. Andrews. Exactly where to place Scott’s opening novel is tricky, as Lee flashes back to the early days of the Cull and the story runs out over the course of a year, but I’m going to pin this one down as at least starting within a few months of the virus breaking out.

=2. Dead Kelly by C. B. Harvey. Colin’s contribution is explicitly placed six months after the Cull hits, which makes it more or less contemporary with the start of School’s out.

One Year on

3. The Bloody Deluge by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Adrian doesn’t pin Katy’s and Emil’s flight across Germany down, but it seems to begin between one and two years after the Cull.

Year Two
Editor-in-Chief Jon Oliver's
favourite Rebellion cover.

4. Death Got No Mercy by Al Ewing. Al’s actually quite specific; Cade’s rampage begins two years after the dyin’ started.

5. ‘The Man Who Would Not Be King’ by Scott Andrews. This short story, included with Paul Kane’s Broken Arrow (and the collected School’s Out Forever), bridges School’s Out and Operation Motherland and is set around two years after the Cull.

Year Three

6. Operation Motherland by Scott K. Andrews. Set a while after the end of School’s Out, as the new school has had a chance to settle in, Motherland takes place around three years after the Cull.

Year Four

7. Arrowhead by Paul Kane. Paul and Scott, I gather, sorted out between themselves that de Falaise’s invasion occurs after the destruction of the base in Salisbury plain, explaining why there was no organised resistance. Around Year Four.

Year Five

=8. The Culled by Simon Spurrier. The nameless soldier of Simon’s book explicitly gives the date as five years after the Cull.

=8. Kill or Cure by Rebecca Levene. Jasmine leaves the secret facility at Lake Erie at the same time as her loverThe Culleds nameless hero – sets out to find her.

=8. Children’s Crusade by Scott K. Andrews. Lee and Matron clash with the Neo-Clergy’s child-snatchers, suggesting that this book is contemporary with The Culled.

9. ‘The Servitor’ by Paul Kane. This short story – published in Death Ray #21, Oct/Nov 2009 (and collected in the ebook edition of Hooded Man) – introduces the sinister new cult that kicks off the action in Broken Arrow. Between Years Five and Six.

Year Six

10. Broken Arrow by Paul Kane. It has been some while since Arrowhead’s Rob Stokes settled Nottingham and established his Rangers, putting this book around Year Six

11. ‘Perfect Presents’ by Paul Kane. A charming snapshot of life in Afterblight Nottingham, this short story – featured in Abaddon Books’ A Very Abaddon Christmas blog event, 2009 (and collected in the ebook edition of Hooded Man) – is set the Christmas after Broken Arrow.

Year Seven

12. ‘Signs and Portents’ by Paul Kane. This short story – included in Children’s Crusade (and collected in ebook edition of Hooded Man) – sets the scene for Arrowland, and takes place in about Year Seven.

Year Eight to Year Nine

13. Arrowland by Paul Kane. A little while has passed since the rise and fall of the Tsar, putting this book at about eight or nine years after the Cull.

One Decade on

14. Dawn Over Doomsday by Jasper Bark. Some years have passed since the Apostolic Church of the Rediscovered Dawn was crippled by the nameless soldier of The Culled in Year Five, placing it about one decade in.

Twenty Years on

15. Blood Ocean by Weston Ochse. This one’s made fairly easy by dint of sheer scale. It’s not clear when exactly the events occur, but it’s clear that people have been born and grown to adulthood never knowing a world before the Cull. Blood Ocean’s set at least twenty years after the virus.

With each new title and each new author bring a whole new perspective and history to the world of The Afterblight we're already really excited to see what the next wave of books brings. Let us know where or when you'd love to see the next title set, either in the comments below or @abaddonbooks on twitter. Plus, why not take advantage of our current Afterblight sale to explore the series more - titles start from just £3 until July 17th 2014.

Journal of the Plague Year is out now in the UK in print and kindle edition, as well being available worldwide through the rebellion store

Out in the UK now
*For those new to Afterblight a quick explanation: the series is shared world writing experience. Each book or story contributed is a stand alone title in its own right and you can start the series anywhere you like. As more and more authors contribute to the series new points in the history of The Afterblight are uncovered around the world that may affect future stories. Malcolm Cross, author of Orbital Decay, discusses the experience of contributing to Afterblight in more detail here.