It’s a bit dusty in here…

Thought I’d blow some of the dust off the blog.

I’ve been busy, lately. What with learning the ropes of a new job and generally keeping myself occupied with real life, I’ve made a discovery.

Life, when there are no immediate problems to vent about, is the most boring thing in the world to blog about.

About the most exciting thing of late… I had to fork out an inordinate number of pennies to get my kitchen roof repaired though; that was depressing. It was my planned holidays-for-the-year money that I’ve been carefully saving up – like a good girl. It was snatched out of my piggy bank and dropped into the pocket of the roofers. Admittedly, in turn, they did stop the persistent leak in the kitchen, so at least I can be grateful for that. And the roof looks much less like people chucked a pile of slate up there and just let it lie where it landed. So you know. Practical and aesthetic.

A holiday would be nice, though.

I’m mostly done with writing the second adventure for Gilrain, whose first outing was in the Tales of the Nun and Dragon anthology. That boy is a sheer pleasure to write for, because… because he’s utterly hopeless. But he’s eternally optimistic and there’s something oddly infectious about it. The style is loose and easy; very light-hearted and lets me stretch my comedy muscles a little. I’m a sucker for bad puns (I have that in common with Dan Abnett and Piers Anthony) and writing for Gilrain lets me use all sorts.

The short story I wrote for the Black Library Chapbook last year – Reaper – (known at the time as ‘Operation: Handbags at Dawn’)  is also now available as a digital short story. It’s a dirty story of a dirty man, and his clinging wife doesn’t understand… well, sort of. It’s the last moments of an unfortunate Empire soldier who, in his death throes, is tried and judged by the consort of the Blood God. I additionally got a little spotlight moment on the Black Library blog today as well, so that was nice.

I’ve been reading more than usual of late; have read Deceived, Fatal Alliance and Revan, all set in the Star Wars: The Old Republic universe. I’ve enjoyed all three of them for different reasons. But Deceived in particular was enjoyable because of Darth Malgus. I have a gamer-girl crush on Darth Malgus. It’s the voice. It’s certainly not the looks. That dratted Mr. Kemp. DRAT HIM.

 
This is the moment all fathers of daughters everywhere dread.

This is the moment all fathers of daughters everywhere dread.

SW:TOR has gobbled up most of my evenings, really. I utterly  love it for everything it has to offer. The levelling is great, the storylines are amazing (I just finished the Imperial Agent storyline and it’s my favourite so far) and the roleplay is brilliantly creative given certain limitations. I had the utter delight of meeting a bunch of guildies a couple of weeks ago at a SW:TOR event down in  London. It was a great day out and already I miss them.

In short, life ticks on.

And that’s good, ‘cos it’s not bad.

Revisiting Old Friends

The ‘old friends’ in this instance happens to be theBelgariadseries of books by David Eddings. There are no major spoilers in this post, but I will be naming characters and what-have-you. If you’ve never read them, do it. They’re great fun. Bubblegum for the eyes in a lot of ways, but entertaining nonetheless. Regardless… a cut just in case.

Continue reading

The Great British Public… and other animals

Greetings, programmes!

So, I got to take a trip to the Games Workshop store in the Plaza on Oxford Street at the weekend. In London. All by myself. Well, I travelled all by myself. I was greeted at Kings Cross by my dad and brother who travelled up to meet me for lunch. Which was very pleasant indeed. It was about a gazillion degrees, which is slightly unnatural for the 1st October and three and a half hours on the train left me feeling decidedly warm.

I joined up with the very delightful Nick Kyme who was signing copies of his latest release, Nocturne. It’s the last book in his highly enjoyed Tome of Fire trilogy. I finished it on Saturday morning before I left for London and in response to his ‘how did you find it’ question, I gave him a lower lip sad look. I’ve enjoyed the series and am sad that it’s over.

It was a highly enjoyable afternoon of signing copies of The Gildar Rift and meeting more incredibly nice people – including fine folks from the Bolthole, the Overlords and one guy I’ve known for about 23 years and who I haven’t seen for over 10. He came into town just to see me, which was outstandingly decent of him. The mighty James Swallow rolled by to give us support (and to eat my Haribo) and it’s always a pleasure to see him.

Much fun was had; Nick and I were photographed shooting each other with plastic flint lock pistols… (the store had gone all piratical in honour of the release of Dread Fleet. Which is, by the way, utterly gorgeous and is sitting on the side waiting to be played).

This is what happens when an author turns in a late manuscript. No, really.

Finished the signing and crossed Very Hot London back to Kings Cross for my 17:30 train back home. Got onto the train with ten minutes to spare, found my seat and settled down with my copy of Hammer & Anvil (I’d finished Faith & Fire on the way up to London*) and got comfy.

17:35, the driver announced that there was a ‘problem on the train and that engineers were working on fixing it.’

17:55, the driver sheepishly announced that ‘the engineers couldn’t fix the problem, but THAT’S OK PEOPLE! If you cross the platform, that train next to you will take you where you need to be.

In the traditional scrum that ensues in these situations, I crammed everything back into my backpack and followed everyone else across the platform onto the other train. I re-settled and caught the eye of the lady sitting opposite.

‘Is this train going to Darlington?’

‘I hope so,’ I replied with a rueful smile. ‘If it does, then I’m going in the right general direction.’

‘Me too,’ piped up the fella opposite her. ‘I’m going to Newcastle.’

We chuckled about the confusion of it all and established, quite cheerfully, that OK, we were now 30 minutes late, but if we were on the wrong train, we would all have a Great Adventure together and wouldn’t be lonely. It was all lighthearted and a lot of fun.

18:00 (ish), the train pulls out of the station.

18:02, the woman sitting in front of me starts to complain. She complains that she’s late. She complains that she’s not in the seat she was reserved (note: the train was half-empty and was de-classified. She could have sat in First Fecking Class if she’d wanted to). She complains that it’s too hot on the train. She complains that the wi-fi is a bit rubbish. She complains about everything. She has a go at first the refreshment chap and then the ticket inspector. Then she has a go at the refreshment chap as he goes by a second time.

She complained.

And complained.

And COMPLAINED.

All the way to Doncaster. When she got off, about seven people in the carriage genuinely cheered. I wasn’t one of them, but I was joining in silently. Seriously. It was the most irritating thing I’ve ever heard on a train. It was the fact that she eventually started complaining about pathetic things. The coffee didn’t taste right. The sky was the wrong shade of blue.

When I was growing up, my dad worked for what was then British Rail. I always remember a little poem he told me about the communication cord, for which you get a fine if you pull it without good reason. It used to be £50. Do they even have them any more? Or would you just Tweet up to the driver and say ‘STOP THE TRAIN!’ ?

I digress.

The poem went:

If fifty pounds you can afford
Then try your strength upon this cord
If fifty pounds you do not own
Then leave the bloody thing alone.

I tell you what, I’d have paid £50 gladly to get this woman put off the train. I’d have paid £100 if she had been THROWN off.

And that’s just it, isn’t it? She was so typical of people in this country. Lightning fast to complain, but never comment when they receive good customer service. Once, in Sainsbury’s, there was a checkout lady who was just so, so nice. She saw I was struggling with a full load of shopping and a then-one year old baby and she helped me pack and even told off the person behind me when they tutted loudly about how slowly the queue was moving. I stopped at the customer service desk on the way out and asked for a form so I could leave a compliment and thank you note for the member of staff.

The two girls behind the counter blinked slowly and looked at each other.

‘I… think we have something like that…’

‘Hold on.’

The one disappeared behind the counter and then re-emerged with a sheaf of paper that had a layer of dust about seven inches thick on top of it. Spiders had lived and died for generations on that pile of paper. Archaeologists could have found evidence of tiny civilisations if they’d looked hard enough.

The vocal minority likes to complain far too much. Let’s start a new trend! Why not make it a focus, the next time you receive great customer service, to compliment the person behind the counter who smiles at you? Or to tell their manager on the way out the door? Or to phone their head office and say ‘so and so was great – thank you!’ My mother worked for years in a shop and she always got a huge kick out of people thanking her. She gave me many tips for life and one of those was ‘thank you costs nothing and means everything’.

With that in mind, thank you for listening to this brief rant.

And in my writing-related news roundup:

  • my latest short story, Bitter End – featuring Huron Blackheart being a back-stabby git – is now available in the latest ish of Hammer & Bolter (12).
  • Valkia the Bloody is now more than 85% complete and should probably hit first draft stage in the next couple of weeks.
  • I am swamping my poor editor with ideas. He may have drowned by now.
  • The Gildar Rift is due out on 5th December, but there are at least two more signing events planned – 12th November at Games Workshop in Durham and 19th November at Warhammer World in Nottingham. There may be more yet… watch this space!
  • Check out this pretty damn fine advance review (spoiler free!) of The Gildar Rift by the illustrious Shadowhawk.

‘Oh!’

‘Oh!’

It’s not so much the word that tends to come back as the response as the sheer sense of surprise that seems to be put across in a single syllable. It’s not annoying; not exactly. It’s something else. It’s… frustrating, I think.

‘Oh!’

That’s the response I’ve been getting when people ask me what it is that I’ve been writing. When I say that my first novel is tie-in military science fiction, I appear to be crossing about seventeen bajillion invisible literary lines and encroaching on Planet Propriety.

Alright, maybe seventeen bajillion lines is a bit of an exaggeration, but there are definite lines that I appear to be crossing with my foray into the world of literature. If you look at it objectively, I couldn’t have made it harder for myself if I had tried. After my weekend at alt.fiction, I have come to realise quite a few things that I had hitherto only suspected. So here’s some thoughts on some of those lines and why I appear to have crossed them. These are the statements that seem to generate the ‘Oh!’ response.

I’m writing genre fiction.

Genre fiction is really now the blanket term for fantasy/sci-fi/horror/urban fantasy/young adult and any number of other sub-categories that loosely fall into the ‘back of the bookshop’ category. A comment that was repeated over the weekend was that genre is perceived as something of a ghetto, where we all stand defending our territory and not letting anybody else in.

Here’s something I’ve heard many times. ‘Genre fiction isn’t proper literature’. What a load of snobby tosh that is. If anything, the capacity to write in a fantastic world demonstrates a much better connection with the long-lost art of storytelling than these awful ‘I was abused by crabs as a child’ type books that seem to be so popular. Where is the ‘Schadenfreude’ section in the bookshop, hmm?

So yes. I’m writing genre fiction. Does that  not make me an author in some way? You know what, get over yourself. What I’m doing is writing stories that I hope people will enjoy reading.

I’m writing for the Black Library.

Actually, this usually gets a ‘who?’ response before the ‘Oh!’. It’s only when I clarify that the Black Library is the publishing arm of Games Workshop that people make the connection. Then they sort of glaze over as they recall that strange little shop with the sweaty teenage boys lurking within and the toy soldiers in the window. You can see it in their face. They’re bewildered by this announcement and don’t know what to say. So they say ‘Oh!’ Sometimes, they say ‘Oh!’ in a bizarrely enthusiastic way as though they can encapsulate everything in that one sound.

This is probably the line that confuses most people; because Black Library is pretty genre-specific after all. Say ‘fantasy’ or ‘sci-fi’ to most non-genre readers and they’ll come back with ‘Oh, you mean Tolkien and Star Trek’.

Uh-huh. Let’s get to the biggy, shall we?

I’m writing military sci-fi featuring seven foot tall, genetically engineered post-human warrior monks who carry chainswords and guns. Big, big guns. Oh – and whilst I’m digging my own grave, it’s tie-in fiction.

‘But…’

Yeah, I think. I know what you’re going to add. And they invariably don’t. Some do, of course. But…

…you’re a girl.

I am! Thanks for noticing the 38C’s there! Oh, wait – that’s ALL you noticed? Are you a PC World reject? (Clarification: I went into PC World once to buy a new printer and the sales assistant addressed everything to chest level. In the end, I actually crouched down to get his attention. I laughed about it, but I wanted to punch him).

Let’s break this down gently.

1) Yes. I’m a girl. Does this mean I am precluded from enjoying military sci-fi? I also happen to enjoy books by Marian Keyes who is as far removed from outer space as you can possibly imagine. My taste in reading is like my taste in music, films and television. Eclectic. I like lots of things. Women who read genre are, in my opinion, likely to be far more intelligent and more widely-read than many of the men – particularly the younger men who have yet to go against the grain and break out of genre for a look at the World Beyond.

So yes. I’m a girl. Reading and writing science fiction of a military nature. Why is this? Because it’s fun. There’s nothing more sinister to it than that. I’m not some sort of rampant feminist trying to make a point. When I first got the writing gig with BL, I worried about writing under my own name. But in the end, I went with the best advice I got.

‘You wrote it, didn’t you? Be proud of it. Not ashamed.’

So I have gone for using my Actual Name. It will be something of an interesting social experiment in some ways and indeed already has been. (Again, for clarification, in a review of one of my short stories, the only thing the reviewer could comment on was that I ‘spent too long describing how handsome the sergeant was’. There was one line in which I mentioned his appearance. That was it. That was all he could find to say on the story. Several people have said to me that they’d never seen such a blatantly sexist review and not to let it bother me. It didn’t bother me, I assure you. In fact, I laughed at it. I am, however, reasonably sure that if I had written using just my initials, or under a male name, he’d have not even mentioned it). Still, that’s his opinion and he’s more than entitled to it. Sirrah, I salute you.

It was just one comment, but I’m sure it’ll happen again. There seems to be a (thankfully small) sub-section of genre readers who instantly despise a girl coming into their precious world. I hope I can at least change their minds a little.

Additionally, if other female authors feel more confident about submitting work to BL because I’m there and not afraid of who I am, then that can only be a good thing. Certainly the dynamic of the game is changing; there are far more girls buying and painting Warhammer armies. I sometimes feel, along with the other BL short story-writing gals out there, something of a trailblazer.

And as for the tie-in fiction stigma…

Even my own dad said, when I told him about The Gildar Rift, ‘but it’s not real fiction, is it?’

There was a pause of aeons. Icebergs formed, got embarrassed and melted.

‘What do you mean, exactly?’ (Inside, I was saying ‘you mean, “well done, Sarah”, of course you do.’)

‘Well… you’re not making anything up. It’s all already there.’

‘I’m creating all my own characters and my own story. The rest of it is just a prop.’

‘Oh!’

And we were back to square one.

Incidentally, he has since told me how proud he is of me. Heck, I’m proud of me. Tie-in fiction or not, writing a 100k+ word novel is no easy feat. Let the snobs look down from their pedestals and sneer at my work of lesser fiction. I’m the one having fun and enjoying what I’m doing. I’m proud to be a part of the W40K (and WHF now!) worlds.

So, quite frankly… in your face, literary snobs.

You go back to debating the hidden meaning of ‘My Life as a Crustacean’. I will let my imagination run free in a world of either my own, or someone else’s devising, where all the pressures of real life can be left at the door for a few quality hours. Because – and let’s combine all of these things and slap the label on – I might be a female military sci-fi tie-in genre reader and author for the Black Library… but I’m happy doing it. And when someone says to me ‘I loved your story’, then I’ve shared that happiness.

Given the choice of literary recognition or making someone happy… hearing that someone’s joined me in my made-up world, I know which one I would choose any time.

Black Library Live! 2010

(Note the inclusion of the apparently mandatory exclamation mark).  I pay attention, you know.

The day dawned bright and… alright, it didn’t.  It was bloody horrible, quite frankly.  Overcast and a bit pants to be honest, but it’s Jamie’s birthday and that made a little bit of red-headed little boy sun come out to shine.  We got ready to head off to BLL and the little darling said “hey, here’s a really great idea.  Let’s walk!”

Well, in fairness, it’s only about a mile and a half from the hotel, so where’s the harm?  There isn’t any.  So off we stroll.

We get about three quarters of the way there and Dearly Beloved says “did you remember the tickets?”

There is a pause.  Ice ages come and go.  Empires are founded, battled for and duly destroyed.  Mountains form, rivers reach the ocean and there’s still no such thing as a good reality TV show.

“Tickets?” I say, airily with a forced laugh of ohmygodi’msobloodystupidness.  “Tickets… well, now you come to mention it…”

There is another pause.

Dearly Beloved commences his own  private ‘Challenge Anneka’ style race against the clock by jogging lightly back in the general direction of the hotel whilst Small Son and I continue on to join the queue at the Black Library.  We befriend half the people standing near us, because that’s what you do in a queue.  I can’t be in a queue for more than ten minutes without finding out the details of the person behind me.  There could be a stampede, or the earth could end… you’d want to know the person standing next to you’s name, surely?

After fifteen minutes or so, I ring Dearly Beloved.  “I’m at the main road,” he pants between the sound of pounding feet.  Against my better judgment (and indeed, against my will) I have flashback memories of all those unfocused shots of Anneka Rice’s arse. 

“Where are the tickets?”

“In the laptop bag.”

“Where’s that?”

“In the car.”

“Where are the car keys?”

“In the bag in the hotel room.  The front pocket.  Of the bag, not the hotel.”

“OK!”

“GET THE CRYSTAL!”

“What?”

“Nothing.  Um.  See you soon.”

By the time he pounded like Roger Bannister down the street towards GW HQ, what remained of the queue applauded him in.  A four mile round trip in less than 30 minutes.  Rather impressive.  Plus, we had tickets now.  Admittedly, Dearly Beloved had gone roughly the same colour as a sunburned lobster, but he has been whining about not getting enough exercise of late, I was merely helping him in his quest for svelteness.

I signed up for the afternoon ‘Seer Council’ session with James Swallow, because he is made of several shades of shiny stuff, and we headed into the main room to enjoy a joint panel with Nick Kyme and Aaron Dembski-Bowden reading excerpts from their respective tomes ‘Firedrake’ and ‘Soul Hunter’.  It was a good start to the day.  I now understand that Nick does all his research into forging by playing Fable 2.  How the truth surprises.

What happened then?  A blur of queues and panels and mis-spelled posters that proclaimed it to be ‘Black Libary Live’… Dennis the Hamster stealing the show… fantastic.  Not sure about that bloke who hangs around with him, though.  (;))  The Seer Council with Jim Swallow was out of this world, especially the conversation about how to approach the ultimate end scene of the Horus Heresy, the big punch-up between Horus and his pop.  How, it was wondered, could one best approach this?  Surely directly zooming in on the Mysterious Emperor after seventeen quintillion books of mystery would somehow diminish him?

I believe the discussion went something like this.

“I could always just write a book of reactions.  ‘Oh!’  ‘Oooh!’  ‘Ouch, that’s got to hurt.'”

“Or… maybe tell the story from the point of view of a Space Marine who’s locked in a broom cupboard and can hear all this awesomeness going on outside.”

It will stick.

Beer was had afterwards with an assortment of  rather splendid individuals, all of whom had a plethora of advice for me.  I will not be shaving my head and growing a beard any time soon, though.

I have had a fantastic weekend.  I hope there will be many more opportunities to talk to some of these people, even Chris Wraight who sloped off to catch a train (how very dare he?) without the promised swappage of email addresses.  *sniffs haughtily*

Brilliant stuff.  Thoroughly enjoyed it.  Can’t wait for more of the same.

Additional bonus was the chance to meet some of the Bolthole Bods, who are fabulous people.  Brilliant.  Not to mention the lovely Ragnar who supplied me with so many books that I plan to build a small fort when I get home and defend it with a tiny, tiny catapult.

Also: Prospero Burns.  Cover makes me want to weep almost as much as the one for Legends of the Space Marines.

This post has been brought to you by the power of fangirlishness… and the letters ‘P’ and ‘R’.

Normal grumbling will no doubt resume shortly.

Thank you for your patience.  Your call IS important to us.

The Devil You Know: Mike Carey [A Book Review]

I’ve decided I need to write  more book reviews.  In fact, any book reviews.  I’m already about twelve books in this year and I haven’t bothered reviewing any of them.  This isn’t because I haven’t enjoyed them, it’s because I’m just a lazy arse.

So, here’s my first review.

The Devil You Know: Mike Carey

The Devil You Know: A Felix Castor Novel – Mike Carey

(£7.99, Orbit)

OK, so I’m slow on the uptake.

I’m very familiar with the Other Works [tm] of Mr. Carey, X-Men/Ultimate Fantastic Four legend that he is. I’d been meaning to get around to his Felix Castor series ages ago, but what with the Horus Heresy getting in the way, and then that bloomin’ Kyme man and his Salamanders… then Chris Wraight and his accursed Iron Company – it didn’t look as though I’d ever get to it.

It probably hadn’t helped that I’d completely forgotten the series, either.

In fact, I don’t even remember now what it was that sparked my memory and convinced me to buy the first book in the series when I was recently wasting money I haven’t got on DVDs I don’t really need at Amazon. Whatever it was that jogged my failing, senile memory, I’m glad it did the job.

Because this book is good. Let me throw the blurb out there.

Felix Castor is a freelance exorcist, and London is his stamping ground. At a time when the supernatural world is in upheaval and spilling over into the mundane reality of the living, his skills have never been more in demand. A good exorcist can charge what he likes – and enjoy a hell of a life-style – but there’s a risk: sooner or later he’s going to take on a spirit that’s too strong for him. After a year spent in ‘retirement’ Castor is reluctantly drawn back to the life he rejected and accepts a seemingly simple exorcism case – just to pay the bills, you understand. Trouble is, the more he discovers about the ghost haunting the archive, the more things don’t add up. What should have been a perfectly straightforward exorcism is rapidly turning into the Who Can Kill Castor First Show, with demons, were-beings and ghosts all keen to claim the big prize. But that’s OK; Castor knows how to deal with the dead. It’s the living who piss him off…

‘Right then,’ thinks I. ‘So far, so Dresden Files rip-off.’ For those of you unfamiliar with the extraordinarily fantastic works of Jim Butcher and the eponymous Harry Dresden, might I further suggest these as books worthy of your time and effort?

But no. There’s nothing of the secret underground supernatural of Dresden in Felix Castor’s world. Carey paints a pretty grim picture of an alternate reality London, where the dead rise and go about their daily business alongside the living. Not all is harmonious, of course, and men like Felix Castor and another London-based exorcist, Gabriel ‘Gabe’ McLennan are needed to quell the unquiet dead from time to time.

Felix Castor – ‘Fix’ to ‘those who can bear me’ – realises that he can’t exist forever on the goodwill of his landlady (and friend) alone and that he needs work to pay the mounting bills and his back-rent. How fortuitous for our hero then, that he receives a call from the curator of a document archive. A man who is looking for someone to rid the archive of a ghost who has been seen and who is displaying somewhat violent tendencies. Initially, Castor is not enamoured of either the job or the people at the archive, but he agrees to take the job.

Carey twists and turns the tale in a vast variety of ways, pulling you down one path and then throwing up a brick wall dead end. He’s a master of manipulation: leaving you thinking ‘I know exactly what’s going on here’, and then completely shattering the conclusions you have drawn.

The first half of the book I found reasonably paced, if a little slow. It wasn’t a page turner, certainly, but it was well-written, evocative of London and with a very sympathetic protagonist. The supporting cast were well-drawn and the story bimbled along nicely.

Then I hit the halfway spot. I hit the halfway spot at about 8.30 this morning and I finished the book about 50 minutes later. The speed of the story picked up momentum and hauled me along with it. It was fabulous. It twisted and turned like a… twisty, turny thing (apologies to Blackadder).

When the story finished, I was genuinely disappointed that I hadn’t bought the next book in the cycle: ‘Vicious Circle’. I intend to rectify this when I go into town this afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing how a particular relationship formed in this book pans out…

‘The Devil You Know’ isn’t anything original as such. It’s a noir-esque detective story with gritty humour thrown in, but Carey, a man used to writing for the visual medium of graphic novels, paints pictures remarkably well. It has its flaws, of course: a lot of his humour and subtle sarcasm is extraordinarily British and I think it would be missed by a lot of people. Some of the pop-culture references he makes might also go unnoticed by those not native to the UK – but it makes a refreshing change to be able to physically insert yourself in the locations he mentions. Euston Station, Petticoat Lane, Cheapside…

Carey takes Felix Castor on one hell of a trip in this story and I’m glad I was there to accompany him.

I recommend this book highly.

Literary Rantings

I arrive fresh from ranting (rather rudely, I do apologise) on Nick Kyme’s journal entry regarding reading.  The rant was around what constitutes a ‘good’ book and my point was that surely a ‘good’ book is entirely objective?  Read the rant there if you wish: it largely centres around ‘Pride and Prejudice’, a book I disliked with such vitriolic disgust that it’s the only book I’ve ever considered throwing away.

(I didn’t, of course, it’s still on my bookcase).

But it’s true.  Take the Horus Heresy books.  Dearly Beloved disliked ‘Battle for the Abyss’, whilst I rather enjoyed it.  He waxes lyrical about ‘Legion’ and I couldn’t get into that one at all.  (For the record, we both loved ‘Flight of the Eisenstein’ – one on the scoreboard for James Swallow).

I’ve tried for a long time to pull myself out of the fantasy/sci-fi genre.  I pick up the occasional non-genre book, but rarely get engaged by them.  ‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time’ is one exception to this rule.  I loved that.

I think part of the reason is that for me, at least, I prefer my author to tell me a story, not to demonstrate how clever, or quirky, or ‘off the wall’ they can be – does that make any sense? I like to be entertained when I’m reading.  I like my emotions to be taken for a rollercoaster ride.  I like to laugh. 

I’m not that hard to please, literary-wise.  Good characterisation, good dialogue, good story – and I’m sold.  (The ‘Dresden Files‘ books by Jim Butcher meet that criteria bang-on, I have to say – there hasn’t been a bad one of them yet.  And at the same time, his fantasy series didn’t pull me in nearly as much.  More Harry, please Jim!)

There.  I’ve got the rant out of my system now.