2017 Round-Up and Happy New Year
Dear friend and reader,
Happy New Year!
2017 was somewhat different for me in that I didn’t have a new book out. Wings of the Storm, the concluding part of The Rise of Sigurd trilogy, was published in paperback, but there was nothing new, which is unusual. Mind you, I had two books out in 2016. It’s little wonder that my accountant and the Tax Man sometimes find my bookkeeping records a little, shall we say, Penguin Random House. Still, not having a new book out didn’t mean it was all sitting in pondersome pose at my desk bathed in the screen's glow. There may not have been the trumpet fanfare from the heavens that blares (in my own head only, alas) when a new book launches, but there were some exciting moments in 2017.
At last, having previously only been available in the USA, Random House Audio made a brand new recording of the RAVEN saga, narrated by Philip Stevens, who also happens to be the chap who directs my book trailers and starred in our short film The Last Viking. The Rise of Sigurd trilogy was already available in audio, but the addition of the RAVEN books is very exciting because it means the whole Viking adventure (so far anyway) is now there to be plundered. And from the look of the reviews, I’m not the only one who thinks that Philip Stevens has done an incredible job with the narration. You can find them all in the iTunes store or on Audible.
Last year, I also got the opportunity to work as the narrative designer on a new video game called Valnir Rok. It's an online sandbox survival roleplaying game inspired by Norse mythology. Players awaken to find themselves on Valnir Island and must do whatever it takes to survive in a land of wild animals, mythical beasts and violent men. As a hardened Viking warrior, you must beat your enemies in bloody combat, build and improve village structures and form a clan to grow your power and reputation. Battle against opposing clans, place bounties on enemies and gain favour with the gods by great deeds and holy sacrifices. That sort of thing. My role was to write a creation myth for the world of Valnir Rok and write many of the quests, which was enormous fun, if at times far from easy given the technicalities of a multi-player online game. I'm also working with a Norwegian studio on another awesome-looking game, though more news on that in the coming year. Working in game narrative design is certainly stretching my storytelling in interesting ways, from the traditional medium of the novel to the cutting edge technological arena of the gaming world. Interesting times.
You may have noticed that I also launched a new website. I hope you like it. One particularly interesting feature is the GK shop through which you can buy signed books (including 1st edition hardbacks) from my own library. It's the perfect place to come if you want to complete your collection of hardbacks, or if you're looking for that unique gift. I don't do many book signings, so this could be the only place you'll find signed books which have been out for a while. Please have a look through the website and let me know if we're missing anything. You can of course contact me through the site with any questions and I'll do my best to reply within the week. What you may find of use (or just interesting) is the Frequently Asked Questions section, in which I talk about how and why I became a writer, and stuff like that.
Other 2017 highlights for me include writing my first review for The Times, for Thomas Williams' terrific Viking Britain: An Exploration, and Wings of the Storm being shortlisted for the Historical Writers' Association Golden Crown. The prize was for the best Historical Fiction novel published in 2017 and there were an incredible number of entries. Wings of the Storm didn't win (a brilliant-by-all-accounts book called The North Water did) but I was thrilled to make the shortlist amongst some wonderful books. And anyway, Sigurd doesn't 'win' prizes. He takes them.
But mainly, of course, I was busy writing Lancelot, in which I re-imagine and retell the story of one of the great figures of British myth and legends - the warrior who fought at King Arthur's side. I delivered the manuscript to my publisher before Christmas, dealt with my editor's comments and am now just waiting for the copy-editor's feedback, so we're nearly there. I can't wait for you to read it! This one took me about 15 months to write, which is a long time for me, though it will be quite a big book. For context, Wings of the Storm is about 110,000 words, where as Lancelot is currently just over 200,000 words. I think it's the best thing I've ever written, though I'll have to let you be the judge. Lancelot is scheduled for publication in June, but please feel free to pre-order it now. Pre-orders really help a book's discoverability and ensure that the stockist orders plenty of copies, which is what we want :)
Oh, and we are currently finalising an agreement with a film producer who wants to bring The Rise of Sigurd to our screens. As always with these things, it's a very long and winding 'sea-road', but let's stay optimistic. Wouldn't it be something to see our motley crew brought to cinematic life!
Finally, it's worth mentioning that my publisher is running a promotion on God of Vengeance for Kindle. For the whole of January, it's available for just 99p, making this the perfect time to introduce a friend or family member to Sigurd and Svein, Bram and Black Floki. Do please spread the word. The more bodies we can bring into the shieldwall, the better.
Remember, as always you can keep up with my shenanigans on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I do interact on there and usually answer any vaguely sensible question you might have about my books, the way I write, or just about anything else.
That's it for now. All that's left is for me to thank you so very much for reading my books, for posting reviews (they are extremely important - please leave them for any books you love) and for joining me on this story-telling adventure. I wish you a happy, healthy, story-filled 2018. And don't forget to look out for Lancelot.