Archive for the ‘release’ Category

Ashes of the Ancestors, my novella about ghosts, history, and tradition is almost ready to hit the shelves. There’s still time to pre-order the book and get it as soon as it comes out on 7 February. And if you’re wondering whether it might be for you, or if you want to find out a bit more, here are a few things you might enjoy…

  • Runalong the Shelves has a great review of Ashes, digging into the themes the novella explores. Matt’s recommendations have never steered me wrong in the past, so I was really pleased to see how much he enjoyed my book.
  • Over on The Fine-toothed Comb, expert editor Dion gave me space to talk about history as editing and how that connects to Ashes.
  • And last night, the book launch video for this set of Luna Press Publishing novellas went live. You can watch me and five other fabulous authors talk about our books and read scenes from them, to give you a taste of what you’re getting into. The other books are so good, I’d be recommending this even if I wasn’t part of it.

Only eleven more days! I’m very excited. Ashes of the Ancestors is the best thing I’ve had out so far, a fantasy story about an imagined past that I think speaks to our present, a story about tradition, choices, and how we move forward with history’s hand on our shoulder. If that sounds like your thing, then you can pre-order it at all these links:

Luna Press for physical books

Kobo ebook

Amazon ebook

Cover for the Commando comic No Heroes, showing soldiers walking through a jungle, watched by a snake.

Phuoc Tuy, 1968. Private Ian Ewell arrives for his first posting with the Australian SAS. Thrown in at the deep end and faced with everything from guerrilla traps to flesh-eating ants, the green recruit finds the dense jungle of Vietnam to be even more perilous than he ever imagined. His teammates need him to come up to speed fast, and with his dreams of valour swiftly fading, Ewell must come to terms with the fact that in a war this complex, there can be No Heroes.

A Stocking Filler?

Yes, dear reader, Christmas is coming, and what could be more festive than reading a story about war?

Weirdly, there is something fitting about this for me. When I was a kid, The Great Escape was on TV every Christmas, which was also the time to watch whichever Star Wars was on that year, for war stories mashed up with laser guns and the Campbellian monomyth. These days, I can watch those films whenever I want, thanks to the streaming revolution, but once upon a childhood, 25th December was a special time full of bullets and bombs.

If that also rings a bell for you, then maybe now’s the time to pop out and buy a Commando as a nostalgic stocking filler, a comics version of settling down to watch The Great Escape. But before you do that, you might want me to tell you what this story is…

An Awkward War

Vietnam is an awkward war to write about, especially if you’re writing adventure stories. Way back before the controversial conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was the war that made people in the West question their black-and-white image of war’s morality, an image forged in the blazing horrors of World War Two. Sure, there were some monstrous people and tactics on the communist Vietnamese side, but the south was governed by tyrants and torturers too. And once you’re defoliating whole regions or destroying innocent farming communities, can you really call yourselves the good guys anymore?

Mitchell and Webb are we the baddies image

But for better or for worse, heroism isn’t always about being on the right side, if there even is one. I’ve written Commando stories set in the Norman invasion and Wars of the Roses, conflicts where, by modern standards, good and bad sides are impossible to find. Yet you can still find heroics, people willing to risk themselves for friends, comrades, or a cause they believe in.

There is space to depict skill, courage, and idealism within the context of the Vietnam war. It’s tricky, and any story you tell is going to get flack from one side or the other—preferably both—but the space is there.

So what did I do with it?

The New Classics

For starters, I’ve picked an unusual set of protagonists. Western films about Vietnam usually focus on the Americans, but other countries also sent troops into the mix. The Australians, who feature in this story, gained a reputation for effectiveness within the war zone. Nobody was perfect, but without America’s problems of mass mobilisation amid social upheaval, they had an easier time keeping professional and responding to the circumstances they found themselves in. It’s interesting to draw attention to their presence, to make sure that their role isn’t forgotten.

Image of a falling soldier from the film Platoon.

But the main thing I’ve done is to draw on the tone of the classic Vietnam war films, films like Platoon and Full Metal Jacket. We expect World War Two stories to be heroic, or for their anti-heroism to say something new. But with Vietnam stories, it’s a default. This is the war of disillusionment, and that lets me tell a story that I couldn’t in most Commando comics, a story that shows a soldier going through the disillusionment Vietnam brought, a story that loudly shouts that there are no heroes, even as it shows us what heroism is.

Irony, it’s not just a way to make steely, it’s also a writer’s favourite tool.

Better Than a Lump of Coal

So should you buy a copy of No Heroes to leave in a loved one’s Christmas stocking?

Sure, it’s no Great Escape, but that’s what streaming services are for. As the ancient ritual of watching Steve McQueen crash a motorbike on Christmas Day shows, this season isn’t always about light and fluffy things. It’s about enjoying the things that give you pleasure, whether that’s dinner with family or a gritty story about war in the jungle. So if you’d like to read a Commando in the classic Vietnam movie tradition, with the twist of soldiers who are usually forgotten, why not give it a go?

No Heroes, written by me, with art by Jaume Forns and a cover by Neil Roberts, is out now.

You can buy No Heroes from:

Comixology digital edition

Find a local store

The cover of Ashes of the Ancestors

In a haunted monastery at the heart of a crumbling empire, a lone priest tends the fires for the dead. A servant bound by the bones of her family, Magdalisa is her people’s last link to the wisdom of the past.

But as the land around them dies, new arrivals throw the monastery into turmoil. A dead warlord demanding recognition. Her rival, seizing the scraps of power. Two priests, both claiming to serve the spirits, both with their own agendas.

As ancient shadows struggle for the soul of an empire, Magdalisa must decide how far she will go to keep tradition alive.

My novella, Ashes of the Ancestors, is now available to pre-order. A fantasy story about tradition and our relationship with the past, Ashes of the Ancestors is far and away the best thing I’ve produced so far, and you should obviously go grab a copy. It comes out alongside five other novellas from fantastic speculative fiction authors, which you can read about here.

Pre-orders really help a book to make a splash when it comes out, and are a great way of supporting not just authors but independent presses like Luna, so if this sounds like your sort of thing, please consider clicking on the links to pre-order it at assorted places. Think of the book as a gift to your future self, to be delivered on 7 February…

Me grinning like an idiot while holding my author copies

Luna Press for physical books

Kobo ebook

Amazon ebook

And just to prove that they’re real, here I am, getting excited about my author copies.

Happy reading!

Cover of Neo-opsis 34

Garvey likes working with machines; unlike with humans, their behaviour makes sense. But when the remote control in his head acts up, he’s going to get a lot closer to people than he’d like…

I’ve got a new story, “The Machine Man”, out in the latest issue of Neo-Opsis. It’s a sci-fi story about a technician struggling to cope not just with the way technology is changing him, but with the turmoil of a society under strain.

This started out as an experiment in writing about psychic powers, looking for a new way they might come about. What if an attempt to control machines ended up affecting people as well? That implicitly asks uncomfortable questions about the difference between people and machines, and to some extent expresses my own outlook on that topic. But this isn’t a story about what it means to live. Rather, it’s a story about how we fit into society and what happens when you suddenly become very connected.

There’s a rich history of stories featuring psychic powers. My favourites, like Julian May’s Saga of the Exiles and some of the X-Men comics, delve deep into what would happen if we could do extraordinary things with our minds. This story is less about those extremities and more about the mundane question of how such a thing could happen. The story itself, though, is far from mundane.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, then you can find “The Machine Man” in Neo-Opsis issue 34, out now.

Ashes of the Ancestors book cover

In a haunted monastery at the heart of a crumbling empire, a lone priest tends the fires for the dead. A servant bound by the bones of her family, Magdalisa is her people’s last link to the wisdom of the past.

But as the land around them dies, new arrivals throw the monastery into turmoil. A dead warlord demanding recognition. Her rival, seizing the scraps of power. Two priests, both claiming to serve the spirits, both with their own agendas.

As ancient shadows struggle for the soul of an empire, Magdalisa must decide how far she will go to keep tradition alive.

Exciting news – I now have a cover and a release schedule for my upcoming novella, Ashes of the Ancestors. A fantasy story about memory and tradition, Ashes of the Ancestors will be released by Luna Press Publishing in February 2023, along with five other fantastic novellas. You can read more about all of the books here, and I’ll provide details of where you can order the book nearer the time.

Spain, 1813. A British-led alliance is besieging San Sebastian, to liberate the town from its occupying French garrison. The bodies are piling up at the walls and there’s a traitor in the British camp, determined to destroy them from the inside. Can Tom Hopper and Samuel Jones catch the saboteur and survive the siege, or is their journey through the Peninsular War about to meet a tragic end?

Returning to Old Favourites

I have a new Commando comic out today, returning to my favourite recurring characters – riflemen Tom and Sam and their guerrilla companion Maria.

I really enjoy writing about the Napoleonic wars. Just before war went fully industrial, they had guns but also plenty of close combat, making for varied action scenes. The campaigns are epic in scale but still have space for personal stories, especially once you throw in Spanish guerrillas fighting to free their homeland. There are tensions of class and nationality at enough distance to dodge modern politics.

This is the fourth time I’ve written these characters for Commando, though Maria’s also had a story of her own here, and I’ve got into the groove with them. Writing recurring characters gives me a stronger sense of who they are and builds on what they’ve been through before. Tom’s become more professional, Samuel has loosened up, and Maria has shown something of her darker side. Captain Haythorn is recovering from his injuries, while Colonel Jarvis is emerging as an amusingly pompous foil.

So yeah, it’s good to be back.

A Villain Emerges

My favourite development in the current story is the growth of Captain Baptiste. The throw-away villain of previous stories, he becomes more sophisticated this time, as he infiltrates the British camp. His vendetta against Tom, Samuel, and Maria makes the story more personal, in a way that wouldn’t be possible without their shared history.

Sure, Baptiste still isn’t the most rounded of characters, but it’s nice to have a familiar villain. And if I get to write a fifth story, I have plans for him, a side of the captain that’s been hidden until now…

Showing the Other Side

Showing another side of war and combatants has been a big theme of this series.

Tom and Samuel both showed different sides of themselves as they grew through The Forlorn Hope.

Maria showed them another way of fighting when she appeared in V for Vitoria.

Baptiste started showing the French viewpoint in Rifleman’s Revenge.

But another emotional side emerged in that story, one that grows in Sharpshooters and Saboteurs. War evokes intense feelings, shared struggle forging bonds. That can mean rivalry, friendship, or something more. Commando isn’t often a place for romance, but Samuel and Maria’s relationship is taking a turn, and I’ve had fun playing with that. It’s nice to show something sweet, if sometimes spiky, amid all the destruction.

So, This Comic Then…

If that’s whetted your appetite, then you can buy Sharpshooters and Saboteurs in newsagents, as part of a bundle through the DC Thomson online store, or as a digital edition on Comixology.

The cover of Dare to Die, showing a fight on top of an armoured car in the desert.

Well look at that, I have a new issue of Commando out today!

I wrote Dare to Die to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Special Air Service. It takes us back to the earliest days of the SAS, raiding in the Western Desert during World War Two. When a raid goes wrong, two soldiers are left stranded in the desert, struggling against the elements and enemy patrols. Can they survive against such dramatic odds? Or can they do something even more daring, and finish their mission?

Dare to Die is out now in newsagents and on Comixology.

Cover art by Neil Roberts

I have a new Commando comic out this week. “We Are The Winter” is set during Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of Russia which kicked off 80 years ago this month. The story follows Olga Goncharova, a partisan leader trying to protect her village from the invaders. When other Soviet troops arrive, they offer the promise of assistance, but also the threat of greater destruction. Can Olga save her people from the horrors of the war?

“We Are The Winter” has art by Khato and a marvelously dynamic cover by Neil Roberts. You can buy it now through Comixology, from British newsagents, or as part of a bundle through the publisher’s online store.

“Say what you would about East Berlin—and after two years Jo had a lot to say—but at least the men here were too scared to misbehave. Back in the States, every veteran thought his service gave him the right to get between her legs, and any man who’d stayed home was over-compensating for it. Never mind that Jo had risked more than any of them, playing native among her Grandma Kleiber’s people, praying not to fall foul of any of the smart Nazis…”

Did you ever wonder what would happen if dark forces stalked the streets of post-war Berlin? I mean, darker forces than Soviet spies, CIA agents, and black-market profiteers? OK, maybe that’s dark enough, but I’ve got a new story out this week that adds something more, with elritch powers stirring under the city. “It Will Have Its Way”, a historical horror story, is in the new issue of Aurealis, Australia’s longest-running small press sci-fi and fantasy magazine. Aurealis #141 also features stories from A. Marie Carter and Benjamin Keyworth, as well as non-fiction and reviews, all for the fabulously low price of $2.99, so go check it out.

A shipwrecked sailor hunting for a way home from a land of talking animals.

A rebel desperate to carve out her own path in a steam-powered city.

A casualty from the trenches of World War One looking for a reason to live.

A time traveller seeking knowledge in the past while trying to protect history from the future.

Meet all these people and more in fifty-two short stories, ranging from the ancient past to the far future and into words utterly unlike our own.

My new collection of short stories, One Cog Dreaming, is out today in all the regular e-book formats. Collecting all the stories I published on this blog last year, it’s a journey through fantasy, history, steampunk, and science fiction. So if you missed some of those stories, if you’d like them all together in one place, or if you’d just like to chuck me a couple of dollars to say thank you for the entertainment, then please go grab a copy today.