Tag Archives: mocklore

Magical Universities 101

Worst_WitchFor a long time, the subject of magical schools in fantasy fiction was dominated by Harry Potter, and Hogwarts. While the popularity of Harry Potter was at its height, any author who dared to tap into that particular trope was likely to be accused of anything from trend-hopping to plagiarism.

At the same time, there was an ongoing (and very loud) conversational track about how unoriginal Rowling’s books were, with fans of her predecessors waving their own favourite magical school books around, either defensively (look, it was written 20 years earlier, it’s not derivative of Harry Potter!) or happily (look, all these great magical school books to check out once you’ve reread Half-Blood Prince for the third time!).

Seriously, you haven’t lived until you have reread The Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy post-Potter, and realised quite how closely Ethel Hallow, Miss Cackle and Miss Hardbroom map on to Draco Malfoy, Dumbledore and Snape… but I digress.

Works by authors like Diana Wynne Jones actually gained a new lease of life because of Pottermania – it was never this easy to access Chrestomanci books in the 90’s, I know I had to hunt for them in second hand book shops until the big first reissue of her novels in colourful, Potterish covers.

The most interesting thing about Hogwarts as a magical school (apart from the fact that it’s the biggest, baddest, most popular, most bestselling example of the trope) was the gaps in the educational system – the honking great question marks, which fanfic writers leaped on with great enthusiasm. What did wizards and witches offer as primary education? Where did they learn about subjects other than magic – surely they needed some form of mathematics, or basic english courses?

Most importantly, what were the options for further study after they graduated? We all know that Hermione wasn’t going to be content with going straight into the work force at the age of seventeen. What came next?

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Coming Soon to a Pirate Ship Near You!

Fablecroft are repackaging my first 2 novels, Splashdance Silver and Liquid Gold, with a gorgeous omnibus cover by Tania Walker, who also provided the art for the release of Ink Black Magic, the third in the series. Yes, Splashdance Silver and Liquid Gold will be available again in print as well as e-book format!

This is particularly good news for Tansy completionists who have struggled to find copies of the ‘yes the print run was a lot shorter’ Liquid Gold paperback. And also good news for me, because PRETTY COVER.

The Mocklore Chronicles are funny, fast-paced fantasy adventure novels about Kassa Daggersharp, daughter of a pirate captain and a legendary witch, and her crew of scoundrels and traitors. The books contain magical environmental concerns, a flying pirate ship (and, completely separately, a flying pirate sheep), a bunch of ancient history jokes and some really great frocks. Oh, and killer canaries.

mocklore-omnibus

Don’t Forget the Book Party!

Not content with having a crowdfunding campaign this month, FableCroft Publishing are also holding a book party!

New novels by myself (Ink Black Magic, the newest installment in the Mocklore Chronicles) and Dirk Flinthart will be launched tomorrow by Lian Tanner at the Hobart Bookshop. We’d love as many readers and book lovers to join us as possible. There will be free wine and juice, there’s a kiddie corner in the bookshop (my daughters will be there dressed as pirates and witches), and what else are you going to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Hope to see you there if you can make it.

ink black magic party

Devoured by Book

So the blog has been a bit quiet of late and bound to continue so. Shhh! I’m writing a book!

NaNoWriMo is doing what it’s kinda supposed to do, as far as I’m concerned – it’s kicking me back into habitual writing. I’ve been struggling all year with time shrinkage and my various parental etc (so much et cetera!) responsibilities, and not getting much of anything done. But I gritted my teeth and started this 6am thing (most days). The fact that it started working early on did, of course, spur me on. Funny how success tends to be encouraging!

Slowly, slowly, I’m remembering how to write books. More specifically, how *I* write books. I tap into my barely-veiled addictive personality, I challenge myself, and I turn up to the damn chair. So far, so good.

The first time I did Nano, I blogged nearly every day. Not only those damned wordcount bars, but reflections on what I was writing, and how I write. The second year (which was 2009) I blogged everywhich way, including possible typing with my ears. Words poured everywhere because I was writing WITH a three month old baby, and the more fiction I wrote, the more I wanted to blog as well.

I suspect that won’t be happening this time. I’ve been giving a lot of attention to my blog lately and now having great fun with the enormous secret which is the book I can read and no one else can – the one I’m writing!

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The Rampaging Return of Liquid Gold.

Liquid Gold Cover LASTRemember those comic fantasy novels I got published back in the 20th century when beer was 5p an ounce and children all had excellent manners? Here’s one I prepared earlier!

Liquid Gold was the second book in the Mocklore Chronicles, often erroneously referred to as the Mocklore trilogy. A sequel to Splashdance Silver (though intended to work as a standalone novel) it continued the adventures of Kassa Daggersharp, pirate queen (and occasionally witch) and her slapstick crew of half-arsed criminals. Liquid Gold introduced a time travel plot, a new tough female character in sensible armour, and a bunch of classical history and mythology references (I was in third year university when I wrote it, had just chosen my Classics major and was terribly impressed with myself for taking a Latin reading course of The Aeneid from which I borrowed copiously).

Sadly the print run and distribution for Liquid Gold was much smaller than for Splashdance Silver, and so over the years I have heard that many people who had enjoyed the first book never managed to source a copy of the second.

Well, now you can! Thanks to Tehani at Fablecroft (and the ebook production work of my own silent producer) Liquid Gold is now available for sale in e-edition. You can currently pick it up via Amazon/Kindle or in any preferred format from Wizard’s Tower Books, and it will soon also be available at Kobo and Weightless Books.

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Splashdance Silver Rides Again

finalSplashdanceCover copySo here’s a thing.

Fifteen years ago (YES REALLY) when I was not yet out of my teens (just), I wrote a book and entered a competition and by a blinding stroke of right-place-right-time I won. My fluffy comic fantasy adventure romp about a pirate queen in the making was published in 1998 and it and set me on the course of a writing career.

Now, thanks to FableCroft Publishing and the wonders of the internet, Splashdance Silver – Book 1 of the Mocklore Chronicles, is about to be officially back in print. Well, e-ink, anyway!

Thanks to Cheryl being more organised than Amazon, it was briefly available at Wizard’s Tower before everyone else, shortly followed by Kindle and Weightless Books.
[paragraph edited after the fact]

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Cartography Makes me Cry

I’ve been the person who rolls my eyes at any book that features horses and maps.  As a creative writing teacher, I always warned wannabe fantasy writers about the dangers of getting so swept up in the detail of their worldbuilding that they never got around to writing the actual books.

I deliberately set the Creature Court trilogy in one city, with no travelling.  No horses.  Back in the Mocklore days I deliberately created a fantasy country small enough that people could reasonably walk everywhere, and promptly gave my heroine a magic ship to make sure there were no horses required, and no one would need a map to find their way around.

I’m still anti-horse.

Of course, even fantasy books without maps have maps.  The author needs something to keep track of their imaginary landscapes, to make sure they don’t accidentally end up with their characters walking in the wrong direction, or a city miraculously appearing on the wrong side of a continent.

Trust me, it happens.

With Mocklore, I had a nice little island sketched out in coloured textas.  It was rough, but no one was ever going to see it but me.  Likewise, when I was constructing the city of Aufleur for the Creature Court, I scrawled a general impression of what went where, for my own reference.  I used two colours of biro.  It – wasn’t good.  But hey, no one was going to see it but…

Yeah, so apparently the publishers want a real map.  My first reaction to this was to squee heartily because they were making me maps and obviously they would call upon the pet cartographers they kept on retainers for just such an occasion – ah, wait.  Apparently maps are not in the least like cover art, and it’s up to the author to provide them personally.  If I hadn’t had my very artistic mother present during the discovery of this information, I might well have hyperventilated.

The process is actually kind of exciting.  Mum managed to take my extremely dodgy map sketch and turned it into something that looks like a real city.  She even coped valiantly with the fact that Aufleur is based on Rome, not the Rome that exists in other books of maps, but the Rome that was lodged in my head after staying there for a month back in 2002.

(apparently that Rome does not actually exist, I know, it made me cry too)

We had a map meeting today which basically consisted of me panicking because my theatre is on the wrong side of the city, and hang on I think maybe it has to be on the district it shares a name with because that would make sense, right, only that means I have to change the actual text, and I don’t know where that street is at all, and oh god EVERY time I open the ms document I find some other reference to a map-related thing that bears no relation to the biro sketch I made a million years ago and I don’t actually KNOW how lakes work, why would anyone need to know how lakes work, and I have two different names for the gates of the city and can you have gates without actually having walls and maybe I do have walls, I don’t know because my characters have never walked past them, and OMG MY RIVER HAS NO NAME.

My mother at this point is giggling madly at me.  “How do you write a whole book and never name the river>?” she asked.

“THEY JUST CALL IT THE RIVER!”

Ahem.  Long story short.  Forget what I said before.  Get your map sorted long before you reach edit/proof stage of the manuscript.  Seriously.  The drawing it up and making it look pretty is not the part that takes the time.  It’s the failing to recognise that you’ve lost a road somewhere and you can’t remember what it was supposed to be called anyway and if you refer to docks then you should probably know where they are and TRAIN TRACKS ARE SUPPOSED TO GO SOMEWHERE!

*breathes*

Also, my mother is awesome.  That is all.