Just a quick post to share the new cover art for City of Masks!
This is not the final version but it's pretty close and I must say I'm thrilled with it ! Having said that, I loved the old cover too but this one has a pretty amazing story behind it because I actually taught the artist, Kerry, a few years back! And before you ask, the class was Media Studies, not art :D
Keep an eye out for another new cover when The Lost Mask is released in a little while!
Here's another writing soundtrack, this time comprised of the tunes I had on heavy rotation while writing & editing Sea of Trees. Among other styles, there's a bit more jazz and music from or inspired by Japan this time around. There were a few traditional pieces I didn't include here too, one of which is the beautiful Moon Over Ruined Castle.
Again (and I know I say this every time) one day I'll update some of these images and make them youtube links!
Continuing my 2015 Tintin reading challenge tonight with The Blue Lotus. Earlier in the month I read Cigars of the Pharaoh and the storyline from that volume actually wraps up here.
The Blue Lotus is a special one for a few reasons, it’s got a pretty fantastic cover and some wonderful large panels, especially when entering towns, and perhaps most important to the history of Tintin, the introduction of Chang – who becomes vital to a future adventure.
Another twisty tale with some great double-bluffs, perhaps the most impressive thing about this one is the changes Herge makes to his research. The setting is much more accurately rendered in terms of dress and backdrops, characters on banners etc and a more balance view on race – where Tintin even discusses cultural misconceptions with his new friend Chang.
Thomson & Thompson return with one of their best single panels – where they attempt to blend into the streets of Shanghai with predictable results. I also loved hearing Thompson (or Thomson?) using the word ‘botheration.’ Fantastic.
There’s also some more instances of Herge’s fondness for alliteration (‘seventy-seven suffering samurais’) and some great night panels which always remind me of the ‘day for night’ shooting used in the older films (such as Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief.)
Another great adventure!
Next up: The Broken Ear.
Today I wanted to share the work of Camila Vielmond, whose characters and landscapes especially I love : )
I'm biased because I've commissioned her to work on my Crossings cover and also for a future epic fantasy serial, but for now I wanted to urge you to check out her work! (and next week I'll feature my other favourite artist!)
Here's her digital folio and her blog where you can see some of the process behind the finished products.
Really hoping to get The Lost Mask out in the next month or two and as it should be just about to go into production, it's looking good! Snapping Turtle is also organising a bit of a surprise for the Bone Mask books too - but more on that when I can!
No real news on The Fairy Wren ebook however - it's appearing on some scattered, smaller retailers but none of the majors yet. Again, I will keep everyone posted. In the meantime the book is still available in print and has been receiving great reviews, which is wonderful! (I'm also running another giveaway for a print copy over at Goodreads too, if you're on the site :) )
Sea of Trees (my novella-length ghost story) is about to go to my wonderful editor for feedback and cover art is at concept stage, so I ought to be on track for a March release with that one!
Just before Christmas I was also reviewed/interviewed over at The Author Visits and had the chance to talk about some aspects of my creative process and the influences on City of Masks - the music and places too, and even a little bit about the way the Italian language has influenced the names in the story. Have a look if you're curious and stay tuned here on the blog for part 3 of the double interview with Ryn Lilley & myself coming up soon.
So, a while back I decided to read all the Tintin books in 2015, which I’m really looking forward to. The challenge itself is pretty simple – I have to read about 2 a month. What might take a bit of time will be tracking down the first few and the last one. (The others I have on the shelf :) )
And being as it’s 2015 now, I’m kicking off with one of the earliest Tintin’s I remember reading as a kid – Cigars of the Pharaoh. (I’ll read in chronological order from here, looping back to the first Tintin in December.)
Still one of my favourites, Cigars of the Pharaoh feels like ‘classic’ Tintin, even if it’s only the fourth release in the series and a lot of aspects to Herge’s Tintin-universe were still being developed.
It’s got a heap of action and the twists are piled on, there’s great word play from Thomson & Thompson (who make their first appearance) and the bounds of reality are amusingly stretched when Tintin carves a trumpet and learns the language of elephants. There’s also plot lines that run into the next volume and Snowy’s asides are great – and as ever, I love the ‘clear line’ style and the expressiveness of those few lines. There’s a panel where Snowy thinks Tintin has been killed and the despair on his poor face is drawn so well!
Easily one of the best Tintin adventures in my book.
Next up: The Blue Lotus.
Today it's part 2 of a ‘double interview’ where Ryn Lilley (a fellow Snapping Turtle author) and I talk about writing, music, conventions whatever else comes up!
Hope you enjoy it and feel free to ask either of us a question in the comments : )
RL: What defines a great writing group for you?
AC: Great question – for me it’s definitely size and the flexibility of the group, and to an extent, a familiarity with each other’s genre. For size, I usually prefer a smaller group typically because the time and support that group can offer each other is more concentrated. In terms of flexibility I think of the way that my Alchemy group understands that there is no one, single way to write or revise etc. We each appreciate the varying degrees between plotting and pantsing for example, and can help each other with either approach. And in terms of the last criteria, I don’t think it’s necessary but just really useful for your partners to be familiar with your genre, especially when it comes to specifics.
AC: Tell me how important you think genre conventions are to a writer?
RL: I live in a rural area, and the closest writers group to me is a 100 km round trip, which kind of puts it a bit out of contention for regular interaction. So one of the few times I get to mingle and interact with others on various stages of their own writing journey, is at conventions. As I write science fiction, and inhale science fiction and fantasy as my preferred reading, genre conventions tend to be where I gravitate to. That said, I have only been able to get to a few over the years I have been learning the craft. If you look at the panels as a chance to take notes in a uni lecture, they can be enormously instructive. But a new writer always needs to remember that each author can only tell you how they work, and therefore their methods are not necessarily going to work for everyone else.
A writer isn’t going to get “the magic method” for guaranteed being published by their dream publishing house from a genre convention – but they can learn how to improve their writing in general, and the inspiration that can come from being around like-minded people is incredible. I have never come away from a convention without my head full of plans and ways to make my work better. And you do get to see how very many different methods there are to write – while there are some general rules that can be learnt, your own style is something you have to discover. And you only do that by writing.
However, with the last few questions regarding the learning process - I’m going to be a bit cheeky here and put in a plug for one of our fellow Snapping Turtle authors. When looking at advice from beta readers, or writers at conventions, it’s also helpful to know the credentials of those who are offering writing advice. Jennifer Fallon has taught master classes at Supernova and not only is she an internationally published author who has sold over 750, 000 books world wide, she holds a Masters in Creative Writing, and has been working in adult education for a couple of decades. Her general writing advice is definitely worth the investment as a valuable education resource How to Write a Bestseller.
RL: What have you found to be the best and worst things you have taken away from a genre convention?
AC: Hands down the best thing would be the connections made, sometimes it’s just great to chat with like-minded people, huh? Next would be the sense of motivation – the exposure to ideas is really inspiring and so I usually find myself keen to write after leaving one. I actually can’t think of a big negative – perhaps the occasional microphone hog, but there haven’t been too many of those that I’ve seen (blessedly!).
AC: So, not much of a segue this time, but how important, or how dangerous even, do you think tropes are to our writing/genre?
RL: Tropes have their places; you have to know them well to be able to break them successfully. I can think of occasions where an author has written in a genre without having the slightest idea of the reasons for the tropes, or even that the tropes existed, and found commercial success, but the kind of fans that stay with a genre from teenage to old age, won’t touch their work. In most cases the tropes developed for very specific reasons, for example: research into folklore tales across the UK, Europe and Scandinavia shows a common diagnosis today, existed in those tales. We call it autism, they called the children with behavioural and developmental problems fairy changelings (Or troll changelings etc etc, depending on the country). It is likely that porphyria sufferers may have lead to the creation of the Vampire tropes.
The dangers, I think comes from how others outside the genre view it. If they think of all horror as being like a bad 80s slasher film, then they are unlikely to ever read the darkly charming stories like Fluke, by James Herbert. If they perceive all fantasy to be a boys own adventure with wizards to save the day, then they miss out on the unique works by the likes of Glenda Larke, with Havenstar, or Jennifer Fallon’s more political, tightly plotted works with characters you can’t help but love, even if you suspect she’s going to kill them off, or Dave Freer’s highly technically, and wonderfully light-hearted alternate universes. Marketing has a role to play in how these books are perceived, and of course from a marketing point of view you want a book to be instantly recognizable to those who are already interested in that style of book. But it does limit the potential audience.
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Ashley Capes is an Australian writer of fiction, poetry and very occasional non-fiction.
Imperial Towers (Never Book 5) - draft 1
Moss Dragon - draft 1
Reed Lavender (working title) - draft 1
Unnamed Spec Fic - draft 1
Whisper of Leaves (sequel) - Outline