09/3/13
AnneCharnok

Guest Post: Sci-Fi Author Anne Charnock

Anne Charnock is a fellow 47North author and a wildly interesting person! Her debut novel, A Calculated Life, will be released on September 24. The novel is set in the later 21st century amid a dystopian culture of class-separation and corporate power. Please do yourself a favor and pre-order it as I have. It will be a wonderful addition to 47North’s science fiction catalog. And now, here’s Anne:

If you put Roberto’s novel The Scourge alongside my novel A Calculated Life you’d think they had nothing in common. The Scourge is clearly set in medieval days whereas my story is set in the near future. But there’s a surprise connection between our novels. My main character Jayna works for a mega-corporation that predicts social and economic trends (okay, so far we’ve no common ground). But in an early key scene, Jayna has a meeting with her bosses – Olivia and Benjamin – in the company boardroom, and a large poster draws Jayna’s attention:

 “Jayna’s eyes were flicking between Benjamin and the image on the wall behind him, a large poster of Jesse Recumbent; a rare and monumental, oak sculpture from the medieval age, of immense significance according to Olivia. Jesse lent gravitas to the boardroom, Jayna thought, even though he was lying down. She wondered what he’d make of Mayhew McCline and its world of trend forecasting and economic modelling. Jayna changed the subject. ‘Any news about Tom?’” 

Why did I want to include Jesse Recumbent? Well… I’ve always felt that when we look at very old photos of our hometowns, we usually spot something familiar. Often it’s just the surfaces of things that have changed– rough tracks and cobbled lanes have become asphalt roads, shop signage has been modernized. Likewise, I feel that if we time-travelled to the future we wouldn’t feel totally lost — the past would be visible if we looked closely. In other words, the past and present co-exist. And I wanted to emphasise this point not only in the way I described details of Jayna’s city, but also by showing that people still held a fascination with their very distant histories. Hence… Olivia and her amateur interest in Medievalism.

Recumbent Figure of Jesse, Tate Britain, Image and Idol: Medieval Sculpture, 2001

During my art studies, many moons ago, I researched early Italian painting (and that entailed forays to Italy to see the frescoes in Florence, Siena, Padua — such a hardship!) What really upset me was the knowledge that our own art heritage in England and Wales had been systematically destroyed. This happened between 1540 and 1650 in repeated anti-Catholic assaults on religious artefacts. Only a few paintings and sculptures escaped – Jesse Recumbent being one of the very finest survivors!

In fact, Richard Deacon, who curated an exhibition of medieval art at Tate Britain in 2001, described Recumbent Figure of Jesse (its full title) as “sensational”. This massive oak sculpture normally resides at St Mary’s Priory in Abergavenny in North Wales. (Roberto’s note: There’s another link. Edward, in The Scourge, sees signs of the Virgin Mary everywhere he goes.)  At one time, the sculpture had a bough ‘growing’ from Jesse’s chest with small sculptures of his ancestors. And of course Jesse would have been brightly painted. There are still traces of paint — gold on the angel’s hair, and green on the bough.

The period of greatest destruction fell in Henry VIII’s reign and according to Phillip Lindley in the Tate Britain catalogue, Image and Idol: Medieval Sculpture:

 “By the time of Henry VIII’s death in 1547, the monasteries had been dissolved, the shrines and saints smashed and pilgrimage statues destroyed. Within a few years, almost the entire population of medieval religious sculpture was to be devastated by the evangelical politicians who formed Edward VI’s council. Evidence of a powerful, pent-up desire for change came in outbreaks of unofficial iconoclasm.”

I get a lump in my throat whenever I think of these lost treasures so I guess it’s not too surprising that Jesse Recumbent found its way into my writing.

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Anne’s debut novel, A Calculated Life, is a near-future dystopia. It will be published by 47North on 24 September and is available now for pre-order.

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Anne Charnock’s writing career began in journalism; her articles appeared in The Guardian, New Scientist, and International Herald Tribune. She was educated at the University of East Anglia, where she studied environmental sciences, and at The Manchester School of Art. She travelled widely as a foreign correspondent and spent a year trekking through Egypt, Sudan, and Kenya.

In her fine art practice she tried to answer the questions, What is it to be human? What is it to be a machine? And ultimately she decided to write fiction as another route to finding answers.

Visit her blog at http://www.annecharnock.com to read her many reports on other writers and their novels.

09/2/13
Norwich Cathedral

Nostrum: Episode 6 Released!

I’m busily hammering at keys, continuing Sir Edward’s journey, but I wanted to take a moment and show you a few images of the things Edward, Tristan and Belisencia might have seen when they traveled to Norwich. Mostly a photo montage here. The interior shots of the castle are not mine.

Thanks again for your continued support! What did you think of episode 6? Feedback is always appreciated, and helps me understand what readers like and what they did not.

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08/1/13

Nostrum: Episode 4 Released

So, episode 4 was released on Tuesday and I’ve heard from a few readers that they have already finished it. I’m always impressed by how fast people read. I’m a slow reader. I think part of the reason for my slow pace is the fact that reading, while immensely pleasurable, always holds a little bit of work for me. I’m always looking to learn what a writer does to interest me and keep me reading on. The fact that I read in bed when I’m exhausted doesn’t help much, either.

I’m happy that some readers get through the episodes quickly, though. One of my greatest fears as a writer is that readers will be bored by what I write. And when it comes to serials, that fear is magnified a thousand times.

**Spoiler alert** Minor spoilers about episode 4 below this point.

Dancing with the Saints. Could country-western line dancing be a direct descendant of St. John’s Dance? Discuss.

But enough about me, eh? In this episode, Edward and Co. found out what those crazy dancing people were all about. I mentioned in the historical notes that this was a very real phenomena in the Middle Ages, and it was.  St. Johns dance, (sometimes called St. Vitus’s Dance after the patron saint of dancers (nice irony there)), is associated with the modern disorder, “Sydenham’s chorea,” a sickness where the afflicted person experiences uncontrolled movements and emotions. They are not the same thing, these two disorders, despite the similarities. The medieval version was completely different. It was an actual dance and the afflicted could be quite violent if interfered with. St. John’s Dance was also contagious, although apparently in a psychological way. The disorder has been called a mass psychogenic illness, which means, basically, that lots of people suffer the same delusions at the same time. This fits in quite well with the theme of the Scourge books. After all, isn’t zealotry just a form of mass psychogenic illness?

So, tell me what you think about Nostrum so far. Why do you think Hugh the Baptist didn’t bite Belisencia? What do you think about the relationship of Tristan and Belisencia? Do you think our heroes might actually be in purgatory? And what’s up with the ending of this episode? A dragon? Really? Is this writer on crack? I’m interested in hearing your thoughts!

03/28/13

The Scourge, Book II, Coming in June!

Here we go…

I’ve just signed a contract with 47North, the best publishers in the world, for book II of The Scourge.

*Crushes beer can and pumps fist in a manly display of excitement*

The novel will be called The Scourge: Nostrum and it will start life as a serial, just like the original. The first episodes should be available for Kindles, iPads, computers, phones, and large rocks with good reception, in early June. And the print version will be available after the serial runs its course, in August.

The novel begins two days after The Scourge ended and, to avoid spoilers, I can’t really reveal much more than that. The novel will still be told from Edward’s point of view, and there may be a love interest for Tristan. What kind of woman could possibly hold her own against Tristan? Read the book, silly! I’ll tell you!

I’m really excited to write about Edward and his knights again, and to hear back from my reader friends on the Amazon discussion boards (and this blog). Thanks for making The Scourge so successful. I hope Nostrum proves to be equally entertaining for all of you.

Oh, and a quick question, what do you think of the title? Let me know! Thanks.

 

03/17/13

Interview on MarcusTrowerEditor.com

Hi everyone,

Marcus Trower, Copy Editor Extraordinaire

My copy editor and friend, Marcus Trower, interviewed me recently and posted the results on his site today. He explored some interesting subjects about writing serials and The Scourge. Please have a look at the interview. And if you are looking for a copy editor, I don’t think there is a better one out there. He has a wealth of knowledge, is a brilliant fact-checker, and knows more about the English language than Noah Webster. His work on The Scourge made the book significantly better. You can’t ask more than that in an editor.

Click here to see the interview.

02/21/13

Episode 8 Released. The End?

And so our story has come to an end. And I say *our* story because it really was. I wrote it, but everyone who read the book and commented on it had a say in the story. I had encouragement from reader through the Amazon Discussion Boards, on this blog, through email, through Facebook and Twitter, through Amazon reviews, and in person. And I thank all of you for making The Scourge as successful as it has been.

And, speaking of Amazon reviews, If you have enjoyed the book, a good review is always welcome. Such reviews make the novel more appealing to others and show my publishers that there is broad appeal for The Scourge.

*** Okay, this is the point in the post where the spoilers come in, so if you haven’t finished episode 8, you might want to return after reading it. For those of you in the know, onward! ***

The historical elements of this episode included masties (bull mastiffs), the aptly named River Brain, Hedingham, St. Edmund, and St. Edmund’s Bury. A lot to talk about, so I will just touch on a few points.

That dog has bigger triceps than me.

Masties
As usual, I will start with the animals.
Isabella owns “masties.”
Isabella owns *plagued* masties.
The dogs did not start out plagued in her case, but that’s a topic for another day. Masties are the medieval name for English Mastiffs. These dogs are horrifyingly large and often were used as guard dogs. Unfortunately, they were also used for bear-baiting and bull-baiting. And, because of their strength and size, they were even pitted against lions. There are few dog breeds that are taller than the mastiff, and none that can match the mastiff in both size and girth.

No Photoshop here. Just a big fucking dog in a car.

Um. There’s something about using the words size and girth together that makes that sentence seem dirty. Ah well. I digress. Suffice it to say, a human would be a small meal for one of these creatures. Although these days, the Mastiffs are known to be extremely gentle. They’ve come a long way from their bull-baiting days.

Hedingham Castle

Hedingham Castle
Hedingham has one of the best preserved Norman keeps in England.  Edward and his knights never made it to the castle, but if you get a chance, you should. It’s beautiful and they hold jousting tournaments and other medieval events here throughout the year.

This is how the abbey would have looked in Edward’s day…

 The Abbey at St. Edmunds Bury
Like many of the greatest religious institutions of England, much of the Abbey in St. Edmund’s Bury was destroyed after the Reformation. This is a model of what the abbey would have looked like when Edward and Tristan arrived.

Zombie Defense System for the abbey.

Apart from the cathedral and the Church of Saint Mary, the Abbey Gatehouse, to the left, is one of the few undamaged structures left at the monastery. The walls of the sprawling abbey run all over the town. The Abbot’s Bridge over the River Lark is still there and there are ruins where the other buildings used to be, but they are a shadow of what this incredible compound used to be. Still *very* worth a visit. The gatehouses and grounds are kept meticulously. And the walls, though worn and decayed, are still a site to see as they wind around the entire town. There’s a gorgeous garden on the abbey grounds during the summer and spring. And if that isn’t enough, the town itself is beautiful and cozy and has lots of great shopping, restaurants, and history. A cool abstract statue of St. Edmund tied to a tree and shot through with arrows is worth a look, on a roundabout behind the ARC shopping center.

Well, that’s it for today, and for this volume of The Scourge. Thanks again to everyone who took this journey with me, Edward, Tristan and Morgan (yes, and Zhuri too). I hope to see all of you very soon with news about Edward and the gang.

Roberto

 

 

01/14/13

Guest Post on Lindsay Buroker’s Blog

Hello fellow humans (you zombies can listen in too)!

The Emperor’s Edge
By Lindsay Buroker. Free!

Lindsay Buroker, fantasy writer extraordinaire, has been kind enough to let me post on her blog. She has asked nothing in return, but I feel obliged to encourage you to go to her site and download her first novel, The Emperor’s Edgefor free. Yes, absolutely free, because that’s how she rolls.

She’s one of those West Coast types, so my post won’t be up until about noon, but don’t let that stop you from checking out her blog at any point. It truly is an astounding collection of tips for writer’s, self-publishing and marketing advice, and essays on current trends in publishing. Oh, and she talks about her fantasy novels as well. Please go check out her blog. I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.

Unless you’re a ninny.