Dramatis Personae

Many novels, particularly the lengthier multi-volumes in the fantasy field, are packed with characters, some major, some minor, others appearing so intermittently that they can be easily forgotten. Many readers will remember a full cast list with no problem; or they simply go with the flow and, especially with a well-written story that has an engaging narrative, hardly ever need to check the list of characters, or dramatis personae . Nevertheless, having something that can be referred to when you’re unsure just who is who can be invaluable. Think Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones and you can see what I mean. Or you may be reading mainstream or crime or any other genre: the arguments for the dramatis personae may still apply.

You can read the full essay over on the Penkhull Press website. Don’t forget when you do: these are guidelines, not rules.

 

An Alchemy book launch

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It can’t be difficult, surely, to organise a book launch (as part of the recent FantasyCon weekend). After all, I have organised and co-organised the British Fantasy Convention itself – several times – plus many one-off events. Ah, as with all best-laid plans, it didn’t quite go according to – well – plan.

My first worry was: did I have enough copies of the books to be launched? It turned out, yes I did. It’s better to bring home unsold copies then it is to run out.

Number 2: Would I have enough wine? I counted the number of authors who said they’d come along to the event and the anticipated audience based on pre-convention interest. Thus a couple of weeks beforehand I doubled the wine order. Weirdly, considering this was a fantasy, horror and science fiction convention (those who have attended these things in the past know that attendees drink like fish), relatively few people were in fact drinking the wine (and for hotel wine it wasn’t too bad). I brought home a few unopened bottles of the red and white stuff. Never fear – it will be drunk.

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On maps

I recently posted a blog on the new Penkhull Press website about maps and their value when writing your novels.

I have read many stories in which the protagonist moves across vast landscapes, through difficult terrains, in unrealistic times, with the minimum of effort. Is it really possible for someone, for example, to track dozens of miles through unfamiliar, dense jungle, lumbered with a backpack, in a few short hours, even at night (unless s/he is a superman/woman, of course)? This contraction of activity/time is a common fault in some fantasy and SF adventures I’ve read.

The essay is meant as general guidelines (rather than rules or a code). You can read the whole piece here.