Wow--so much to talk about!
Let's see... I'll save the biggest news for last.
FIRST: THE REVELATIONS OF ZANG is here! The book went on sale Jan 27th in three formats: Kindle, Paperback, and Hardcover. For the whole story behind RoZ, complete with a visual history, check my previous post.
NEXT: Gnori the Hammerfist is back! On Friday, Jan 26th--one day before the ZANG book dropped--Rogue Blades Entertainment released its massive sword-and-sorcery collection NEITHER BEG NOR YIELD.
This hefty tome is full of great stories and great artwork--in fact, every story is lavishly illustrated by M.D. Jackson. That includes my own story "Evil World," which marks the second appearance in print of Gnori the Hammerfist, a character which made his debut in BOOK OF BLADES, Volume 1. This latest story reveals the origin of Gnori's supernatural strength and vitality. Which brings me to...
NEXT: The Hammerfist marches on! A third Gnori of Old Shard story is in the works as we speak, and it's slated to appear in HEROIC FANTASY QUARTERLY #60 sometime this May. This issue marks the digital mag's 15th year of existence, so it's an honor to be included. The story I'm working on for HFQ will reveal the origins of Anca, the vampire queen who is so obsessed with Gnori and his bloodline. Eventually there will be enough Gnori tales to do a whole Gnori book, but for now I'm content to visit this character at various times throughout his career as champion, hero, monster-slayer, mercenary, and rebel. It's rather fun to jump around in space and time, the way REH did with Conan and Kull. Usually, I write story-cycles in chronological order, so this method is a nice departure.
NEXT: NEW EDGE SWORD & SORCERY will feature a new story of mine entitled "Gravediggers of Carsonne" later this year. (In issue #3 or #4, not sure which one yet.) The story involves a couple of intrepid rascals who get more than they bargained for when they try to rob one of the wicked city's most opulent cemeteries. It's great to be a part of NES&S, a mag dedicated to bringing sword-and-sorcery fiction into the 21st Century--and doing a bang-up job of it with its first few issues. Let's hope for a long and successful run. Currently they're doing a Kickstarter to fund their 2024 issues. The folks behind the mag are dedicated to top quality in every aspect, so please support them any way you can.
NOW FOR THE REALLY BIG NEWS: The Scaleborn Series!
My latest novel, IMMACULATE SCOUNDRELS, will be released in late March from Flying Wizard Press. It's the first book in what I call the SCALEBORN Series--and my first novel since 2017 (although I have released two new story collections since then). Each of the Scaleborn books will be self-contained and stand by itself as a unique reading experience. However, if you read them in order you will get a much bigger idea of what's going on--the bigger picture--but they will not be numbered volumes. I wanted it to be a series that anyone could "jump into" anywhere.
If you're a completist like me, you'll want to start with the first book and read them in order, but that's not always the case. I remember reading Tanith Lee's DEATH'S MASTER before I ever knew it was her second Flat Earth book (a follow-up to NIGHT'S MASTER). It made such a huge impression on me, I had to read the rest of those books in order--but I always admired how they could also be read in any order.
The events of IMMACULATE SCOUNDRELS take place against the backdrop of Yhorom, a sprawling empire over 5,000 years old, built on the might of its swords and its sorcery. Yhorom is the venerable City of Masters, where sorcerers live up to a thousand years. Various factions plot to steal the kingdom's future, while others are just looking for their next big score.
Artist extraordinaire Brian LeBlanc (WORLDS BEYOND WORLDS) is working on the cover painting for IMMACULATE SCOUNDRELS as I write these words. The above image is a sneak peek at his initial designs for the two lead characters: Thold and Yuhai. I will post the finished cover right here once it is ready for unveiling. It's great to be working with Brian again--he is a true professional and an immensely gifted artist.
The second Scaleborn book is already written, and it will follow IMMACULATE SCOUNDRELS later this year. That's right--you won't have to wait long for the second book. We all know how frustrating it can be when a series "stalls out," leaving readers in the lurch. I plan to write several more books in this series.
At a time when the "real world" seems to be falling apart at the seams, it's great to have so much going on in the fantasy/sword-and-sorcery field. The real world never did make much sense anyway, and it will let you down more often than not. But a good book? That can get you through even the toughest times. Writers create our own worlds, and while they always reflect the world that our physical bodies inhabit, they also express our imaginations and provide unlimited opportunities for adventure, drama, excitement, romance, and magic, not to mention philosophical and metaphysical musings.
After all, storytelling is magic, and so are books. A writer's job is to keep the magic alive. Readers, well they make the magic work. So here's a big THANK YOU to everyone out there who reads my stories, be they past, present, or future.
There's so much more to come...