A Regency (or steampunk) primer.

397px-John_Everett_Millais_The_Black_BrunswickerI’ve always loved the period from 1775-1815*. These 40 turbulent years take us from the beginning of the War of Independence, through the French Revolution and Regency Period, to the death of the First Empire in the mud at Waterloo.  I think I love it because it’s such a vivid, paradoxical time – an age of elegance and savagery, tradition and revolution, war and peace**.

When I set out to write Game Bird, I couldn’t imagine any other period that would quite do. What other period has the same mash and splendour?  The Middle Ages you say? Bah, nothing but ignorant grubby men, doing grubby ignorant things.

Anyway… the other appeal of this setting was that I had already read a bit on the period. I firmly believe that the best and most exciting and most tangible fantasy writing knows its period really well, before it starts effing with it.

So, here is a really quick list of 8 nonfiction books that I think are a great starting point for any writer who is keen to write a Regency, Napoleonic or even steampunk novel and doesn’t know where to start. Not all of them are strictly within the period – but they all will give you a tonne of inspiration and background.***

If you like this list, you can also find my world building blog here. Continue reading

Pitching your novel.

At Conflux back in April I had my first experience pitching a novel. Generally before I do anything like this, I have a bit of a snoop about the interwebs and do some research and prep. In this case, other than this really helpful article by Brittney Van Sandt and a piece on conventions by an agent Evan Gregory (so from the other side of the fence), I didn’t find much really great advice. Now having been through the meat grinder and come out alive, I thought I might jot down some notes for anyone else getting ready to pitch their own novel.

So first things first, how did I go with my pitching? I had five pitches all up. One was pretty poor (on my part), one so-so and three pretty good. That leaves me plenty of room for improvement, but it wasn’t too bad for a first crack.


And what did I learn?* ( this is longish, so for the lazy or busy, I’ve chucked a really quick recap in at the end.) Continue reading