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Cover Reveal: Embers of War

Coming from Titan Books in February 2018…

(Cover by Julia Lloyd)

Competiton Time

In my August email newsletter, I’ll be runnning a competetition to win a MP3 CD of the BSFA Award-winning Ack-Ack Macaque. If you’d like to be in with a chance of winning, and subscribe to my monthly newsletter, simply sign-up using the form below.

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Crowdfunding

The truth is, although writing is a full-time career, it doesn’t pay like one. It’s not reliable when you have bills to pay and kids to feed. So, in order to keep making my art, I’m trying what many other creatives are doing right now, and asking my audience for a little help.

If you’ve enjoyed my books or short stories, my Twitter feed, one of my public performances, or any of the articles on this site, please consider helping me continue to write. You can do it in one of two ways:

1) If you’d like to buy me a cup of coffee, you can make a one-off donation of any amount at ko-fi.com/garethlpowell

2) Alternatively, if you’d like to make a regular contribution in return for some exclusive patron-only content (including deleted scenes, special blog posts, early cover reveals, etc.) you might consider supporting me on patreon.com/GarethLPowell from as little as $1 per month.

I hate to ask, but every little helps right now. And hopefully, one day in the not too distant future, I’ll be able to delete these sites because I won’t need them any more.

55 Story Ideas for SFF Writers

Regular readers will know that I’ve been posting story ideas on Twitter each day, using the hashtag #DailyStoryIdeas.

If you’re looking for inspiration, I’ve gathered together 55 of the best of those ideas into one post. Feel free to use and adapt them.

If you find one that really inspires you, you can always say thank you by supporting me on Patreon.

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  1. Aliens come to Earth, but mistake the Internet for the planet’s dominant life form.
  1. 12 strangers wake up with a single letter tattooed on their bodies. They must seek each other out to read the message.
  1. When an outspoken critic is murdered, the list of suspects includes some of the world’s bestselling mystery writers.
  1. For years, the queen has been playing the piano in memory of her lost love. When she stops, the world will end.
  1. A psychic pawnbroker picks up “memories” from objects. A pawned gun leads him to the man who shot his wife.
  1. A detective investigates the person who murdered him in a past life.
  1. A murderer has hidden the name of his next victim in the first letter of a series of tweets. But which account has he used?
  1. A police SWAT team falls through a temporal rift into the power vacuum of post Roman Britain.
  1. A guy develops superheroic powers, but can only use them in the presence of his 5 yr old daughter.
  1. A paddle boat sinking in the Mississippi, but the card players won’t leave their table until they’ve played the final hand.
  1. A stranger appears at a Travel Lodge outside Milton Keynes. He is Odin, king of the Norse Gods. And he brings a message.
  1. A hooligan scientist invents a device that lets him cross between parallel worlds, stealing the best inventions from each.
  1. New letters start appearing in the alphabet, but no one knows where they came from. After a while, people start using them.
  1. Locals say a ghost train haunts the line. One day, it pulls up at the station and all the ghosts get off.
  1. A movie star becomes obsessed with a fan. Starts stalking them. No one will believe the fan. In desperation, they lash out.
  1. Creatures live beneath the soft mud of the estuary. They pull unwary fishermen to their deaths. The locals call them trolls.
  1. Zeus wearied of his duties and came to Earth. If you know where to look, you can find him running a junk shop in Brooklyn.
  1. A golden door appears on the arctic tundra. From within can be heard the distant tolling of a cathedral bell. Who will enter
  1. Well-meaning time travellers prevent the Titanic disaster. What are the implications to history?
  1. In the future, emotionless algorithms will decide who gets sent to the labour camps. But algorithms can be hacked.
  1. A party of werewolves searching for spiritual understanding in India run afoul of a pack of ravenous Bengal weretigers.
  1. There is a message hidden in the cosmic background radiation. It is the reboot code for the universe.
  1. What if all moths are bio-eningeered camera platforms sent back in time by future historians?
  1. Wolves and coyotes howl because they alone know the true nature of the world
  1. Every time a woman goes to sleep, she wakes up the next morning in a different parallel universe. Never the same one twice.
  1. A man trying to get home in the aftermath of an apocalypse steals a mobile library. Lends out books in return for food.
  1. After a storm at sea, a modern day cruise liner returns to port to find it has somehow travelled to the eighteenth century.
  1. An ageing writer and an upstart young critic meet on a hotel balcony overlooking the sea. One is pushed to their death.
  1. Overnight, everyone on Earth develops the ability read each others thoughts. Every lie is revealed, every relationship
  1. A child finds a sword made from scorpions and fire, and a shield fashioned from poetry and ice.
  1. Magic is dangerously real, but only toddlers can wield it. The ability fades at age five, as reason takes over the brain
  1. The birds believe their singing causes the sun to rise. Turns out they’re right.
  1. A woman lives in a shack on the beach, waiting for the tide to wash up usable fragments from the distant apocalypse
  1. The sun becomes sentient. Humanity tries to teach it how to communicate. Then other stars start to wake up.
  1. Inside an old castle that’s more ivy than stone lies a princess whose nightmares become flesh and prey on the townspeople
  1. An AI engraves its memories in seven gem stones. When the stones are scattered, it hires a faun to find them.
  1. Humanity finds itself as just another set of counters in an intricate war game played by pan-dimensional centaurs.
  1. Two friends joke that if neither is married by 40, they’ll marry each other. Many years later, they meet in a cafe.
  1. A comic book artist decides to become the superhero he has spent the last ten years drawing.
  1. A woman lives alone on a beach. At night, the sea whispers stories. It tells her of other survivors in other lands.
  1. The world looks up to find a message of dire portent written on the face of the full moon. In ancient Sanskrit.
  1. A hunting party turns lethal when the rich hunters find themselves attacked by a pack of disturbingly cunning hyenas.
  1. The crack of fireworks. Sparks leap from the bonfire. In the darkness, a secret is whispered.
  1. The eclipse has lasted a thousand years. Now it draws to an end. The night creatures must cede the land to the humans.
  1. Jumping through hyperspace is dangerous. One often emerges with a different personality. Sometimes a whole new identity.
  1. A man contracts temporal narcolepsy. Every time he falls asleep, he wakes up 1D6 years in the future.
  1. Escaped nanotech starts reshaping the Pacific garbage patch into something hideously alien. And alive.
  1. A house becomes infatuated with the family that lives in it. It protects them. It serves them. It won’t let them leave.
  1. Trapped on an island when civilisation falls, a lighthouse keeper struggles to survive. Then a boat washes up on the beach.
  1. A detective is visited by his time-travelling older self, who warns him to stop investigating his brother’s murder.
  1. A paleontologist finds a dinosaur fossil wearing what appears to be a leather belt and a knife carved from a t-rex tooth.
  1. A hive of bees becomes sentient and embarks on a campaign of revenge against those poisoning the land.
  1. Crooked cop blackmails hacker to find drug money. Drug dealer kills cop. Hacker kills drug dealer. Hacker takes money.
  1. When a market town expands, the gods of city and countryside go to war with one another over the disputed territory.
  1. A person gains the ability to change appearance at will, but forgets their true identity.

Advice For Graduates

Gareth graduating from the University of Glamorgan in July 1993.

Dear Graduates,

I saw on Twitter this morning that students are graduating from the University of South Wales today. If you’re one of them, I wish you all the luck in the world.

Twenty-four years ago, on a sunny day in 1993, I graduated from USW – although back then, it was known as the University of Glamorgan. I wore a mortarboard and gown, and climbed up on stage to receive my BA (hons) in Humanities.

I was twenty-two years old, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Actually, that’s not strictly true. I knew I wanted to be a writer, but I had no idea how to go about it, and no expectation I’d be able to make a living from the angsty poems and overly-melodramatic short stories I’d been churning out for the creative writing classes I’d taken as part of my degree.

As a result, I spent the rest of my twenties in a series of dead-end call centre jobs, and I didn’t really get my ass into gear and start writing seriously until I reached thirty, and realised it was time to stop talking about being a writer, and actually write something.

My first novel was published in 2010, the year I turned forty. Since then, I’ve written six more, plus a multitude of short stories. But I feel I left things a bit late. I could have written a lot more if I’d knuckled down when I left university, rather than letting everything drift for so many years.

So, that’s my advice to you. If you have a dream – if you want to be a writer, artist, singer, actor or whatever – don’t wait. Don’t waste the next ten years promising you’ll get around to your dream once you’ve established yourself in a more respectable job. Don’t wither on the vine. Go out there and grab the world by the throat.

If you want to be a writer, declare to the world that you are a writer. Start thinking as a writer would think. React to situations the way a writer would. The only way to achieve your dream is to live it. Do what you have to in order to earn money, but don’t let it define you. If you get a job in a bank, don’t think of yourself as a banker who writes on the side, think of yourself as a writer who is a banker on the side. Dedicate yourself to your craft, and do one thing every day to bring success one step closer.

Read and memorise The Artist’s Prayer.

Trust me, the next ten years are going to pass at an incredible rate. Make the most of them.

All the best,

Your pal,

Gareth

 

The Artist’s Prayer

This morning, before breakfast, I wrote the following lines:

The Artist’s Prayer

When in doubt, do the work.
When in obscurity,
When the rain falls and everything turns to ashes in your hands,
When you are in love,
And when you are alone,
When the world clamours for your attention,
And when all have turned their backs upon you,
Do the work.

When tired, do the work.
When gripped by infirmity
Or paralysed by fear,
In the company of friends,
In ecstasy or desolation,
During the dark times and the light,
In anger and with compassion,
Do the work.

Unexplained Things

Most of the time, I’d say I veered towards the aetheist end of the belief spectrum. I tend to put my trust in science rather than belief. And yet I’ve had a few experiences in my life that I’ve been unable to explain.

1). Broad Haven. Some of you may be familiar with the Broad Haven UFO incident of 1977, when an entire class from the local school saw a cigar-shaped flying saucer, and the manageress of a local hotel witnessed a similar craft landing in her grounds.

The incident I’m thinking of happened a few years later – although I wasn’t told about it until some time afterwards.

In 1980 or 1981 (I’m not sure which), my family were on holiday in Broad Haven, staying in a caravan. During the night, my mother and father were awakened by a strange light, and “felt footsteps walking up the bed between them.”

Spooked, they woke myself and my siblings up at 1:00 am and packed the car in order to go home. They told us they were “leaving early to avoid traffic,” which seemed to make sense at the time.

But on the way home, a dense fog lay in the bottom of every valley, and the skies were alive with shooting stars. At least thirty in every minute. I’ve never seen anything like it, before or since. The heavens seemed to be raining down, one brilliant white scratch after another.

2). Spanish Castle. In 2008, I flew to Barcelona for a conference. While on the plane, I looked out the window and saw a long, craggy ridge topped by a majestic castle caught in a sunset-coloured light. It seemed to be around ten miles away. Yet, I could still see it twenty minutes later. To have lingered outside my window, it must have been huge. We were high in the sky and travelling at full speed. There was no way it could have been real. There are no escarpments that large in Spain. And yet, it seemed so tangible, like a vision of Valhalla. I can’t explain it…

3). Loch Ness. I’m not a believer in the Loch Ness monster. Although the cubic area of the loch is impressive (greater than all the other rivers and lakes in the UK combined), I can’t believe it could have harboured a breeding population of prehistoric sea creatures for all these years.

However, I did see something there.

I was on a boating holiday at the time, and at the helm. Ahead, I saw something which I first took to be the head and neck of a cormorant. But then I noticed that compared to a nearby bouy, it was significantly larger than I would have expected such a sea bird to have been. Then it sank, withdrawing into the water like a submerging periscope, and not at all in the manner of a diving bird.

I suppose it could have been a snake, or an optical illusion caused by sunlight on the water. But to this day, I can’t say definitively what it might or might not have been.

But on the same holiday, we experienced another odd happening. We pulled our boat up to a jetty on the side of the loch. Four other boats were moored to the same jetty, and some fishermen were fishing from the end of it. I got talking to them, and they gave me five fresh trout that they’d just caught. Being the only one in our party who knew how to gut a fish, I sat on the jetty and eviscerated the slipery trout, casting their organs and entrails into the water beside our boat. Then I climbed on board. No sooner had I done so than the boat started rocking. And I mean rocking. Our boat and the two in front of us were bucking around as if caught in a hurricane. But the fourth boat was strangely unmoved, and there didn’t seem to be a breath of wind outside. it was almost as if there was something under us… maybe feeding on the discarded trout guts…?

As I implied earlier, I’m natually a sceptic at heart, and strongly resist any sort of supernatural explanation for any of these occurences. But they really happened, and I can’t explain them, so I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Comic Script

Have you ever wondered what a comic script looks like? In the best Blue Peter tradition, here’s one I prepared earlier (click to enlarge).

#1 bestselling author of monkey erotica

I had a bit of a surprise today. For some reason, Amazon has Ack-Ack Macaque: The Complete Trilogy listed under the category ‘Erotic Action & Adventure’, and it’s currently sitting at the #1 spot!

As far as I’m aware, there is zero sexiness in the book. Which means some erotica fans are in for a bit of a surprise!

Ack-Ack Macaque Omnibus!

Ack-Ack Macaque: The Complete Trilogy

Solaris Books has just announced the forthcoming publication of Ack-Ack Macaque: The Complete Trilogy.

This new omnibus will collect together the novels Ack-Ack Macaque, Hive Monkey, and Macaque Attack – plus a brand new final chapter detailing the monkey’s ultimate fate!

The book will be published in December, which makes it an ideal Christmas present for anyone with a love of twisty thrillers, fast-paced action and unforgettable characters.

Pre-order now from Amazon: