Thursday, April 30, 2015


This month I wrote my first piece of freelance commissioned writing. I can't say anything about it due to extreme secretiveness and the chance for me to cackle like a megalomaniac evil overlord. It was an interesting experience, writing something specified by someone else, with an extremely tight deadline to get it done. Hopefully I'll get the chance to do some more.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Author Interview: Josh Vogt

Josh Vogt has been published in dozens of genre markets with work ranging from flash fiction to short stories to doorstopper novels that cover fantasy, science fiction, horror, humour, pulp, and more. His debut fantasy novel, Forge of Ashes, adds to the RPG Pathfinder Tales tie-in line. WordFire Press is also launching his urban fantasy series, The Cleaners, with Enter the Janitor (2015) and The Maids of Wrath (2016). You can find him at or on Twitter @JRVogt. He’s a member of SFWA as well as the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.

I caught up with Josh midway across the Atlantic where we tethered out hot air balloons together and Josh hopped over for a cup of tea.

GJ:       First off, any relation to A.E.Van Vogt, and how do you pronounce surname?

JV: No relation, though I certainly won’t mind being on the bookshelves next to him. And the name is pronounced the same as “Vote.” Yes, I’ve been told to go into politics, since I’d have the perfect campaign slogan. No, I never will.

GJ:       You write several different kinds and lengths of fiction, including RPG texts and tie-ins. What appeals to you about writing in these settings?

JV: I bore easily, which is one of the reason I quit the 9-5 career track and set out to be a freelance writer. Having a wide variety of genres and forms to write within keeps me from getting into any sort of rut and also provides an excellent creative challenge. For RPGs and tie-ins, I love the chance to bring my personal style, characters, and fresh ideas to an established setting.

GJ:       You’ve also written short stories, novellas and novels. Do you have a preference, or does each have its own reward?

JV: Actually, I feel I do well with novels (usually ranging from 85-100k words) and flash fiction (1k words or less). So I jump  to either end of the spectrum. Short stories have been a struggle for me in the past, but I’m slowly working to refine my technique there. I’ve definitely learned that particular ideas lend themselves to certain story lengths, so if I’m struggling to flesh out a concept into a full novel or novella, then I take a run at it as a flash fiction piece and often find it condenses quite nicely. Or I may start a short story and find myself inspired to worldbuild until it’s novel-worthy.

GJ:       Does gaming inspire you to write, or vice versa? Or both?

JV: Both, for sure. The games I’ve loved best are ones that have the most storytelling or character development potential. If it lacks a storytelling core, then I quickly lose interest in a game and move on. When I encounter a game that gives me an incredible adventure, that makes me want to turn around and write one of my own!

GJ:       Tell us a bit about your new novel, Forge of Ashes.

JV: Forge of Ashes is a sword and sorcery adventure following Akina, a dwarven barbarian, who returns to her mountain home after fighting abroad for a decade. She’s wanting to reconnect with her family and culture, perhaps even rest from the violence for a bit, but no such luck! Not only has her family been disgraced, but her mother has vanished into the foreboding tunnels leading from the city down into the Darklands. Akina determines to do everything in her power to rectify the situation, which means facing down plenty of monstrous foes along the way.

GJ:     What writing plans do you have for the rest of the year?

JV: I’m constantly working on new projects, both short and long form. I’ve got a couple novels I’m polishing to shop around, and then have several others that are in various stages of worldbuilding and drafting. At least one or two of those should be finished by the end of the year, and we’ll see what else is in the works by then.

You'll be glad to know, Josh made it safely back to his own balloon, and as far as I know heade in the right direction to get home.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Language Number 27

I've had a story accepted by Slovenian magazine Jashubeg en Jered. Not sure when it will be published yet - I'll keep you posted. This will be my 27th language!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Story Sale: Rose Coloured Tentacles

My flash fiction story Rose Coloured Tentacles has been bought by Perihilion, the second story they've taken from me. They published my multi-author collaboration Crowd Control last year.

This is my 6th acceptance of the year, which I'm very pleased with, following second-time sales to Domain SF and Daily SF, as well as translations into German and Afrikaans. I still have quite a few stories out there looking for homes though.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Writing, With Children

Today my guest post about writing with children (after all, I have 5) is up on the blog of fellow author Spencer Ellsworth .

Take a look and see what you think.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Science Fiction in Translation

It’s generally recognised that far more English SF is translated and published in other countries than SF written in other languages is translated and published in English. I’ve now been published in 26 languages, and at the same time I’ve been on the lookout for translated science fiction.

There are occasional translated stories in some magazines, and there are equally rare anthology. Two years ago I reviewed The Anthology of European SF for SF Crowsnest, in which I discovered that, although written by authors from several countries, there was nothing startlingly different from what I usually read. To be fair, one story from each country doesn’t really give me a basis to judge an entire culture.

There are a few anthologies available from particular countries and I’m currently reading The Best  Japanese SF. There are also some novels in translation, notably the recent translation of the hugely popular Three Body Problem trilogy from China, which I’ve added to my ‘to read’ list. I’m planning to get hold of as much translated work as I can, and I’ll be interested to see how SF from around the world compares and whether geographical culture outweighs SF culture enough to be recognisable.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ten Years Ago In Fiction

Ten years ago, I'd just had my 2nd, 3rd and 4th stories published - all accepted by the first markets I subbed to, a trend that lulled me into a false sense of security, but inspired me with confidence to carry on writing. Both were non-paying exposure markets, and both are still going strong today: Aphelion and Bewildering Stories.

Fluctuations, in BWS #139 in March 2005 remains one of my favourite stories. It was reprinted in one of their 'Best of' summary issues in July 2005, my first reprint. A revised version was published in the anthology Quantum Genre on the Planet of Arts in November 2010, and earned me a footnote in Wikipedia in the article on quantum genre.

Devotion was my second story in BWS in April 2005.

The Grey Hole, in Aphelion #91 in April 2005, was the first of 8 appearances I made in that webzine, and one of a very few attempted 'hard SF' stories. It was a wonderfully friendly place, the first on-line forum I joined, and I remain in touch with some of the regulars still. The Grey Void was the first sequel I wrote and appeared in Aphelion #102 the following year.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Final Continent

I've been published in Europe, Australia, Asia, North and South America, and finally one of my stories has been published in Africa: the Afrikaans translation of The Gondolier, on the wezine Afrifiksie.

Only Antarctica remans unconquered...

Monday, April 06, 2015

EasterCon Report 2015

It's 8 years since my first EasterCon in Chester, and I noticed this time that there's been a big change in demographics during that time. I met up with another first-timer at Chester and we seemed to be the only men who weren't middle-aged, bushy-bearded, pony tailed and sporting a waistcoat. Nowadays there are much more younger people of all different backgrounds and it seems much less insular than when I first attended.

I met up with several people I know from real-life or on-line, most of whom I only ever see at cons, and some of whom I met for the first time:

Gareth L Powell, who I first met on-line almost 10 years ago, Aliette de Bodard, Mike and Sarah Wood, Neil and Gemma Beynon, Ian Whates, Ian Watson, whom I overtook in a corridor, Chris Priest, Nina Allen, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and his wife whose name I didn't catch but I stood next to at the bar buying a sandwich, Daniel Benson and Guido Eekhart whose name badges I saw in passing and by the time their names had registered I'd lost sight of them, Kim Lakin-Smith, and plenty of others I saw in the distance.

Best presentation I attended was entitled 'Unfortunate Incidents Involving Balloons and Parachutes', which was a highly entertaining history of heroic accidents and tragedies. I'm hoping the same talk will be on again next year.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Daily Science Fiction Sale

I'm rather pleased to have sold a second story to Daily Science Fiction - my 9th pro sale altogether. I'm not sure when it will be scheduled to appear yet, but should be within a few months. It's a 1500 word story entitled Englebert that I wrote in January.