Friday, 25 September 2015

Gollancz Fest 2015

They say a picture says a thousand words, although I'm pretty sure they didn't mean promotional posters when they said it. Here's what I'm doing for the much anticipated Gollancz Fest at Waterstones Piccadilly and the Prince Charles Cinema.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015


I've been horribly remiss in mentioning this book.

Jonathan Green approached me to write something for his forthcoming anthology a while ago and, as ever with these things, I was delighted to be asked.

I duly wrote the story, which was loosely inspired by the Russian Federation taking driving licenses away from Gay and Trans people. What next I thought? What happens now in a country like Russia where you're not allowed to be different? And then I took it to an extreme because short stories don't give you much screen time to build things up.

Blood in the Water, my story for Sharkpunk, was the result, and it's the weirdest thing I've ever written (or the weirdest thing I've written in print, anyway).

Sharkpunk also features stories from Jonathan Oliver, David Lee Stone, Ian Whates, David Tallerman, Kim Lakin-Smith, CL Werner, Laurel Sills, Gary McMahon, Al Ewing and Sarah Peploe.

The obligatory link to Amazon can be found HERE

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Flash Fiction - Red Sun

We spent so long living in the shadow of the end times that we failed to notice the light growing dim. By the time darkness had descended it was too late to fight against it.

We were all experts of the apocalypse, or so we thought. We had spent decades conjuring visions of the future on the silver screen: countless hours of zombies stalking the living; road warriors driving lost highways; aliens obliterating every major city; monsters emerging from the sea. We mythologized our extinction, reveled in the myriad forms of our own destruction, telling cautionary tales yet returning to our hum-drum lives no wiser than before.

There was no single event, no point in time one could reference, no great singular scourge of humanity. Ours was a sevenfold collapse, a dying breath decades in the making. Not the immense terror of Revelations, rather an entropy that tugged at the loose threads of reality. Our disordered lives unravelled, societies came apart at the seams, our world ripped along worn creases.

It was the taste of cracked lips when water became more precious than gold. You could hear it in the wheezing cough of every vehicle, thirsting for petrol or diesel. You could measure it at the height of summer, and in the deep chill of winter. Even the light changed, a ruddy hue bleeding through every pane of glass. And as the world changed, so did the people. Tolerance, already long out of fashion, was now a gaudy affectation belonging to the past. Distrust was the new currency, the more you had the longer you lived. And greater than all these things, guilt. A profound sorrow lingered, that we had done so little to prevent our predicament, paid lip service to the gods of renewal, damned the graces that sustained us.

Those not mad with grief could agree on one thing: we did not need zombies, had no use for aliens. The greatest monsters at the end of the world were ourselves.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

The Boy Who Wrote Blog Posts

I wrote some pieces to celebrate the launch of The Boy who Wept Blood recently. I'm gathering them together for my own amusement. I figure I've written them so I may as well curate the links.

I wrote for Sci Fi Now magazine on class in Fantasy and The Erebus Sequence.

Meanwhile, I put forward why we need more diversity in genre (and indeed, everywhere), over at We Love This Book.

I witter on in my usual scattershot style at the Gollancz blog and the fine folk of Forbidden Planet put me to the question. And what questions they were.

The first batch of reviews have also been published.

The Eloquent Page says 'Patrick firmly establishes his well-deserved place as part of new breed of UK based fantasy authors.' (No pressure for book three then)

Over the Effing Rainbow declares that 'Maybe February is early days for saying this, but to hell with it. I just found one of my favourite fantasy books of 2015.'

And as if that wasn't high praise enough, Upcoming4Me says 'It is all that a sequel should be – it is bigger, bolder and cleverer. Readers who like their fantasy intelligent and historical shouldn't miss this one.

I couldn't have hoped for a warmer reception in the week following publication and I'm grateful to all the reviewers who took the time to read The Boy who Wept Blood.

Thursday, 8 January 2015


I’ve been keeping half an eye on the whole Gamer Gate hatefulness, as anyone with passing interest in games and an internet connection is wont to do. Needless to say the responses are extreme, unhinged and determined by a medium where the illusion exists one can say what one likes without consequences. That medium being the internet, of course.

There is one medium where the writer is still held accountable for what one says, in the text itself, or the reader’s interpretation of it. I’m talking about novels, of course.

2014 (and many years before it) has seen hot debate around the issues of women in publishing, and women characters in books. One of the aspects of the topic is discussion around women characters who possess some modicum of agency (or lack of), and that fictional women fall prey to being just another reward at the end of the quest, or a victim that spurs the male protagonist to avenge her. And, of course, some novels just don't really contain women characters at all. 

I recently wrote some answers to an interview and the question of ‘strong female characters’ reared its head. Cue eye roll. I’ve come to hate that expression as it seems to suggest that it’s unusual for ‘female characters’ to be ‘strong’. ‘Strong’ is a misnomer here. The problem is not that female characters lack strength, either of spirit or arm, but agency, a powerlessness to change one’s own circumstances and the environment around them.

It was while I was writing my response that I realised the problem is not whether these characters are ‘strong’, whatever you claim to think ‘strong’ means, but the fact we treat fictional women in genre as something unusual. Women, fictional and real, are people, just as men are people. This process of othering, of making women seem mysterious, unfathomable and to all intents and purposes alien, is like a cancer at the heart of thinking about character.

‘Every character should want for something, even if it is only a glass of water.’ So sayeth Kurt Vonnegut in his eight rules of writing. Note he doesn’t say ‘Every straight, white, male character should want for something, even if it is only a glass of water.’ Nor does he say ‘Every strong female character should want for something, even if it is only a glass of water.’ Kurt Vonnegut just talks about characters, regardless of genitalia, sexual orientation, whether they’re the protagonist, supporting cast or one of the extras (I can’t help but think in film terms).

This kind of thinking around gender in genre requires a maturity of the male reader to admit that he has been a willing or unknowing party to the insidiousness of the male gaze. This thinking requires the male reader to think of female characters as something other than romantic sub plots, victims who serve no other purpose than to indicate the world is ‘gritty’, or to provoke the protagonist into action. It also requires writers to reflect on their own work and face up to the quality or dearth of women in their own stories.

Regarding my own work, I can admit I used the damsel in distress trope in The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, but also that I tried to subvert it. My first novel has been out in the wild since March and I realise it has problematic elements. I’m not sure how I’d change these, but I am keen not to repeat them.

I hope, as a community of fans and writers, we all strive for a higher standard. It’s not beyond the realm of the Fantastic to imagine stories where men, women, people of colour, and gay characters all receive attention.