Monday, April 14, 2014

The Year of the Requiem

Ladies and gentlemen...

When I start writing Book 9, I had a title in mind. And it was a good title. It was a glorious title. It echoed a phrase we'd already seen in the books themselves, and it was cool, and haunting, and awesome...

But for some reason, it wasn't a "Final Book" title.

I don't know why. Some titles suit the last book of a series. Some suit the first. This title — my lovely, glorious title — suited the first.

I'm not going to tell you what it was, because I do plan to use it at some stage — and I never let a good idea go to waste.

But suddenly I had a problem. I needed a new title.

I needed a new title that sounded like a final book. I needed a new title that fit alongside Kingdom of the Wicked and Last Stand of Dead Men. I needed something almost... poetic.

And so I came up with this.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Announcement

As you all know, today is the day the title of Book 9 is announced.

Except it isn't.

Nope, now that day will be Monday, because there's something else that I want to talk about instead, something a little more important than a book title.

I've been working hard these past few months. I write the occasional blog entry, I've barely been on twitter, I've barely glanced at the Forums or the Facebook page. I'm writing, and I know you understand that, and I appreciate your patience. It's not going to be for very much longer, either. I'm planning on finishing the book next week. I have a lot to do, but I reckon I can do it.

But something has happened in my absence. Something troubling. Not on the twitter page — everyone there is funny and enthusiastic. Not on the Facebook page — everyone there is supportive and astonishingly excitable. Not on the Forums, either — they argue, debate, discuss, and at no time do they ever let these arguments spill over into anything else.

Nope, the trouble is here, in the Comments section of this blog.

Most of the Minions who comment here are my kind of people. They're weird. And I mean, unashamedly odd. I've always been so, so proud of you guys, because I look around at other fandoms and I see everyone sniping at each other and divisions forming and I'm comforted by the fact that none of that happens here.

But I've been away. I've taken my eye off the game. And now I'm seeing behaviour that could be classed as bullying.

You all know my stance on bullying. I will not abide it. The blog, twitter, Facebook, Forums... ANYTHING associated with me must have zero tolerance for bullying. I just won't have it.

The Minions who comment here, I want you to think about the comments you leave. If you never say anything negative about anyone, step over here beside me. I like you. You can be my friend. But if you think about the things you say and you're frowning to yourself? Then I'm probably talking to you.

Harsh words are one thing. We all argue. We all have harsh words. But if all you have, for one particular person, are harsh words? If you CONSISTENTLY say negative things about one PARTICULAR person? Then that's bullying. And that has to stop.

I'm not naming any names. I don't want the bullies to be, in turned, bullied by people who are annoyed they won't get the title until Monday. I don't want recriminations. But what I do want is for you to realise that we're all here because, to some degree, we're all the same.  We each have enough in common, as people, as individuals, to love the same things. Do you realise how wonderful that is? To KNOW you have something in common with all these other people?

I have never called Minions "my fans". I will call them fans of the books, fans of the characters, but they're never MY fans. They're never fans of ME. Because we're all the same. I'm not better than you, just because I'm the writer and you're the reader. I have enough in common with each of you to know that, if we met, we'd get along. We'd find SOME common ground.

You're on a train. You see someone in another seat reading a book you LOVE. And you instantly smile, because you have connected with that person. So look around. See all the people who comment and the people who tweet and blog and post... there are your people. These are your friends.  Let the harsh words fade away. Wipe the slate clean. Start fresh.

Where I train, in the most brutal form of fighting there is, we have a rule, and it's quite simple. We're training to fight and hurt and break and smash. On the street, we're animals. We're horrible. We're violent. We're nasty. But in the club, when we train, the rule is: Be nice or go home.

So be nice. Being nice is so much NICER than not being nice. Try it and see, and then you can come over here and stand beside me, and you can be my friend too.

But don't make me angry. You wouldn't like what I do to your favourite characters when I'm angry.





Friday, April 4, 2014

Wraparound!!

Glory be.

Tom Percival has blessed us with another stunning cover for Armageddon Outta Here, and this time it's something extra-special — a wraparound masterpiece...



We're going to release this as a poster for the bookstores, and we're planning on making it available to you guys too — hopefully along with all the other posters. I'll keep you, ahem, posted...

Heheheheheheh.

Oh, and as for who exactly everyone IS on that cover... you'll just have to read the stories to find out.

Friday, March 28, 2014

BEHOLD, MINIONS!!

BEHOLD!!


Out on July 3rd!

It is AWESOME!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oooh FUN!



My editor has read the first (rough) draft of Book 9, and he loves it. I'm on the home stretch now — the end is in sight (in more ways than one). Over the next two or three weeks my head is going to be down and I'm going to working hard to fill in those gaps, to link up those scenes, to write those missing chapters. Right now I'm at 100,000 words. The end result will PROBABLY be about 120,000 words — maybe just slightly shorter than KOTW. Of course, in order to finish the book, I'll need to pick a winner of the Who Gets to Die competition we ran ages ago, and then that lucky reader will get to meet their grisly end...

And because I, and therefore WE, are on the home stretch, this blog is going to be choc-a-block with announcements and reveals over the next few weeks. By the end of THIS week, for example, we'll be revealing the cover for the Armageddon-Outta-Here short story collection. Next week, we'll reveal the full, WRAPAROUND cover for the collection (it's awesome). And the week after that? We'll be revealing the title for the ninth, and last, Skulduggery Pleasant book.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Here We Go...

I had meant to write a well thought-out, reasoned, logical-yet-impassioned blog entry about this... but I still haven't figured out how to do that. So I can tell that this little entry is going to be, y'know... slightly rambling.

I want my nieces to grow up in a world where they can do anything they want to do.

Obviously, right? That's what we'd all like. Duh.

What I don't want is for them to grow up and have their options curtailed by their gender. What I don't want is for their attitudes towards men and women, boys and girls, their own selves, to be decided by a society, and a media, that is slanted.

Big Books for Boys are about adventure and exploration. Big Books for Girls are about makeup and looking pretty.

My niece Becca is 4. Becca loves pink. She loves princesses. She wasn't BORN loving pink and loving princesses — she learned that. She learned it from the people around her, from the TV she watches, from the other kids at the school-type place she goes to. And you can see it. You can see it happening. People go up to her and the first thing they say, the FIRST thing, is "Oh, don't you look ADORABLE!"

Boom. Now she thinks that her physical appearance is THE most important thing about her. Now whenever she's wearing a new dress she always runs up to me and says "Derek, look at my dress!"

I don't want my nieces thinking their looks are the only things that matter. For their birthday, the twins got a big dollhouse. It is, admittedly, awesome (if you like dollhouses). And I knew they were getting the dollhouse, so I went to buy them dolls. I bought them a princess doll and a mermaid doll, because Becca loves princesses and Emily loves mermaids. But I also got them an Annikin Skywalker doll, with lightsaber and sound effects, and an Iron Man doll. So now Iron Man has tea with Princess Barbie (and by all accounts, he's loving it) and the future Darth Vader (spoiler alert) sits awkwardly on the couch with Mermaid Barbie.

I buy them toys for boys because I don't want them limited by what toy companies tell them they can be.

(Er, not that a princess, a mermaid, a Sith Lord or a super hero is an achievable goal anyway... well, maybe the super hero...)

And then I start thinking about my books because, well, my books are awesome and deserve to be thought about. I think I've done well, all in all. The decision to have the main character be a teenage girl wasn't a decision at all — it's just something that fit. I've also worked very hard to refrain from idealising Valkyrie. Having a female main character but treating her like she's this flawless wonder is as damaging and disingenuous as the very things I've been trying to avoid. But treating her like a real person? Giving her an ego, an arrogance, a selfishness that we'd all have in her situation? That's FAIR.

But I've also failed, in certain ways. I've given in, without even thinking. Val is pretty, for a start. Was that necessary? No, not really. I could have made her plain. I could have taken away the height, the slimness, the little dimple when she smiles... But I didn't. Yes, the pretty fictional character is based on my pretty real-life friend, but I could have changed THAT aspect, right? Only, I'm as biased as anyone else. I like beauty. I like a pretty face. I like Gina Carano and Ronda Rousey. I admire them as people, as fighters, as athletes — but would I pay them this much attention if I didn't also appreciate how they look?

I'm as bad as anyone, but the thing is, I'm trying NOT to be.

So while you're digesting all this, and figuring out if what I'm saying has ANY relevance to ANYTHING, I want you think about Captain America: Winter Soldier. You all know what a huge comics fan I am. Most of you know that I own the shield he used in the first movie. I am REALLY looking forward to the sequel, and nothing will stop me from going to see it.

But seeing as how I'm talking about how women are valued primarily on their looks, I'd like you to take a peek at the posters released. Here's Cap, looking pensive...


And Nick Fury, also looking pensive...


And here's Black Widow, looking... wow.


Is that it? Is that her only worth?

In some ways, I'm old fashioned. I believe in old-fashioned things. I believe men should be strong. If they can't be strong physically then they must be strong morally. I believe men should hold the door for women, should stand up from the table when they walk over, and they should, when possible, pay for dinner. I also believe that men and women are equal in every way that's important.

So when I ask "Is that her only worth?", I'm not asking that from a feminist's perspective. I'm asking it from a man's perspective. The Black Widow is a secret agent, a spy, an assassin, and a hero... so why can't she be pensive in a series of pensive posters? Why does she have to adopt the sexy pose?

If any of my nieces grow up to be a secret agent, a spy, an assassin or a hero, I'm going to be as proud of them as if they grow up to be a princess or a mermaid. But I'm going to have to insist that they be given the opportunity to be WHATEVER they want to be, and those kinds of opportunities begin with me — the writer, the creator — and with you — the reader, the consumer. Don't settle for less. Don't settle at all.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ah, Darquesse...

Those lucky Minions who made it to the Imagine festival last week got the LSODM paperback early, but I couldn't let them be the ONLY ones who get to marvel at Tom Percival's back cover, so here you go...



Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful? Isn't she precious?

The paperback will be released for everyone else on the 27th of March, and because we are very, very smart people, we will be releasing the paperback of The Maleficent Seven, which takes place BEFORE LSODM, on the 8th of May. 

Just to confuse you.