One very odd novel, The Vicar of Morbing Vyle! It’s sort of gothic, sort of macabre, sort of grotesque, sort of comic – but not so comic that the horror chills aren’t real too. All in a totally serious, deadpan style – no surprise that it turned into a cult! A sequel/prequel, The Black Crusade, came out several years later, and even spawned its own website, “Vilewatch”, for all fans who committed to reporting suspicious signs of the Vicar reincarnating in some new form …
The three Eddon and Vail books from Pan Macmillan are SF – with a supernatural element. The supernatural element comes from Vail ev Vessintor, the aristocratic, goth-like assistant to detective Edson. She has the power to recover memories from the brains of those who’ve died a violent death. All scientifically explained, of course. Eddon and Vail find unexpected solutions to murders carried out in many dark corners of the universe. The three books in the series are The Dark Edge, Taken by Force and Hidden from View.
Walter Wants To Be a Werewolf came out in Penguin’s Aussie Chomps series for younger readers. Walter wants be turn into a werewolf under the full moon, like everyone else in his family, but he seems to be turning into something very, very different. But that something different might be useful when robbers break into the family home …
I was always a cat person until I switched to being a dog person. So naturally I enjoyed getting into the mind of a cat and experiencing the world as Sassycat experiences it. The humans around have no idea that there’s an army of ghosts rising up from the local cemetery. But, as everyone knows, cats are specially aware of the supernatural …
Sassycat is maybe a bit older, but still a children’s book. The ‘Wolf Kingdom’ quartet is for younger readers, and it’s superbly – I mean superbly – illustrated by Laura Peterson. The four books in the quartet are Escape!, Under Siege, Race to the Ruins and The Heavy Crown. By the last book, it’s become a full-blown fantasy world under the tyrannical rule of the wolves, with a group of resistance fighters, a hidden hideout – and the discovery of the wolves’ secret, which means that their power can be taken away from them!
My three steampunk books are all Young Adult, all somewhere between SF and fantasy (as steampunk is). Steampunk was just becoming a thing when Worldshaker came out – it had been a thing of mine ever since I first planned the book about twenty years before, but I didn’t write it until there was a chance of getting it published. My version of steampunk is more influenced by Mervyn Peake than the usual sources – sort of dark and comic-grotesque. This was another world that grew and grew in the telling, from life on board a single juggernaut to a vast international history. My steampunk world is Alternate History as well as steampunk, because my fictional history separates from our own real history at a single turning point – when Napoleon considered digging a tunnel under the English Channel. A single change at that moment has changed everything since!
In Worldshaker and its sequel Liberator, we’re in a period nearly two centuries after Napoleon’s tunnel. Machinery has grown to a gargantuan size, but it’s still steam-powered Industrial Age machinery, while society has become even more Victorian than the real Victorians.
In Song of the Slums, we’re in a period fifty years after Napoleon, when the construction of the great juggernauts was only just beginning. But, guess what? The slum gangs of Brummingham have invented a new kind of music with an irresistible beat – which sounds just like rock ‘n roll a hundred years before our own real Elvis and Bill Haley. A very unsettling development in a Victorian society!
And now it’s on to the Ferren Trilogy with IFWG! I feel like I’ve been gathering momentum with every publication … I’m sure Ferren and the Angel is my best yet, and with Ferren and the Doomsday Mission and Ferren and the Invaders of Heaven, I’m aiming to create my most mind-blowing world ever!
(Maybe it’s weird after having writer’s block for so many years – I like to think it’s because I had to work so extra hard to turn myself into a successful writer. Anyway, I wrote out 145 pages of Tips for Writing Fantasy, which many people have said helped them a lot. They’re up on a separate website, in US, Australian and UK versions, if you want to check them out.)