Interview with Rob Matheny of The Grim Tidings Podcast

Grimdark Alliance

12748137_957555537654336_2916415817175404344_oWelcome Rob, and thanks for being here!

Eric, thanks so much for having me over, I’ve been hearing great things about the blog and I’m delighted to be your guest.

For someone entirely new to The Grim Tidings Podcast, what is it and what sort of content does it produce?

By iTunes standards, we would be considered at “literary arts” podcast with a focus on dark fiction. When I tell people about it, I usually just say it’s a heavy metal version of Reading Rainbow. My cohost Philip Overby and I are big fans of “Grimdark”, of course readers of your blog will know all about it and what authors make up the core. But – we tend to major in Grimdark, while we minor in pretty much anything else you’ll find related to speculative fiction or other media like comics or video games. Generally the show focuses on interviewing…

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Book Review: The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. Le Guin

Tombs of Atuan
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Earthsea Cycle
Author info:

This is the second book of the great classic Earthsea Cycle. See my review for the first book here.

A Wizard of Earthsea was about Ged’s journey to become a sorcerer and his struggle with the evil shadow, this book tells the story of Tenar, a young girl taken away from her family at the tender age of five to be raised as the priestess of the Nameless gods.She is forced to shed her identity and they call her Arha in her new life.

It starts a story of loneliness and continues as a story of courage. Tenar is incredibly lonely despite the high position she holds, a position which is more symbolic than one of real power. She has no close friends other than the eunuch guardian, and learning the ways of the dark labyrinths where no light is allowed is a daunting task.

This is not your typical epic fantasy full of action, but a beautiful tale nonetheless. Ursula K. Le Guin’s prose is amazing and the imagery is vivid. This book explores the limits of faith, loyalty, trust and tradition. The stark contrast between the unyielding religious devotion and the doubts hacking away the faith, the religious authorities bending the faith to their agenda or lacking it altogether, the courage to question everything you have been taught and break through the dogma is brilliantly depicted.

As it is mentioned in the blurb,Ged shows up later as a secondary character, and the relationship between Tenar and Ged starting with suspicion and turnign into mutual admiration and trust is fascinating to read. Tenar’s character development is stellar.

This is a great book. I think even the people who found a Wizard of Earthsea boring will like this book. I liked it a lot, it’s different from most fantasy books I read and I loved both the worldbuilding and the philosophical aspects. Earthsea books are leaning more towards literary fiction than genre fiction, but I highly recommend this book and its prequel, A Wizard of Earthsea, to fantasy lovers out there.

A Queen for Each King… Or Not

Mark Lawrence made a blog post titled “How Many Kings is Enough?”, showing books titles with an increasing number of kings. For the hell of it I will try to find queens for all those kings.

One Queen:

Two Queens:

Three Queens:

Four Queens:


Five Queens:

Six Queens:

Seven Queens:

Eight Queens:


Nine Queens:

Holy hell, Mark Lawrence couldn’t find nine kings and remarked the market is lacking there, the same is true for nine queens.

Ten Queens:

Eleven Queens:

Not found

Twelve Queens:

Not found

Thirteen Queens:

Not found. Ooops, now we have a grand total of 36 kings lacking queens. The market is clearly favoring kings here. However, if we look at it from another angle, it also means queens are in high demand and more valuable. I leave it up to you to make deductions.

Bristolcon 2016 Report

I should have written this sooner, but the jetlag and the lack of sleep made it a bit difficult. Bristolcon is the first book/literature related convention I’ve been to, also the first time I traveled alone to unfamiliar territory in many years. It was the best convention I’ve been to, in terms of positive energy, super friendly folk, great authors and cozy atmosphere. In fact I can’t think of anything even close to the amazing overall experience -and I have been to a lot of different conventions/gatherings, many of them nerdy events.

There were interesting panels, but I went to only one and cause the airline lost my luggage and I have been busy chasing it down, I sadly missed the panel about Grimdark ladies where Anna Smith-Spark was a participant. However, I am not much of a panel person and I prefer sitting at the bar and talking to people. Sitting down for an hour and being quiet doesn’t agree with my hyperactive mind and talkative character. Therefore I don’t have much to report about the panels, it’s so not my thing. I am not sure if I can do panels even if I become a published author some day, I’d much rather sit at the bar and chat with the folk till I drop.

I was happy beyond words to finally meet some of my Facebook friends, even got to meet a bookish blogger friend, Sarah from Brainfluff blog, we chatted for quite a bit not realizing we actually were regular visitors to each other’s blogs. What a small world! It has been great to meet GR Matthwes, To Munro, JP Ashman, Luke Scull, Julia Kitvaira, James Latimer, Mhairi Simpson, RB Watkinson, Ben Galley, Andy Remic and many other awesome people whose names I can’t recall or didn’t catch. I talked to so many people my head is still spinning.

I was extra happy to finally meet Mark Lawrence and Agnes Meszaros (She runs That Thorn Guy and is behind all kinds of awesomeness) -that was perhaps the best part of the convention for me as a huge fan of Mark’s work.

After the convention closed, we continued the party at the bar and everyone had blast. Both the convention and the afterparty were brilliant, you could hop from table to table, talk to complete strangers and geek out about books, have drinks with the Facebook friends you got to meet in person. It was the complete opposite of the horribly exclusive convention scenes Kameron Hurley describes in a blog post. There were no closed wheels and whatnot, everyone was sweet and friendly.

Overall, it was awesome to meet the fellow fantasy fans, grimdark lovers and geek out about books nonstop till we all dropped. Not to mention I added even more books to my ever-growing TBR pile.

Here is a bunch of photos from the con and the afterparty: Bristolcon 2016 Photo stack

I am already looking forward to Bristolcon 2017!

Congratulations to the SPFBO Finalists

Final Ten has been announced, huge congrats to the finalists!

Announcement on Mark Lawrence’s Blog is here.

Here is the list of the finalists, along with the bloggers and Amazon links to the books:

Bookworm Blues – Fionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma‘ (Brian O’Sullivan)
Elitist Book Reviews – Larcout (K.A. Krantz)
Fantasy-Faction – Paternus (Dyrk Ashton)
Fantasy Book Critic – The Moonlight War (S.K.S. Perry)
Lynn’s Books – Outpost (F.T. McKinstry)
The Qwillery – The Music Box Girl (K.A. Stewart)
Pornokitsch – The Path of Flames (Phil Tucker)
Bibliotropic – The Grey Bastards (Jonathan French)
The Bibliosanctum – Assassin’s Charge (Claire Frank)
Fantasy Literature – The Shadow Soul (Kaitlyn Davis)

Guest Post by Rob Hayes: It’s Not Steampunk. It’s Alchemypunk

Hailing from all over England; north, south, and everything in between, Rob J. Hayes is the author of the dark fantasy series The Ties that Bind and also the steampunk caper series It Takes a Thief… He’s also an avid card gamer, reader of books, watcher of things, and player of video games.

The second book in the It Takes a Thief… series, It Takes a Thief to Start a Fire, is available October 25th from Amazon. You can find out more at


It’s Not Steampunk. It’s Alchemypunk

I’ve now written 2 books in my It Takes a Thief… series and I’ve noticed something. They invariably get lumped into the Steampunk genre. Why? Because they have airships and folk who talk fancy and wear nice clothes. That’s actually about where the similarities end.

A brief search for the definition of Steampunk comes up with this:

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.

There is no steam-powered machinery in It Takes a Thief… There is electricity and there is alchemy and there is magic. It is set in an original world that draws heavily on European countries from the 17-18th century. OK, that sounds a bit like Steampunk except that it draws from French and German cultures instead of English.

There are 3 major powers in this little world I’ve created. First is Sassaille, inspired heavily by French culture and existing at the very pinnacle of science in the world. The Sailles covet alchemy and airships over anything else.

Then we have Great Turlain, inspired by German culture. The Turlains have exclusive access to the elemental magics and much of their culture and their lives revolve around the elements. This makes them the dominant military force.

Lastly there is Arkland, inspired by a 12th century Britain. The Arklanders are zealots who believe only in their God and would happily force everyone else to by way of military force only they can’t really compete with airships and elemental magic.

The books follow a couple of charlatans who blend into high society and perform complex heists to steal from those with enough to spare. They all too often seem to find themselves caught up in the machinations of those in real power. There is action, romance, humour, devious plots, and daring twists.

The reality is the books don’t fit into the Steampunk genre at all and apparently I can’t create an entire new genre just for myself so I guess Alchemypunk is off the cards. I would say It Takes a Thief… fits rather haphazardly into the general fantasy genre, though maybe also into the humour side of fantasy.

Whichever genre my series does or does not fit into– It’s fun. It’s fantastical. It’s thrilling. And it’s a little bit romantic.

Blog reviews for It Takes A Thief to Catch a Sunrise

Fantasy Book Critic:

Bookworm Blues:

Goodreads page:

A Detailed, Bookish Guide to Instagram

Carly Watters, Literary Agent Blog

I’ve rounded up some bookish Instagram experts, compiled data, and pulled links together to show everyone a complete picture of Instagram for writers and book lovers. If you’re unsure about whether Instagram is for you try it out and you’ll quickly see why book lovers flock there. Book covers are made to be captured and shared on the platform. Writers can share their WIP adventures or road to publication. Publishers host giveaways.

Plus, many book bloggers now use Instagram to promote their book coverage on their blogs. So not only should writers be on there to build a personal platform, writers should also be on there building a community to help promote their book when the time comes. Below are some tips from book bloggers and “bookstagrammers” that will help explain these concepts.

And, you can follow me on Instagram to get a taste of a visual bookish life: @carlywatters

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