Happy birthday to The White City

October 27th 2016

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down
Tags: | |

In all the rush to do blog posts and email interviews for other people, I completely forgot to do one for here…

The White City

So here we go: the second Book of Down, The White City, is published today and is available from all the usual outlets. While I do usually try and make sequels at least have the potential to stand alone, The White City isn’t going to make a whole lot of sense without having read Down Station, but fortunately there are two low-cost options to catch up – the mass market paperback (retailing at a reasonable UK£8.99) or the Kindle e-book (priced at a ludicrous UK£2.99). Of course, the original trade paperback with the bigger shinier cover is a thing of wonder, and probably worth getting just for that.

The White City follows directly on from events in Down Station. It’s a bit of road trip (although, not giving anything away that the cover doesn’t, much of that is by sea), and because my player characters don’t pay any attention to the DM, they split the party early on. Which, inevitably, leads to shenanigans of the highest order when they do get back together again.

As with all my books, you can file it under ‘intensely personal’, because that’s the nature of the beast, but this one was more so than most. The first book I’d written after my father died. I was worried enough that I sent a note along with the first draft, telling my editor pro tem that she was to tell me if there was leakage from the Real World into the Down, because I was too close to the manuscript to spot it. I appear to have got away with it, mostly. The story is chiaroscuro: the dark is as dark can be, but the lighter stuff (pirates!) is quite fun. Until that bit turns dark too. But the ending – I hadn’t known until that point what was going to happen, and I was shocked. I think you will be too. But shocked in a good way.

So, here it is, my *counts fingers* ninth novel/novella. Enjoy.

10 Comments To-Date, Click to Join In

Afloat on the ocean of Down

March 4th 2016

Posted by: in: News and Updates, Reviews, The Books of Down
Tags: | | | | | | |

Well, that was … busy.

First, a signing at FP in London – well attended, I GOT TO MEET PAT CADIGAN. Pat – if you don’t know – was at the forefront of the cyberpunk movement with books like Synners and Fools, and they had an enormous influence on the genesis of the Metrozone and Freezone. And I got to tell her all that after I’d got my breathing under control. They say you should never meet your heroes: in Pat’s case, that doesn’t apply, because she’s as brilliant and funny and sharp in real life as she is in her fiction. And she’s kicking cancer’s arse. And I signed a copy of Down Station for her. I SIGNED A COPY OF DOWN STATION FOR PAT CADIGAN. We’re good here.

Then, a reading at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club, which is held in the roof-top bar in an outrageously upmarket hotel in Holborn (for reasons that are fascinating, but incidental). Inevitably, my discomfort rose to almost-but-not-quite critical levels, but I adulted and gained admission, whereupon seeing friendly faces calmed me. I don’t what it is about posh, but I just don’t do it. Then when we all reached the top, the full moon was rising red over the London skyline, and that was a diversion, and even though I was down to read third of three, it didn’t matter much. Thank you for putting up with my coarse northern ways, and those in the audience who later admitted to being born and brought up in the north-east but have been travelling incognito since through the publishing world. Your secret is safe with me.

All during that, I was staying at my mum’s, and replacing fence-posts, and trellis, and doing other gruntwork in the garden. Bookended by two roughly seven hour journeys to and from. I was driving pretty much for the whole of Down Station’s launch date.

How did that go?

There’ve been lots more reviews. No, I’m not going to show you the rubbish ones, of which there are fortunately few. As I said previously, it’s not going to be for everyone, however much I’d like it to be. What I want, what I need, is for Down Station to find its audience.

So, from Amazon (and in all seriousness, if you enjoyed the book, leave a review – it does make a difference):

Down Station is one of the most intriguing novels I’ve read in a fair while and I doubt I’ll forget it.

The book has, then, a very engaging and serious moral strand as well as the sheer sense of adventure that comes form exploring – and surviving in – a new land.

This is an interesting read with a great new world to immerse yourself in, it is fantastical and thrilling, a great book to add to your fantasy/sci-fi shelf.

And from elsewhere:

To wit, in terms of plot and pace, Morden’s ninth novel is tight and taut—and I’d argue that its relative brevity is a boon to boot. At approximately 300 pages, Down Station is a ways off wearing out its welcome when the literary kitchen closes its doors; though the portion sizes might be on the slight side, chef serves up a satisfying three-course meal here, leaving readers stuffed enough, but not so full that they won’t have an appetite for more when it’s over. And in case you weren’t aware, there will be more, folks: The White City beckons, and after that… why, this whimsical world is Morden’s oyster. (Tor.com)

A shining example of why I think a come back of modern portal fantasy, could make a significant impact on the genre. (Book Frivolity) The actual review is an audio one, linked here.

A twirling mix of fantasy, reality, a strange new land, and strange new people. (Planet Books)

I’ve been asked what the situation with US distribution. Bear with us, because we’re sorting that out. I know for sure that the kindle version is available here, and if you’re desperate for the hardcopy, then one of these is probably your best bet.

Also, The White City is due out Feb 2017. But since it’s written, and edited already except for the line edits, it might be brought forward to the end of this year instead. Watch this space.

 

5 Comments To-Date, Click to Join In

Mind the Gap: next stop, Down Station

February 12th 2016

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, Reviews, The Books of Down
Tags: | | | | | |

You can’t get off at Down Station, of course, merely glimpse it as you rush by between Green Park and Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly Line. But you can visit the outside of it. It’s on Down Street (unsurprisingly), third road on the left as you walk along Piccadilly from Hyde Park. This is what you’ll see:

Which is unprepossessing, but that door with the blue sign is precisely the door through which our beleaguered travellers find Down. And this is my invitation for you to find Down, too.

There’ve been some more reviews in the last week:

Down Station is filled with choices that mirror well into the real world, the sense that we are never too far away from chaos, and it’s the decisions we make that define our future. 9/10, A ‘must read now’. (SciFiNow)

…a balanced, nuanced, story with no absolute heroes and villains, but plenty of muddled, baffled people trying to do the right thing, to make their own history. (Blue Book Balloon)

This book was really good! Exciting, imaginative and unexpected. It felt different and creative and had a good story. The world was fascinating, the characters diverse and the plot was very intriguing. (How to Become a Heroine)

All of which are good signs. There are over 250 hoping to win a copy over at Goodreads (draw still open at time of posting). And the first three chapters are now online, in lovely audio (not read by Cathy Tyson, who had to pull out at the last minute due to family commitments, but by Thomas Judd, who does a very fine job indeed).

The book itself is out on Thursday, but I’m signing copies (along with Tricia Sullivan, who’s going to be there with Occupy Me) at Forbidden Planet in Shaftsbury Avenue, London, on the 20th of Feb, 1pm-2pm. It’d be brilliant to see you there. I’m also supposed to be at the Super Relaxed Fantasy Club on the 23rd – I’m a little unclear as to where that’s actually being held, but hopefully I can snag a native guide to help me find it.

What else can I say about Down Station? If you want a story of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary situations, which have morally complex and not always noble solutions, where secrets can kill and lies are mandatory, then Down Station is what you’ve been waiting for. Even if it’s not, I’ve had more than one reviewer comment, “I didn’t expect to enjoy this quite as much as I did.”

Open the door. Step through. Find Down in all its terrible glory.

3 Comments To-Date, Click to Join In

Two weeks till the train leaves

February 4th 2016

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down
Tags: | | | | | | |

First stop, Down Station.

This has been a long time coming. A change of publisher, a change of editor, a change of direction: if I’m trying to constantly challenge myself as a writer, I’m doing it the hard way, it seems.

I’ve wanted to write a ‘proper’ portal fantasy for a while, and now I’ve done it, it’s inevitably not quite like anyone else’s. A portal fantasy is, for the want of a better definition, the pitching of ordinary people into an extraordinary environment. I can check both those off: Dalip and Mary, Stanislav and Mama, are just regular folk, doing their daily jobs, when they discover the entrance to Down. And when I say ‘discover’, it’s literally that. They open a door, and there it is.

Because Down is not Narnia, or Barsoom, or the Pliocene, I have to chase them over the threshold. Down is a world with a conscious magic woven into every leaf, rock and blade of grass. It’s a terrifying, beautiful place, full of danger and wonder. Neither do they find themselves alone, which is altogether more perilous. Down Station is the beginning of the story of how Down sits alongside our world, and their fates are intimately joined together. The story continues in The White City – which, because this is publishing, I’m doing the edits for now, while thinking about launching its predecessor.

I could give you all kinds of spoilers and teasers. Let’s not do that. Here are some reviews:

This is a very fast paced book, with intense moments of danger as well as being full of wonder. There are so many things to discover in Down not only geographically but historically…Morden has written a book full of mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered. (Fantasy Book Review)

Down Station is a fun and interesting read which I zipped through in no time at all! (Books By Proxy)

The world is an interesting and well realised one. The central characters are believable and feel entirely human (though I would like to see more of the supporting cast in the sequel). The plot rattles along nicely, and kept me enthralled to the last page (Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviews)

Once again Simon Morden takes the fantasy genre and moulds it wonderfully…What makes Down Station so great is the immaculate pacing and the way character shapes fate for each of the well-drawn main characters (The Sun)

And a few from Goodreads:

The story was a kind of fantasy that I rarely see, very Robin Hobb-ish, and by the end, some of my questions were answered, and I had a lot more and GOD DAMN IT I NEED BOOK TWO.

This is an interesting read with a great new world to immerse yourself in, it is fantastical and thrilling, a great book to add to your fantasy/sci-fi shelf.

Overall, this is an excellent, fast-paced, and satisfying read, and I’m very much looking forward to reading more of Mary and Dalip’s adventures in Down.

Which are all nice. It is, of course, not everyone’s cup of tea – as I discovered with Arcanum, fantasy readers are sometimes quite conservative in what they’ll accept as fantasy, and if it’s too different to what they expect, they’re not going to like it. I’m going to warn you now: Down Station is different. At times, it’s startlingly different. It’ll keep you guessing. It’ll surprise you. It won’t give you all the answers, and the answers it does give are often replaced by better answers later on.

Obviously, I want you to buy it, read it, love it, and talk about it to your friends. That’s because I want this story to entertain as many people as possible – and starving in a garret isn’t a great way to go. But if I was going to go on and wish for one further thing, I’d say this: I want this story to breathe. I want you to imbue Down with life, to think of the rarely-opened doors as you pass them by on the street, to wonder what you’d do in Down and what you’d become. Because that would be brilliant.

I came across a quote from the theologian Frederick Buechner: even though he was writing about this world, it sums up Down so perfectly, I wonder if I hadn’t been subconsciously channelling him.

Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.

One last thing: don’t forget the signing at Forbidden Planet in London on the 20th February with me and Tricia Sullivan, between 1pm and 2pm.

Click to Comment on this Post

Climbing the stairs to Down Station

December 4th 2015

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down
Tags: | | |

(photo credit: Peter Humphrey Photography)

It’s a little over two months to publication of the first Book of Down, Down Station. Which means the wheels of the publicity machine are slowly grinding into life (fortunately, it’s not all left to me, because no one will hear of it otherwise…).

There’s been three reviews so far – and all of them good, which is a relief, because no one needs a crap review at this stage in the game. They are, in no particular order:

Fantasy Book Review, who give Down Station 9/10. Which will do for me. “Morden has written a book full of mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered.”

Books by Proxy, who slap on 3.5 hearts/4 stars, and opine, “Down Station is a fun and interesting read which I zipped through in no time at all!”

Random Redheaded Ramblings, hefts 4 stars at it, and lo: “This is an interesting read with a great new world to immerse yourself in, it is fantastical and thrilling, a great book to add to your fantasy/sci-fi shelf.”

There is further news, however, news which had me all a quiver, and I still have a frisson when I think about it. There’s going to be an audiobook of Down Station – complete and unabridged, clocking in at a mighty 11 hours and 17 minutes – from those lovely people at Oakhill Publishing. And they’ve got Cathy Tyson to read it. Cathy Tyson’s been in lots of things – but people of a certain age (my age…) will always remember her starring opposite Bob Hoskins in the 1986 Neil Jordan film, Mona Lisa. That Cathy Tyson. Which, when you realise what Down Station is about and who one of the two POV characters is, is the absolutely perfect choice. Good work.

Click to Comment on this Post

Why Down Station?

November 21st 2015

Posted by: in: From the Author, The Books of Down
Tags: |

When you were a child, was there ever a door, a gate, a wardrobe, that was always locked and you were never allowed to see inside? Can you remember what it was like when you finally got to see what was behind there? That feeling of anticipation, of wonder, followed by … what?

Too often, disappointment, because as the door swings wide, there’s nothing but the mundane beyond. Sometimes surprise, as all your expectations are swept to one side and replaced by what really lies within. Sometimes… probably best not talk about those times, because that’s the stuff of nightmares. Very rarely, then, do we open the door and find exactly what we were hoping for.

I have a fascination for these things. Locked doors. Abandoned buildings. Hidden, forgotten secrets. Discovering that there are underground stations in London that once existed, and are now gone from the map, thrilled me, just as it has done for many writers before me. And I won’t be the last either.

Down Street station is a real place. It was used during World War II as bomb-proof offices, for the Railway Executive Committee, and for sometime by Winston Churchill. After the war, it’s only been used as an emergency exit point from the Underground.

Which is exactly what I wanted it for.

“As the wall of heat drove them back, the taller man reached out, straining for the push-bar, to drag the door shut again. Instead, he fell into it, and it began to swing out wide.

The air itself seemed to tear in two.

Instead of fire, there was water.

A wave slapped through the open doorway, and a gust of wind blew into the smoke-filled corridor, dragging a spiral of soot outwards and away. It curled into the blue sky studded with clouds shaped like torn sheets, and a bird – a seagull – darted by at head-height. It wheeled back for a second look, before flapping once and soaring towards a tall headland of jagged black rocks.”

Click to Comment on this Post

Look upon my works ye mighty

November 10th 2015

Posted by: in: From the Author, News and Updates, The Books of Down
Tags: | | | | | |

Now to return you to our regularly scheduled updates…

Firstly, an apology: it appears that the ‘comments’ part of the site is broken, and has been broken for some time, possibly months. I don’t have the permissions to delve under the bonnet to try and fix things, so I’m going to have to find someone at Little Brown to sort this for me. I’ll post again when it’s done.

Secondly, writing. I’ve been busy. Really busy. So I’ll break this down into bits.

Down Station: you’ve all seen the spiffing cover, designed by the wonderful people at Blacksheep. I’ve gone through the page proofs, sent everything back, grabbed a couple of the uncorrected proof copies at GollanczFest in Manchester (more on this shortly), and it’s ready to go. The publication date is set for 18th February 2016. Think of it as a late Valentine’s gift.

The White City: the sequel to Down Station is written, and the manuscript is with my editor. At some point, probably before Christmas, I’m going to have his response, and then I’m going to have to sit down and forge the best book I can from the somewhat ragged draft I sent in. It’s all part of the process. And there’s still no map.

At the Speed of Light: what? What’s that? I’ve written a novella. A hard – diamond hard – SF novella of 35,000 words, doing pretty much what it says on the tin. I’m hawking it around at the moment, but people I’ve shown it to are saying nice things about it. All the technical details in the story are, as far as I can tell, correct.

The Alchemist’s Dream: I’m sorry, I’ve written another novel, entirely unconnected and pretty much unlike anything I’ve ever written before. It’s a cross between Jeeves and Wooster, and Holmes and Watson, and Arabian Nights. If you wanted to classify it, and I’ve no idea why you would, it’s a historical but fantastic fantasy entirely without magic. Or swearing, which is a bit unusual for me, but I wanted to try and tell a story using all the traditional story-telling elements, including places where you can boo and hiss at the villains, cheer the heroes and slap your thighs to your heart’s content. So while it’s not all entirely serious, it still is. I wanted to have fun, and I did. Hopefully, you will too.

The Alchemist’s Dream, the board game. This is the last, I promise. When I started the book of the same name, I realised I needed to invent a board game to go in it, as it’s pivotal to the story. So I did. Then it got a little out of control, and I ended up with an actual board game, with rules, fully playable, and I’m commencing beta-testing it shortly. I’ll post more about it shortly too.

Click to Comment on this Post

How did we end up here?

February 10th 2015

Posted by: in: From the Author, Metrozone, News and Updates, The Books of Down
Tags: | | | | | | | |

It’s 2015, and I haven’t posted anything yet this year. For which I apologise, because it’s not like things haven’t been happening – a lot of stuff which isn’t appropriate to share, because Internets. But in and around all the disasters and set-backs and frenetic busyness that’s going on, writing is still a thing.

So: Down Station, being the First Book of Down, has leapt over the hurdle that is the editorial stage. We’re now onto the copy-edit, and as soon as I know the proposed publication date, I’ll let everyone know. It is, reasonably said, a strange and wonderful story. If I was going to describe it in a sentence, I’d call it ‘a grittily realistic fairytale’, and I trust that’s going to be enough to intrigue you to want to read it.

The White City, being the Second Book of Down, is in the process of being written. I’m about a fifth of the way through, and it’s shaping up very nicely.

Both Down Station and The White City are going to be published by Gollancz, who are ‘my new publisher’.

What does that mean for Sam, Maddy, and the rest of the Freezone crew? I’m not sure yet. I have an extant first draft of Petrovitch 5, The Edge of Space, so yes, there is more to come, I just don’t know when. There will, with luck and a following wind, a sixth following on from that.

I am officially booked to read a new ghost story at the Lit and Phil’s ‘Summer Phantoms at the Phil’ evening, on the 19th of June – as opposed to last year, when I was (literally) the last-minute stand in. You’ll get a new ghost story, too. I have Ideas already.

I’m also going to be at Eastercon again – no news yet of panels etc, but feel free to come and say hello.

That’s about all for the moment. More as it develops.

4 Comments To-Date, Click to Join In