Yearly Archives: 2012

Writing of Fantasy Arabia

I get the sense sometimes that people wonder why a pale white guy like myself is writing about a fantastic version of 8th century Arabia, even that they question my ability to do so, or the appropriateness of my attempt. Not because they’ve read my work, but because they’ve seen my picture, or my name.

I would like to think that we have moved past that kind of thinking, but perhaps with all the “white man fighting savages fiction” we saw in previous generations, some skepticism is appropriate. On the other hand, I’d like to think that political correctness doesn’t go so far as to assume that because I am white (and, presumably, not 1000 years old and living in Arabia) that I can’t possibly write legitimately about characters with olive skin tones. If we use the argument that we should only ever write what we know (some dogmatically think that means only personally experience, and that it can’t mean something we’ve been researching for more than a decade, say),  we should all be writing contemporary fiction set in our own towns with no fantastic elements.

The simple answer to why I want to write Arabian fantasy? Because I fell in love with the Arabian Nights. I liked many of the stories so much that I read fiction set in the time period, then moved on to history and biographies and even poetry and prose from the region. And then, one day, I decided it looked like so much fun I wanted to try my hand at it myself. The characters were there and one at least was clamoring for me to get started talking about his adventures.

And so I sat down, and got to work.

Long Silences

I didn’t mean to drop out of sight for so long, but then I didn’t mean to injure my knee so badly that I required therapy exercises to get the knee in good enough shape FOR the actual surgery… that then required a whole lot of physical therapy. That delayed a few final changes on The Bones of the Old Ones, but the book is finally with the copy editor, and I’m hard at work on outlines of two other books, one the next scheduled Dabir and Asim novel, The Maiden’s Eye, the other the next scheduled (and so far untitled) book for Paizo, featuring Elyana and Drelm from Plague of Shadows. I have short stories about both sets of characters I’d like to get down, as well… although right now an awful lot of time each day is still spent in therapy exercises.

Given that I’m not likely to be walking very well for a bit, I’ve only scheduled two conventions this year, GenCon, briefly (I’m just there for Saturday) and Worldcon, in Chicago, late in the year.

Anyone interested in knowing just a little more about Dabir and Asim might be interested in checking out my interview with Emily Mah Tippets, the first of a series she’s putting together on writers of Arabian fantasy. (Or you might just want to look at another pic of my groovy paisley shirt.) And any of you, like me, who are game fans, ought to drop by Black Gate and check out the re-design of the great old solitaire adventure game Barbarian Prince.

I could say more, and probably should, but I have books to write. I’ll try to be back sooner.

Crossing the Streams

I want to thank everyone who entered the Crossing the Streams Contest. It’s been a pleasure receiving your e-mails, posts, and tweets. You’ve introduced me to some interesting sounding books and characters, reminded me of some I’ve been meaning to look into, and spoken to me about some of my favorite figures in adventure fiction.

I’d also like to thank Ari Marmell, whose idea this was, and who did so much organizing work behind the scenes.

The winners of my contest have all been chosen and contacted, and the books they’ve requested will be going into the mail this Monday.

Ask Me Anything on Reddit this Sunday the 12th

I’ll be attending an internet chat today over at ( as part of their Ask Me Anything series.

Reddit’s a huge web site, and throughout the day anyone who wishes (well, you do have to join the site, but it is fairly painless) can ask me anything they want about my writing, publishing, editing, and so on. I’ll log on between 7 and 9 central and be answering the posts live.

I hope I’ll “see” some of you there!

Locus Poll and Survey

I learned the other day that The Desert of Souls made the Locus recommended reading list for 2011 in the First Novels category. What’s more, balloting for the annual Locus Poll and Survey is now open.

The winners of the poll are given the prestigious Locus Awards each year. Categories include Best SF novel, Best Fantasy novel, Best First novel, Best Anthology, Best Magazine, Best Editor, and Best Artist.

I hope you’ll swing by and place your own vote, and while I surely wouldn’t mind a vote for Desert, I hope that you’ll remember Black Gate magazine. John O’Neill, publisher of Black Gate, has been fighting for more than a decade to bring adventure fantasy to the forefront in short fiction, but I believe he’s been unjustly overlooked and underappreciated. Many of the authors who had their start at Black Gate are launching careers, thanks in no small part to the nurturing John’s given us. In addition to me, there’s John Fultz, who’s just received glowing praise from influential reviewer Paul Goat Allen for his novel Seven Princes. And there’s the critically acclaimed James Enge, nominated for a World Fantasy Award for his first Morlock novel Blood of Ambrose just a few years ago. And there are others besides, all helped and encouraged by O’Neill, who, in addition to being a gifted editor, is one of the most generous men I know, both with his time and his talent.

Anyway, as to the voting, it’s open to all, subscribers and non-subscribers, per the instructions:

In each category, you may vote for up to five works or nominees, ranking them 1 (first place) through 5 (fifth). Listed options in each category are based on our 2011 Recommended Reading List [this link will open a new window], with options in categories for editor, artist, magazine, and publisher including results of the past two years.

You are welcome to use the write-in boxes to vote for other titles and nominees in any category — if you do, please try to supply author, title, and place of appearance, where appropriate.

The ballot is here. The deadline is April 1, 2012. I hope you’ll make sure your voice is counted.

Throne of the Crescent Moon

There are a number of books I’ve been meaning to recommend, but today I’m just going to talk about one, released yesterday.

There’s not a whole lot of sword-and-sorcery out there, and there’s not a whole lot of fantasy set in non-western realms, but when it comes down to sword-and-sorcery in an Arabian setting there’s really only three or four of us actively writing the stuff. Odds are you’ve already heard of the talented Saladin Ahmed, but if you haven’t, I want to point you to his work straight away. He’s a gifted prose stylist who writes complex characters, and has no patience for slow exposition — his pacing crackles! His first novel (the first of a trilogy, although the first book can stand on its own) was just released this Tuesday, and it’s already receiving a great deal of positive buzz, all of it justified. If you liked my stuff, I urge you to check him out, immediately.

You don’t have to take my word for it, though. The talented devil is getting starred reviews from left and right! Here’s what two well-known venues had to say about Throne of the Crescent Moon:

“Ahmed’s debut masterfully paints a world both bright and terrible.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An arresting, sumptuous and thoroughly satisfying debut.”
–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

And remember, because of the antiquated way the book industry works, it’s better for an author if you purchase a book from a physical bookstore, although I’m sure Saladin would happily endorse you buying it from an online venue if you can’t get to a brick-and-mortar location!

Crossing the Streams

Regular visitors might note I’ve temporarily added a new page to the web site, the Contest page. That’s because I’ve joined a gargantuan, huge, inspiring, fantastical multi-author book giveaway! I, and over a dozen other speculative fiction writers–mostly novelists, but some comic writers as well–have thrown in together to create something huge for our readers

Here’s how it’s going to work. Each individual author is running a contest on his/her own site, and each contest has its own rules. Each contest will also have TWO winners who will both receive ONE signed book, free, from that particular author. So, for instance, if you win here, you’ll win one of my books. If you win on Scott Oden’s site, you’ll win one of his books, and so on.

Second, and even more exciting…once the individual contests have ended, all the authors involved will get together and choose one single “SUPER WINNER” from all the entries on all our sites combined. This one lucky individual will receive a signed book, free, from each and every one of the authors involved.

You read that right. Somebody out there’s going to win over a dozen FREE books!

You can only enter each author’s contest once, but you may enter multiple contests. So you could enter here, on Nathan Long’s site, on Eugie Foster ‘s site, etc. Heck, you can enter on everyone’s site, if you want (and I really think you should, because these are some great books we’re giving away)! And even if you aren’t selected as the “SUPER WINNER,” you could very well win more than one of the individual contests. You never know.

You can find a complete list of the authors involved, as well as links to their sites, below. But first…

How to Enter MY Contest

Mine’s going to be simple. All you have to do is reply to me here on my website, on my FB page, on my twitter feed, or e-mail me at joneshoward AT (with an ampersand in place of the AT, and no spaces before and after), answering this question:

“Who is your favorite heroic fiction character – and why?” Note that I don’t make it straight sword-and-sorcery, in case you want to mention, say, D’artagnan, or Leigh Brackett’s Eric John Stark.

Your answer can be as long or as short as you like. Just make sure you reference “Crossing the Streams” when you enter (or cstreams on Twitter), so I know you’re officially entering.

I will select TWO winners: one for the answer I think is the best, and one at random. That way, even if you don’t think your explanation is very interesting, you’ll still have a shot at winning. And of course, everyone who enters is also in the running for the big “SUPER WINNER” prize at the end of the contest.

Entries must be received (via one of the methods mentioned above) between February 1st and February 29th, 2012.

Easy, right? My two winners, and the “SUPER WINNER”, may choose any ONE of the following prizes.

  • The Desert of Souls (the new trade paperback)
  • Plague of Shadows
  • Unfortunately, I can’t give away e-copies, which means I can’t send out The Waters of Eternity to any winners, either. If you have any questions, drop me an email and I’ll do what I can to clarify.

    My Partners in Crime

    As I said, there are over a dozen of us involved in this. You can find names, and links, here.

    But do me (and yourself) a favor. When you go to enter their contests, don’t just look at the contest page. Everyone involved in this contest is a great author or artist. If you like my work, you’re sure to like at least some of theirs. So take a few minutes. Browse a bit and see if anything catches your eye. Then, you know, maybe buy it? I know they’d all love you forever for it, just like I do. 😉

    Thanks, and good luck!

  • Keith Baker
  • Elaine Cunningham
  • Matt Forbeck
  • Eugie Foster
  • Kevin Hearne
  • Paul S. Kemp
  • Katharine Kerr
  • Nathan Long
  • Ari Marmell
  • Scott Oden
  • Joshua Palmatier/Benjamin Tate
  • Marsheila Rockwell
  • Aaron Rosenberg
  • Steven Savile
  • Jon Sprunk
  • Jason Bradley Thompson
  • Bones of the Old Ones Coming in August

    The secret’s out of the bag everywhere but on my own site, so I I’m overdue announcing this. Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s has released the cover art, and announced the release date, for the next Dabir and Asim novel, The Bones of the Old Ones, the sequel to The Desert of Souls. Some of you might have seen a little bit of the praise for the first book, which I immodestly mention fills up three pages of fine print on its recent re-release in trade paperback.

    The Bones of the Old Ones will be released in hardcover on August 21, 2012, with a cover by the talented Stephen Stone. This is actually the third book chronicling the exploits of Dabir and Asim, Arabian adventurers par excellence, if you count the short story collection released in November  in Kindle, Nook and iBook format on November 22.

    Here’s the cover blurb, which corrects an in-house one you might have seen floating around on various interwebs:

    As a snowfall blankets 8th century Mosul, a Persian noblewoman arrives at the home of the scholar Dabir and his friend the swordsman Captain Asim. Najya has escaped from a dangerous cabal that has ensorcelled her to track down ancient magical tools of tremendous power, the bones of the old ones.

    To stop the cabal and save Najya, Dabir and Asim venture into the worst winter in human memory, hunted by a shape-changing assassin. The stalwart Asim is drawn irresistibly toward the beautiful Persian even as Dabir realizes she may be far more dangerous a threat than anyone who pursues them, for her enchantment worsens with the winter. As their opposition grows, Dabir and Asim have no choice but to ally with their deadliest enemy, the treacherous Greek necromancer, Lydia. But even if they can trust one another long enough to escape their foes, it may be too late for Najya, whose soul is bound up with a vengeful spirit intent on sheathing the world in ice for a thousand years…

    Desert of Souls Available NOW! PLUS Convention Info!

    It’s actually been available for about a year, but it’s just been released this week in trade paperback with a new cover, and in many more stores than ever before. And, as it’s trade paperback, it’s more affordable than ever! Here’ s another handy link for purchasing and reviews!

    This news so excited my old friend Ted that he wrote up what he described as an epic poem, which I’ve excerpted below.

    New cover by Scott Grimmando

    Sound out the flooble horns!
    Wind up your cow!
    The Desert of Souls
    is available now!

    Praised by the critics!
    Adventure’s within!
    Brimming with magic
    and mayhem and djinn!

    There’s actually more, but I figured there’s only so much epic poetry a person can read so early in the morning.

    If you’ve been curious about all the good reviews, now’s your chance to pick it up. Asim wants to keep telling stories about his adventures for years to come, and it’s expensive to feed him. He’s a big guy.

    If you liked The Desert of Souls, I hope you’ll climb to the top of Mount Crumpet (or Mount Doom, or any handy mountain) with your flooble horn and tell at least three friends (or four friends, or more!) that the book is a good one and carried in stores.

    Every sale helps, especially those in physical bookstores. That’s a weird fact, but true — selling from a bookstore proves that your book is worthy of being on the shelf, which means more of your work will be stocked, making it easier to find, and therefore more likely to sell.

    In other news, I’ll soon be flying up to sunny Detroit, MI for Epic ConFusion, January 20-22. I hope to be hanging out with my old friend Chris Hocking, and my newer friend — and fellow Arabian fantasist (whose first book debuts in just a few more weeks — pre-order!) Saladin Ahmed. I’ll have a pretty busy schedule Saturday; otherwise I’m apt to be wandering around the dealer room, attending panels, or talking to other writer-types in the bar. I hope I’ll see you there. I’ll be the one with the cherry Coke (stirred, not shaken) and the flooble horn.

    Howard’s con schedule:

    7pm, Friday Salon F     Fantasy and Horror      Steve Buchheit    Peter V. Brett    Ferrett Steinmetz   Violette Malan    Howard Andrew Jones

    10am, Saturday    Athens      Reading     Jay Lake    Howard Andrew Jones

    11am, Saturday    Salon F     The Legacy of Thud and Blunder      Scott Lynch Elizabeth Bear      Howard Andrew Jones     Violette Malan

    4pm, Saturday     Salon F     Non-Western Fantasy     Peter V. Brett    Kameron Hurley      Christian Klaver  Howard Andrew Jones     Saladin Ahmed

    5pm, Saturday     Salon E     Mass Autograph Session EVERYONE

    8pm, Saturday     Salon G     Reviews and Criticism   Howard Andrew Jones     Charles P. Zaglanis    Jason Sanford     Christine Purcell Robin Hobb