by Howard

Mourning a Fallen Scholar

I had the pleasure of meeting Steve Tompkins in person only once, at a World Fantasy Convention, but I had known him for many years prior, and maintained a fairly regular correspondence with him up until the time of his unexpected death.

Steve was bright, and passionate, and gifted. He was enormously well read, and even today, ten years after his death, I sometimes think about him, especially when I myself critically contemplate the work of Robert E. Howard. I am certain he would have continued to contribute to REH scholarly studies, just as I am fairly sure he would have cast his net even more broadly as the years passed. I should love to have read what he might have written about Leigh Brackett, another writer whose work we both adored. I once sent him an essay discussing her, knowing he’d provide helpful and insightful feedback, and he told me that when he got to one line I’d written about the excellence of her prose, he’d stood at work and given a fist pump. That accolade from him was better than a starred review from anywhere else.

I should have liked to have read what else Steve had in him. And I should like to have sat down with him in person again.

I dedicated one of the Harold Lamb volumes I edited to him, in part because I knew Steve would have loved to have held it. But it was in part because I wanted in some small way to preserve his name, so that others would see it, and maybe pull out some of his essays and see again what a fine and brilliant fellow he was.

Off to the Races

My promotions tour continues as I revise book 2, slated for November of this year!

Today I was over at the site of the illustrious Mary Robinette Kowal, talking about my favorite bit from my novel.

Tuesday I was at Black Gate, sitting down with John O’Neill to talk about writing and reading and editing and nearly everything I love.

Wednesday Paul Weimer reviewed my new book for TOR.com.

Monday I talked with Paul Semel about the book and my life in general.

There’ve been some lovely additional reviews from more lovely places, like The Quill to Live, and the UCReview, and Color me Read, and Infinite Free Time.

And, of course, a few weeks ago I sat down with the Little Red Reviewer.

I’ll be appearing in more places around the web in the coming days. For now, I must return to my writer’s garret!

Ask Me Anything

Tuesday, February 19th, I’ll be over at Reddit Fantasy holding an AMA. Which means that you can swing by at any time of the day or night and ask me about writing or editing or reading or nearly anything I like to do and I’ll be on hand to talk about it. I hope to see you there! Once the interview thread goes live I’ll post a link, but for now all I have is the link to the site.

In other news, I recently learned that For the Killing of Kings is the top pick for BookPages’ Fantasy and Science Fiction category this March, and I got a nice review of the book in the Philadelphia Free Press.

Tomorrow is book launch day! I will probably be too busy promoting the book to be nervous. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Better yet, buy the book and help spread word about it!

 

Hardback Copy

The update is nearly complete, and the new face on the web site is working smoothly, thanks to MeanThemes, who supplied this great new look and helped me get it up and running.

I’ll write more about them soon, but for now I wanted to share the brand new copy of For the Killing of Kings. I’ve been showing the paperback advanced reader copy around, but this is the first actual hardback I’ve had in my own possession, and it is a nice thing to have. Here’s hoping many other people think so as well!

Here’s a new review that came in last week, as well.

Behind-the-scenes, much prep work is underway for the book’s debut on February 19th. Revisions are afoot on its sequel, and I’m making copious notes on a brand new idea I had the other day that might turn into a follow-up series of books. Once I finish revising book 2 and writing book 3, I mean.

Update at Work

In the coming days there are apt to be some curious changes underway on the web site. Colors will be changing, as will typeface, organization, and so on — a lot of it’s up for grabs. Hopefully I’ll have it all straightened out in just a few days, so bear with me… The intention is to make the entire web site a lot more user friendly.

Horror

I’m not entirely sure I “get” the purpose of a pure horror story. I usually feel like my enjoyment of it is one level removed. Oh, sure, there are some great horror stories I really like — a handful of Lovecraft’s, and maybe a dozen by other writers (like Bierce’s “The Damned Thing”), but I always feel like I’m not quite the target audience.

The odd thing is that I love some horrifying monsters and dreadful, dire spells and have them in the tales I write. They frequently turn up in the stories I most enjoy. But in sword-and-sorcery and heroic fiction the characters can fight back, or, at the least, flee.

I mention all this because I’ve been watching Hill House with my daughter. We just finished watching the 6th episode last night. Let me share some spoiler-free observations.

Howard’s Birthday

Robert E. Howard

Not THIS Howard, but the mighty Robert E. Howard. I’m planning to sit down and read one of my favorites by him this evening.

I have found myself defending my take on of his stories in some private message exchanges earlier today. Sometimes it seems like the work never ends…

It’s super busy here, as is usual lately. The launch date of my new book is less than a month away, and while I ready for various promotions I’m head down over book 2, punching problem areas into shape. I did steal some time this weekend to play some Ambush! and to put finishing touches on the outline for a new short story. Meanwhile I continue to poke a little bit at book 3, and the series work I’ll begin when THIS series wraps up — although I have a back up plan to do more with this particular world if things really take off.

My wife is still after to me to finish the third Dabir and Asim novel. Maybe I’ll try to make time for that. It seems like Arabian fantasy is suddenly selling again, and maybe there will be a big boost for the genre when the live action Aladdin comes out. But the first two books didn’t exactly fly off the shelves, so who knows.

Anyway, this Howard plans to celebrate the last name Howard with the re-read of one of his best tonight. Are any of you going to be doing the same? And if you are, what story will you choose?

State of the Tower

Things go well here in the Tower by the Sea of Monsters. Before I get into my “state of the union” round-up I thought I’d point you to some links.

First, here’s a great review of Roy Thomas’s new remembrance of his years writing Conan, penned by my friend Charles Rutledge. Sounds like I may need to add this to my wish list. Too bad my birthday and Father’s Day are both so far off!

Second, check out this detailed digital reconstruction of the palace of Tiberius!

Third, sad news. Brian Garfield passed away a few weeks ago. I’ve read a number of enjoyable novels by the man in just the last two years, all written in the late 60s. He’s probably most famous for Deathwish, which became a Charles Bronson movie that took some liberties with Garfield’s intentions. I know him for his westerns, which are always quite good. At least one, The Night it Rained Bullets, is great. I expect to find more that are as I explore deeper into his catalog. Here’s where you can find a copy of your own.

For those of you who are interested in such things, I have an Ask Me Anything coming up over at Reddit Fantasy on February 19th. I am likely to give a way a few book copies on or around that same time, so watch this space for more details.

Link Day

Two quick links for you today —

First, here’s a nice essay from the Paperback Warrior on the excellence of another Marvin Albert title. You may recall that Albert is now one of my preferred 50s-70s era writers. Heck, his ’80s work may be good as well, and I intend to find out.

Second, in case you didn’t know, the new Conan comic from Marvel is on the stands and getting good reviews. Some even mention, favorably, the start of the new Conan novella by John Chris Hocking that is printed in the back. That’s the start of the serialized novella, one of the first things I edited for Perilous Worlds. Here’s a link to one review, and there are plenty more to choose from.

I’ll have more info soon!