Tag Archives: Jen Williams

Tea and Jeopardy 63 – Jen Williams visits the tea lair

In this episode, the utterly brilliant author, Jen Williams, visits Emma in the tea lair. They discuss fantasy tropes, Moomins, art college and Jen’s obsession with notebooks.

Click here to listen to the episode on Geek Planet Online.

 

If you love Tea and Jeopardy and want to join the Order of the Sacred Tea Cup, our Patreon page is here.

Credits for the sounds effects used in this episode can be found here.

Edge Lit 2016 & a trip to Waterstones Birmingham with Den & Jen!

Edge Lit 5

I'll be at Edge Lit 5 this year, feel free to come and say hi. My programme is below and if you want to win a free copy of THE VAGRANT or THE MALICE, details are after that!

12pm-1pm (Cinema 2)
High Fantasy, High Art: Is Fantasy Fiction Growing More Literary?
Edward Cox, Peter Newman, Cherry Potts, Marc Turner, Jen Williams

2pm-3pm (Green Room)
Getting Unstuck: A Workshop for Writers Stuck on a Project!

4pm-5pm (The Box)
I'm interviewing guest of honour Emma Newman!

8pm onwards (The Box)
Super Relaxed Fantasy Club
Hosted by Peter Newman and Jen Williams

Competition time!

If you’re going to Edge Lit 5 and want to win a signed copy of The Vagrant or The Malice all you have to do is attend any of the programme items above and ask me the question: “Am I the First?” If you’re the first person to ask me that, you win. Simple!*

Waterstones Birmingham

And then on the 23rd July at Waterstones Birmingham at 6.30, I'll be joining the delightful Den Patrick and Jen Williams for a 'Foray into Fantasy'. Be great to see you there!

 

*Bonus points if you do it in the questions section of any of my panels/items.

Good Things: The Iron Ghost by Jen Williams

IronGhost_v2-jpg-jpg-196x300Here’s a quick relatively spoiler free part review / part enthuse about the Iron Ghost by Jen Williams.

Around this time last year I wrote one of these for The Copper Promise. If you haven’t read that yet, do so immediately.

In short, I loved this book, and I’ve been trying to think about why. There are loads of fun fantasy monsters, fights and all the magical shenanigans that you might expect. The characters are fun and well-drawn and definitely one of the major appeals of the book for me. They’re still human (aside from the ones that aren’t) and they still screw up often. Sometimes they do wonderful and cool things though I did spend much of my time shaking my head at Sebastian, a lesser amount of time shaking my head at Frith and surprisingly little time shaking my head at Wydrin (which is worrying) but only because I’ve grown fond of them.

The villains are great too. In a really, really nasty kind of way. And maybe I’ve just got a poor memory but I don’t recall having so many moments of horror or exclaiming: “Euw!” when I read The Copper Promise.

But the thing about The Iron Ghost, the thing that recommends it most highly for me is that it is just so damn readable. The book is a good size and weight, ideal for blocking draughts or beating zombies to death, but I tore through it as if it were a thing half the size.

It’s fun, compelling, and just a little bit saucy. What’s not to love?

Also: BEST TAG LINE EVER!

Confessions of a Squee Killer

I came across a set of tweets from Jen Williams this morning…

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

I will never understand the urge to harsh a squee.

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

you see someone enthusing about something they love. You think, "I know, I'll tell them I think it's shit. They'll appreciate that."

Jen Williams @sennydreadful

Or, just don't. People love different things. It's okay.

 

I agree with completely with what’s being said here. I do. I’m not a monster or anything*. But… I think I can understand it. There have been times when I see people raving about a film or book, saying the exact opposite of what I feel, and the urge to kill their squee is powerful.

Just before I go on, when I’m talking about a ‘squee’ in this post, I’m referring to a demonstration of love and excitement about something, usually connected to science fiction or fantasy in some way.

I can’t speak for squee killers everywhere but for me, encountering a squee I don’t understand can be a painful experience, creating a sense of distance between me and person doing the squeeing.

I’m used to not fitting in. Superheroes and magic and giant robots are enjoying a time of relatively mainstream cool these days but it was not always so. Growing up, I learned to be careful with who I shared my passions with and those friends who also loved things like Star Wars, Babylon 5, Dungeons and Dragons, Amber, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay and running around the woods in silly costumes were rare jewels indeed.

And with those friends and the wider geek community I have a feeling of belonging that I often don’t in the wider world.

I’m used to people not getting what I love but when those people are in circles that I consider to be ‘my community’ or ‘my tribe’ it can be almost unbearable.

Conversely, when people I respect squee about something I think is terrible, it’s also unbearable. I feel like maybe I don’t understand them after all, maybe they don’t understand me.

That’s when the Dark Side become tempting.

Perhaps, it whispers, if you were to point out to them why the thing they love is rubbish, they’ll realise their mistake and then unity will return.

Somehow, their squee makes me feel insecure. And I think that’s the point of all this. Squee killers are moving from a place of insecurity because it’s rare that they simply offer their opinion with a comment like:

“Yes, the effects in Prometheus were excellent, although I must admit I found the representation of the scientists hard to believe and that made it harder for me to suspend disbelief.”

Instead going for something like:

“Prometheus sucks in every way! The plot is rubbish, the characters laughable. And how did she run with that injury? And why didn’t she run sideways! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! And if you think otherwise you’re a ****weasel!”

Ahem.

I think this is because a squee comes from the heart. It’s a primal thing. And geeks don’t just like their fiction, they adore it. More than that I think we identify with it. For me, it is far more than just entertainment. I often hold fiction and the creators of said fiction up to my own moral standards and that can make me a tough audience.

But when I enjoy fiction, it feeds me in a deep way. Or it makes me feel warm and smile. Sometimes I actually feel it changing me as I read it and when that happens I want to share those good vibes.

I want to squee.

My name is Peter Newman and I’ve gone ten months since my last squee kill.

 

*Before alcohol only.

Good Things: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams

Check out the cover. It's gorgeous.

Check out the cover. It's gorgeous.

Over the last few years there have been loads of great things (books, films, blogs, people) that I have meant to blog about and not got round to. So, in a very relaxed way I’ve decided to start by talking about a book I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading: The Copper Promise by Jen Williams.

So this is part enthuse, part review though it’ll be spoiler free I promise.

First a disclaimer: I have met the author and imbibed alcohol in her presence.

Right, onto the review. The Copper Promise is a fantasy novel and is brilliant. The characters are recognisably fantasy enough to feel immediately comfortable while being different enough to feel fresh. Most importantly I liked them and cared for them, even when they screw up. And they screw up quite often.

There’s magic, gods, monsters, taverns, pirates, knights, epic battles, dungeons, mysterious caves, wise women, mystics, demons, cannibals, dragons, tons of bad guys, an abundance of scars and a mild hint of sauce.*

The writing is pacey and fresh, funny at times but also serious enough to feel tense as well.

Above all, this is fun**. The Copper Promise is not a short book but I tore through it, often muttering to myself things like ‘just one more chapter…’

I’m loath to say more as I hate spoilers*** and you can read blurbs for yourself. But go read it. It’s brilliant.

If you like GIF’s Andrew Reid’s review is also well worth checking out.

 

*Seriously, what’s not to like?

**I almost didn’t write this because the word fun is sometimes used for things that are rough round the edges. This isn’t. In fact the ‘fun’ here is well crafted and probably took a ton of work to achieve.

***Which is why I’m not a pro book reviewer. I’d suck.