2016: Top Ten of Everything!


Everyone else is doing it… if that’s not a good enough reason for me to do it too, then I don’t know what is. No, YOU’RE too impressionable. And so’s your mum.

In 2016 a massive bunch of cool things happened. Here’s ten of them! (In no particular order.)

Top 10… GOOD THINGS

  1. I had the privilege of beta reading the finished first drafts of two immensely talented friends: Kareem, and Sadir. (Thanks for making my own efforts feel so inadequate in contrast, guys…)
  2. I joined Marc Aplin & Jennie Ivins and the rest of the Fantasy-Faction team as a contributor!
  3. I released Danse Macabre in paperback on Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
  4. I’ve had the absolute pleasure of participating in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off as part of the Fantasy-Faction judging panel!
  5. I’ve made a fuckton of new friends via social media, including readers, writers, and all-round beautiful weirdos. (You know who you are…)Dyrk Ashton inspirational quote
  6. I contributed two articles to Tor.com – and got paid to do so!My First Article for Tor.com
  7. I joined Reddit, and had an epic time as Writer of the Day on r/Fantasy!
  8. Danse Macabre picked up a lot of momentum, and now has 30+ reviews on Goodreads – including write-ups from the likes of T.O. Munro, G.R. Matthews, T.L. Greylock, Booknest.eu, Hobgoblin Reviews, Observant Raven Reviews, Dyrk Ashton, Richard Ford, J.P. Ashman, and Grimdark Alliance!
  9. I finally met Marc Turner, one of my favourite modern fantasy authors, in person – as well as Joe Abercrombie, Tom Lloyd, Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch!Bear-Lloyd-Hughes Subliminal Selfie
  10. I finished writing two short stories and several poems, and am finally back on track with writing my novel thanks to the encouragement of friends (not to mention the liver-shaving daredevil antics of that fellah Benedict Patrick, aka. Ben Paddy, aka. the Rogue with the Brogue).

A fuller rundown of my 2016 antics can be found here. But now…

Top Ten… BOOKS READ

Now, on to my top 10 reads of 2016! I briefly reviewed my reading year here, but here’s the Official Definitive Top Ten:

Top Ten… ARTICLES & REVIEWS

These were, according to WordPress, the ten most popular posts of the year:

10 – Janny Wurts & Raymond E. Feist, ‘Daughter of the Empire’ (review)
Daughter of the Empire cover image

9 – Mark Lawrence, ‘The Wheel of Osheim’ (review)mark-lawrence-wheel-of-osheim-cover

8 – 2016: The Worst of Times, the Best of Tomes

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong

7 – Steven Erikson, ‘Gardens of the Moon’ (review)steven-erikson-gardens-of-the-moon-cover

6 – T. Frohock, ‘Los Nefilim’ (review)t-frohock-los-nefilim-cover

5 – Review: Jeff Salyards, ‘Veil of the Deserters’veil-salyards-bloodsounder

4 – Daniel Abraham, ‘The Dagger and the Coin’ (series review)The Dagger & the Coin Quintet by Daniel Abraham

3 – Self-published authors and the SPFBO: revitalising SFF
Ragnarok Covers: The Amra Thetys series by Michael McClung

2 – Steven Erikson, ‘The Bonehunters’ (review)

'The Bonehunters' by Steven Erikson

And the most popular by far:

1 – A Beginner’s Guide to Malazan Characters: ‘Gardens of the Moon’

'Silanah vs Raest': artwork by Shadaan

‘Silanah vs Raest’: artwork by Shadaan

For what it’s worth, my personal favourites are the Self-Publishing/SPFBO article, the Los Nefilim review, and of course my interview with epic fantasy author John Gwynne (as well as my article about why his books are awesome).

Now for the final Top 10 list…

Top Ten… WANT TO READ IN 2017

In addition to the gorgeous-looking titles on my backlist, here’s a few upcoming releases I’m looking forward to:

And there it is! 2016 has been miserable in many ways, but in terms of reading it’s been ace. Bring on more of the same in 2017!

Happy new year!

Giggles & Gollancz: a subliminal evening (feat. cactigraphs)


Last week I went to my first ever (EVER!) author signing. In case you missed my over-excited social media posts on the subject, the event in question was a celebration of three awesome authors – specifically, the tenth anniversary of their debut novels from Gollancz.

In case you missed my overexcited social media posts...

Gillian Redfearn (who, by the way, is just lovely) shepherded Gollancz authors Tom Lloyd (The Stormcaller, Moon’s Artifice, Stranger of Tempest), Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and Joe Abercrombie (First Law, Shattered Sea) into Waterstones in Manchester, where fellow SFF author Elizabeth Bear (Range of Ghosts, Karen Memory) chaired a discussion panel.

“My name’s Elizabeth Bear… and they gave me wine.”

The Bear set the tone for the entire evening: her questions brimmed with intelligence, articulacy and humour in a way that ensured every minute of the discussion was lively and engaging.

Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear

If I’m honest, I was surprised (and delighted) by how relaxed and entertaining the panel actually was. Not only was it interesting, but it also made me laugh (a lot): the camaraderie and gentle ribbing between the Bear and the boys was just perfect, as were the self-deprecating comments about the role of writers.

“We’re like batman, but  sad and immobile” – Scott Lynch

Now, in the past friends have assured me that Abercrombie is a cool guy. But there’s no way of properly appreciating the bloke’s natural charisma (or physical height!) until you’ve met him in person.

The Abercrombie-Hughes Special Edition Subliminal Selfie

The same goes for the others. While I’d enjoyed one or two brief Twitter conversations with Tom Lloyd in the past, it turns out that talking pendulous tangerine testicles is even more fun when accompanied by real-life sniggering.

Tom Lloyd

The panel taught me plenty of new things about the authors and their books. For instance, did you know that Tom Lloyd originally began writing a novel in order to prove that he could do it better than a friend? Or that Scott Lynch intended for Jean (Tannen, of the Gentleman Bastards series) to be pronounced the French-sounding way?

“Have a smile for breakfast, you’ll be shitting joy by lunch” – Joe Abercrombie

Once the panel was over, the queuing commenced. Tom’s queue was respectable, and Joe’s even more so, but Scott’s was just insane. After meeting Tom and Joe (and, of course, ensuring that they each drew their own version of a happy cactus whilst signing my books), I ventured to the booth behind them where the Bear was relaxing on her own (and heckling the others, naturally).

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I’d worried that bringing one of Elizabeth’s books to sign was a bit presumptuous… but she was delighted I’d asked, and we immediately got chatting about all kinds of geeky stuff. (She even complimented me on my tattoo!) After a little while, Tom came over to join us too, and my latte-laden self was ridiculously excited that it had inadvertently found itself in a sort of  SFF VIP lounge.

Bear-Lloyd-Hughes Subliminal Selfie

Then Joe came over too, and the four of us talked idly while we waited for Scott to work his way through the slowly-dwindling autograph line. When he was done, the Bear summoned him over (with all the teasing authority and mutual affection of a soon-to-be wife) to sign and cactigraph my Locke Lamora, which I think he (and the others) did a stellar job of.

Signed and Cactigraphed Books by Tom Lloyd, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie

Finally, we traipsed out into the night and waved goodbye, the experience having reinforced my pride at being part of the amazing SFF community.

The entire evening has inspired me in so many ways, and not least because everything I’ve seen of the Gollancz team is friendly and positive. These four authors in particular – Tom Lloyd, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie – have given me a lot to aspire to, and I’m more determined than ever to work my arse off and become a professionally-published writer of their calibre.


Thanks a million to my wonderful sister, Rebecca, for accompanying me. I’d almost certainly have chickened out if I’d planned to go alone. Love you, Poops! <3