Fight Like A Girl Launch

Jo_RozOn April 2nd, Joanne Hall and I hosted the launch of our latest collaboration, the anthology Fight Like A Girl. It took place in the Hatchet Inn, which is one of several pubs that can lay claim to being the oldest in Bristol (it’s complicated).

Being BristolCon, we don’t believe in doing something easy when we could be doing something spektaklier, so with a little help from the Foundation fund and a lot of help from our friends (Hi John Bav!), we ran what attendees were soon calling a ‘mini-con’, with readings from contributors Lou Morgan, Sophie E Tallis and Danie Ware, whose idea it all was, and a panel discussion hosted with exquisite expertise by the lovely Cheryl Morgan. We had demonstrations of sword fighting from School of the Sword ladies Lizzie Rose and Fran Terminiello (also a contributor) and the astonishing Aikido black belt Juliet E. McKenna (Also a contributor.)

Cheryl has audio from the mixing deskfran and will no doubt be producing a high-quality podcast of the readings and panel in due course. I had video from my iPhone, supplemented by clips from Pete Sutton and photos from Sophie (cheers!), and have produced a lo-fi highlights reel of the afternoon’s entertainment, which you can view on YouTube here.

Huge thanks to everyone who helped make both the book and the event happen!


Shout-out: The Art of Forgetting

This week I have mostly been reading The Art of Forgetting Book One – Rider by Joanne Hall.

I have two disclaimers to make before I talk about the book. Firstly, Jo’s a mate, and I’m a fan of her work. Secondly, I’ve been ill this week. The kind of ill that totally stops you enjoying life, without actually promising to end it for you. So a page turner of a fantasy adventure story what just what I needed. That and a lot of ice-cream.

Rider is much more than a great bit of escapism, though. Jo writes high fantasy with a straightforward, earthy humour. Her characters face difficult emotional challenges as well as physical ones; there are more inner demons than outer ones. She doesn’t gloss over the harshness of a pre-industrial, wartime existence, and neither does she fetishize it.

The novel is set in the same world as Jo’s New Kingdom trilogy, and takes up the story of Rhodri, a child found wandering in the woods and raised by villagers who mistrust his uncannily perfect memory. An outsider, he is persecuted until the day the King’s Third ride through the village and change his life almost completely.

Rhodri’s talent is of course also a curse, as he is unable to forget the horrors he sees. The bullying doesn’t stop when he leaves the village, and he makes his own mistakes along the path towards adulthood. 

Rider is to a large extent a coming-of-age story, and sex and gender are important features. Jo handles these deftly, ducking genre clichés and handling heavy issues with great lightness of touch. As we see Rhodri make both discoveries and blunders, we develop an understanding of this conflicted young man, and personally I found him very sympathetic, with just enough darkness to make him interesting. He’s loyal – when he’s not blinded by his own passions. He’s honest – when he’s not breaking under the pressure of other people’s expectations. He’s ambitious, and one gets the feeling that ill things may come of it.

The book isn’t out until June, but you can pre-order it now from Kristell Ink. You can find out more here: or on Jo’s blog:


Bad Monkey + Fairies = ?

This week sees the launch of Gareth L. Powell’s hotly anticipated monkey trouble novel, Ack-Ack Macaque. Gareth will be doing readings at Forbidden Planet in London on Weds 12th December, and at FP in Bristol on 15th December. Drop in if you can – Gareth is getting rather good at this public speaking malarkey, and the monkey is a hoot (though you might want to wear something sturdy. And washable.) More details of the launch events are here.

Also on the 15th in Bristol is a fairy-themed reading event: Fairies at the Bottom of the Market, which features fair folk Scott Lewis, Joanne Hall and Emma Newman reading fae-related stories. Any proceeds from the event go to Above and Beyond, the same charity we supported with the Colinthology.

This one takes place at Lunartique in St. Nicholas Market at 14:30, so you can do this one AND the moneky. Hurrah! Pass me a pistol, a bottle of Scotch and a really thick book for flattening fairies in.