Tag Archives: Nigel Edwards

The Shell Cracked – Sneak Preview

My current project is called The Shell Cracked (at least, that’s my working title) which sounds a bit Agatha Christie-ish but is far removed from cosy sleuthing in middle England!

This is (will be) the sequel to Shun House, and is (will be) just as dark and wicked.  Those of you who have read Shun House will know exactly what I mean by that.  For you loyal readers, and those who are not (yet) here is the opening chapter of The Shell Cracked, to give you a sample of what lied in wait:

 

1.      PATIENCE

Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.

King Richard II, King Richard II: V, v

 

Five thousand years.

To a mountain bearing the weight of the heavens, such a number is inconsequential. Say instead fifty thousand, or five hundred thousand and the mountain may notice the passage of time. But five thousand? That is next to nothing.

To a mouse scuttling and sniffing the air, hugging the skirting board in its quest for food, twitching ears for signals of death from cat or rat, five thousand is a number outside of reckoning, a count of fifteen hundred or more generations. Five minutes or five thousand years, neither is a measure to be comprehended.

To that which dwells beneath the Sierra Gilillo, five thousand years is time enough.

Time to remember.

To fester.

To grow.

 

From the glens and ravines of the Sierra de Cazorla, a sprig of streams emerge, fed by seasonal rains and secret, subterranean pools. They roam the surface world, seeking each other out, converging as a single waterway that strikes out northward through the Guadalquivir valley. The Rio Kertis holds this course for nine leagues before changing direction, diverting west and then southwest, gradually swelling with rills and runnels orphaned from the surrounding countryside. Spreading wide in a majestic meander, she brings fertility to fields and pastures until, at last, she reaches the sea. There she divests herself of her charge, completing the cycle, returning her waters to the Madre del Agua at the Golfo de Cádiz: el mar Mediterráneo.

Rivers, though, are not the only passages to lead away from the mountains. Beneath the sierras, diverse tunnels weave a Spartan mesh through the Iberian subterrain. Most lead nowhere, crushed by the weight of their world, their paths blocked by rock falls, or petering out to the point where only the smallest of organisms can delve. Others tumble blindly into deep pits, stygian sinkholes overflowing with poison. Some are unnavigable conduits for turbulent streams, or channels for the molten vomit spewed up by Mother Earth. Many never admit the kiss of fresh air, or allow the light of day to infiltrate their darkness.

But there are some that do have purpose, some that do follow a definite course, a handful that do broach the surface to secretly link distant parts by invisible threads.

And there are a very few that lead directly to a place known to the people of the region as el Estómago de la Mundo, lying deep within Gilillo, the highest peak of the Cazorlas, a cavern from which a delving of shafts and drifts extrude intestine-like, a piceous interweaving of catacombs.

No one has ever claimed to have seen this place. Not one of the few that sought to find it ever returned from their quest, but all know where it lies, and what dwells within. Such names they have for her: el Bebedor de las Almas, el Terror de la Noche, el Murmullo de la Muerte.

There she rests, brooding in her nest of husks, shrouded by the darkness, barely moving, ever watchful, nursing a hunger that never ends. Her countless children are all gone, sacrificed to that hunger or fled away from her terror. No other prey comes near and now she feeds off all she has left: her memories, black and hard and cold.

How did she come there? What drove her to such isolation, such loneliness?

Fear. And five thousand years of that fear has fixed her within her atramentous tomb, nevermore to see the light of day. Until now.

Half a millennia has passed and in all that time she has cursed and plotted and dreamed and planned. She is perhaps the last, the final incarnation of her race, the uttermost terror of her kind, the one who will mete out retribution to those who vanquished her kin from the world.

But now a time is come when she will return to the world that rejected her. Her web has reached out in all directions, filaments entangling bruit and report. Now she knows where they are. Whispers and rumours have reached her from the far north, soft-spoken tales of dragons, the Nemesis and bane of her race. So north she will go. Instinct will guide her, hate will feed her, venom will drive her.

It is time to prepare.

One last time her bloated abdomen heaves. One last time she evicts the eggs from deep within, her final brood. A hundred soft sacs spill out onto the silken bed she has created for them. She spins a blanket to keep them secure and now there is nothing more she can do. The next generation will survive or they will perish but she has no more thought for their welfare. One thought only remains.

Vengeance!

 

I’m aiming to see this published in 2017 so please be patient.  But do give me feedback on this opening, if you would like to.

 

Best Wishes and Happy Reading,

Nigel.

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‘Last Star’ in ‘Looking Landwards’

With the impending crises of climate change, scarcity of water, dwindling energy reserves and spiraling global populations, the effective management of our land and the food it produces has never been more relevant. Established in 1938 by a small group of far-seeing and enthusiastic engineers and agriculturalists, the Institution of Agricultural Engineers provides a professional nexus for the scientists, technologists, engineers, and managers working in the many and varied forms of land-based industry.

In 1988 the IAgrE marked its 50th anniversary with a publication that considered the changing face of farming and agricultural engineering over the previous half century. In 2013, to mark their 75th anniversary, they have chosen to commission a book that looks forward at what the future might hold. To help them achieve this, they approached NewCon Press.

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Looking Landwards represents NewCon Press’ first ever open submissions anthology. We have been overwhelmed by the response, receiving submissions not only from within the UK but also from the USA, Australia, mainland Europe, Africa, and Asia; from professional writers and would-be writers, from scientists and engineers who are actively involved in dealing with the book’s themes to people who have simply been inspired by them. Looking Landwards features the very best of these stories. Twenty-three works of science fiction and speculation that dare to look to the future and examine what lies ahead for farming, for agricultural engineering and for all of us.

Contents:

  1. Introduction by Andy Newbold and Chris Whetnall of the IAgrE
  2. The Blossom Project – M Frost
  3. Contraband – Terry Martin
  4. When Shepherds Dream of Electric Sheep – Sam Fleming
  5. Inversion Centre – Darren Goossens
  6. Ode to an Earthworm – Gareth D Jones
  7. A Touch of Frost – Renee Stern
  8. The World Coyote Made – Jetse de Vries
  9. Earthen – Alicia Cole
  10. Soul Food – Kim Lakin-Smith
  11. Charlie’s Ant – Adrian Tchaikovsky
  12. Cellular Level – J E Bryant
  13. My Oasis Tower – Holly Ice
  14. Throw Back – Gill Shutt
  15. Mary on the Edge – Steven Pirie
  16. Landward – Den Patrick
  17. Long Indeed Do We Live… – Storm Constantine
  18. Tractor Time – Kate Wilson
  19. Veggie Moon – Neal Wooten
  20. Wheat – Kevin Burke
  21. Blight – Dev Agarwal
  22. Black Shuck – Henry Gee
  23. A Season – Rebecca J. Payne
  24. The Last Star – Nigel Edwards
  25. About the Authors

Released 28th October 2013, Looking Landwards will be published as:

A5 paperback (ISBN 978-1-907069-59-8)   Price:   £11.99 (UK), $20.99 (USA)

A numbered, limited edition hardback, each copy signed by all the contributing authors:

(ISBN: 978-1-907069-58-1)   Price:   £29.99

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LAST STAR

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

Forthcoming publication from NewCon Press, featuring my story: Last Star

A nice email arrived the other day saying that my latest story has been accepted for publication in an anthology called Looking Landwards, to be published (paperback + hardback signed edition, date to be announced) by NewCon Press.

To give you a little foretaste, here’s a very short extract of my contribution – I hope you like it:

Goosegirl broke the lamb’s legs by placing a foot on them one at a time, taking a firm handhold then pulling, sharply.  One, two, three, four.  The animal had stopped bleating so she figured it was probably dead.  Four years after first being introduced to the necessity of such things, the work no longer made her sick.

A few well-practiced slices with the blade she always kept so sharp it could cut through butter – whatever that was; something the Olders talked about when they reminisced, along with chocolate, paraffin, and sugar.  Goosegirl figured butter must have been really hard and tough to crack, even though Great Gramps said he used to eat it.  She assumed he must have had really strong teeth.

Now the woolly coat was almost ready to be stripped from the flesh.  One long, circular stroke to separate the body skin from the head skin and then…

Baa!

Goosegirl looked up.  Another lamb was standing pathetically in the straw, wondering where its mother was, where the next meal of warm milk would come from.

“She ain’t around no more,” Goosegirl said.  “Storm done for her, just like for this one.  But don’t you worry.  You’ll soon be dressed extra warm for your new momma.”

Nearby, a ewe tethered to a stanchion started bleating, calling for her own lost newborn. Could she smell the blood, Goosegirl wondered?  Did she recognize the scent of her offspring?  Or was she unaware that her baby was close, dead, ready to be divested of its dermal layers?

“You need a lambkin to love,” Goosegirl told her as she ripped the fleece free of the raw carcass and quickly dressed the orphan.

“There.  Maybe you ain’t so pretty with all those bloody smears, but your new momma will take to you, I promise.”  She shepherded the lamb across the floor to where the prospective foster parent was waiting, then watched while the bond formed, the youngster beginning to suckle.  Orphans didn’t survive long on their own out in the pastures, not in the harsh, late winter.  This one was lucky that its own mother had been valuable prime stock, and had therefore been tracked by Manager, the Farm’s overseer, who’d directed the rescue.

After cleaning and sheathing the knife, Goosegirl collected up her bulky, one-piece fur-lined weatherproofs and clambered inside.  She pulled the fresh meat in with her; that would help keep the smell of blood out of the wind – no sense in attracting hunters on the trek back to the house.  A balaclava with attached snow-goggles was next, and then the hood and muffler.  Moving around with all that gear on wasn’t easy, but this was essential preparation before stepping outside.  With a final glance towards the new ‘family’ she opened the barn doors.

The blizzard howled in.

Best Wishes,
Nigel.

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FantasyCon 2012 – the result

So along I went and actually sold a couple of Badger’s Waddle and The Cookie Tin Collection.

It all seemed to have been pretty well organised.  The fantasy Con people were friendly and the hotel was ok-ish (one of my friends had stayed overnight and reported hot water – which would have been good if it hadn’t been dripping from the ceiling light in his en suite!)

Our book launch wasn’t, I must admit, a tremendous success.  Apparently there’d been a bit of a party at the hotel the night before (I guess that’s what conventions are all about, really) with a 4 AM bed-time, and our launch slot, being the first event the next morning was, inevitably, less than ideal.  That, plus the fact that neither Paul (fellow launcher) nor I are household names, meant we kind of got bypassed as we sat at our little tables with piles of books and pens at the ready.  Some folks did stop to say hi and chat a while, and to them I really am very grateful.  Not all of you actually bought anything, but in these cash-strapped days I’m not surprised that you budgeted to purchase known brands, rather than try a taster of something new.

Anyhoo, I’d never done anything like that before but I’m glad I did.  Would I go to another?  Yes, I probably would, though I wouldn’t go for just the morning.  For one thing the price of casual parking in Brighton is ridiculous – I was there for 3 hours and was charged a fee of £15.00 (fifteen pounds stirling) for the privilege!  I’d also want to spend a bit more time getting to know some of the other visitors and soak in a bit more of the atmosphere, and maybe learn a thing or two from the old hands at the writing game.

So, worth going for the experience if not the sales.  Maybe it’ll be better next time.

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FantasyCon 2012 ROCKS!

In particular, the good folks who manage the event, and especially STEPHEN JONES!

The saga so far…

I have a book (Badger’s Waddle) that is being launched on Sunday morning at FantasyCon 2012 in Brighton.

BUT, I hadn’t realised I needed a membership pass to gain entry, and I didn’t find that out until yesterday evening.

THEN I discovered that the register-by date had expired, which meant I wouldn’t be able to attend.

SO, I became desperately depressed and cheesed off that my 5 minutes of (very low-key) fame was to be denied.

ANYWAY, this morning I sent an email to FC2012, in hope rather than expectation, asking if there was any way I could get a pass to attend.

AND lo and behold, I got responses from the good folks at FC2012, the very last of which (from the Stephen mentioned at the top of this post) confirmed that I would be allowed into the venue for the duration of the book launch on Sunday!

Regrettably it doesn’t help the stalwarts who wanted to come along with me, and to them I offer my apologies and commiserations.

BUT, a very BIG and sincere THANK YOU to STEPHEN and ALL at the FC2012!!!

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Irritations and Disappointments

So, everything is looking good for the book launch at FantasyCon 2012 – except I won’t be there.

It turns out that you have to be a member of Fantasy Con in order to attend.  I didn’t know.

Maybe I’m too naive.  I really did think that, as it was my book being launched (amidst loads of others, of course) that I could just turn up and enjoy my 15 minutes of (extremely minor and limited) fame.  After my publisher told me about the launch, I should have checked all the details on the Fantasy Con website.  But I didn’t. Then, yesterday, my wife suddenly asked if there was an entrance fee.  I didn’t know.  My publisher hadn’t mentioned it.  He hadn’t thought to mention it, and I hadn’t thought to ask.  So I emailed him yesterday evening and today when I got in from work I read his reply.

Oh well, life is full of irritations and disappointments and this is just one more.

So if you were planning to go along to say hello and maybe pick up a signed copy, I’m afraid you’re going to be disappointed.  Of course, if you have a membership you can still go along, and I would encourage you to do so.  But I will only be there in spirit.

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FantasyCon Is Fast Approaching

One week to go to FantasyCon at Brighton (UK), and I confess I’m beginning to get a little bit excited.  Of course, being a realist I know full well that my slot will get very little attention, so I’m not expecting to see hoards flocking, but if even half a dozen turn up I’ll consider it a success!

There is a let down, however.  The artist who was supposed to delivery the book cover has failed to deliver, which is a real shame.  I’ve seen a sample of his other work which I thought looked pretty good, and I also liked his preliminary sketches which, I thought, captured the surreal and wacky atmosphere of Badger’s Waddle.  But there you are.  I don’t know why he wasn’t able to deliver.  Maybe he had a genuine reason, a family issue or something, I just don’t know. Whatever, it is disappointing.  However, Greyhart Press wisely had a standby book cover just in case, so at least there’ll be something to dress the pages in!

If you can make it, the publisher is offering a discount on published price (and no, I don’t actually know what that will be) such that you can buy 2 books for £10.00 – I don’t think you have to buy 2 of my books, though.  There will be others on sale, including the launch of Unauthorised Contact, a collection of dark SF by my good friend and peer Paul Melhuish.  So if you are coming to the event, why not by his offering and mine together?

See you there!

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Marmite

My publisher said something very wise: Badger’s Waddle is like Marmite – people with either love it or loath it.

So far, based on beta-reader feedback, most people seem to like it with very few expressing much criticism. And even then, the critic very kindly compared me with the great Terry Pratchett.

I can’t complain at that, can I?  🙂

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The Cookie Tin Collection

As well as launching Badger’s Waddle, the nice people at Greyhart Press have decided to release a compendium of some of my short stories under the title: The Cookie Tin Collection.  Do visit the Greyhart Press website, or better yet, come along to FANTASYCON 2012 at The Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton on Sunday 30th September, and join in the fun!

In the meantime, for your enjoyment here’s the cover from The Cookie Tin Collection.

A Compendiumof Short Stories

The Cookie Tin Collection

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Badger’s Waddle Book Launch

This is my first step on the first rung of the ladder of authorship! My publisher, Greyhart Press, has arranged for this to happen at FantasyCon 2012 (info@fantasycon2012.org) at the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton (UK).

The book is Badger’s Waddle, a collection of loosely interlinked tales from an English village. The artwork isn’t ready yet, so I can’t show you the cover.

Do visit Greyhart Press as they are looking for Beta readers, asking only that you write an Amazon revue after reading – a great way to get free books!

This small success got me wondering how I actually got around to writing Badger’s Waddle. I thought it might be useful to other budding authors, so here it is:

*****

How do you begin to write a story? There’s no single or simple answer. For me, the incentive begins when I notice a peculiarity in a television program or film, hear an odd turn of phrase on the radio, read a phrase in a book, or see something in the street that sparks a chain of thought.

Take Badger’s Waddle, for instance. My wife and I were on holiday in Cornwall several years ago.  We visited the Seal Sanctuary there, and one of the countryside walks around the site was named Badgers Waddle.

Badgers Waddle

Badgers Waddle

The name was perfect, being simultaneously mundane and twee, yet unusual and evocative. I was immediately struck by how ideal it was for the name of a rural village lost in the heart of England, the sort of idyll that the great Agatha Christie might have chosen as a setting for one of her mysteries.

So, now I had the initial impetus for the book – but what about plot? After all, a book title isn’t enough on its own – most people tend not to buy books just to read the title! There also has to be a story.

I think I’m quite lucky in that when I sit down at the keyboard and type out a word – any word – another one quickly follows without my having to give it much thought. I never plan anything I’m going to write – I like the surprise of finding out what’s happening by instalment.

Oddly, when I write I don’t feel like I’m creating something. Rather, it’s more akin to a sculptor with a block of stone. He or she chisels away all the bits of unwanted stone in order to expose the shape within, the shape that already exists in the block, but was previously hidden. That’s how it works for me. The story is already written, somewhere, and all I have to do is reveal it by getting rid of the empty spaces and nonsense that surround the real words in the tale.

Most books have a beginning, middle and end, but in the case of Badger’s Waddle, the plot isn’t entirely linear.  Instead, there is a series of events and happenings that are chained together by the commonality of locale, concepts, and relationships. For instance, characters or ideas introduced in one chapter then provide a link to a subsequent chapter. Additionally there is a running theme, the inventions of Crippin and Hare, that also lends continuity within the scope of the village (or hampton – a lovely term suggested by my good friend Ian Watson, who also helped out with the Latin!)

Equally, most books confine themselves to a single genre. Badger’s Waddle doesn’t. Fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and the supernatural all have a place within these pages. This wasn’t initially by intent, but as the book progressed so did my realisation that I wanted to write something that would have appeal to a cosmopolitan audience that might have  diverse tastes. Whether I have succeeded in that, I can’t say. That is entirely up to you, and I’d be delighted if you’d let my publisher know your thoughts. They may influence what and how I write in the future…

Happy Reading AND Writing!

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