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3 Ways to Cope with the Ending of PALADERO Book 3

We’re coming up to the third month of release for Paladero: The Edge of the World, the third book in the Paladero series, and without wanting to spoil anything I think it’s safe to say there may be some readers out there who could be feeling a little vexed by the book’s climax and impatiently awaiting the release of Book 4.

The good news is that I’m hard at work writing the fourth book, titled The Champions of the Blade. The bad news is that we’re still some time away from it being published. So in the meantime, for those particularly frustrated readers, I humbly suggest the following:

1 – Plan a Return Trip to Thunder Realm.

If The Edge of the World left you feeling a bit blindsided, you may want to go back to the beginning and read the series through again to see what you might have missed. You could be surprised by some of the clues that were hiding in plain sight.

2 – A Problem Shared is a Problem Halved.

Know somebody who might enjoy reading Paladero? You can lure them into a trap by recommending it to them. Then, when they get to the end of Book 3, bam! Just like that you have someone you can share your frustration with and turn to for mutual support, not to mention discussion about where the story may go from here. Remember: this doesn’t need to be isolated to IRL. You can always take to Goodreads to articulate your thoughts, feelings or howls of consternation. Those who provide a 5-star rating have free rein to express themselves however they see fit (though make sure to use those spoiler tags, of course!)

3 – Read, Watch (or Play) These Other Amazing Stories.

Finally, the best way to wait for a new entry in a series you’re enjoying is by finding other things to enjoy in the meantime. To help with that, may I heartily recommend the following:

Books That Inspired PALADERO –

Emily Rodda’s Rowan of Rin series.

Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

Diana Wynne Jones’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series.

James Gurney’s Dinotopia.

JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and CS Lewis’s Narnia series.

And (only for older readers) John Marsden’s Tomorrow series and Stephen King’s The Dark Tower.

 

Books For Those Who Enjoyed PALADERO –

Jeremy Lachlan’s Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds.

Rhiannon Williams’s Ottilie Colter and the Narroway Hunt.

Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone.

Richard Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice series.

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and Magnum Chase series.

 

Film & TV –

I think Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings more or less goes without saying, but some of the other cinematic influences on Paladero include:

Hayao Miyzaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle.

The Legend of Korra, one of my favourite TV shows (particularly due to the worldbuilding and character development).

 

Video Games –

Never let anyone tell you that playing video games is a waste of time – they certainly provided me with a lot of inspiration. The Final Fantasy series in particular was a big influence on Paladero, which I think will become apparent with the release of Book 4. Skyrim was likewise fundamental in the development of the series, though again I can only recommend it for older readers. Other games to try would be Shadow of the Colossus and Journey.

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And there you have it. Hopefully some of these suggestions will help in the wait for Paladero Book 4. That said, please feel free to get in touch with me either through Twitter or via the Contact page above if you have any questions, comments or theories you’d like to share. Admonishments will also be accepted, though less readily replied to. I have a book to write, after all.

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PALADERO: The Edge of the World

It’s been a long time in the making but it’s finally here!

May I present to you the cover for Paladero Book 3, The Edge of the World

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Thank you once again to the incredible team at Hardie Grant Egmont and to artist extraordinaire Jeremy Love for producing such a stunning cover! I can’t wait to see how it looks sitting alongside the first two Paladero books once it’s released on July 1st.

And in the meantime, I’ll be buried deep in line edits. Send as much tea and sympathy as you can muster.

Heroes, Muses & Perfect Strangers

It took me about a week to realise that the subject header of my last blog post was a Perfect Strangers reference. I could have gone with something highbrow and literary. But no. I went with Balki and Coosin Larry.

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But that wasn’t the important part. The important part was that Paladero: The City of Night Neverending was out and available to buy/borrow/definitely not steal. And it even continues to be so!

Reviews are just starting to come through now. Waiting for feedback on a book is always a tricky time for any writer. You don’t dare trust the good reviews, you feel exposed by the bad ones. Either way, you try not to let them sway you too much.

That said, the review that’s probably meant the most to me so far has come from Tina Healy of Gender Diversity Australia (or GenDA for short). Keen-eyed readers will note that Tina is thanked in the book’s acknowledgements after she very generously went to the effort of reviewing the unpublished manuscript to ensure that the depiction of transgender characters was handled sensitively.

In asking her to do this, I provided her with a comprehensive listing of all the relevant sections of the manuscript to use as a shortcut. But she went the extra mile of reading the whole thing to ensure she had a full understanding of the story, and then went the extra extra mile of providing the following review:

For trans people, being trans is a major influence in our lives, but not the whole story. Most of us just want to live our lives in the shade of gender with which we identify. Steven Lochran is a master storyteller. He has written a gripping fantasy story which includes a transgender character, with an amazing insight and feel for the lived experience of trans and gender diverse people. His exploration of the impact families have on the lives of trans people touched so many memories for me. I know they will resonate with others in my community.

It’s great to see stories being written where gender diversity is a part of the context of the story, rather than the focus. Thanks so much for the opportunity to review “Paladero Book 2”. I recommend it.

Now to be perfectly honest, as proud as I am of that review, I was hesitant in posting it. The last thing I want is for anyone to think I’m trying to pat myself on the back. But Tina went to the effort of reading the book and writing this critique, and I thought it was only right that I share it.

Because it was Tina who was one of the main inspirations behind the book and its inclusion of a transgender storyline. She and I met when she was first starting to publicly transition, and I found her openness and courage inspirational. At the same time, I remember reading articles and seeing news reports about transgender kids taking their own first steps in transitioning, and it led me to think about where those kids could find representation in fiction. After all, as fellow Hardie Grant Egmont author Melissa Keil wrote in an article for The Guardian:

Everyone deserves to see themselves as a hero – to see their life, their reality, in all its complexity, reflected in their books. For young people, at a time in their lives that can be isolating, and fraught with questions of body image, sexuality and identity, this representation can be vital.

Thankfully, the issue of representation – while still far from perfect – has seen some improvement over the last few years. Traditionally speaking, however, transgender characters (let alone transgender heroes) have been few and far between.

In 2013, when I was first outlining what would become Paladero, the major examples that immediately sprang to my mind were Viola from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night and Mulan, both of whom were forced to present as male rather than personally identifying that way. I also thought of Grant Morrison’s version of DC Comic’s Shining Knight character, who was originally conceived in the Mulan mold as a girl masquerading as a boy to fit into a patriarchal society, and only later evolved under writer Paul Cornell into being a true transgender character.

My idea was to have a character who identified as transgender from the start, and that I would use the inspiration I found from talking with Tina as a guide in achieving that. The challenge was to present this character in a pseudo-medieval setting without any of the modern terminology we have to discuss these issues in a sensitive fashion. It was here that I relied on the insights of sensitivity readers, with Sally Goldner of Transgender Victoria very generously helping with The Riders of Thunder Realm. But I was keen to get Tina’s insights, given the role she’d played in setting me on this path.

Unfortunately I had lost touch with Tina in the intervening period. But I didn’t need to worry about that for too long, as she had gone on to become an active campaigner in the LGBTIQ community, which enabled me to reach out to her. And she was just as kind and generous as I remembered her being, happily agreeing to read the manuscript and offer her insights.

So for all this – from the initial inspiration she provided through to the feedback and encouragement – I wanted to take the opportunity to publicly thank Tina, to highlight the fantastic work she’s been doing, and to let those readers out there struggling with their own issues of identity and acceptance: you are not alone. There are places you can go, people you can talk to, and a thousand unending chances that tomorrow will be better. You can be the hero that you’re looking for.

Now, having gotten quite serious there, I think it’s only fair that I leave you with the thing that’s been whirling around in my head ever since writing the intro to this post…

 

Because if I have to suffer with this, then so do you.

Paladero Book 2 is out, and so we do the dance of joy!

It’s here! After months of waiting, it’s finally here!

Captain America: Civil War is available to stream on Netflix Australia! Yaaaaay!

Oh. And also.

PALADERO: THE CITY OF NIGHT NEVERENDING! (Or ‘Paladero Book 2’ for all you googlers out there).

This requires many gifs of celebration!

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Ugh. I think I have motion sickness now. Sorry about that.

But yes, the book is out, free, escaped its author’s clutches to be purchased, borrowed, and most of all read. I hope very much that you like it.

And to celebrate, Goodreads is hosting a competition to win your very own copy. This will be open to Australian and New Zealand readers through the month of February. I wish you good fortune, and may the odds be ever in your favour.

I’ll be back to post more about the book very soon, but in the meantime I’ll be working on the manuscript for Book 3. After all, there’s no rest for the wicked … or even the wishy-washy!

Happy reading.

Paladero Book 2 Cover Reveal (Excited exclamation mark!)

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly six months now since the release of The Riders of Thunder Realm. A lot has happened in that time, the least of which includes the book receiving some very generous reviews. The biggest thing – for my wife and me at least – was the birth of our son, Max.

Max is our first child, and we had all these ideas of how he would arrive in the world. He defied almost all of them, with an emergency c-section leading to a week spent in the NICU. I’m happy and relieved to say that he’s in the best of health now, but there were times where that was much less certain, and they were the scariest of my life.

In the midst of Max’s dramatic arrival, I was also writing and editing the second book in the Paladero series. Meeting deadlines proved to be a challenge between hospital visits, meeting with doctors and eventually making it home with a newborn to look after, but somehow those tricky waters were navigated and the manuscript was delivered.

And even more exciting than that – the cover reveal! This happened at the Centre for Youth Literature’s 2017 YA Showcase, as presented by my fantastic publisher Marisa Pintado. Not being very good at ze tweets, I tried to play it off like I was unaware of what was going on, with the intention of turning around and being all ‘Whoop! There it is!’ when the image finally dropped.

Mostly, though, I think I came off a bit bewildered, reinforcing to myself that I need to develop a new tweeting style that less resembles a certain spray-tanned autocrat’s; declarative statement, end on excited exclamation mark!

Ahem. I have, again, wandered off-topic. All of this is to say … Paladero Book 2 will be released in February 2017. It’s called The City of Night Neverending, which can be added to your Goodreads TBR list here. And this is its absolutely stunning cover, as once again provided by dynamo illustrator Jeremy Love:

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And to do you one better, here’s the blurb:

Joss has always wanted to become a paladero, and now he finally has that chance. But before he can start training, the town is attacked by vicious pyrates who abduct half the villagers, including Joss’s best friend Edgar … and then vanish into thin air.

Joss has no choice but to forge alliances with merchant captains, merfolk and ancient creatures from the deep in an effort to rescue his fellow prentice – all while risking the paladero training he’s worked so hard for. But the stakes are even higher than he knows. Joss’s rescue mission will set him on a crash course with his own tragic past, and a mysterious figure he’s long-thought dead …

I still have the original pitch document for the Paladero series saved on my computer, where the plot for this book was originally allocated as belonging to the third entry in the series. The story demanded that it be moved forward, and I began writing it at the start of 2016, a year that would turn out to be horrible in so many ways and the absolute best in one very particular instance.

The thing that strikes me most is how a book that has so much to do with fathers and sons would be getting finalised, entirely by coincidence, just as I was becoming a father to a son.

Accordingly, I’ve dedicated it to Max. Hopefully he’ll get the chance to read it one day, and maybe even enjoy it. If he’s not too embarrassed by how mushy his dad is about him.

Happy holidays, everyone. Merry Christmas, if you celebrate it. And may the new year find you trying new things, making new friends, discovering new places, reading life-changing books, and dreaming the biggest and best dreams.

End on excited exclamation mark!