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Workshops and Sonic Screwdrivers

Your absentee author here, dropping in to say ‘Hi’, ‘How are you?’, ‘You’re looking well, have you lost weight?’ and other assorted greetings and pleasantries.

It’s been a busy few weeks, mostly on the home life front (saw the National Theatre Live international broadcast of Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston in Macbeth, caught up with friends, did some writing, played more Arkham Origins than I should have, and so on).

If I was more on top of things, I’d have blogged before now about the fantastic event I had with George Ivanoff at Eltham Library. George has said many wonderful things about the Vanguard Prime series (in addition to writing the fantastic Gamers trilogy…am I saying fantastic too much? Does this make me the Ninth Doctor?…which any reader with even a passing interest in sci-fi/fantasy or video games should check out), so it was great getting the chance to meet and hold both a Q&A and workshop with him.

George Ivanoff with some other guy on the left.

George Ivanoff pictured with another author who’s totally jealous of his Sonic Screwdriver pen.

We kicked things off with a conversation about the Vanguard Prime series (including some questions about Red Alert and the nature of digital publishing) before guiding the audience through the process of creating a story. While George covered what’s involved in creating a cast of characters, I explained the process of coming up with story ideas and how to then structure your plot. With a little luck, there’ll be a budding writer or two who took away a new idea.

Thanks again to George for making the trip out to Eltham and taking the time to chat about Vanguard Prime. If you’ve since noticed that your sonic screwdriver pen has gone missing, it was the butler what done it.


Speaking of sonic screwdrivers, The Day of the Doctor aired while I was off not posting on this blog. As enjoyable as it was seeing Matt Smith and David Tennant on screen together, I have to admit to being one of the seemingly few people who were slightly disappointed by the episode. That said, it was a massive thrill just getting a peek at Peter Capaldi’s super-intense gaze, so I’m looking forward to the Christmas special and seeing 11 regenerate into 12, even if I’ll miss Matt Smith. Also; Sonic Screwdriver would make a great name for a drink at a geek-centric bar. So much so that I’m sure it already exists.


In addition to seeing the National Theatre Live broadcast of Kenneth Brannagh in Hamlet, my wife and I went to see George RR Martin speak during his recent visit to Melbourne. Being the obsessive nerd type, I’d already heard much of what he talked about through all the interviews with him I’d either already read or listened to in podcast form, but one of the things that struck me was how gracious he was. Appearing with Michelle Fairley, he’d often find ways to redirect questions that the audience had asked directly of him so that Michelle had a chance to answer as well. It was a small thing, but it was something I noticed, and it only added to my respect for him.


Listening to: Space Oddity by David Bowie

Reading: Fortunately, The Milk… by Neil Gaiman

Watching: Downton Abbey

Rampant Self-Promotion

If you go to the Australian iBookstore right now, you may see something that looks a little familiar…


Yep, that’s Vanguard Prime on the main page. No idea how long it’s going to be there, but it’s amazing nevertheless. Of course, this is to promote the free eBook novella Vanguard Prime: Red Alert, as well as the fact that the first two books in the series are available for digital download at $4.99. (Have I mentioned that yet? Oh. Yeah. I have. A lot. Sorry).

One thing I haven’t mentioned is the fact that Vanguard Prime: War Zone (which is officially set for release on August 29) has shipped early, so there’s a good chance your local bookseller may already have it in stock!

…What do you mean I already mentioned that on Twitter?

Okay, okay. Here’s something I’ve never, ever mentioned before. Penguin South Africa is publishing Vanguard Prime: Goldrush! Their website has the release date set as November 2012, but I’ve been told that’s a typo and it’ll actually be available in January 2014. So…yeah…hope you enjoyed that piece of previously unrelated news.

Oh! And here’s something else! War Zone now has its own page on Goodreads.  I’m mentioning that just in case, y’know, you happen to read the book and, I dunno, want to rate it and maybe a little somethin’ somethin’ review. Is all I’m saying.

Alright. I think that’s enough rampant self-promotion.

….for now, at least.

eBooks, Advance Copies & Kittens – Oh My!


After last week’s post about its release, Vanguard Prime: Red Alert contines to pop up all over the Internet. That includes Amazon, where you can download it free for your Kindle right now. But in addition to that, you can now also purchase the digital editions of Vanguard Prime: Goldrush and Vanguard Prime: Wild Card for the princely sum of $4.99 each! (Or $4.71 on Amazon, which I believe is US dollars, so the difference is negligable). 

Phew. That was a lot of links.

In more Vanguard Prime news – if you follow me on Twitter you may have already seen this image;



Yes, I’ve received the advance copies for Book 3, War Zone, which looks amazing. But more than that, this is probably the Vanguard Prime book that I’m happiest with; it has the shortest word count but the most amount of story. I know for a fact that it’s certainly got the most amount of characters.

In addition to meeting the VP universe’s Japanese superhero team, we’re also introduced to the Resurrectionists, a shadowy group of neohumans whose leader has a mysterious connection to Agent Alpha. The book is still a few weeks away from release (official release date is August 29) but I’m confident that Vanguard Prime fans will love it.

I hope.

If all of this hubbub wasn’t enough to keep me busy, last weekend my wife and I adopted two kittens. Yes, two. The theory was that they’d be company for each other while we’re out. And that’s how we’ve ended up with Joanie (named for Christina Hendricks’s character on Mad Men) and Edgar (the name the animal shelter gave him that’s stuck…despite my wanting to call him ‘Ziggy’).

Joanie never stops moving, and Edgar is so cowardly he’ll dart away the second you try to photograph him, so it’s rare to get a picture of them at the same time. This is one of my many vain attempts;


That’s Joanie in front, bullying up to the camera, while Edgar cowers in the background by his water bowl.

We’ve basically sacrificed our back spare bedroom to these two little balls of claws and fur. I’m covered in hair, scratches…and love. In fact, I’m currently writing this with Joanie on my lap (and my right thigh throbbing from where she’s clawed it). I’ve not yet tried writing a novel in this position, but I get the sense that I’m going to have to get used to it pretty fast.


She won’t take ‘No’ for an answer.

Money for Nothing and Your eBooks for Free!

It’s here! The moment has arrived!

After what feels like months of promising that it’s on its way, you can now download Red Alert, the free Vanguard Prime eBook that tells a whole new story featuring Goldrush and the whole Vanguard Prime team!


‘As Vanguard Prime takes the field… I wonder how I come across to all the soldiers gathered around us, dressed in the black-and-gold V-suit that looks as if somebody skinned a Lamborghini and made a lightweight spacesuit from its pelt.

Do I look like the others; a seasoned superhero ready to take on the world? Do I look like Sam Lee, AKA Goldrush, super-speedster extraordinaire? Or do I look like how I feel; a kid who’s swallowed a crate of fireworks and is counting down to the horrible moment when they explode?’

In this exciting free novella, the perfect introduction to the series, Vanguard Prime is responding to a Red Alert: a multi-billion-dollar research think tank has just been stormed by a supervillain strike force headed by the Red Death.

Each level of the centre is booby-trapped with bombs and the Red Death has handpicked an arch-rival (aka murderous psychopath) to neutralize each member of the VP team. But this is just the maze that Vanguard Prime has to run to find out what’s really at stake, where Red Death himself waits for an enormous machine to warm up on Sub-Level 4…

We’re currently putting together a page on the Penguin website to host the file, but in the meantime you can find it in the iBooks store (just search for ‘Vanguard Prime in iTunes and it should come up) or you can download it directly by clicking here and selecting the red ‘Slow Download’ option on the left.

It’s currently available only in ePub format, though most e-readers (if not all of them) should be able to open it. And if you don’t have an e-reader to load the file onto, try downloading Adobe Digital Editions to read it directly on your computer. If you have any problems accessing the file, let me know and I’ll pass the info onto Penguin.

I’ll also make sure to update you guys as more download sites come online. But in the meantime, I hope you enjoy reading this brand new adventure as much as I enjoyed writing it!

And if you’re a new reader to the Vanguard Prime universe – welcome aboard! You couldn’t have picked a better time as the third book in the series, War Zone, is set to be released in just over a month…ao watch this space as the updates will start coming thick and fast!

Happy reading.

UPDATE: A ‘Giveaways & Competitions’ page has been added to the website where you can now download Red Alert in PDF format. Enjoy!

Notes from a Wayward Writer


You may have noticed an awful lot of tumbleweeds rolling through this place lately. That is, if you’ve been back to check in at all, given how long it’s been between updates. The reason for that is that I’ve been away. Really away. In fact, for all of May my wife and I were overseas on our belated honeymoon.

Though our wedding was in December, we decided to delay our honeymoon until midway through the year. Partly it was because the weather would be better in the northern hemisphere. Mostly it was because organising a wedding, a house move and a honeymoon all at the same time seemed like a form of torture, exquisite though it may have been.

I had intended to blog while we were on the road and…well…didn’t. But now that I’m back I fully intend on getting back in the swing of things. I thought I’d start by offering you a little insight into our time on the road, which included a few days in Venice.

At events I’ve done, I’ve recommended to any aspiring writers in the audience to keep a journal handy, especially when travelling. That way, you can note down the things you see and use them for future reference. More than that, it’s simply a good writing exercise, forcing yourself to become more observant of the little details and find a creative way to encapsulate them.

My wife and I made a game of writing down what we’d seen each day, eventually ending up with three pages worth. I won’t bore you with all of the notes, but here are a few so you can get an idea of what I mean;

The smell of leather wafting from shopfronts. Masks in windows. Lime-green moss. Pinks, putties, pastels and creams. Green window shutters. Computer print-out tributes to the recently deceased. Ironwork bars spotted with rust. Waterbuses that slam against every stop. Squiggles of light in the black evening waters. The rattle of suitcases over stoney streets.

And so and so on. Some are more original than others, I’ll grant you. The thing to keep in mind is there’s no “right” or “wrong” way to do it. Just write down what you see. Worry about the poetry of it later. The side benefit is that you end up with a record of your trip, even if you’ve never been one to keep a diary.

From Venice we went to London, driving up through the UK to Scotland, before heading over to New York. With every country we went to, I meant to write down notes of what I saw each day and unfortunately never got around to it. Just goes to show that sometimes the hardest advice to follow is your own.

In fact, I got a lot less writing on the trip done than I’d hoped to, but now that I’m back I’m looking forward to getting back into it.

Of course, it doesn’t help when there are distractions available, such as the art exhibition we went to on the first Saturday we were home. I’ve been a fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion since I was a teenager and the original series was aired on SBS. Since then, I’ve collected the Platinum Box Set and, from there, eagerly awaited the release of each new movie in the “Rebuild” series, where writer/director Hideaki Anno revists the series and reinterpets the story with updated animation and a divergent plotline.

Anime fans who also happen to be Vanguard Prime readers will no doubt see the influence that Evangelion had on VP, given that both series revolve around a teenage protagonist who’s reluctantly drafted into saving the world by an international military operation and the female Major who acts as his handler. In fact, the red jacket that Major Blackthorne dons in Goldrush was intended as a joint shout-out to both Akira and to Major Misato Katsuragi from Evangelion.

Yes, I know she's a Lt. Colonel in 'Rebuild'. But she'll always be a Major to me.

Yes, I know she’s a Lt. Colonel in ‘Rebuild’. But she’ll always be a Major to me.

With the upcoming release of the third film in the Rebuild series, an art exhibition has been touring the eastern states of Australia, showcasing the film’s production art. Thankfully, we got the chance to see it before it finished up its run in Melbourne.

And if the art were for sale, I'd buy the heck out of it.

And if the art were for sale, I’d buy the heck out of it.

I’d hoped that there’d be some merchandise for sale to add to my nerd hoard, but unfortunately the pickings were slim. I’ll just have to content myself with the bits-and-bobs I picked up during our trip (photos of which I fully intend to show off…at some stage).

In the meantime, the edit for Vanguard Prime: War Zone is keeping me pretty busy, as is the edit for Red Alert, the e-book novella that will be getting released before War Zone to help promote the series. New readers and old should both be interested in Red Alert for a variety of reasons. Namely;

1) It’s an all-new adventure that follows the whole team and is over a quarter of the length of one of the full-sized novels

2) It features a whole host of new villains

3) It’s 100% free!

Pretty cool, huh? I’ll make sure to post more details about Red Alert as they come through, as well as whatever info I can share about War Zone ahead of its September release (like, for instance, the brand new cover that Chad McCown has illustrated and that I can wholeheartedly say looks fantastic).

‘Til next time.