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Topics - Mark Lawrence

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Small Press & Self-Published / SPFBO 3 is open for entries!
« on: May 04, 2017, 07:58:49 PM »
Spread the word, we need 250+ or we all get the year off.


Writers' Corner / Critiques vs Writing Advice
« on: November 14, 2015, 12:13:34 PM »
Having recently posted critiques of three fantasy page 1s I am reminded of my old conviction that critique is more valuable than general writing advice even if it's not your work being critiqued.

Even the act of critiquing another person can strengthen your writing.


Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Gemmell Awards shortlists announced
« on: April 20, 2014, 04:13:45 PM »
The David Gemmell Legend Award shortlist has been announced! More than 70,000 votes from more than 100 countries were counted. The award ceremony is on June 13 in The Magic Circle.

The best novel shortlist is all male (I think Robin Hobb would be there if her vote hadn't split across two books) but with 43 Gemmell votes for each Hugo vote & 100 countries involved (the Hugos are heavily US dominated) it also seems likely to be a better reflection of fantasy readers' opinion about epic fantasy in 2013 than most (all?) alternatives.

The longlist was generated by publishers putting forward their books. 28% of the long list books were by female authors.

The Hugo nomination for V@x Day is a pretty clear indication of how cliques and interest groups can dominate voting in awards with a smaller voting base. (1595 votes in the Hugo nominations).

Best art: (Ravenheart Award)
Republic of Thieves
Emperor of Thorns (congratulations to Jason Chan!)
Promise of Blood
She Who Waits

Best debut: (Morningstar Award)
The Garden of Stones
Promise of Blood
The Path of Anger
The Grim Company

Best novel (Legend Award)
The Daylight War - Peter V Brett
Emperor of Thorns - Mark Lawrence (*)
The Republic of Thieves - Scott Lynch
A Memory of Light - Brandon Sanderson & Robert Jordan
War Master's Gate - Adrian Tchaicovsky

Voting finishes at the end of next month:

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Biggest Fantasy Bastard?
« on: January 09, 2014, 10:45:25 AM »
The buzzfeed list 10 Essential Ingredients for a Fictional Bastard


was based on my answers but the author had to supply the supplemental examples owing to my rather sparse reading of modern fantasy.

Did he get it right? Who did he miss?

Links, Competitions and 'Stuff' / The Million Dollar Bookshop
« on: November 30, 2012, 12:03:31 PM »
Not sure where the best place for this is, but I know a mod will help me!

The tl:dr version is: donate to charity, tell me about it, I post your book cover and link.

More details linked here:


5 new people onboard yesterday raising  nearly $1000 for children's charities.

Promote your book _&_ feel good about it!

[NOV 2012] Prince of Thorns / Prince of Thorns Q&A
« on: November 07, 2012, 01:45:10 PM »
As per suggestion. Now throw me a pity-Q.

Self Publishing Discussion / self-publishing
« on: October 03, 2012, 01:54:51 PM »
I interview two self-published authors, seeking insights


I'm auctioning the original (illustrated) proof manuscript for King of Thorns


3 days left to bid. All monies go to a hospice charity for life-limited and terminally ill children. My little daughter uses one of their hospices so I know they do good work!

Get yourself a collectable. Read the book 6 weeks early. Feel good all day!

Small Press & Self-Published / Wheel-Mouse vs All The Crazy Robots
« on: May 31, 2012, 12:51:53 PM »
I would describe this as hard sf meets ... a mouse.


Also, it's not a small press! Celyn has published more than 0 books in the last day, projecting forward that's 365 books a year! and more than two people have read them. Goddam mods, bump this up into the big league thread immediately or my 0.74K twitter followers will eat your livers!

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / The Jersey Pledge
« on: March 20, 2012, 07:12:28 AM »
Since somone (let's call them POS for handy reference) makes the effort to repeated spam this board with advertisements for jerseys, passing a number of quite sophisticated filters ... let's all take the Jersey Pledge.

I [Mark Lawrence] swear on the grave of my [favourite dead relative] that I will never under any circumstances buy a jersey from POS. Even if under other circumstances I discover the 'officialmagicjerseysshop' dotcom and decide they're sellling EXACTLY what I want I will go somewhere else and tell others to steer clear.

And now please stand for a quick round of the Faction's ten verse national anthem, Die Spammer Die.

Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / David Gemmell Legend Award now open!
« on: December 28, 2011, 09:17:16 PM »
The Legend Award is open for votes!

Help make/keep this award the biggest on the block. It's a great memorial to an excellent author who we lost too soon.


Fantasy Movies, Comic Books & Video Games / Duke Nukem Forever
« on: June 11, 2011, 02:05:37 PM »
In 1997 they told me this would be out soon ... & today it is!

Anyone played it?

I will spend my money on it no matter what I'm told - there are 14 years of momentum behind the decision, but you can at least blunt the edge on the disappointment by forewarning me!

General Discussion / any Dutch members?
« on: March 19, 2011, 12:22:03 PM »
Hi - just wondering if any of you hail from the Netherlands?

I'm trying to find some good Dutch-language review/book blogging sites to make contact with ahead of my book's release next month (April). I never thought I'd be published in Dutch before I was published in English (actually I never thought I'd be published, period). But now that I am I thought I should take a look at the scene over there.


Fantasy Book & Author Discussion / Prince of Thorns
« on: March 18, 2011, 11:05:44 PM »
Hi all - thought I should make use of this section & ensure that if my book sinks without a trace for whatever reason (such as coming out 3 weeks after the huge GRRM release) it won't be because I was idle!

Details on my website:http://www.princeofthorns.com

Here's what two leading fantasy authors said about it:

"Dark and relentless, the Prince of Thorns will pull you under and drown you in story. A two in the morning page turner."
Robin Hobb

"This is a lean, cold knife-thrust of a novel, a revenge fantasy anchored on the compelling voice and savage purpose of its titular Prince. There is never a safe moment in Lawrence’s debut."
Robert V.S Redick

Prince of Thorns is ... indescribable <snip> Dark, demented, rug-pulling, cliff
hanging ... wow! This is an absolutely stunning book. Jaw-dropping.
Robin Hobb (so good I quote her twice)

& highlights from the 4 blogger/reviewers to chip in so far:

"Lawrence's brilliant descriptions made me wince and clasp my hand to my mouth in disbelief. It was freaking awesome!

Mark Timmony / Galaxy Books

"Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence is the best fantasy read I’ve had since Alan Campbell’s Scar Night. It got hold of me from page one and didn’t let go...

Neal Asher / Acclaimed Sci-Fi author

"WOW! Dark, Disturbing, Haunting, Poetic... simply brilliant.

Marc Aplin / Fantasy Faction

"Prince of Thorns is without a doubt the most original and most memorable fantasy debut of 2011. It's difficult to imagine how another book could top this one.

Sami Airola / RisingShadow.net

Writers' Corner / My route into getting published
« on: February 07, 2011, 01:05:04 PM »
So many months ago a lady spontaneously invited me to guest blog on a popular website and suggested it would be likely that George Martin would also be guest blogging around the same period (entirely plausible given his links to the site). I wrote my contribution a few days later.

For a variety of reasons things did not turn out as expected. I'm still scheduled to blog on the site but not until this summer & I'll have to write a new contribution. However, I'm posting here what I wrote last May as it may provide some insight into the murky business of book writing and publishing. Or not.


Guest blog? I say. Sure, why not. After all, the questionnaire that my publisher gave me devoted quite a few of its questions to asking the same question in different guises. How are _you_ going to publicise this book we’re putting in the shops for you? To all of which I answered ‘um’, just wrapped up in variety of weasel words. So sure, why not? I’ve written a book – it’s most of what I’ve got to talk about, and talking about it is publicising it . . . job done.

You’ll be on just before or after George RR Martin. Oh crap. He’s going to make me look bad. He won’t even care that I’m a GRRM fan-boy. He’ll just write something brilliant that’ll show everyone how a guest blog should be. Crap.

So that’s the lie of the land, the why I’m here and the how I’m feeling about it.

I’m guest blogging because I was asked to, and I was asked to because I’ve got a big ol’ book deal for my debut novel (it still feels weird to call it a novel), an ill-advised tendency to speak my mind, and possibly an unusual journey to my current position.

I’m writing this in the dark in a cubical at the children’s hospital in Bristol, UK. If I lean the laptop screen far enough forward to illuminate the keys with its glow, I can type but not see what I’m typing. If I lean it further back I can see what I’ve typed, but not the keys, and I keep slipping into gibberish. I’ve had almost zero spare time since my daughter, Celyn, was born six years ago severely disabled. I work as a research scientist when she’s at school. I started off in physics, did a Ph.D in a corner of mathematics, and now nibble away at the edges of artificial intelligence. For a brief period when I worked in the states I was able to call myself a rocket scientist, and believe me, I did. Lots. When Celyn is home I spend the time from 6am to 9pm looking after her. She can’t see well, use her limbs or fingers, speak, eat, or go for very long without having a fit. But she’s funny, clever, and has a great sense of humour. She does a lot of screaming and I spend a lot of time helping her not to. Constant entertainment works, most of the time, and she loves stories. My wife has multiple sclerosis and since Celyn weighs forty pounds I have to do the caring.

So, zero spare time, but I seem to write more in it than I did in the ridiculous acreage of me-time I used to take for granted. Generally the small hours of the night are mine to do with as I please. Even now, with nurses pacing outside and the SATS monitor flashing out Celyn’s heart rate and oxygen saturation, I’m free to write – albeit hampered by the need to flap the screen back and forth. I wrote chapter 4 of ‘Prince of Thorns’ with a pencil on scrap paper at 4am in a different children’s hospital when Celyn was a baby. The child next to us had died and her parents were making the kinds of hurt-noises that you absolutely have to distract yourself from.

I’m told that this site is populated by writers of various flavours who may be interested in the tale of how I come to be sitting on a three book deal with a bag of cash – a purported bag of cash because I’ve seen none of it yet and won’t truly believe any of this until I do.

As a scientist I’m wary of samples of one. A sample of one is an anecdote, and you can ‘prove’ anything you want with anecdote. However, I will assume that my tale is one of many and that you will shake it up with the rest before forming an opinion.

I say that my route to (cue drum roll) published author (end drum roll) has been non standard, but I’m not entirely sure there is a standard path. I have been a member of on-line writing groups for many years and I’ve observed that there are some people who have clearly set themselves the goal of being a writer. There are other people who just like to write, and there are many hybrids who are a mix of both camps in varying degrees. These are observations not judgements. I have no judgement to make. All of these are perfectly good attitudes.

The people who want to be writers often break the problem down. What do I need to do to become a writer? I need to write better. Practice makes perfect. I’ll write X words a day (no more algebra, I promise). I need to write what people want to read. I need to write what that magazine wants to buy. I’ll research the market. I need an agent/publisher. I’ll study query letters. I’ll go to conventions. I will corner an agent. I will network.

All of these things are good and sensible steps. I have total respect for the people who take those steps.

I am in the opposite camp. I just like to write. The questionnaire my publisher sent me also had these two questions:

15: When did you decide to become a writer?
To that one I answered that I never decided to become a writer. I decided to become a scientist at an early age, and I did it. I never thought that any book I wrote would be published. I just enjoyed writing them and sharing them with a couple of folk I knew who did the same thing. I have never considered myself a writer, just a person who writes.

16: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start a career in writing?
I answered: You don’t start a career in writing – you just start writing. If you don’t expect to make a career out of it then you can only be pleasantly surprised or vindicated – both of which are good.

Because I have never planned to be a writer, never even considered what it would be like, I have also never suffered from writers’ block. If I have nothing to say. If nothing is hammering its way out of me onto the page . . . I just go and do something else. I’m not blocked, I just get to play a game, read a book, or sleep seven hours instead of five.

I don’t try to write X words a day (okay, I lied about the algebra). I don’t try to write any words a day. You will become a better writer if you write more . . . but I’m not trying to become a better writer. I just write because I enjoy it and when I stop enjoying it, I stop writing.

So, I’ve beaten that horse to death, pounded it bloody, and now I’m thinking GRRM won’t be using horse beating clichés or overdoing analogies. Damn. So on with the story.

Here’s the thing. There are so many good writers out there. Sure there is an ocean of not so hot ones, but – and here I will further lower any expectations of literary greatness – if you’ve ever watched the auditions for American Idol you will have observed that amongst the comically bad singers, there are far more really good ones than the record industry needs. I’ve had to struggle to get short stories placed in magazines. Ok, by ‘struggle’ I mean I’ve had to send the stories to quite a few magazines to get a hit. I was never interested in publishing short stories – I just enjoyed posting them on the on-line critique groups I was part of. The truth is that I only did it so that when I’d spent time and effort on a critique and somebody replied ‘what do you know?’ I could at least say ‘enough to get a few short stories published’. I’ve also been a slush pile reader for a small on-line ezine that offers $10 for a short story and a lofty $20 for the feature story. The magazine gets about 50 submissions each week and one or two of these will be superb. So every week a couple of superb short stories come chasing $10. It seems clear that the American Idol experience can be mapped over to writing. Sure, a fair number of those 50 a week are bewilderingly bad, but it seems clear that there are far more really good writers than the publishing industry needs.

Combining the evidence of my own experience with crit-group anecdote about how impossible it is to get an agent, and with an agent how hard it is to get published, I came to a conclusion that I still feel is probably true. Getting published is a lottery. You need a large dollop of writing talent to enter that lottery but there are a lot of people with sufficient skill to purchase the ticket. Past that, you need a bucket of luck poured over you.

I wrote in the 80’s. Just campaigns for D&D games, but it exercised my imagination.

I wrote in the 90’s – turns for a play-by-mail game called ‘Saturnalia’, where a thousand people created adventures in a shared fantasy world. I was one of the half dozen GMs who put the pieces together and wrote the stories out, crafted for each player and the actions of their character. I got better at description.

In the late 90’s I took an adult education class in creative writing. The class ran over the winter and for 18 weeks we spent a couple of hours each Thursday night in a porta-cabin in the car park of the local college. Nobody took their coat off. When the course finished, I wrote my first book. Not a good one.

The internet killed off hand-written play-by-mail games but it offered me online writing groups as an alternative outlet.

Given that I never expected to be a writer, and that I like writing, not crafting query letters, networking, researching markets, and most of all, being rejected, I sat on my first book for 12 years. Indeed I’m still sitting on it. It’s really not good for anything else. My second book was better. Good even. I sat on that one too and am still sitting on it.

The third book I wrote, ‘Prince of Thorns’, also got sat on for several years, but a lady I know through writing groups kept buying me writers’ handbooks, books she couldn’t afford, full of agent contact details and publishing houses. In the end (August 2009) I felt guilty for letting her down and stopped being a serial New Year’s Resolution offender. I was too lazy to pick up one of her books but they inspired me to google on ‘literary agents who specialise in fantasy’. I found this link:


and wrote to one a month for four months before I got bored and gave up. The fourth of the agents I plucked off the list wrote back just before Christmas asking for the rest of the manuscript. Two weeks later he signed me. He turned out to work at a major London agency. He told me not to expect to hear from him again anytime soon. The publishing business, he warned, moves at a glacial rate. Six weeks later he called me to say that after an international bidding war between seven major publishers he had secured me a three book deal with advances worth a lot more than my annual salary (an admittedly meagre salary since the UK pays research scientists about the same as bus drivers ... who I guess are responsible for peoples’ lives... so fair enough maybe.). A week later the second agent I wrote to sent me a form rejection. The other two have not yet replied.

I got the news whilst seated under Celyn (I think we were reading ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’). I carried her over my shoulder into the other room, where my wife took my expression to mean that Celyn had unexpectedly died on me. I’ve been in a state of mild shock ever since. I have yet to meet anyone that has read my book.

One thing that pleases me, aside from the money and that ‘Prince of Thorns’ will get a larger audience, is the fact that despite that networking, tactics, market research and the like will surely improve your chances of getting published (from needing the highest microscope setting to see to needing only the second highest setting to see) it is possible to write a book just for you, send it out to a small number of agents at random, and secure a great deal. It pleased me no end because I’m bad at all those sensible things, I don’t enjoy them, and my circumstances prevent me from doing some of them.

If I could take all the luck I must have expended accomplishing this feat and apply it to other areas of my life, of my family’s life, I would. But given a gift horse has come up, rung the doorbell, waited patiently, then licked me in the face ... I shall stop looking in its mouth.

Damn those horse analogies.

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