Thursday, 3 July 2014

Event Report: A Day of Joe Abercrombie and Half a King!

On Tuesday July 1st I had the pleasure of meeting fantasy author Joe Abercrombie, not once but twice. I'd helped organise his first ever school event in the morning, and my nice librarian friend invited me along. He read from his new book, Half a King, signed many books/notebooks and answered questions.

[Me and Joe.]

My personal favourite question asked was "What house do you live in?", to which Joe answered "A castle." The kids also asked about his writing, his opinions on Game of Thrones and how much he earns. Ha! A great time was had by all and the students seemed genuinely interested in his book and what he had to say (especially if it concerned a certain King Joffrey). Joe chatted, signed my books and then went on his merry way to Manchester with publicist Jaime in tow (*waves at Jaime*).

[Half a King signed proof and finished copy.]

A few hours later my good friend Lynn (from Lynn's Book Blog) and I headed off to Manchester for Joe's Waterstone's event at the Central Library. It was almost a full house and Joe once again talked a little bit about Half a King, read an exciting chapter and then answered questions.

 [Reading a chapter in Manchester.]

This time I took some notes, and here's what I came out with:
  • The idea for Half a King came when Joe was out and saw a boy with a malformed hand. He started to think how difficult it would be for someone not to be able to hold a sword, use a shield etc.
  • After writing six large adult fantasy novels, and after a talk with children's publisher Nick Lake a couple of years earlier, he decided he wanted to try something a little different and write for a slightly younger audience.
  • Young adults want to read books that tackle important issues, just like adults do, and his aim was to modify his previous adult style for a younger audience. Only one paragraph containing specific sexual content had to be cut from the final draft of Half a King
  • He enjoys planning, doesn't like drafting and quite likes editing. 
  • He finds smaller characters easier to write because they're often on the sidelines and not embroiled in larger, more complicated plots.
  • He didn't really have to rein himself in when it came to adult content and Half a King; it had a different feel from the start.
  • He hardly reads any fantasy fiction these days because it feels too much like work. He mostly reads non-fiction that loosely ties in to what's he's currently writing. 
  • He always knew he'd write fantasy and he read a lot of it as a kid. The Lord of the Rings, etc.
  • There will be more First Law books. (I think he mentioned three more.)
  • Half a King is the start of a trilogy. Books two and three are due to be published in February and July 2015.
  • There's a collection of short stories from the First Law world coming soon, in 2016.
  • All of his adult books have been optioned.
  • He likes a low magic setting in which it feels strange to that world. It's not to his taste to have real magic systems within his books.
  •  Will the First Law comics be continuing? Never say never but the first run wasn't successful enough and they're a lot of work. 
  • Some parts of his books he wishes he'd done differently (ironing out details, clunky writing etc). He would give The Blade Itself a better ending and do more with the female characters. 
  • How would he sell his book to kids? He'd say please buy it because he needs a swimming pool shaped like a magic sword. Haha! 

 [Signing many books after the event.]

Go to one of his events if you ever get chance - they're informative and he's a very funny guy! You can read my friend Lynn's report here. It has more in-depth notes and a better eye for detail.

[Signed The Blade Itself.]


Lynn said...

Hahaha, I want a castle and a sword shaped swimming pool too!

Such a good event.

Lynn :D

Jesse Owen said...

Sounds like you had a brilliant day! :D