The Return of The Illmoor Chronicles

As many people now know, I signed a new deal with Hodder Children’s Books for The Underdogs series, scheduled to release in Spring 2016. This has not – and I repeat, has not – stalled my intention to publish the new Illmoor Short Story Collection that I have now been promising fans of the series for some time. So, let’s go over the announcement I made in April:

In order to celebrate the recent re-release of my 2003-2007 series, The Illmoor Chronicles, in ebook format from Hodder Children’s Books UK (and Open Road Media in the USA), I’ve decided to publish – at my own expense – a brand new collection containing three never-before-seen stories set in Illmoor along with the original three stories published by Xenos and updated in Dark Horizons, the British Fantasy Society magazine. Here is a selection of the recent Hodder covers, followed by a list of the stories planned to go in the new collection (entitled ‘The Illmoor Collection’) which will be available in time for Christmas 2014.

9781444922783 9781444922790 9781444922806 9781444922813 9781444922820 9781444922837

THE ILLMOOR CHRONICLES EBOOKS

NOVELS – all available in the USA from Open Road Media (1-4, January 2014/5-6, July 2014) and from Hodder Children’s Books UK (1-6, June 2014)

1. The Ratastrophe Catastrophe (2003)
2. The Yowler Foul-up (2004)
3. The Shadewell Shenanigans (2005)
4. The Dwellings Debacle (2006)
5. The Vanquish Vendetta (2006)
6. The Coldstone Conflict (2007)

THE NEW ILLMOOR COLLECTION

illmoor-collection-cover

Nearly 200 pages, priced at £4.99 ebook (paperback priced £TBA). If the new collection sells well enough to sustain further entries, then more will be published in 2015.

1. The Lickspittle Leviathan (2014)
2. The Swallowfalls Spinecaster (2014)
3. The Kazbrack Kingslayer (2014)
4. The Dullitch Assassins (1997, revised 2007, published on Kindle 2013)
5. The Legrash Larcenist (1997, revised 2013, published on Kindle 2013)
6. Wishblood Wine (1998, revised 2013, published on Kindle 2013)

Once again, I’d like to thank all the hardcore Illmoor fans for their loyalty, their support and their encouragement to continue what is undoubtedly my favourite of my own series. Please do buy a copy, and tell others about it if you like what you find inside!

Gladiator Boy

At 300 pages each and with sales of over 200,000 copies, Gladiator Boy is now acknowledged as a hugely inspirational series for getting boys in the UK to read. Each volume contains three complete books, puzzles, games and character profiles together with vital elements of action, history and fantasy all rolled into one incredible package.

The series is available as in both paperback and ebook formats from Amazon (click HERE), Waterstones, WHSmith, Tesco, Asda and all good independent bookshops.

w511493w511496w511494w511495w511497

What’s Going on in Kingsgate?

Ignore the picture: today, on the blog, we ask the question ‘What EXACTLY is going on in Kingsgate?’ Watch the video below for the answers! A big thanks to everyone who took part.

I always wear a crash helmet. One day, I'm hoping to get a motorbike to go with it.

I always wear a crash helmet. One day, I’m hoping to get a motorbike to go with it.

VIDEO0055 01 from Davey Stone on Vimeo.

Elderly Paydirt

IMAG0354

It’s a cold morning. I’m at Enoteca on Ramsgate seafront, and I’m in a terrible mood. I’ve had the worst night’s sleep in living memory, as I woke in the early hours from a dream in which I was digging up a dead relative in order to prove that they’d put his shoes on the wrong feet. As it turned out, I was right…but that doesn’t mean much when you’re suddenly on full alert at 3am.

It’s going to be one of those awful days: I just know it.

Then something absolutely lovely happens.

Something beautiful.

Something wonderful.

Something that almost restores my faith in humanity.

As I’m sitting there, drinking my coffee, a car pulls up and a young man leaps out, looking flustered. He runs around the side of the car, opens the door and carefully helps out an elderly lady, holding her arm as she struggles from the vehicle. He then guides her across the road and sits her down at a table outside Miles Bar. All this is done with such precision that I immediately decide he’s the old lady’s carer: a real good one, at that. He is so gentle with her that it makes me wish I was more suited to the caring profession, myself: I’ve always struggled with empathy (in that I worry constantly because I never feel like I have enough of it).

He then returns to the car and parks it in the Maritime Museum Pay & Display before rejoining his companion. They have a quick conversation and he disappears inside Miles and returns a few minutes later with a coffee and a tall orange juice. As he puts the coffee down in front of the old lady, she smiles at him and gently squeezes his arm and he gives her a kiss on the cheek. He then pats his pockets, shakes his head and hurries back inside.

The old lady makes a face and sticks two fingers up behind him.

I blink.

Her gesture is so sudden and aggressive that it takes a few seconds before I register it for what it is: a total ‘Up Yours’ or a ‘Go F**k Yourself’ (depending where you’re from).

I can’t believe it.

Her expression is grim as midnight, and her (practically pointed) chin is stuck out in defiance. She holds onto it for a few seconds before resorting to a frail, grateful smile a few seconds before the young man returns. They talk again, but it’s now obvious that the guy is worried about something: he’s frantically patting his pockets and looking all around him. Suddenly, he snaps his fingers and dashes across the road in the direction of the car…

…which is when the old lady fishes a wallet out of her pocket and flips it onto the table, casting a glance over her shoulder and smirking nastily at the poor guy who is now running flat out for the car-park.

My jaw literally drops open.

She takes a sip from her coffee, closes her eyes and leans back, relaxing with a seriously satisfied smile on her face. After a few seconds, she reaches out and knocks the wallet onto the floor.

The young guy is gone ages. When he comes back, he looks flustered and really miserable, but his face lights up when the old lady fakes spotting his the wallet on the floor and points it out to him.

I shake my head in disgust. I even fold my arms and make a face, hoping she will look over.

She doesn’t.

Instead, she says something sweet to the young man, who seems to be apologising to her for losing his wallet. He dashes inside Miles once again, leaving her making what I now know to be a fabricated smile behind his back.

I’m just about to take another sip of my own coffee when she leans forward and knocks his orange juice over.

She sits there, watching the glass roll around, spilling its contents all over the table and onto the floor. When a man in a business suit at a nearby table comes over to help, she gestures to him to go away and mind his own business. Instead, she waits for the young guy to come back, makes some sort of apologetic statement about his drink and smiles with absolute glee as he hurries back inside for a third time.

When he’s gone, she picks up the salt dispenser and turns it round in her hands: I know….I just KNOW….that they’ve ordered food and that she’s going to pour salt on his plate when he isn’t looking.

I’m in shock, and it’s not because I can’t believe what I’m seeing: it’s because I’m immediately suspicious of the man rather than the old lady. She’s an old lady, I say to myself. What’s he doing to her? Why does she dislike him so much? What’s going on here that I can’t see? There is obviously some sort of hidden abuse, here: there is some reason that this old woman has a particularly grim dislike for the young man who is – outwardly – caring for her with such admirable enthusiasm.

Then she catches me staring at her.

I don’t smile.

For a few seconds, we just lock eyes with each other. Then I shake my head.

She gives me both fingers.

I look out to sea, suddenly so angry with the broken cruelty and growing insanity of the world that I literally can’t think of anything to say or do. Then I realise that this old lady is sorely is need of some karmic elderly pay dirt, and that the only person who can salvage this whole sorry situation is me.

I get up and walk over to the table. The old woman says nothing and I say nothing.

We just wait.

The young guy returns: he looks confused when he sees me standing next to his patient and not saying anything, but I quickly step forward as he sits down.

‘Look, mate: I don’t know what the situations is here, but the lady knocked over your drink on purpose. She also had your wallet in her pocket the whole time: she took it out and threw it on the floor when you went back to your car. I don’t know what she’s got planned next, but she’s been playing with the salt seller so your day out with her is only going to get worse.’

The young guy looks from the old woman to me, and back again. Then he says:

‘Can’t you mind your own business, mate? Haven’t you got anything better to do?’

I smile at him and take a deep breath before walking, very slowly, back to my own car. On the way home, I say the word ‘unbelievable‘ about fourteen times.

Moulin Rouge in Margate THIS WEEKEND

10459039_342833519231156_6494936606767344756_o

Sexy women, sexy men and sexy furniture all crammed together in a sexy environment. Personally, I can only look at this photograph with the fridge door open…

Check out this Youtube clip, and get ready for a surprise: everybody you’ve ever fancied, Facebook stalked, talked about or fantasised over will be at Morgan’s in Margate on Saturday 11th October at 7.30pm. There’s even a rumour that they’re going to invite me….

Yes, that’s right. A ridiculously reasonable £15 will get you a ticket into the dream factory at Morgan’s, a place where gentlemen are REAL gentlemen, classically beautiful women are REAL classically beautiful women….and the music is that really cool live and atmospheric sort that makes everyone want to watch themselves dancing in the giant mirrors on the ballroom floor.

You want a ticket? OF COURSE YOU DO: you’re gorgeous. Now, go grab one by clicking HERE!

Fumble!

FUMBLE! DON’T SIT NEXT TO THIS F*CKING JINX!

Isn’t that a lovely message to put on a mug and send to a friend? Well, if you delight in fantasy roleplaying games and fill your nights with Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu or a variety of other such games…then you need one of my new mugs! I’ve even done a promo video (below) to follow the picture and links to this stunningly beautiful object:

The new (and highly offensive) gaming mugs from Dead Guys Shoe Ltd.

The new (and highly offensive) gaming mugs from Dead Guys Shoe Ltd, available on Etsy right now. Don’t hang about.

In order to buy the first in this series of highly accurate descriptive mugs, please click HERE to be taken directly to the ETSY store where they are currently stocked at the insultingly cheap price of £9.50. Hells teeth: I am such a nice guy. Er….check out the video below the next picture:

I'm sorry: I know the language is bad....but it IS justified.

I’m sorry: I know the language is bad….but it IS justified.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/108470188″>VIDEO0052 01</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/blokecalleddave”>Davey Stone</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Taking The Biscuit

IMAG0340

‘Dave….somebody keeps leaving me Bourbons.’

Mike looks worried, but I’m not listening to him. We’re in the Debenham’s cafe at Westwood Cross, and I’m watching an old couple giving the duty manager a hard time about absolutely nothing. As far as I can tell, the old buzzard who lacks the balls to stand up to his dominating wife is nevertheless complaining – quite vigorously – about the butter being smaller than it was the last time they were there. He’s waving a bony finger while the crazed heifer he married is poking him in the ribs and muttering to him, throwing out the odd expletive along the way. Every few seconds, I can hear the edge of a ‘f*ck’ or the slightest hint of a ‘b*llocks.’ I’m completely fascinated that these two rotting tortoises are working themselves into a frenzy over a small square of wrapped butter. It’s EPIC, and I feel like sticking two of my own pieces together and shouting over ‘My butter is MASSIVE!’ just to make the thing go into extra time….

‘Dave?’

I manage to pull my attention away from the scene.

‘What’s up, mate?’

‘Somebody keeps leaving me Bourbons.’

‘Nice!’

‘I’m SERIOUS.’

I nod. ‘Sounds good. I loved Bourbons when I was a kid. My nan used to get out a biscuit barrel full of them ready for when I got home: it’s no wonder I was fatter than a whale omelette.’

‘It’s a bit weird though, right?’

I stop watching the old couple and give Mike my undivided focus. The poor guy actually does look anxious.

‘How is it weird? A pack of bourbons on your desk every time you come off lunch probably just means you have a secret admirer or something. Any girls on your floor showing an interest?’

‘They’re not on my desk, Dave…and it’s not a pack. I’m talking about a single Bourbon biscuit on my doorstep every morning when I first get up.’

I just stare at him.

For a long, LONG time.

Then a terrible realisation dawns.

‘You’re not f**king eating them, are you?’

‘Of course I am.’

‘WHAT?’

I sit bolt upright in the chair.

‘Are you bloody crazy? What’s WRONG with you? They could be poisoned, dude! Who eats something they find on the doorstep? Who DOES that?’

‘Eh?’

‘You never – and I mean positively not EVER – eat something you find on your doorstep.’

‘Why?’

‘Because it’s disgusting, mate…and proper bloody weird. I mean, even if you dropped it yourself…well, okay: you might pick up a biscuit you dropped, but just opening the door in the morning and eating a biscuit…is mental. I assume it was, like, totally unwrapped?’

‘Oh, yeah…it was bareback.’

‘I’m scared for you, mate. I’m actually scared for you.’

‘Seriously, Dave? I can never tell if you’re messing about.’

‘I’m NOT MESSING ABOUT, dickhead. How many have you eaten?’

‘Three.’ He looks down for a bit, and mutters: ‘One, two, yeah, three. I…er….I waited up on the second night, but nobody came through the front gate. So then I just forgot about it, and on the morning after the third night, sure enough: there’s another one.’

‘…which you ate?’

‘Yeah. I do feel sick, actually: I’ve felt rough for a while now.’

‘For about a week, you mean?’

‘About that.’

‘You complete TIT.’

I sit for a while and try to think about everything that’s happened to Mike since he moved out of his mum’s in 2008.

Then it hits me. ‘What if it’s that girl from Spain?’

He looks up, sharp. ‘Emily?’

‘Yes, that’s her: Emily! She told you that she hated you, dude: that she’d get her own back on you no matter how long it took. She even TOLD you she was going to poison your drinks! Remember?’

‘No way. You don’t think it’s her?’

‘Well….it’s a long shot, admittedly. I can’t quite see a bitter girl who’s upset about a failed holiday romance waiting two years and then leaving a series of poisoned bourbons on the doorstep of her lost love, but I guess it could happen. I mean, it’s a bit Scooby Doo….but the world is going to hell in a handcart: so who knows? I don’t suppose you have her number?’

‘No, but my SISTER does….because there was all that fuss with the police and-‘

‘I remember.’

‘Should I call her?’

I nod. ‘Do it, mate: do it NOW.’

While Mike calls his sister, I order another mocha (and a tea for him). When I return to the table, he is just getting through to Emily, a girl he met on holiday who is now living in Oxford. Unfortunately, Mike decides not to ask an honest question of her and chooses instead to be ridiculously over-friendly about the whole affair.

‘Em? Emily? Is that you? Ha! It’s Mike: Kelly’s little bro….from Spain. Yeah! Hi! How’s it going? Really? Great! How’s life in retail? Fantastic! I’m really glad. Listen, I’m only ringing to ask you a bit of a crazy question. Sure, sure. Well, I just wondered: do you like biscuits? Yeah, packs of biscuits! Hahaha! Brilliant, brilliant. What’s your favourite biscuit, Em? What’s that? No, I’m sober. Honestly. No, really: don’t be silly. Whatever: can you just answer the question? Why not? What’s your favourite biscuit? Why are you getting funny about such a simple question? You don’t have anything to hide, do you? Just answer. What IS your favourite? Ok, fine: cool. And your second favourite? Er….say your second favourite again? Yeah: I thought that’s what you said.’

His expression suddenly changes, and he gives me a sinister ‘thumbs up’. Then, without any word or preamble, he suddenly growls into the phone: ‘I’m not stupid, and I never did anything wrong by you. We were never together when I met Rita, and it was only two FECKING days…so you can stop leaving your pathetic little biscuits outside my door. I’m going to the doctor this afternoon, and if I’ve been poisoned I’m going to the police right afterwards. Do you hear me? DO YOU HEAR ME?’

He hangs up the phone and slumps down in the seat.

I put a cup of tea in front of him, and take a sip from my mocha.

‘It might not be her, mate: you should have waited a bit, maybe?’

‘No way, Dave. I’ve got to go to the doctor because of this girl: can you believe that?’

‘It was just an idea, Mike: you don’t KNOW it was her.’

I lean back in my own chair and quickly cover a heavy yawn.

Mike puts down his tea. ‘Are you okay, Dave?’

‘Me? I’m fine.’

‘You look a bit tired, mate.’

I let out a deep sigh. ‘Yeah, well….I’ve had a lot of late nights, recently, and I can’t lie: leaving bourbons outside your door at two o’clock in the morning has really beaten the sh*t out of me.’

Sorcery 2 (Inkle Studios)

2014-09-27 14.44.24

This game has two reviewers: Davey (aged 36) and Sebastian (aged 6). As there are thirty years between us, you’ll hopefully get a good overall view of the content.

MY TAKE…..

I wanted to love Sorcery 2: I really did.

It’s probably worth pointing out that I was never a huge fan of Steve Jackson’s Sorcery series, though I should add that Steve wrote some of my favourite Fighting Fantasy adventure books (House of Hell and Citadel of Chaos are both firmly in my top five).

Inkle Studios provided such a fresh approach to the format of a gamebook app with Sorcery (The Shamutanti Hills) that disbelief was suspended for a while and I actually forgot that I didn’t like the original book because I got so caught up with the way they’d adapted the project.

Unfortunately, I’m now used to Inkle’s design and, while it continues to bring life, energy and some incredible ambient sound to the series, I couldn’t get past the fact that I don’t like Khare: Cityport of Traps as a game. This might be my issue entirely, but I’ve always had great difficulty in getting ‘into’ city games. I love the realistic feel of Terry Pratchett’s Ankh Morpork and I regularly tried to conjure the same clamoured feel when I was mapping out Legrash and Dullitch for The Illmoor Chronicles, but for me Port Blacksand will forever be the most brilliantly imagined city in the universe of fantasy fiction. I really mean that: Ian Livingstone’s City of Thieves first found me lost in a place that felt genuinely alive, but it was Midnight Rogue (by Graeme Davis) that absolutely set my imagination alight. It is perhaps for these reasons that I struggle to visualise Khare in the same rich depth: it is too disparate and sparse, almost more akin to a collection of villages than a cityscape in its own right.

My other bone of contention is that the book is built largely around the Jackson-created dice game of ‘Swindlestones’, but this is transported to the app brilliantly and handled so well by Inkle Studios that it’s almost better than the adventure it’s set inside. My son has actually started to play the game with his friends at school, using a bunch of my four-sided dice from the fabled RPG box in the kitchen.

I can’t put my hand on my heart and say that I’ll replay Sorcery 2 any time soon, but – hey – it certainly had my attention for a few days.

SEBASTIAN’S VIEW

I am six years old and I have only played two apps: Sorcery and Sorcery 2. I loved both of them and I like to play them when I have finished my homework, before bed and when I wake up in the morning. Although I am only allowed to play Sorcery for five or ten minutes at a time, I have grasped the game and can make choices and play the battle system very well. My daddy helps me with the spell book as I don’t understand that bit, but I know what the spells do and that I need special things to cast some of them. I like Sorcery 2 better than Sorcery 1 because of Swindlestones.

VIDEO OF SEBASTIAN PLAYING SORCERY, FOLLOWED BY DADDY PLAYING SWINDLESTONES IN THE GAME:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/108108051″>Inkle Studios Steve Jackson’s Sorcery 2 App</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/blokecalleddave”>Davey Stone</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

THE GRIMSTONE TOP TEN FIGHTING FANTASY GAME-BOOKS

1. Trial of Champions (Ian Livingstone)
2. Midnight Rogue (Graeme Davis)
3. Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone)
4. House of Hell (Steve Jackson) – app from Tin Man Games
5. Citadel of Chaos (Steve Jackson)
6. Dead of Night (Jim Bambra & Stephen Hand)
7. Moonrunner (Stephen Hand)
8. Creature of Havoc (Steve Jackson)
9. Return to Firetop Mountain (Ian Livingstone)
10. Talisman of Death (Jamie Thomson & Mark Smith)