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Media Alert: Gollancz acquires three more books in the The Witcher series

Media Alert: Gollancz wins three more in the bestselling series of novels that inspired the eight million copy selling computer game franchise, THE WITCHER

Gollancz is thrilled to announce the acquisition of three more books in Andrzej Sapkowski’s hugely popular THE WITCHER series.

The first book, THE SWORD OF DESTINY, will be published in May 2015 alongside the blockbusting new computer game THE WITCHER 3: THE WILD HUNT, which won the Award for Most Anticipated Game during The Game Awards 2014. Sales for the previous two games in THE WITCHER franchise have totalled over 8 million copies worldwide.  SWORD OF DESTINY is a collection of linked short stories which fills in some of the gaps in the Witcher’s legend.
Two further books – THE SWALLOW’S TOWER and LADY OF THE LAKE – will be released in 2016 and 2017 and will conclude the main story of Geralt the Witcher. All three books will be translated by David French, whose translation of the previous two volumes in the series was widely acclaimed.

Marcus Gipps, Commissioning Editor at Gollancz, bought World English rights from Patricia Pasqualini at Agence De l’Est. He said ‘we’re thrilled to be continuing our association with Andrzej and his magnificent Witcher series. The question we get asked most – across any medium, be it twitter, email or face-to-face at conventions – is when we will be continuing Geralt’s saga. We’re delighted to finally be able to answer that question, and hope the fans are pleased that they won’t have to wait too long for the next instalment!’

Andrzej Sapkowski is an international fantasy star and the winner of many fantasy awards, including the David Gemmell Legend award. He is one of the few European fantasy authors to appear in translation in the UK. Gollancz has sold well over 100,000 copies of the series so far, and US rights have been sold to Orbit books.

About Gollancz: Gollancz is the oldest specialist SF & Fantasy publisher in the UK. Founded in 1927 and with a continuous SF publishing programme dating back to 1961, the imprint of the Orion Publishing Group is home to a galaxy of award-winning and bestselling authors. Through our long-running SF and Fantasy Masterworks programme, and major digital initiative the SF Gateway, Gollancz have one of the largest ranges of SF and Fantasy of any publisher in the world.

Book Review: The Six-Gun Tarot

The Six-Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher, Golgotha #1

Nevada, 1869: Beyond the pitiless 40-Mile Desert lies Golgotha, a cattle town that hides more than its share of unnatural secrets. The sheriff bears the mark of the noose around his neck; some say he is a dead man whose time has not yet come. His half-human deputy is kin to coyotes. The mayor guards a hoard of mythical treasures. A banker’s wife belongs to a secret order of assassins. And a shady saloon owner, whose fingers are in everyone’s business, may know more about the town’s true origins than he’s letting on.

A haven for the blessed and the damned, Golgotha has known many strange events, but nothing like the primordial darkness stirring in the abandoned silver mine overlooking the town. Bleeding midnight, an ancient evil is spilling into the world, and unless the sheriff and his posse can saddle up in time, Golgotha will have seen its last dawn…and so will all of Creation.

The wild west has always been a theme that I liked in fantasy, it must have something to do with the idea of sheriffs and gunslinging bad guys. but also by the works of fiction by Mike Resnick and lets not forget the wild western anthology Dead Man's Hand and Guy Adams' western series, the Heaven's Gate Trilogy that really helped to support this genre. The Six-Gun Tarot is written by Rod Belcher. He has won awards as a newspaper and magazine editor and reporter. This is his first full length  book, he has written a few short stories in addition to it.

Just a quick question up front. Have you read the synopsis of this book? No!? Just read and then quickly order the book. It sounds very cool, a weird western featuring mythical creatures, assassins, heaven and hell (thus angels and demons) and much much more. what you can further make up of the synopsis that something is about to happen to the small town of Golgotha, will is be swallowed by infernal means or can it still be saved? It's for you to find out. 

As with many supernatural stories it always work best when it start of in the natural way. All along the story you follow multiple perspectives, but the first focus is on Jim Negrey who is currently making a trek across the desert, the 40-Mile desert, almost dying of thirst. He is rescued by Golgotha's deputy, Mutt. What Mutt doesn't know or perhaps he doesn't care is that Jim left his old place in a hurry running away from the law, and now curiously finds himself being the right hand man of the law. Jim has many secrets and one of them is an artifact, a jaded eye that he carries around with him, an eye that was once his fathers. It is rumored that this artifact might hold strange powers. The rest is mainly focused in and around Golgatha. Soon you get to meet up with the Sheriff of the town Jon Highfather who is said to be immortal, one aspect you learn on early, just let me get quickly back to Mutt, Mutt is the deputy of Jon Highfather and just as eccentric, he is the son of Coyote, a skinwalker, naming him Mutt is kind of well... Any next to these three characters there is another important player in town. Malachi Bick, a saloon owner in Golgotha who tries to stop the re-opening of the silver mine which lies at the foot of Golgotha. Well he doesn't want this because an ancient and terrible evil dwells there, sorry for the mild spoiler, but compared to the stuff you will learn about many of the characters it's nothing. It is also here that the story comes together in a great way. Because somethings are just inevitable, you might guess what happened, what some people tried to prevent. well it happens and it is a terrific display of many genres crossing them and mixing them up.

The story of The Six-Gun Tarot actually has several individual storyline working for it, like the ones of Jim and Jon and Malachi, and there is something working on the whole of the story where everything connect and where most play an important role. I have to say that I was mightily impressed for seeing such a intricate story for a debut. You can readily see that Rod. S. Belcher was very eager to write this story. He wants to show you everything of the world and more, and this is also that works a bit against the grain for The Six-Gun Tarot. By introducing so many new aspects and a full character cast it is all a lot to process at once. The pacing of the book is rather relentless and trust me when I say that you do get drawn into the book. But I sometimes lost track of what was going on and how it could all be significant in the end. This is just a minor squabble and some debuts suffer from over exposure, but I'm sure that this will be worked out in the sequel. 

There is one bit where The Six-Gun Tarot draws a lot of strength from and that is world-building. The world that Rod. S. Belcher envisions is rich to say the least. As I already mentioned above there is a great mix up of several themes of fantasy. Western, horror and alternate history to name a few. Each of these help to make the world interesting. Many of these bit work well individually but the way that they are combined make it that much better. The western aspect is readily shown by the inhabitants like Mutt and the desert city of Golgotha and lets not forget some gunslinging characters. The horror aspect comes nicely into play by the sort of Lovecraftian creatures that dwell in the silvermine next to Golgotha. The ancient evil that dwells is very well portrayed. Now there is one other bit the alternate history aspect of the book. The story takes place just after the Civil War in Nevada and most of the population are Mormons, its just mixing this bit into the whole, also the rebuilding of the town with Chinamen that adds so much flavour to the story. Now thinking of it I have completely forgotten the Angelic presences of the story! Yes this is also a story of heaven and hell... As you can see there are a lot of elements to the world of the Golgotha series. I can pick a favorite, they all work very well. 

With The Six-Gun Tarot Rod S. Belcher has produced a down right cool story. From the first introduction to Jim to the other characters that you meet in Golgotha, the son of Coyote or the Sheriff that is not affected by bullets or Malachi Bick, is he just an innocent saloon owner. Then you have the whole setting of the town of Golgotha and all the weirdness that takes place. Here Rod S. Belcher shows that he has a knack in writing an engaging story, producing some individual storylines, with multiple perspectives but also making them connect in a high degree giving a great wholeness and completeness to the story. I already glimpsed the synopsis of the sequel The Shotgun Arcana and it says that the troubles for Golgotha are far from over. 

Author Interview with Mats Strandberg and Sara B. Elfgren

Author interview Mats Strandberg and Sara B. Elfgren

Author bio's:

Mats Strandberg is an award-winning novelist and journalist. He is a regular columnist for Sweden's biggest evening newspaper, has been named Columnist of the Year by Sweden's Newspapers and Magazines organization, and had published three previous novels, with rights sold in numerous countries.

Sara Bergmark Elfgren started her career in the film industry as a screenwriter. As a script doctor, she has been involved in several Swedish film and television productions. She has a degree in Film Studies. THE CIRCLE is her debut novel.


Hi Mats and Sara, welcome over at The Book Plank and for taking your time to answer these few questions for us. 

BP: First off, could you give us a short introduction as to who Mats Strandberg and Sara Elfgren are? What are your likes, dislikes and hobbies next to writing?
MS: I had written three novels prior to the engelsfors trilogy, none translated into English however. I love reality tv, horror films, and books of course – any genre, really, as long as there’s interesting characters. I am addicted to social media. I want to live in Vermont for a couple of years in the future. I am about to get married to an amazing guy. I eat way too much ice-cream.
SE: I started off in the film and TV industry, working as a screenwriter and a script editor. I have a degree in Film Studies. I like books, graphic novels and movies and I also enjoy playing video games. The Last of Us was probably one of my greatest cultural experiences of 2013. I like music, everything from black metal to opera. I like broccoli and peanut butter, but not combined. Or wait … Maybe I should try this?

BP: What gave you the idea behind the Engelsfors series?
MS: It was a long and organic process. We knew we wanted to write about teenagers in a small town. We wanted them to come from from very different social groups, and be forced to really get to know each other – and themselves – while working together for a higher purpose.
SE: One day Mats said: “What if they’re witches?” And then I said: “Yes, but then we have to write a whole trilogy, three really thick books.” We didn’t realize what a huge project we were undertaking. I guess one could say that we were protected by our enthusiasm and naivety.

BP: You are both the authors of the Engelsfors series. How did you come up with the idea to coauthor writing Engelsfors series?
SE: Mats and I had gotten to know each other through our jobs and we had this amazing work-chemistry. Both of us felt that we wanted to work together. But it was Mats who suggested that we should write a novel. Which was quite brave of him considering that he was an established author, and I had, apart from working as a screenwriter, only received encouraging rejection letters from publishers.
MS: It wasn’t brave at all! It was a no-brainer. Our minds really clicked. Ideas snowballed. We just had to do it. And we were both at a point in our lives when it made sense to try something new. I had just finished my third book and I wrote columns for a newspaper and it was just me alone with my brain, all the time – I desperately missed working with someone. And then Sara appeared as an angel of light and beauty.

BP: When you write a book for yourself you can have everything to your own idea’s, how did the planning in cowriting the Engelsfors series work?
MS: It was so much fun! We were like two kids, creating our own world, playing with our characters. Of course we didn’t always agree, but that just led to discussions that made our ideas even better. I mean, we have discussed everything, from philosophy to physics to really personal, deep experiences from our own life regarding love and friendships and parents.
SE: We had a basic idea of what the main conflict would be in each book. When we worked on each individual book, we started off with a rough outline. Then we wrote and edited about four chapters at a time (two each). After about 100 pages we reread the whole draft from the beginning, discussed and made changes, and then we went back to the four chapter-method for another 100 pages.

BP: The Cirle, the first book in the Engelsfors series was originally published in Swedish, when you heard that a big publishing house in England wanted to publish your book in English, what were your first thoughts?
MS: Everything happened so fast with Engelsfors, that it just became part of this huge emotional rollercoaster for me. After a while, it was sort of like thinking about space. Your mind can’t really grasp it.
SE: It was huge, of course. Like Mats said, we were rather overwhelmed by everything at that time. I was very, very pleased. It felt so unreal. The book hadn’t even been published in Swedish yet.

BP: Often books written in the original language are best, when it comes to translation some parts can be missed or not as well interpreted when it comes to puns and jokes. How does this relates to the English version of Engelsfors?
MS: Well,  of course it’s hard for us to tell how some things “work” in a non-swedish context. It is strange to read ones own words in English, but it also feels weirdly natural – me and Sara both read a lot, especially in this genre, in English.
SE: Of course the translator had to change some things. For exampel, the rundown park Kärrgruvan where they meet, is called a “theme park” in English. In fact it is a “folkpark” (“people’s park”), a very Swedish phenomenon. Almost every Swedish town has one. It was a place where people went to dance, drink (lots of that going on) and listen to bands. They were often owned by a labour organisation. Nowadays the glory days of the “folkpark” are definitely over. But it has a very strong meaning for many Swedish people.

BP: The Key is the third and final book in the Engelsfors series and is published this month. If you would have to sell the book with a single sentence how would it go?
MS: Engelsfors with extra everything.
SE: More of the stuff you liked.

BP: If you would be given the chance to retract The Key from publishing and make one final adjustment would you do so and if yes which parts and why?
MS: I honestly can’t think of anything. We rewrote stuff days before it went to print, and this is the book that it is supposed to be.
SE: I agree with Mats. We did our best, and when you’ve done your best, you have to be satisfied. We’ve left the story with the readers now.

BP: Did you encounter any specific difficulties when you were writing The Key?
MS: Tying together this huge story. Being constantly afraid of discovering a huge plot hole that we had somehow missed all these years. And really, being so exhausted after three years of an immense amount of work. It has been an amazing adventure, and it has changed our lives for the better in so many ways, but it has also been relentless. We haven’t hardly had a life outside of Engelsfors.
SE: Yes, like Mats said, keeping the story together, and keeping ourselves together were the greatest challenges. Luckily, we have a wonderful work dynamic. When one of us is tired the other one always manages to find extra energy. We take care of each other.  And also, we laugh a lot, which probably helps.

BP: What has been the hardest part in writing the Engelsfors series?
MS: Anything to do with mythology and magical rules. Luckily my partner has a superbrain. 
SE: I enjoy solving problems. It’s a blessing and a curse. Mostly a blessing. There is a section of the book where the characters visit a non-ficitonal town for the first time, and writing and especially editing that was intense to say the least.

BP: Besides the hardest part, which chapter, scene or character did you enjoy writing about the most?
MS: It’s so hard to say, because the faves change every time. Anything to do with the relationships between the Chosen Ones, really. And I can’t really say what it’s about, because it would be a huge spoiler alert, but chapter 95 in The Key always makes me laugh.
SE: Yes, chapter 95 is a bright spot in a very dark section of the book, even though it has darkness too. I also enjoyed doing the research for The Key. It was never one of my favourite parts of writing before, but working on The Key completely changed that.

BP: Now that the last book in the Engelsfors series has been published do you have any new projects that you wish to pursue in the near future?
MS: I have just finished the first draft of a horror novel. It’s set on a cruise ship, and the whole plot takes place in 12 nightmarish hours. It has been so much fun channeling my inner Stephen King. I have also finished the first in a trilogy of children’s books. Plus, I have some other ideas … also, me and Sara will work together again in the future. We’ll see when, but we have already started talking about the kind of story we would like to explore.
SE: I’ve been very busy working on the film adaptation of The Circle, which opens in Swedish theatres the 18th of February. I co-wrote the screenplay together with the director Levan Akin, and I’ve been very involved in the project. Fun fact: the owners of the production company are Benny Andersson of ABBA and his son Ludvig - and Benny has written the score! Sorry for going off on a tangent, but the film has dominated my life for a long while now, and now I’m working on the screenplays for the sequels which we will hopefully make. But I’m also working on a high fantasy graphic novel about Nordic gods, giants and vikings together with artist Karl Johnsson, a picture books for children together with artist Maria Fröhlich and I look forward to writing my next novel, which is kind of in the same genre as the Engelsfors books. But answering these questions about The Key really makes me want to write a book with Mats again – right now!

BP: Everyone enjoys fantasy in their own way, what do you like most about this genre?
MS: I love seeing the world from new perspectives, and when fantasy sheds a new light on very real problems and situations. Me and Sara both love when the magical elements are used to challenge characters.
SE: Yes, I really enjoy fantasy that is grounded in some kind of “reality”, because that’s when the magical things feel the most magical to me. For example, the science fantasy comics Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is so imaginative: trees turn into rockets, there are talking (and super-cute) seal-people, but the characters are completely psychologically believable and that’s what makes everything feel so real. 

BP: if you would have to give your top 5 favorite books which would they be?
MS: Gaaah, I hate this question because it’s so hard to answer! I’ll cheat a little bit and say the five best books I’ve read this year (the books themselves aren’t necessarily new, though): The Fever, by Megan Abbott. Feed, by M T Anderson. Bird Box, by Josh Malerman. The Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker. The Hellbound Heart, by Clive Barker.  
SE: I completely agree with Mats about the question being stress-inducing and The Fever, Feed and The Hellbound Heart being excellent books (I haven’t read the other ones he mentions– yet).  I’ll give you five more spec fic titles that I read and really liked last year: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, The Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner, Ms. Marvel: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples. Last but not least: Maresi (part one in the Red Abby Chronicles) by Maria Turtschaninoff, a beautiful Finnish-Swedish YA high fantasy novel that will be published in the UK by Pushkin Press. Keep your eyes peeled for this one!

BP: And just lastly, can you give us a short sneak peek of what will be in store for the readers of The Key?
MS: Well, the most fun part of writing the key was that we finally could reveal all the secrets that we had been keeping for the first two books. And sort of burn off all the fireworks.
SE: Also there will be kissing.

You can find Mats on Twitter and Instagram with matsstrandberg_ and on Tumblr:
You can find Sara on Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram with sarabelfgren