Author Archives: E J Swift

Here and there

With the publication of Cataveiro in February, I’ve been busy scribbling a few guest posts, so here’s the links, with many thanks to the bloggers who have kindly hosted me.

On The Book Plank
An author interview.

On Fantastical Librarian
A guest post on Post-Ecological Politics in The Osiris Project.

On Parmenion Books
A guest post on Life After Publication.

On Civilian Reader
A guest post on Inspiration in Translation.

On the Del Rey blog
A twist on The Ladies Survey (on women and the internet) with Kameron Hurley, Jim Hines and Tobias Buckell.

Elsewhere, the marvellous folk over at Starship Sofa have done an audio version of all the shortlisted works for this year’s BSFA Short Fiction Award, including Saga’s Children, beautifully narrated by Trendane Sparks. Here’s the link to listen.

Lastly, a lovely mention for Osiris in the latest video from vlogger Rosianna Halse Rojas – and in great company too.

I’m now in the final sprint to finish up the manuscript for Book 3 of The Osiris Project. A book recs update is well overdue here, but it will have to wait a few more weeks. I’m also persevering (wading? swimming whilst desperately trying to keep head above water? I’m not sure what the appropriate verb is for this mad genius book) with Roberto Bolaño’s epic but utterly unrelenting 2666. Thoughts to follow.

La Femme/Noir anthology

I’m delighted to say I have a short story in an upcoming La Femme/Noir duo-anthology from NewCon Press. The books will be launched at this year’s EasterCon in April.

Here’s the full table of contents – my story is part of Noir, and is titled The Crepuscular Hunter.

La Femme: 

1. Introduction – Ian Whates
2. Stephen Palmer – Palestinian Sweets
3. Frances Hardinge – Slink-Thinking                
4. Storm Constantine – A Winter Bewitchment
5. Andrew Hook – Softwood
6. Adele Kirby – Soleil
7. Stewart Hotston – Haecceity
8. John Llewellyn Probert – The Girl with No Face
9. Jonathan Oliver – High Church
10. Maura McHugh – Valerie
11. Holly Ice – Trysting Antlers
12. Ruth E.J. Booth – The Honey Trap
13. Benjanun Sriduangkaew – Elision
About the Authors

Noir:

1. Introduction – Ian Whates
2. E. J. Swift – The Crepuscular Hunter
3. Adam Roberts – Gross Thousand
4. Donna Scott – The Grimoire
5. Emma Coleman – The Treehouse
6. Paula Wakefield – Red in Tooth and Claw
7. Simon Kurt Unsworth – Private Ambulance
8. Jay Caselberg – Bite Marks
9. Marie O’Regan – Inspiration Point
10. Paul Graham Raven – The Boardinghouse Heart
11. Simon Morden – Entr’acte
12. James Worrad – Silent in Her Vastness
13. Paul Kane – Grief Stricken
14. Alex Dally McFarlane – The (De)Composition of Evidence
About the Authors

Publication day: Cataveiro

The UK edition of Cataveiro, second volume in The Osiris Project trilogy, was released this week from Del Rey UK in trade paperback and ebook. Del Rey have done a truly beautiful job with the cover and I’m delighted to see the book out in the world.

Second novels are notoriously tricky and it was important to me to create something that could stand on its own, as well as being a sequel. Here’s a bit more about the book:

A shipwreck. And one lone survivor.

For political exile Taeo Ybanez, this could be his ticket home. Relations between the Antarcticans and the Patagonians are worse than ever, and to be caught on the wrong side could prove deadly. For pilot and cartographer Ramona Callejas, the presence of the mysterious stranger is one more thing in the way of her saving her mother from a deadly disease.

All roads lead to Cataveiro, the city of fate and fortune, where their destinies will become intertwined and their futures cemented for ever…

I was really happy to see Nina Allan’s review of the book over at The Spider’s House. You can read the full review on her blog, but here’s an extract:

“… the standard dystopian set-up has given way to a compellingly drawn post-collapse world that feels scorchingly real and virtually limitless in its horizons. This is a very human book, a boldly compassionate book, a novel bulging with important questions about our own world which cannot fail to engage the sympathy and imagination of the reader. I try to avoid the term worldbuilding wherever possible, but I have to concede that I found the worldbuilding in Cataveiro to be a thing of great beauty: both robust and poetical and – that word again – enviably assured.” 

I’ll be blogging and guest posting more about the book over the next month or so, and Del Rey will be hosting an extract which I’ll link to once it’s up.

You can order a copy of Cataveiro through Random House here, or via your preferred retailer (links for AmazonWaterstones, and Foyles.)

Saga shortlisted!

I’m thrilled to say that Saga’s Children has been shortlisted for a BSFA Award in the short fiction category. Huge thanks to everyone who nominated the story.

The full shortlists are on the BSFA website here, with links to the stories and articles you can read online. Congratulations to all the other nominees!

First sighting of Cataveiro!

Great excitement today when a box of brand new UK editions of Cataveiro arrived in the post. This book has been a long time in the works, and it’s both wonderful and a bit scary to see it in its final, physical form, knowing it will soon be out in the world. I’m so thrilled with this cover, which features Ramona’s aeroplane, Colibrí (the Spanish word for hummingbird).

Here it is in its multitudes:

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And next to a suite of Osiris compadres!

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Cataveiro is released from Del Rey UK on 20 February.  You can read more about it on the Del Rey website.

Year’s end, and the year ahead

Ends/beginnings of years inevitably call for round-ups, and 2013 has been an eventful one. On the writing front, I was thrilled to see the UK debut of Osiris with Del Rey UK in its trade, audio, and paperback forms, and the Osiris US paperback released in August with Night Shade Books, now part of Skyhorse Publishing. I finished work on the second in The Osiris Project trilogy, Cataveiro (pronounced ca-ta-veh-ro), which is scheduled for publication in February 2014, UK trade paperback, and July 2014, US hardback. I also had a short story, Saga’s Children, in the solar-system themed Pandemonium anthology The Lowest Heaven, and saw The Complex reprinted in Best British Fantasy 2013. I’m now working on the third novel in The Osiris Project and this will be the focus for the first half of 2014. After that – well, plans are in the works.

For the last few years I’ve kept a record of books read, and after some slightly disconcerting analysis of my own reading habits I made a decision that from last year I would read an equal ratio of male and female authors. A lot of the writers that I came to love at university, when I had more time to read than I probably ever will again, were male – looking back, and thinking about the bias of the course curricula, this is no real surprise. So this year I’ve split my reading 50-50.

In total I read 26 novels, 13 male and 13 female authors, plus a few anthologies. As part of my research for Cataveiro I discovered some superb Spanish and Portuguese-speaking authors, and would particularly recommend Angélica Gorodischer’s Kalpa Imperial, Roberto Bolaño’s Last Evenings On Earth, Chico Buarque’s Budapest, and Bernardo Carvalho’s Nine Nights. I started but haven’t yet finished Lygia Fagundes Telles’ The Girl In The Photograph. I found recommendations for several other female writers I would have liked to read but alas, couldn’t find a translation. Meanwhile, Bolaño’s epic 2666 is still on the shelf, awaiting its moment.

I’m usually a year behind with new releases as I tend to wait for the paperback (hardbacks are beautiful but I can’t bear to see them get messed up on the tube, and although I love my Kindle, as a writer there is no substitute for a library you can flick through) so I caught up on a number of older releases. I read a lot of brilliant fragmented novels this year: Hawthorn and Child by Keith Ridgeway, Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta, Communion Town by Sam Thompson, The Race by Nina Allan. I’d thoroughly recommend the beautiful and haunting All The Birds Singing by Evie Wyld, and was delighted to find Jennifer Egan’s Look At Me to be just as clever, funny and touching as one of my favourite novels of recent years, A Visit from the Goon Squad. My last read of 2013, What Lot’s Wife Saw by Ioanna Bourazopoulou is a clever, intriguing conundrum of a novel.

Going to be spoiled for choice for reading in 2014: I want to catch up on novels by Aminatta Forna (The Hired Man), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah), Eleanor Catton (The Luminaries or The Rehearsal), and Kate Atkinson (Life After Life), just for a start, and of course, a new David Mitchell novel, The Bone Clocks, out in September.

Here’s to 2014!

Recent reading – autumn 2013

It’s been a while since I posted any book recommendations – I blame The Kills for taking up two months of my reading life – but these are a few I have to post from the last few months’ reading:

The Falling Sky – Pippa GoldschmidtFalling_Sky_170x176.270

Simply and effectively told, The Falling Sky is the story of Jeanette, astronomer, and Jeanette, daughter and sister. The science is beautifully written and accessible, a fascinating exploration of not only the methodology of astronomy, but the competitive academic world where discoveries are made. Goldschmidt pitches the vast, mysterious quantity of space against the lifelong impact of an individual tragedy, as Jeanette struggles to come to terms with past and present. A quiet and lovely novel.

 

The Race – Nina Allan (read in manuscript)

I’ve really enjoyed Nina Allan’s previous work, and I was thrilled to be asked to read The Race, Allan’s first novel, to be published next year by NewCon Press. A beautifully crafted novel in four parts, The Race explores the intertwining fates of the Hoolmans, the Pellers, and the smartdogs of Hastings. The directness of the writing cuts right to the emotional heart of the characters, but it is also the details, the sensory descriptions, which linger. Allan’s work always reveals a strong affinity with the natural world, and in this case the novel is a damning indictment of the environmental consequences of fracking on the Sussex countryside; an engagement with place at once lyrical and political. Evocative and compelling, this is an irresistible read.

The Kills – Richard House

What can I say about The Kills? It’s such a huge book, in every sense of the word – it took me two months to read but it was worth the time and effort. House’s four-novels-in-one is a sprawling masterpiece which among other things offers a blistering examination of post-war Iraq. For me, the dominant theme was of exploitation and appropriation, both deliberate, and the unforeseen yet inevitable consequences of a single action. One line which has stayed with me is ‘sutler’ Ford’s observation of travelling student Eric, as someone who wants to “become someone who has been somewhere and done something”. But The Kills is much more than a book which has something to say – it’s superbly clever, metafictional, layered with connections and intersecting motivations. The writing is clean and sharp in that effortless way that you don’t even notice, and when House wants to pack a punch, he really does. The final sequences of each book – in particular, Rem’s recurring dream of hovering over the motorway – will linger with me for a long time to come.

man with compound eyesThe Man With The Compound Eyes – Wu Ming-Yi

“So this was what a mountain was like, the same as a person: the more you know, the less you fear. But even so, you still never know what it’s thinking.”

I really wanted to love this novel and even by the end I wasn’t quite sure what I made of it. Theoretically, it caters to all my favourite traits – the relationship between humans and the natural world, subtle fantastical elements, a mesh of narrative styles, a quite astonishing ending, and even a cat thrown in for good measure. All this I loved. However, there was something rather odd going on with the translation. Not knowing the original language, I don’t know what the intention was behind it – there were moments of real lyricism and some gorgeous observations, but at other times the rough colloquialisms felt clumsy, and pulled me out of the narrative exactly when I wanted to be immersed in it. This particular quibble aside, I would absolutely recommend this book. Look out for a wonderful section where each character tells the tale of ‘their’ island.

Just finished reading: Any Human Heart by William Boyd. Just a joy, really.

Next in line: Dear Life by the marvellous Alice Munro, which I’m hoping will inspire me for a couple of short fiction projects.

Meanwhile: stuck into the first draft of the third book of The Osiris Project. It’s going to be a long writing winter. So here’s Jeanette Winterson on ‘Why I adore the night‘ for some inspiration though the dark days…

US paperback for Osiris

A quick update to say that the US paperback edition of Osiris was released this week. US folks, you can get hold of a copy on Amazon here or Barnes and Noble here.

A few extracts from reviews below, and more over on my links and reviews page:

‘A fantastic blend of world-building, excellent storytelling and complex characters… An engrossing story from start to finish… Osiris would still be good if all it had was world-building, but it offers so much more by way of plot and storytelling. The thrust of the narrative is the motivation of the characters… forces readers to ask themselves what it would take to spur them to action. Now combine this with the other interesting elements of the book like political intrigue, subterfuge, the way the story is told from alternating viewpoints… and you can see why OSIRIS shines. It’s that kind of impressive storytelling that makes OSIRIS hard to put down, and when you have to put it down, something that you remain eager to pick up again.’  –  SF Signal

‘Swift’s first novel, with its brilliant near-future vision of an ecologically and socially devastated world and characters who resonate with life and passion, marks her as an author to watch.’  –  Library Journal

‘Here is an assured and accomplished debut novel from a writer we’re sure to hear more from in the future. Swift’s intensely observed interplay between the two principals mirrors in microcosm the obstacles to easing tensions between the factions. This is the beauty of the picture – the brushstrokes are broad but look closer and you will discern incredible detail. An absolute gem – there are many who would do well to take note of what this book says.’  –  Interzone (#246, May-June 2013)

‘… Swift’s writing is exceptional, vivid and compelling… I found OSIRIS to be a novel that deserves to be read. Swift’s talent as a writer can’t be questioned, and it’s clear to me that there exists an intent behind her work. It lends a depth that helped me persevere, not only to finish, but to anticipate the sequel. I’m hopeful that other patient readers will take the time to find the beauty in it that I ultimately did.’  –  Staffer’s Book Review