Joe Abercrombie was born in Lancaster, England, on the last day of 1974. He was educated at the stiflingly all-boy Lancaster Royal Grammar School, where he spent much of his time playing computer games, rolling dice, and drawing maps of places that don't exist. He went on to Manchester University to study Psychology. The dice and the maps stopped, but the computer games continued. Having long dreamed of single-handedly redefining the fantasy genre, he started to write an epic trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man's barbarian Logen Ninefingers. The result was pompous toss, and swiftly abandoned.
Joe then moved to London, lived in a stinking slum with two men on the borders of madness, and found work making tea for minimum wage at a TV Post-Production company. Two years later he left to become a freelance film editor, and has worked since on a dazzling selection of documentaries, awards shows, music videos, and concerts for artists ranging from Barry White to Coldplay.
This job gave him a great deal of time off, however, and gradually realising that he needed something more useful to do than playing computer games, in 2002 he sat down once again to write an epic fantasy trilogy based around the misadventures of thinking man's barbarian Logen Ninefingers. This time, having learned not to take himself too seriously in the six years since the first effort, the results were a great deal more interesting.
With heroic help and support from his family the first volume, The Blade Itself, was completed in 2004. Following a heart-breaking trail of rejection at the hands of several of Britain's foremost literary agencies, The First Law trilogy was snatched up by Gillian Redfearn of Gollancz in 2005 in a seven-figure deal (if you count the pence columns). A year later The Blade Itself was unleashed on an unsuspecting public.
Speaking as part of that unsuspecting public I have to say I really didn't like The Blade Itself (2006) when I first read it. I couldn't figure out who I was supposed to be rooting for, who was the hero of this story? Some of the characters were being introduced as if they were heroes, but they behaved like such assholes it did not make sense. It was only when reading the second book, Before They Are Hanged (2007) that things clicked into place for me - there are no heroes in this story, everyone is an asshole to a certain degree. That's when I started to understand the way that Joe was subverting the standard tropes of fantasy, and in many ways the structure of stories themselves too. Joe's grimdark style has often been compared to George RR Martin and has earnt him the moniker Lord Grimdark, which has become Joe's Twitter handle in equal parts good humour and ego boost.
It's fair to say that you can see Joe's skill and confidence as a writer develop and grow over the course of The First Law trilogy, concluding with The Last Argument of Kings (2008) and this was recognised with Joe being a finalist for the John W. Campbell award for best new writer in 2008. Following on from The First Law trilogy Joe released three standalone books set in the same world. The first of these, Best Served Cold (2009) is a brilliantly dark tale of revenge and the lengths someone will go to to get it. The second standalone, The Heroes (2011), tells the story of a single battle complete with all the tedium of waiting around for it to begin and the horror of it once it does. I think The Heroes is my favourite of Joe's books, it is a very funny and entertaining read. The third standalone, Red Country (2012), can be described as a Fantasy Western crossed with the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
In 2013 Joe said that he was going to take a bit of a break from writing before starting work on another trilogy of books to follow on from Red Country. So it came as a bit of a surprise when he later announced a new trilogy of Young Adult books to be published by HarperCollins. Fans wondered how Joe's grimdark style would translate to YA, would he have to tone it down a lot? The answer is not as much as you might think. Half A King (2014), the first part of the Shattered Sea series, still has plenty of horrific violence, disfigurement, awkward sex and all the other things Joe has become known for. When asked about this Joe said that he feels like you can't write down to teens, they are dealing with many of the same things adults are and while you might not describe things in quite as graphic a way as in a book for adults there is no reason to avoid tackling any subject.
The second book of the series, Half The World (2015), has just been published and the series will conclude with Half A War due to be published in July 2015.
Joe has a long history with the Brotherhood Without Banners and George RR Martin fandom. He's been a member of the Westeros fan forum for a long time and when he lived in London before he was first published Joe was a regular attendee at BWB meet up's. He still visits the board quite often and can be found posting in the Literature Forum answering questions from fans. As someone hugely influenced by George RR Martin, Joe was asked to interview George for a special programme for Sky TV in 2011.
Joe now lives in Bath with his wife, Lou, his daughters Grace and Eve, and his son Teddy. He spends most of his time writing edgy yet humorous fantasy novels and looking like Jonny Lee Miller as Sherlock Holmes in Elementary. Seriously, am I the only one who has noticed the resemblance?
We are thrilled that Joe will be our guest this year. I've been chasing Joe for the last four years but sadly he's always had to turn us down. Persistance finally pays off! Joe is a great guest, always entertaining and engaging, a very funny panellist and we can't wait to see Lord Grimdark at TitanCon 2015.
Pat Caidgan was a guest at TitanCon 2014 and she loved it so much she's coming back again this year.
Pat is a two-time winner of the Arthur C Clarke Award for her novels Synners (won in 1992) and Fools (1995), a three-time Locus Award winner in three different categories - best short story for Angel (1988), best collection for Patterns (1990), and best novelette for The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi (2013), which also won the Hugo Award for best novelette at WorldCon 2013 in San Antonio.
Pat has been an active member of SFF fandom since 1976 when she joined the convention committee for MidAmeriCon, the 34th WorldCon, held in Kansas City. Pat worked for ten years at Hallmark writing greeting cards, often in perfect iambic pentameter. She sold her first professional science fiction story in 1980 with her success encouraging Pat to become a full-time writer in 1987. She moved to the UK in 1996 and now lives in London.
Pat has been dubbed 'the Queen of Cyberpunk' but her novels defy such narrow categorisation. Her first novel, Mindplayers (1987), introduces what becomes the common theme to all her works - blurring the line between reality and perception by making the human mind a real explorable place. Her second novel, Synners (1991), expands upon the same theme and both feature a future where direct access to the mind is possible via technology. While her stories include many of the gritty, unvarnished characteristics of the cyberpunk genre, she further specializes in this exploration of the speculative relationship between technology and the perceptions of the human mind.
Her third novel Fools (1992) examines a near-future in which insertable memories and personalities are for sale. This was followed by the Doré Konstantin series, comprising Tea from an Empty Cup (1998) and Dervish is Digital (2000). AR is not just a way of life, it turns out, but also of death, as homicide detective Doré Konstantin discovers when she is called upon to investigate the death of a young man in an artificial reality parlour.
Pat has written a huge number of short stories, many of which are included in three short story collections - Patterns (1989), Home By The Sea (1992) and Dirty Work (1993). Pat has also contributed short stories to the Wild Cards shared-universe edited by George RR Martin including By Lost Ways in Wild Cards II: Aces High and Addicted to Love in Wild Cards V: Down and Dirty. If you are a fan of George's work but haven't heard of Wild Cards I highly recommend you check it out.
The award winning novelette The Girl-Thing Who Went Out For Sushi was first published in the anthology Edge of Infinity (2012) and is also available in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection (2013). The story is about a group of workers who live in the orbit of Jupiter, where they assist in ongoing scientific research. All the workers have "gone out for sushi" - that is, they have had themselves surgically converted into forms resembling marine life (the narrator is an octopus) in order to better function in microgravity. However, this transformation has also made them into a political underclass relative to the normal humans referred to as bipeds.
Pat's most recent work is Chalk, a chapbook from This Is Horror, about two childhood friends. Dee and Mary discover a way to hide in plain sight so that Dee doesn't always have to go home and babysit or do household chores for her mother. For awhile, it's great fun to sit apart from the rest of the world and watch them unawares. But it's not exactly normal. It hadn't occurred to Dee and Mary that what they were doing would have consequences...
Sarah Pinborough is a rising star in British fantasy fiction and has released a staggering number of novels in a short space of time. Sarah was originally going to be a guest at TitanCon 2013 but sadly had to pull out due to work commitments, so we're pleased to say she will finally make it to Belfast for TitanCon 2015. Especially since Joe Abercrombie will also be with us - they're a proper comedy double act on Twitter and will make our literary panels highly entertaining.
Sarah started out as a teacher before she became a horror writer with titles such as The Hidden (2004), The Reckoning (2005), Breeding Ground (2006), The Taken (2007), Tower Hill (2008) and Feeding Ground (2009). She followed these up with two Torchwood novels for BBC Books, Into the Silence (2009) and Long Time Dead (2011).
Sarah transitioned into fantasy with short fiction that was recognised with Do You See (2009) winning the British Fantasy Award for best short story in 2009 and The Dying of Language (2009) winning the British Fantasy Award for Best Novella in 2010. Sarah was also nominated for a World Fantasy Award for short story Our Man in the Sudan (2009).
Sarah was working on two trilogies of books at the same time published between 2010 and 2012. The Dog Faced Gods trilogy comprising A Matter of Blood (2010), The Shadow of the Soul (2011) and The Chosen Seed (2012), tells the story of an all too credible future in which most governments of the world are in massive debt to 'The Bank' and Detective Inspector Cass Jones has a high profile shooting to investigate and a serial killer to catch, yet he finds all three things are mysteriously connected. The other trilogy The Nowhere Chronicles is a YA urban fantasy set in an alternate London and is published under the name Sarah Silverwood comprising The Double Edged Sword (2010), The Traitor's Gate (2011) and The London Stone (2012).
Turning her hand to screen writing, Sarah wrote an episode of BBC TV police drama New Tricks (2012). Peter Medak has been attached to direct Cracked, a screenplay based on Sarah's first novel The Hidden. Sarah also has an original series in development with World Productions and ITV Global.
In 2013 Sarah released a trilogy of adult fairy stories published by Gollancz. Poison tells the story of Snow White the way it was always meant to be with Snow as a sexually liberated young woman who is not at all interested in being a princess. The second book Charm is the story of Cinderella and the final book in the trilogy is Beauty, the story of Sleeping Beauty. You may have thought fairy stories were for children but Sarah has made these short novels sexy as hell and definitely not for kids. The covers are really beautiful too in shimmering silver which can't quite be captured properly in the images below.
The novels Mayhem (2013) and Murder (2014), published by Jo Fletcher Books, are set around the time of Jack the Ripper and tell a dark story of gruesome murder on the streets of London with a touch of supernatural influence.
The Death House (2014) is widely regarded as Sarah's finest novel to date. Taken from his family, Toby now lives in the Death House; an out-of-time existence far from the modern world, where he, and the others who live there, are studied by Matron and her team of nurses. They're looking for any sign of sickness. Any sign of their wards changing. Any sign that it's time to take them to the sanatorium. No one returns from the sanatorium. The Death House is a heart-breaking, heart-stopping tale of love, life and death which will take your breath away.
Considering all of this it can be hard to understand how Sarah finds the time to be on Twitter quite so much! (@sarahpinborough) Sarah is a lively and entertaining speaker and will be a fantastic guest at TitanCon 2015.
In September 2007 Peadar Ó Guilín published his first novel, The Inferior, which the Times Educational Supplement called "a stark, dark tale, written with great energy and confidence and some arresting reflections on human nature." It tells the story of Stopmouth and his family who must battle for survival in a world of tribal societies. To live they must hunt rival species or negotiate flesh-trade with those who crave meat of the freshest human kind. There is but one law: Eat or be Eaten.
The second book in the series, The Deserter (2011), continues Stopmouth's journey as he attempts to understand The Roof and find the mysterious woman he loves who fell from it.
The final book in the trilogy, The Volunteer, will be available as an eBook from 12 June 2014 for just $4.99. In the meantime you can download and read a massive and totally FREE sample which comprises 20% of the book right now!
Peadar has also put out an eBook called Forever in the Memory of God: And Other Stories. The collection comprises three stories The First of Many (a novellette that Peadar read the opening chapter of at TitanCon 2013), Forever in the Memory of God and Fairy Gold.
Forever in the Memory of God: And Other Stories is available NOW DRM-free from all good Kindle stores and costs just £1.84 (US $2.99). It should also be making it's way to iTunes and Kobo Stores in the near future. It's got a lovely cover image as you can see, as Peadar puts it "no expense has been spared and no profit is possible." I do urge all fans of Peadar to help try to prove him wrong by buying a copy (If you don't own a Kindle device the application itself is also available for PC, iPhone, iPad and Android). At that price you simply can't go wrong.
Peadar has been writing curious stories for as long as he can remember. One of his school reports claimed that he had "a talent for communication, which he abuse[d]." Since then he has written plays, published short stories and performed as a stand-up comedian. He has taken part in a project to translate the Linux operating system into Irish and is fluent in French and Italian. Peadar lives in Dublin where he toils night and day for a giant computer corporation.
As a fan of George RR Martin Peadar has been posting on the Westeros forum for years and in 2009 travelled to Worldcon in Montreal where the Brotherhood Without Banners took him firmly into the fold and made him one of their own. While signing copies of The Inferior for some of the BWB Peadar wrote a dedication that could not quite be read, it was supposed to say "...you are so awesome" but it looked like "...you are so enslaved". Within a few hours there were t-shirts and badges saying "Enslaved by Peadar Ó Guilín". I remain convinced that Peadar's fan club needs to be called The Enslaved and he really should try and work something about enslavement into his next novel.
Peadar is now a regular at Irish conventions including Octocon in Dublin and is currently part of the team working on the Dublin 2019 WorldCon bid. He is always an interesting, enlightening and entertaining panelist. When first asked if he wanted to be a guest of TitanCon he thought it was a trick question, a horde of zombified wild horses could not keep him away! Peadar has proved a huge hit with the audience over the last three years moderating Game of Thrones panels and hosting our Masquerade in such hilarious style - and yes he will of course be hosting again this year.
We invite you to come be enslaved by Peadar Ó Guilín.
Laurence Donaghy is the author of an urban fantasy trilogy called Folk'd. The trilogy interweaves a very modern tale of unexpected parenthood and responsibility set in contemporary Belfast with ancient Irish mythology and the supernatural. In Folk'd (2013) and its sequels, Folk'd Up (2014) and Completely Folk'd (2015), we are taken on a humorous, sometimes horrifying, always enthralling journey from modern-day Belfast to prehistory as the full and tragic tale of the Morrigan family is told.
Laurence is delighted to be coming back to TitanCon now that the entire trilogy is complete. He's working on a follow-up project which will attempt to take the same irreverent approach to the superhero genre that Folk'd took to fantasy. One of his short stories is being adapted into a graphic novel, and most excitingly of all, he's working with a screenwriter to produce a pilot script for a potential TV adaptation of Folk'd.
Debbie McCune was born in Belfast and grew up in Carrickfergus. As a child she liked making up stories and even wrote some down, including a thriller about a stolen wallaby.
Debbie read Theology at Trinity College, Cambridge but mostly just read lots of books. She lives in Northern Ireland with her husband, daughter - and two cats with seven legs between them.
Writing as DJ McCune, Debbie's debut novel Death & Co. is the first of a three book YA / crossover series, published internationally by Hot Key Books. Adam is a Luman, and it runs in the family. Escorting the dead from life into light, Adam must act as guide to those taken before their time. As his older brothers accept their fate Adam clings to his life as a normal kid - one who likes girls, hates the Head and has a pile of homework to get through by Monday morning. When Adam gets a terrible premonition he realises that he must make a devastating choice, risking his life, his family and his destiny.
The story continues in Death & Co: The Mortal Knife (2014), the second book of the series. After breaking Luman law trying to stop a terrorist attack, Adam is looking forward to getting back to school and returning to normality. Unfortunately, Fate is standing in his way, and she goes by the name of Morta. Adam must weigh up what is most important: his friendships, school and being normal, or life as a Luman. There is only one place he can find the answers he needs. Adam must enter the Realm of the Fates and take control of a situation that is about to spiral dangerously out of control.
The third book Death & Co: Fault Lines was published in January 2015. The time has come for Adam to face up to the truth and challenge his destiny. When his father allows him one last opportunity to be a regular teenager and travel to Japan on a school trip. Adam could never have imagined that this alone would force his hand. But his terrifying premonition of a devastating tsunami due to hit Japan means he has to act fast and stop it before it happens. There's no going back now: if he saves thousands from a terrible fate, he must also risk the wrath of all Lumen... Is he man enough to take it on?
2015 is a big year for Zoë Sumra. She has her first book coming out in November and her first baby coming out in December. Zoë is a member of the Brotherhood Without Banners (GRRM fan group) and has been writing for almost her entire life. She is also a big supporter of the UK convention scene and regularly volunteers at EasterCon, Redemption, Nine Worlds, previous TitanCons and many other great events. Zoë is part of the committee for EasterCon 2017 in Cardiff alongside her husband who is chair. So for Zoë to finally be published after nearly a decade of trying feels like a victory for everyone that's known her for years. Zoë has written several more books in this universe and actually went back to write a prequel to tie it together, and it's that prequel novel that has now been published. There is so much more to come from Zoë over the next few years and I urge you all to start reading now.
Zoë was born in London, but spent her later childhood living in Lancashire, where she started writing novels at the age of twelve due to extreme boredom. After completing the obligatory epic fantasy trilogy in her teens, she spent four years at the University of St Andrews, where she learnt to fence both foil and sabre and cemented her passion for space opera. She now lives in London with her husband and a collection of swords. When she's not writing or fencing, Zoë works as a print controller for an advertising company.
Zoë's debut novel, Sailor to a Siren, is a space opera novel with significant nods to the gangland thriller genre.
When Connor and Logan Cardwain, a gangster's lieutenants, steal a shipment of high-grade narcotics on the orders of their boss, Connor dreams of diverting the profits and setting up in business for himself. His plans encounter a hurdle in the form of Ëloise Falaviére, Logan's former girlfriend, who has been hired by an interplanetary police force's vice squad.
Logan wants a family; Ëloise wants to stop the drugs shipment from being sent to her home planet; Connor wants to gain independence without angering his boss. All of their plans are derailed, though, when they discover that the shipment was hiding a much deadlier secret - the prototype of a tiny superweapon powerful enough to destabilise galactic peace.
Soon, crime lords, corrupt officials and interstellar magicians are pursuing them, and Connor, Logan and Ëloise realise they have to identify and confront the superweapon's smuggler in order to survive. But when, one by one, their friends begin to betray them, their self-imposed mission transforms from being difficult to near-impossible.
Sailor to a Siren is a great debut from Zoë Sumra and establishes her as a name to watch in epic space opera. The depth of her characters, the breadth of her world-building, the ambition and longevity of her story-arcs spanning multiple generations of families, all make this a first step in what is likely to be a fascinating and enthralling universe. This is a universe that has more in common with The Galactic Milieu, Firefly or Babylon 5 than with Star Trek or Star Wars. These are stories that Zoë has been thinking about, preparing and crafting for many years; stories that deserve to be told, from a story-teller who deserves to be heard.
Sailor to a Siren will be published in paperback by Elsewhen Press in November 2015, but the eBook is out now!
One of the aims of TitanCon is to provide a platform for new local talent to showcase their work to a wider audience. We are pleased to welcome a brand new science fiction author to TitanCon 2015, Jo Zebedee, from just down the road in Carrickfergus.
Abendau's Heir, the first book in the Inheritance Trilogy published by Tickety Boo Press, is a character-focused space opera. It follows Kare, the only heir to a galactic empire he doesn't want. His cruel mother, the Empress, at first tries to convince him, but when he refuses to take the Empire she turns on him and takes a vengeance that will resonate through the galaxy. Meanwhile his father's rebellion want a figurehead to stand against her, but Kare just wants to avoid the horrific future foretold for him.
Jo says that "what I wanted to do was to take the SFF trope of the 'chosen one' and ask what it would mean to be that chosen person. What would it do to their relationships, their friendships? Their sanity? I wanted to explore that against a classic SF setting, so there's plenty of action, FTL tech, some military scenes, and the backdrop of a big space opera world." Abendau's Heir can be categorised as grimdark and takes the characters, and the reader, to some very dark corners of the universe.
Jo had tried to write Abendau's Heir about three times when she was in her twenties but it never turned out close to the quality she had been hoping for. Then one summer, Jo's children were finally old enough to entertain themselves and she thought it's now or never. That she was about to turn 40 might have been another incentive!
Finally the book was finished, Jo was happy with it and naively she thought that getting it published would be the easy part. During the five years it took to find a home for Abendau's Heir Jo wrote six books, including the following two books of the trilogy and two stand alone genre novels based in Northern Ireland.
Jo says that she is very proud of the final result. "My editor, Teresa Edgerton, was amazing at shaping the book and pushing me to make it better. The result is so much more than I ever dreamed of."
SFF World recently interviewed Jo to talk about the publication of her book. Jo is a regular poster at SFF Chronicles. There is a Facebook page for the Inheritance Trilogy if you'd like to know more about the books. Jo can also be found on Twitter.
Medieval Combat Group is a Belfast based martial arts school for Historic European Martial Arts, teaching 13th to 15th century weapon techniques reconstructed from authentic period fighting manuals, and using modern protective equipment to allow a wider and more accurate range of techniques to be applied properly and safely to the opponent.
The group specialises primarily in the longsword and the messer (a single-edged short sword used by many peasants and townsfolk for everyday defense), and will be offering beginners workshops and demonstrations at TitanCon in the use of these weapons. They will also have a table set up in the dealers area with examples of equipment, examples of the period fighting manuals, and will be happy to answer questions about the martial arts of medieval Europe and the use of the weapons and the type of training that they do.
Medieval Combat Group has also kindly donated a one-on-one private lesson as a prize in our Charity Raffle Prize Draw.
Brutal Ballet, a classical ballet company dancing to heavy metal was established in 2008 in Australia by dancer and choreographer, Bridie Mayfield. The company is now based in Northern Ireland, with dancers from all over the UK. The reformed company's debut performance was at TitanCon 2014, which you can see in the video below, and read more about it in this BBC news article.
We are pleased to announce that Brutal Ballet will be back this year with a new Game of Thrones inspired dance piece. Personally I'm hoping for some much heavier metal this time around...
We regret to announce that Ian McDonald is no longer able to attend TitanCon 2015. His new book Luna: New Moon launches the same week and he will be away on a signing tour of the US. This will be the first TitanCon Ian has not attended and he will be missed.
Please see our Game of Thrones guests page for details of the cast and crew members attending TitanCon 2015.
Please note that all guests appear subject to work commitments. Panels and events may be cancelled or rescheduled due to unforeseen circumstances. We will do our best to arrange alternative events; however this may not always be possible. Refunds will not be available due to changes in the event line up or schedule. TitanCon accepts no liability for loses incurred through errors or omissions on the website or the TitanCon convention booklet. Please see our Code of Conduct for more information.