Saturday, January 05, 2019

2K18 Games

And my annual year-end blogs conclude with my list of games played and enjoyed/endured/shouted at/otherwise engaged with...

I hit 33 titles in 2018, an improvement on 2017’s 22 – although once more I returned to games from earlier years for a lot of play (key among them Destiny 2, The Division and Ghost Recon Wildlands). But by far the new games I put the most time into during 2018 were Horizon Zero Dawn and Far Cry 5.

Top picks for this year: Abzu, Tacoma, Horizon Zero Dawn and Marvel’s Spider-Man.

Here’s the full list:
Sniper Ghost Warrior 3: The Sabotage, We Are Doomed, Pocket Ops, What Remains of Edith Finch, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Tacoma, Night in the Woods, Call of Duty: WWII, Reigns: Her Majesty, Assassin's Creed Origins, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, NieR: Automata, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, Horizon Zero Dawn, Trackmania Turbo, OnRush, Space Station Continuum, Grip, The Division 2, Far Cry 5, Far Cry Arcade, Call of Duty: Black Ops III, WipeOut Omega Collection, Sky Force Anniversary, LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2, Rainbow Six Siege (PS4 version), Space Hulk Tactics, Hyper Sentinel, Abzu, Space Hulk Deathwing (Enhanced Edition), Far Cry 5: Hours of Darkness, Far Cry 5: Lost on Mars, Marvel's Spider-Man, The Crew 2, Elite: Dangerous (PS4 version), Far Cry 5: Living Dead Zombies.

Friday, January 04, 2019

2K18 Movies

The next in my yearly log of free-timery is a look over the movies I saw in 2018... 

 
I set myself a target of  one movie a week, and just popped over that with a total of 54 viewed, although less of them at the cinema than I would have liked. 

As I’m such a sucker for franchise flicks, naturally there’s a whole bunch of sequels and series movies, but I don’t care. I love big, brassy blockbusters and there were many. My top picks: Atomic Blonde, Solo, Mission Impossible: Fallout and Into The Spider-Verse.

Here’s my complete list:
Drone, Sicario, Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge, Jarhead 3: The Siege, Black Panther, We Still Steal The Old Way, Despicable Me 3, Transformers: The Last Knight, The Last Witch Hunter, Cars 3, Wonder Woman, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Pacific Rim Uprising, Triple 9, Avengers: Infinity War, Alien: Covenant, Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & The Punisher, Atomic Blonde, Anon, American Made, Solo: A Star Wars Story, Ocean's 8, The Great Wall, The Mummy [2017], The Transporter Refuelled, Kong: Skull Island, Drug War, Alien Invasion: S.U.M.1, Please Stand By, The Dark Tower, Bastille Day, The Operative, Search/Destroy, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Geostorm, Renegades [2017], Mission Impossible: Fallout, The LEGO Ninjago Movie, Justice League, Ant-Man & The Wasp, Final Score, The Shanghai Job [aka S.M.A.R.T. Chase], Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Logan Lucky, American Assassin, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, The Hitman's Bodyguard, Mechanic Resurrection, London Has Fallen, Now You See Me, A Walk Among The Tombstones, Gods of Egypt, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Now You See Me 2.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

2K18 Books

The second of my annual year-end blogs begins my what the heck did I spend my free time on lists, starting with my reading...
 

In 2017 I felt like I neglected my reading, so I made a better effort in 2018 – but I kinda cheated a little by including a whole bunch of audiobook shorts and novellas (over half my total for the year!). 

I especially worked on my backlog of Warhammer 40,000 and Horus Heresy audios, of which there is a rich and deep selection to enjoy. Story is story, it doesn’t matter how you get it, and anyone who gets sniffy about audiobooks and eBooks over dead-tree editions can go kick rocks.

I read a lot of fun stuff this year with hardly any clinker in there; top picks are Andrew Reid’s debut The Hunter, Darius Hinks’s The Ingenious and Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis.

Here’s my full list for 2018:
First Lord of the Imperium (L.J. Goulding), Ahriman: Key of Infinity (John French), The Darkness (Ragnar J├│nasson), Stone and Iron (Robbie McNiven), The Rage of Asmodai (C.Z. Dunn), A Lesson in Darkness (Ian St. Martin), Fortune of War (David Mack), American Assassin (Vince Flynn), Lies Sleeping (Ben Aaronovitch), A Rare Book of Cunning Device (Aaronovitch), The Break Line (James Brabazon), The Assassination of Gabriel Seth (Andy Smilie), Heart of Decay (Ben Counter), Unreachable Skies (Karen McCreedy), The Eagle's Talon (French), Hunter's Moon (Guy Haley), The Hunter (Andrew Reid), Diary of an AssCan (Andy Weir), The Art of The Division (Paul Davies), One Way (S.J. Morden), A Noise Downstairs (Linwood Barclay), The Last (Hanna Jameson), The October Man (Aaronovitch), The Ingenious (Darius Hinks), The Either (Graham McNeill),  Mortation's Heart (Goulding), Veil of Darkness (Nick Kyme), Trials of Azrael (Dunn), 100 Deadly Skills (Clint Emerson), The Freedom Broker (K.J. Howe), Hot Wheels Classics: The Redline Era (Angelo Van Bogart), The Janson Command (Paul Garrison), The Board is Set (Gav Thorpe), Lanzarote & Fuerteventura Pocket Guide (Berlitz), Iceclaw (Counter), Desperate Measures (Dayton Ward), Stealing Gulfstreams (James Patterson, with Max DiLillo), Kill Shot (Counter), Judge of the Wastes (David Annandale), Forever and a Day (Anthony Horowitz), Smuggler's Run (Greg Rucka), Repossessed (Sandy Parkes), The Interrogation of Salvor Lermentov (Chris Wraight), Iron Corpses (Annandale), Incorruptable (Annandale), Jar City (Arnaldur Indri├░ason), Words For Pictures (Brian Michael Bendis), The Autobiography of James T. Kirk (David A. Goodman), Taker of Heads (St. Martin), The Last Guardian (Dunn), The Thirteenth Wolf (Thorpe), The Emperor's Judgement (Joe Parrino).




Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Eighteen’d

And so another year is over, and I am here again, writing my series of post-NYE blogs – beginning with my usual overview of the past 12 months.


Can’t lie, I thought long and hard about giving up on these; after the challenging 2018 I went through, I wondered if I could still do it, if it was worth the time. In the end, here I am, writing. Partly it’s out of inertia, partly to just leave a waypoint for myself, partly because maybe I need to.

2018 was one the hardest years I’ve had to get through, but I did it, thanks to my loved ones, my good friends and my work colleagues. My family suffered a grave loss right at the start of the year and that cast a long, dark shadow over everything else that followed. I feel now like I’ve got enough distance to look at things rationally, but I know the road is long. I’m still finding my balance with this new normal, but I have a fantastic support structure – and I am very lucky to be where I am, with so many good people around me. You all know who you are; from the bottom of my heart, thank you

My testing times came right in the middle of working on The Buried Dagger, my last (and the last) Horus Heresy novel, which will be out in the spring. All the themes of that mythic saga were thrown into sharp relief for me, those questions of nature versus nurture, of fathers and sons, of what we leave behind and how our deeds measure who we are... Suddenly, I felt all these things more acutely than I ever had before. The blade cut close to home. It made me reflect on some of the things that have happened to me since I became a writer, and it made me reconsider what exactly is important in my life. 

In a strange way, these events have made me feel more alive – and more aware of how fragile our lives are – than ever before. I take that on and move forward.

I’m proud of how The Buried Dagger came out; the energy of a lot of what I went through in those months burns through that novel. I’m honoured that I got to be the one to write this particular bit of the saga, before the curtain rises on the Siege of Terra and the final endgame of the Horus Heresy epic. And as for other ventures into the grimdark future, I did a little work on the Space Hulk Tactics videogame, penned “Exocytosis”, a short story featuring the Death Guard legion, and had a whole bunch of my Black Library novels return to press in cool new editions and foreign translations. I wrote a couple of other Heresy short stories toward the end of 2018, but those won’t be out until later in 2019.


But the big deal in my writing career in 2018 was Ghost, the third in my bestselling Marc Dane action thriller series. I am proud to say that Ghost has been a huge success (making a note here), first with the hardcover release in the summer and the paperback last month.

The series is going from strength to strength with excellent feedback from my readers, so I want to express my great appreciation to everyone who continues to support my work. Shadow, the next Marc Dane novel, has already been delivered and we’re in talks for a fifth and sixth book, along with the possibility of exploring some other storytelling avenues for the series, so stay tuned. The Marc Dane books also made their debut across the pond this year with the release of Nomad in the USA, and the second novel Exile appeared in Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic.


Beyond that, I published a story for the Star Trek Discovery novel series with Fear Itself, the culmination of a lot of hard work during 2017, coming together in a book that I feel is one of my best bits of Trek fiction; what was especially rewarding for me was to see all the readers who found a strong connection to the main character of Saru and the exploration of him in the pages of Fear Itself

There’s no greater accomplishment for an author to write a character that readers take to heart, and I’m happy I could build on Saru in a meaningful way for all the Discovery fans out there.


I did a little video games work this year, contributing some faction scripts to the upcoming Tom Clancy title The Division 2, and I can’t wait to play it. I’m also hoping that a to-be-announced title I worked on several months will soon be unveiled, but more on that when I’m allowed to talk about it...

It wasn’t all work, of course. I travelled a lot this year, some of it for events, others for research – to Utrecht in the Netherlands, Brussels in Belgium, Malmo in Sweden, Dusseldorf in Germany and Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. I went along to fun events like EGX Rezzed, the Morecambe & Vice Crime Festival, Destination Star Trek and library events in Hammersmith and Gillingham (If you were there, thanks for coming!) 


I even got to see Vin Diesel - from a distance! – at Fast & Furious Live and cheer on one of my friends as they realized the childhood dream of racing at Brands Hatch. I got my first pair of spectacles; I had my first official author photo shoot; I was Best Man at a wedding for the first time (and yeah, I was late); and best of all, my team won sweet, sweet victory at our local pub quiz.

As for the coming year; like I’ve said before, I’m moving forward, always striving to improve my craft and do the best I can in the world. I’m not sure what the next 12 months with hold... I know I have a few cool projects lined up which I’ll be talking about in the days and weeks ahead, and some plans for travel and events. I hope to see you out there.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Techno Thriller Heaven with Writing.ie


Earlier this month, I talked to the online writing magazine Writing.ie about my idea of Techno Thriller Heaven...
 
https://www.writing.ie/interviews/techno-thriller-heaven-ghost-by-james-swallow/

Follow the link to the article Here, where I discuss my fascination with a certain kind of cover design, jet planes flying out of explosions, the golden age of the techno thriller novel
and some of the inspiration for the latest book in my Marc Dane action thriller series Ghost...