Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Moving Day, mofos!

As you no doubt heard already, we (I use the royal "we" because it seems to make people pay attention to me) have been in the processing of setting up a new website for myself, Sam Sykes, author and noted reverse-philanthropist.

Said site is now complete and it is a thing of beauty. It will probably destroy you entirely if you look too closely at it. It's thick, dark and beautiful, like a jungle panther or Bill Cosby. All we need to do now is launch it.

What does this mean for you, gentle reader?

First of all, it means that all future blog posts will be seen at: www.samsykes.com (hopefully within a day of your reading this post).

And, of course, it means that this is the last post that will occur on samsykes.blogspot.com. We're moving to Wordpress now, which is the wave of the future that will carry us into the age where advances in science grant us cures for diseases and cybernetic testes.

So, for all of those who have kept up with my insanity, inanity and filthy nepotism, thank you. I sincerely hope you will continue following my thoughts onto the new site and well into the point when you suddenly realize you've been spending a lot of time reading my blog and you should probably go outside or maybe see your loved ones because they miss you so much but you can't leave now because you're too deeply invested in my thought process and are forced to watch as time and the ravages of humanity slowly take their inexorable toll upon me and I slither down a long and slippery slope into senile dementia and by that point my blogs are all basically versions of "you know what I really like? Ham, ham is what I really like" and a strange cocktail of nostalgia, desire and emptiness will make you realize I'm not the same author that you fell in love with and you see me now as an empty husk and whenever I open my mouth you only hear screaming and so to save my brain the dignity it affords you sneak into my house and smother me with a Japanese body pillow and go to jail satisfied that you are a martyr for the cause.

...yeah...that'd be great.

See you soon!
-Sam Sykes

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Interview of the Damned II: Moher's Revenge: The Sam Sykes Story

No doubt, if you're reading this, you're probably at least a little familiar with my blog and the concept of blogging in general. For those of you who are uninformed: the "Blog-o-Sphere" is sort of a mass, voluntary incarceration program, similar to Twitter and Facebook, in which the socially maladjusted and criminally depraved willingly glue themselves to their computers in exchange for mass amounts of information.

Usually, this is a dark and wicked place, a Hell of our own creation in which we plumb the bleak depths in search of a festering nugget of information that we eagerly suck dry to fulfill our spiritual needs. It is a foul place. It is a gloomy place. And you are no doubt just as thrilled to be a part of it as I am.

In the ninth circle of the sphere, the level reserved for fantasy writers, fantasy readers, fantasy bloggers and Abe Vigoda fans, a vile court holds council. And in this foul and loathsome court, Aidan Moher is king...

...actually, maybe closer to an earl. No, wait, that has some bizarre lineal rules to it. At the very least, he's a mayor...possibly an owner of a quaint little bed and breakfast...OF THE DAMNED.

A Dribble of Ink was one of the blogs I followed quite voraciously, even before Aidan gave me the excellent opportunity to be interviewed on it. I can't say my opinion of the blog has gotten any grimmer now that I'm a featured part of it. Though some may suggest that my presence will lower the property values.

But why not decide for yourself? Hop on over to A Dribble of Ink and have a look at this fantastic interview!

Wait, what are you still doing here? Do you require a highlight to tantalize you?

Normally I stay away from the tell-us-about-your-book-because-I’m-too-lazy-to-do-the-research-myself-and-can’t-think-of-any-other-good-questions-to-fill-out-this-interview questions, but since you’re a new author, why don’t you tell us a bit about your first novel, Tome of the Undergates that can’t be found in the synopsis I’ve included above?
It’s actually a surprisingly philosophical book. Not the overt, beard-stroking, “what is a chestnut” kind of philosophy, but the sort that delves deep into the psyche of people without being boring. It takes the standard idea of the adventurer in fantasy and asks the questions that are presumed to be answered in the genre: what drives someone to become an adventurer, who is largely presumed to be a graverobber, thief and unprofessional assassin? Would a group composed of many different races, religions and professions really get along so well as to perform a quest? How can they presume a benevolent deity is on their side when they continue to suffer and die? How can they presume that they are in the right when they continue to cause others to suffer and die?

Beyond this, the book is really about the six companions and what motivates them: racial agendas and what happens when one feels compelled to violate them, atonement through murder, what really goes through the mind of the last of a particular race (hint: it’s not pleasant). Basically, TOME takes a lot of the things you might be familiar with and starts sodomizing them in front of you.

Also, there is a scene in which a man gets his crotch stomped into pulp. This is in the first fifty pages or so. They would not tell you about that in a synopsis, friends!
Mmm...tantalizing, isn't it? Almost sinfully so. I can see you trembling, wanting to know more about this interview, this blog and its terrible machinist. Go ahead...indulge...the time wasted there is better than the time I wasted writing my Urban Fantasy novel (Balls Deep: A Denise Asspuncher Mystery, coming in 2011 from Gollancz).

Truly, though, the interview was an utter delight and I'm pleased that my very first interview as an author came from a site as big and informative as A Dribble of Ink.

Brief aside: Jeremiah Tolbert of Clockpunk Studios almost has our new site up! Watch this space for details. I'm really pleased with what I've seen so far (it has an RSS Feed button! An RSS Feed button that is DROWNING!)

Monday, January 18, 2010


There's no shortage of authors out there who will eagerly claim that games (usually role-playing games) influenced them and their work greatly. Frequently, if you're too old to remember what to do with wooden nickels (don't take them!), it's Dungeons and Dragons that you cut your teeth on. But video games account for a lot these days, too.

With greatly unabashed sincerity, I say that video games influence my work more than is probably wise to admit to for a man hoping to be taken seriously. One, in particular, really had a lot to do with my adoration of secondary worlds, heroic adventures and putting pointy things into other fleshy things.

The Legend of Zelda.

For those of you who don't know, Zelda is pretty much the same game over and over: mute, pointy-eared hero embarks on quest to gather a variety of tools to defeat glowering, coal-skinned villain and save talkative, pointy-eared princess. This is done through a variety of interesting dungeons, giant monsters and occasionally, an entirely different universe.

This was the first game I played for my Super Nintendo back when I was 11 and I went absolutely nuts for it. I loved everything from the dungeon-delving to the puzzles to the very, very understated relationship between Link and Zelda (it's very hard to convey romance with a guy who does not utter a single word). Ever since then, I've wasted countless hours of my life on Zelda games: Ocarina of Time, Majora's Mask, Wind Waker and especially Twilight Princess.

Thus, when I heard of a post-Biblical apocalypse Zelda-themed dungeon adventure game by the name of "Darksiders," I was pretty ecstatic. I checked it out pretty thoroughly: giant monsters, gathered weapons, puzzles, dungeons and exploration of a vast and alien world.

By all rights, I should have liked this game.

As it is...it's alright.

Let's start with the gameplay: pretty good, actually. You get a variety of weapons to kill your enemies and get some nice God of War-style finishers to finish off wounded enemies (though there isn't actually a point to most of them, since killing them by a finisher or just beating them up gives you the same amount of "souls" or currency). You fight through dungeons, solve puzzles and explore an Earth that was ruined when the Apocalypse began prematurely, leaving all humanity zombie food for various demons.

And therein is the problem: there is no humanity to this game.

The story, on the surface, is kind of cool: you are War, a Horseman of the Apocalypse and servant of the Charred Council, a legislative body of omnipotent beings created to govern the war between Heaven and Hell. You were called to Earth before the Apocalypse was supposed to begin and found the war reignited. A century later, mankind is toast, angels and demons use Earth as a battlefield and you're sent to make things right.

...how? By killing a Destroyer, apparently. This is where my problems fire up.

War is a giant, muscle-bound, long-haired, violent, killing machine. His enemies are various amalgamations of fire, spikes and claws. His allies are supernatural beings that are chiefly concerned with his duty. His duty is to restore the Balance between Heaven and Hell.

And I really don't give a shit.

Because there's nothing really at stake here for me. There are no humans left, so War has nothing to really save. The Earth is already destroyed, so he can't really restore dick. War feels no fear, no pain, no sadness, so I can't really relate to him. The Destroyer is cloaked in shadow and there's no doubt that he's the enemy, so everything I'm doing is just to get closer to him and...that's it?

This game had almost everything I wanted in a Zelda game. It had tools, giant monsters, lots of fun exploration and a bunch of crazy crap happening. But it lacked one thing: vigor.

Zelda games are, without a doubt, brimming with character. The environments are unique and interesting, the characters are wild and entertaining, the boss battles are epic and Link is instantly relatable, since he's a tiny dude fighting a big, BIG challenge (for what reason, though? Because Zelda told him to so he could prop up her monarchy? I may have to write a manifesto on this later, but that's beside the point).

Darksiders has character, but it's just...eh. The environments are desolate and largely interchangeable (dust here, fire there, spikes here). The characters are entertaining, but not really likeable (demon merchants, demon princes and Mark Hammill). The boss battles are epic (but why wouldn't they be?) And War is not at all relateable because it's very, very hard to feel sympathy for a Horseman of the Goddamn Apocalypse.

They both have character. But while Zelda is the bright, cheery kid who occasionally has fits of rage where he goes around hitting chickens with a stick, Darksiders is the gloomy kid who smells like french fries and never talks to you unless he wants to show you his collection of trout skulls.

In short: fun, but not "go nuts" fun. Try it if you're hard up for Zelda or you just really like whacking zombies with parking meters.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Biiiiiig Wiiiinneeeer!

Bum-bum bum-bum bum-bum bum bum.

...that...that was meant to sound like a drum announcing the winners, not me just saying a synonym for a posterior over and over. Though, if you'd all like to talk about butts for a few hours, we certainly can. I'm something of an aficionado, you see, a relative connoisseur of cans, an admirer of asses, a--

...right, moving on.

First of all, thank you to everyone who entered in my fabulous ARC giveaway! It was a blast for me to run and, even though you all didn't win, it was an immense amount of fun to get your guesses and responses. Shall we take a look at some of them and see what some of my favorites are? I put away the names of all except the winners, because I'm not sure who would like their privacy protected and who is in fact a demon waiting for their true name to be uttered so they can come into the surface world and wreak terrible vengeance.

Here's a pretty good one to start us off:

Dear Sam,

You made no mistakes.

D'aww, thanks! Let's see if this trend continues...


My guess is you made 4 mistakes.

Well, that's also pretty optimistic! Who else is so generous, I wonder...

I'd like to wager a guess and say 14 mistakes. Any more and the book is fluff any less and you're mister perfect and my low sense of self esteem will not let me read the book, so the answer better be 14.
Fluff?! Mister Perfect?! Why, I never! This trend of--

My guess is 33 mistakes. This isn’t a guess based on your skills as a writer/editor, just a lucky number. No offense. I wouldn’t want you to have start a new list: fans I have tried to defeat in hand-to-hand combat.

Wait! I wasn't done yelling at the last guy! Hold on, are you suggesting I couldn't defeat you in hand-to-hand combat, sir?!

I am from England, I have pre-ordered 3 copies from Amazon Uk and USA!
I cannot wait for the release of your much hyped and I am sure worthy publication.
To recieve a personally signed Arc would be heaven, so here goes.
I believe you have made : 45 mistakes!
Sorry I hope that Isn't too Insulting!

Well, thank you very much! I mean, that isn't too insulting, considering the utter niceness with which it was spoken, even though that is the biggest guess so f--

Oh dear god,

I cannot estimate the number of mistakes you have left on your proof copy. God knows it's not the fault of your long-suffering editor or the Colossus of Prose, your copy editor, whose name will echo in praise throughout the halls of Olympus and the hills of Valhalla, or possibly the hells of the tome of the undergnome, or some shit.

Although my guess is as good as that of a drunken boar, the apollonic oracle suggests that your your actual answer is 72. Hide your head in shame, sir. The wheel rolls five ways AT LEAST.

Okay, now I am BE ANGEROUS NOW. Wheels rolling five ways?! Colossi of Prose? Undergnomes? SEVENTY-TWO!? These are getting a little extreme, perhaps we ought to stop and take a--



Okay...okay, I'm cool. I'm cool. Just...we're all pretty good that everyone was here to hold me back, right? Or I'd just be going CRAZY right now! Painting walls with blood! Baking fudge with ASS! I'MMA MAKE YOU EAT AN ASS SANDWICH! AAAARRRHGGHGHGBGLLGGHG...

...what? Oh, right! The number of mistakes!

The actual number was Forty (40) Mistakes (cock-ups). Surprisingly generous, actually, but maybe I'm just that slick? It is indeed possible. So, let's discuss the winning entries.

There were three, of course (their names have been withheld so someone doesn't go mug them for their ARCs), and they have already been notified! Their guesses?


Seems like everyone should have paid a little more attention to Douglas Adams, no? He might have been onto something.

Anyway, everyone, I truly and sincerely thank you for your interest in this contest. I am likewise truly and sincerely thankful you weren't in my house when I opened my inbox and saw so many entries and promptly squealed with excitement. Trust me, the sound would have lingered inside your brain and eventually driven you mad. You have no idea how pleased I am that so many people took an interest in my book.

To that end, I will eagerly invite everyone (save the winners, naturally), to participate in the months before September in trying again! Yes, hopefully, we will be able to run another ARC competition for the North American editions! It's gon' be a hot wing doused in two parts awesomesauce, three parts boss-sauce, and YOU WILL EAT IT.

Watch this space for details!

And thank you, one and all, for participating in this contest.

To my UK guessers: I will actually be in London for Eastercon, it looks like, and the launch of my book. If you are there to see it, please don't hesitate to come up to me and tell me you were involved in the contest. In exchange, I will give you one (1) free hug.

...I charge ten bucks for them, normally, because I know people are copping a feel.

Thanks again, my friends!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Changes! Promotions! SIGN RIGHT THE HECK UP!

First of all, why don't you pull up a chair and have a gander at this fine piece of literature?

Yes, it's one of our first reviews! And what's more, it's good! Robert Grant, author, owner, operator of Disgruntled Writer, is a mighty fine blogger and his site is chock full of stuff for the discerning reader and future writer! Also, he has exquisite taste! Let's see what he said about Tome of the Undergates, shall we?

I enjoyed reading Tome of the Undergates from the first page, Sam Sykes writes with real poetry in places and he has a knack for constructing sentences with rhythm and tempo that make the reading fun and the story flow. The characters are nicely drawn with quite distinct voices and despite the story taking place in basically two locations he has a created the beginnings of a world which hangs together pretty well while being populated by different races, religions and colours. The action too comes thick and fast and the pace doesn’t let up much for its 600-odd page length. Every battle is bloody and brutal and if you like your violence with no-holds barred then you’ll be in hog heaven reading this.
Poetry! Flow! Thick! Fast! Bloody! Brutal! Hog Heaven!

All words used to describe me by my editors and ex-girlfriends alike! And here they are being used to describe my book! Be sure to read the whole review and many more throughout his site!

So, anyway, guess what! I'm GETTING A GODDAMN WEBSITE! Yes, finally, more than just a construction page! Jeremiah Tolbert of Clockpunk Studios has very graciously accepted me into his clientele list. You can see a good representation of his work on his site and on the site of Blake Charlton, author of the-sure-to-be-fine-ass Spellwright and part-time mob informant. Consequently, I may have just outed him and condemned him to wearing cement shoes.

I should probably delete that...probably...hmm...

But, anyway!

What does this website business mean for you? Well, this particular blog will probably be disappearing/moving sometime soon (just as well, I can't fix the goddamn twitter feed to the right), but we'll do our best to transplant the blogs written so far. So, in the future, please check out all our stuff at www.samsykes.com. It will BLOW YOUR MIND.

Hm? What's that?

Oh, right. You're wondering if this will affect the contest going on. The answer: nope! The winners will still be announced January 13th! That's also the day after the last possible day to turn in your entry! Why not read the entry and see if you'd like to participate?

As a note to all who've entered so far: yes, I've seen them all! I haven't actually responded yet because that seems like it would be quite time-consuming and, by the end, I'd be so irritated that my response would just be pictures from the Polar Bears Club.

So, do check this stuff out and watch this space for future website developments! We'll give you notice before the whole thing goes live so you can keep yourself attached to me and my thoughts, the writhing lamprey to my pale white nurse shark.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Agony Column: Lou Anders <3s Sam Sykes

Hey! HEY!

It's 2010! A lot of lists for favorite books of the year, favorite publishers for the year, favorite Indian restaurants for the year (Punjab or G.T.F.O., yo), but a lot of people seem to be forgetting that 2010 means that it's actually the end of a decade. And while any jerk can be an "Editor of the Year..."

Only one can be Editor of the Goddamn Decade.

Naturally, it's pretty clear that anyone who is in close contact with me is destined for greatness and Lou Anders is no exception. What's that you say? He had a lot of good books before me? That's simply deranged, sir. I have spent a long time convincing myself that I'm the greatest person on earth and I'll be damned if I let you ruin that.

But let's move away from that for awhile. Lou has recently done a podcast for Bookotron.com in which he discusses the trends in fantasy, the near future of SF/F, eBooks and a certain Tome coming out in the near future.

Go ahead and have a listen, why don't you?

Go ahead, I'll wait.


Did you hear that?

The Second Coming of Joe Abercrombie. I didn't even know he was dead! I hope he went peacefully and didn't mess himself when he finally went down. What? Yes, there was a lot of other interesting stuff in that podcast, too, but COME ON, MAN.

Anyway, it's an excellent way to ring in the New Year's with my editor having secured such furious honors and having such great publicity is probably the best holiday present I could have gotten from him.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

I was this close to posting a drunken blog last night. We are all quite fortunate that I couldn't figure out how to work it enough to post my list of authors I have defeated in hand-to-hand combat...

...so that I could post it here today.
You might notice that those are all authors on my own publishing house. You might conclude that I am doing this out of fear of legal or physical or fecal retribution. I assure you, though, I'm not at all above threatening people from other publishers.

Mark C. Newton. Watch your goddamn back.

Anyway, what are your New Year's Resolutions? Mine is to stop googling my own name. Not only is it shallow, vain and nerve-wracking, but it might also lead to the other people who share my name and it irritates me to no end that they didn't do as I asked them and changed their names to combination African and Polish names. Shambali Hoedekker, I am looking at you.

I don't care if those names are accurate or not. This is my blog. MY BLOG.

So, 2010 is going to be a big year! Probably because Tome of the Undergates is a tantalizing four months away (if you're in Britain; nine if you live in the US or Netherlands). Can you wait that long? Dare you wait that long? Are you possessed of the urge to light a candle in front of its Amazon page and quietly confess in sobbing tones your love for its masculine cover, its enduring thickness, its BRIMMING gore, action, vengeance, romance and philosophical undertones?

You can't?


Hey! Instead of stalking and murdering me, my editors or one of the authors/bloggers in possession of an ARC (if you do choose this route, though, go for Lachlan, I'm sick of that smug lupine writer; also, he's small), why not just read THIS BOLD-ASS POST and see if your estimations of my abilities are enough to get yourself a free ARC!

Deadline is January 13th! We've got plenty of guesses (most of them very gracious) but we could use more!

Resolve to enter, read and swear your undying devotion to me!

Also, do not send me nudes. They're very charming, but I can't appear biased.

Happy New Year's!

Edit: It would probably help to include the link to the actual contest. Good lawd.