The Red Hand deleted scenes – free ebook download

image001“Too much! Too much!”

That’s what my editor had said upon receipt of the manuscript of The Red Hand, whilst banging his head repeatedly on the desk.

So, I did the cutting thing – to the book, that is, not him. The end result has now been striding about the world since January, and, I’m happy to say, nabbing four and five star reviews.

But then there were the leftovers. Too good to waste. So, to mark the anniversary of Good King John’s darkest hour I cooked them up into a tasty ebook, which you can have right now, free.

To open and start reading right away, or to download and keep, just click on:

The Red Hand deleted scenes.pdf

God bless King John, and the Devil take the Lionheart!

The Name of Galfrid’s Horse

Guy of GisbourneRecently, the nice people at Abaddon posted some deleted scenes for my novel The Red Hand (see links on these blogs). Today, for World Book Day I’m posting another that is exclusive to my own blog. It’s short, it’s sweet (I think so, anyway) and it is comedy gold. OK, maybe bronze… (Pragmatic note: as with the previous deleted scenes, if you have the novel and wish to know where this bit fits, the date will tell you exactly where to stick it.) Enjoy.

 

The road to Berughby – 15 May, 1193

Gisburne felt guilty. He hated feeling guilty. Maybe he should’ve let Galfrid in on the plan from the start. It had been a simple omission at first; then it became a joke. His squire always knew everything – it amused Gisburne to make him guess. But now, it had stopped being funny.

Gisburne decided it might be a good thing to at least try to make conversation. He turned and looked Galfrid’s palfrey up and down – a fine chestnut mare with a white flash upon her head. She could amble as smoothly as any horse he had ever seen.

“So,” he said, “how’s this new nag of yours working out?”

“Good,” said Galfrid, matter-of-factly.

“Good,” Gisburne nodded. “And her temperament?”

“Fine,” said Galfrid.

“Fine?”

“Very fine.”

Gisburne nodded slowly. Clearly Galfrid was not going to make it easy for him. Gisburne wasn’t exactly an adept at small talk, either – usually, they travelled hard, and conversation was sparse, except when it was urgent, and to the point. Or when Galfrid was honing his sarcasm. “Well then…” continued Gisburne. “Given her a name yet?”

“I have.”

Gisburne waited patiently for the rest of the answer. It never came. He sighed. “And may we know what it is?” A note of irritation was entering his voice now. They had been travelling less than half an hour, and already the road to London looked to be getting longer. “Fauvel?” he ventured. Galfrid shook his head. “Sorel? Star, perhaps?”

Galfrid cocked his head and raised his eyebrows as if to say: Good guess – but no…

“Something more elaborate then?” Gisburne tried to think of the least appropriate name for this docile plodder. “Thunder?” He would provoke Galfrid into an answer, one way or another. “No, I know – Warlord! I beg your pardon – Warlady…

“Mare,” said Galfrid, bringing the speculation to an end.

Gisburne turned and looked him squarely in the eye. The squire stared straight ahead with an impenetrably inscrutable expression. “Mare?” said Gisburne.

“Yes.”

“So, she’s a mare, and you’ve called her ‘Mare’…”

“Yes,” said Galfrid.

Gisburne sighed. “Well, it’s accurate. And a fine temperament, you say?”

“Very fine,” said Galfrid. “Steady.”

“Steady.” Gisburne turned and looked ahead. “Hm. Fine if you like that sort of thing, I suppose.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Gisburne shrugged. “You know. Steady. A bit dull…”

“Dull?” There was a note of outrage in Galfrid’s voice. He had taken the bait.

“You know my preference. A decent stallion.” He slapped Nyght affectionately on his sleek, black neck. “Bolder. Braver…”

“Dafter.”

“Dafter?” It was Gisburne’s turn to sound outraged now. Nobody insulted Nyght. Nobody.

“More impulsive. More bloody-minded…”

“Nyght is perfectly even-tempered,” insisted Gisburne.

“Was he being even-tempered when he kicked the Earl of Norfolk?” said Galfrid.

Gisburne cursed inwardly. Trust him to have heard about that. It had happened last time Gisburne was in York – but the plain fact was the Earl had deserved it. “If Nyght hadn’t taken the initiative,” Gisburne said, “I’d have done it myself.”

Galfrid thought about that for a moment. Then he nodded, and said: “A mount should always be sensitive to its master’s needs.” Gisburne grunted in agreement at Galfrid’s wise words.

And so, having reached an accord, they rode on in contented silence.

More Gisburnalia!

6dIn case you missed them (like I’d give you a chance…) there are two more ‘director’s cut’ deleted scenes from Gisburne opus The Red Hand on the Abaddon blog:

Eleanor of Aquitaine – in which Gisburne and Galfrid meet the most powerful woman in Christendom, and lose the heir to the throne.

and

An Unexpected Visit – in which a dejected and directionless Gisburne plays host to an old friend, who just happens to be dead.

There’s one more to come, which will be exclusive to this blog. You lucky people.

 

Ghosts! Zombies! And Eleanor of Aquitaine!

6dThe plan was for The Red Hand to be a short, sweet second volume of the trilogy. That was the plan. Somehow, though, it grew and grew. It grew so much that I had to hack off some bits to make room for other bits.

Never one to discard a fresh body part, I kept them on ice – and now the nice people at Abaddon are presenting these deleted scenes on their blog for your delectation. The first – in which Gisburne, Galfrid and John tell ghost stories around a fire – is up today, here.

There will be two more, posted on Wednesday and Thursday morning this week, in which we lose the heir to the throne and meet the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Gisburne has an unexpected guest – who just happens to be dead. Enjoy!

Then three come along at once

2014 was not the easiest of years, and I can’t say I’m entirely sorry to see it go. At times, in terms of workload, it felt like it had been sent to test me – to make me find out what my limits really were. I did. It wasn’t fun. But it was instructive, at least. I now know not to have another year like that.

Its last hurrah came in the form of a flu-like virus – the one that has you coughing day and night for weeks, which seemingly everyone suffered from – which then led to the early stages of pneumonia. Terrific. Only now am I feeling normal again (well, as normal as I ever did). 2014 just didn’t want to relinquish its grip without a fight.

Well, it didn’t have everything its own way, and all that work wasn’t without issue. As a result of it, I have three books out in three consecutive months.

image-serviceDecember saw the publication of The Zombie Renaissance in Popular Culture – an academic tome that grew out of the Zombosium at Winchester University in 2011, where I gave a paper. The book is a collection of chapters by a variety of authors and academics on all aspects of zombies in our culture, the very last being my own contribution. Snappily titled Zombies, a lost literary heritage and the return of the repressed, it offers a brief overview of recent zombie literature, and then deals with one of the great fallacies of zombie lore: that it has no literary heritage. It does – and it’s Viking. Viking zombies. They’re just my thing.

Read about them here.

image001In January, Hunter of Sherwood: The Red Hand, the second volume of the Gisburne trilogy, was published by Abaddon (one of the imprints of Rebellion, who publish 2000AD). It was meant to be a short and snappy second book. It wasn’t. It was huge. A monster. Some of this had to be trimmed back for the sake of everyone’s sanity, but this means there will be some ‘deleted scenes’ available, featuring events and encounters not included in the final novel All of these will be posted on the Abaddon blog as well as here. Anyway, at the time of writing, the eBook has got 25% off in the Rebellion online store January sale (to which the above link will take you) but you can also find it on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Reviews are starting to come through on Goodreads, and they’re very pleasing – all 4 and 5 star reviews. Thank you to all who have taken time to review it (and read it, of course).

TheVikingDeadGermanVersionFebruary will see the return of an old friend. My first novel, The Viking Dead, is to be published in a German version by Voodoo Press. It’ll also be available on Amazon. OK, so this one’s cheating a bit – I mean, I didn’t have to write it all over again, and it wasn’t me translating it – but hey. Three books is three books.

In your face, 2014…

The Red Hand – first review

image001First past the post (as far as I know) is Bloggabook… Very complimentary and to-the-point, they said: “The interconnectedness of everyone in this story is so well laid out and presented that you don’t need to reference a flow chart during the story.”

Always a bonus, not having to reference a flow chart.