Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Launch Day: The Lazarus Gate!

I sensed something new and strange. The air in the room seemed to change—even now I find it difficult to describe, but it seemed to cloy, moving like a vista shimmering in intense heat. The shadows around the corners of the room began to grow thicker, and the entire room appeared to ‘bend’, as if viewed through aged glass. The hairs on the back of my hands and wrists were on end, and the velvet drapes began to rise gently, as though being pulled by some unseen force. My eyes were drawn towards the far end of the room, to where the curtains were being attracted; there I saw, as if for the first time, a closed door, which I assumed must lead to a closet of some sort. Incredible as it sounds, I cannot be certain that the door was even there before. Around the edge of the door shone a faint, golden light that spilled from every crack. Worse, as the trilling noise ebbed and flowed in horrid, ululating waves, the door appeared to distort and heave, as though it were breathing.
- The Lazarus Gate

The Lazarus Gate is out today in the US and Canada, with its UK release to follow later (October 2nd), and it represents the single most exciting product I’ve ever worked on. Largely because, unlike all my other ventures in the public domain, this represents not a product per se, but a labour of love, a very long time in the making.

The rather stonking cover,
designed by Titan's Julia Lloyd.
I can hardly remember when I started working on The Lazarus Gate. From concept to proper draft, it probably took me two years of evenings and weekends while I worked full time. It passed before the eyes of several trusted alpha readers, and went through four rounds of edits before finally I felt able to dangle it in front of literary agents like a fishing lure, hoping it was a gem-like fly rather than a mouldy old maggot. Since securing an agent (the rather dapper Jamie Cowen at the Ampersand Agency), and selling it to the wonderful peeps at Titan, the book has gone through further major revisions, which themselves have taken almost a year to complete, until finally here we are at the launch. You’d think after over three years of working on The Lazarus Gate at some stage or another, my enthusiasm may have waned, but honestly I’m like a big kid at Christmas time right now. My baby is out in the world at last!

So, what’s The Lazarus Gate all about? Well, at its simplest, it’s a parallel universe science fiction story set in the Victorian era (1890 to be exact). A cursory look over this blog will tell you why I chose that particular setting; it’s been a lifelong obsession of mine. The history, the literature, the language… I like to think that if I got sucked through a time portal right now and ended up in the 1890s, I’d fit right in (probably as a chimney sweep or mudlark, but beggars can’t be choosers).

Like pretty much all of my stories, The Lazarus Gate includes elements of horror and the Gothic alongside the weird science, and that’s something that will continue as a common thread through the series. The story follows John Hardwick, a soldier who has spent most of his adult life fighting in India and Burma, returning to London after being held captive by Burmese rebels. He’s a recovering opium addict, and a fish out of water in swirling London society, but is soon drawn into a confounding mystery involving dynamiters, psychics, high-falutin’ gentlemen’s clubs, and underworld gangsters. There’s detective work in the smog-shrouded streets of Victorian London, desperate battles of wills in a sinister opium den, a roguish gentleman thief, dashing officers and smoldering gypsy princesses, fights on the deck of an ironclad, and nefarious plots aplenty.

If you pick up The Lazarus Gate, then you have my eternal gratitude. If you like it, and I really hope you do, then you’ll be pleased to know that the second book in the series is nearing completion, slated for an Autumn 2016 release. For future developments, please do keep a weather eye on the blog; you can also follow me on Twitter, and Like my Facebook page, if you’re so inclined!


The Lazarus Gate is out now, and is available in all good bookshops and online stores.

UPDATE (2/10/2015): The UK Launch day is here! And the first review has been sighted here

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