The Momentum Blog

David Rollin’s writing process

Posted October 6, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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I often get asked what my writing process is. The fact is, writing a novel is a pretty romantic notion for a lot of people. But is it? Most people envisage that they’ll be sitting in their study, soothing music playing, and otherwise undisturbed while the creative juices flow. Hmm…my reality is that I write at a desk in my bedroom, facing a brick wall. I used to listen to music, but for some reason I don’t any more. I used to do that so I could block out the real world and concentrate instead on the world playing out behind my eyes. I don’t need to do that anymore. I can hold reality ay bay at will. I write sitting in departure lounges, or on planes, or in the back of taxis. I can write anywhere. Sometimes I have to because there’s not enough time for that desk in my bedroom.

For years I wrote 2000 words a day and I was religious about it. Sometimes that writing would start at 6 am and finish at 8 or 9 pm – whenever that 2000 words was on the hard drive. Some days I could peel off 2000 words a few hours. Sometimes the words come fast, and sometimes you have to lever them out with a crowbar. These days, there’s so much else I have to do that I’m happy if I just advance the story. Even a couple of hundred words, if that’s all I can manage.

When I’m in the middle of a manuscript, I go over and over the dialogue in my head until it sounds about right. Sounds cool, right? But often this happens at 4 in the morning when I’m trying to sleep. Or when I’m trying to exercise. Or when I’m watching my daughter play soccer. Or driving. Or at a restaurant with friends. In fact, sometimes I wish the voices in my head would just fuck off and leave me in peace. My wife will often say, “Hey, where are you?” because I won’t be in the here and now, I’ll be in someone else’s skin, in some other place, and, recently, in some other time. It’s relentless.

I also don’t always know exactly where the story will go, though I’m reasonably clear on where it will end up. I write a kind of an outline and this includes several key scenes I can see clearly. The outline is important – if it works, I know the book will work. This is my “spine” or “railway tracks” – I’ve heard a number of writers call this different things, but it’s all the same. If I don’t have something like this – even a paragraph – I know I might lose the plot.

You want to know one of my most favourite sounds? It’s the clatter of fingers on the keyboard of a computer. What a beautiful sound – all those words and thoughts being created. It’s like a rush of new life.

Is writing a novel romantic? Maybe it is, I don’t know. What I do know is that no one else will write it for me. If the words get written that’s me. If the words don’t get written that’s also me. So instead of going to the pub, I write. Instead of going to watch a game of rugby, I write. I’ve missed quiet a lot over the years. And maybe lost a friend or two also. But in their place I now have 10 novels and each one has been its own adventure. I went to Siberia to research The Zero Option. And the Thai-Burma border for A Knife Edge. For Standoff, I went to Colombia, Panama and Texas and hung out with The Texas Rangers and watched drug couriers come across the Rio Grande at night. I’ve also met some great people, though admittedly some of these have been conjured in my own brain.

And when you write the novel, you live with these people in your thoughts for the duration. That’s not always a good thing, believe me, because a novel has to be convincing. If you can’t convince yourself that the characters and the situation (or plot) is real, you can forget about convincing your readers. So when I’m deep in the story, the lines of what’s real and what’s in my imagination can get a little blurry. My family is used to it now, but the outcome is that I’m thought of (I believe) as being either vague and dreamy. There’s no room left in my head for names or faces or places that aren’t in my current book. It’s weird, I guess, but that’s how it rolls for me.


Field of Mars: The Complete edition is out on the 8th of October! Grab your copy now!


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Face to Face with Rasputin: by Sophie Masson

Posted September 30, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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The long shadow of one of Russia’s most fascinating and enigmatic characters, Rasputin, hovers over Trinity: The False Prince, in several ways—which I won’t reveal for fear of spoilers! But I will tell you about a spooky visit I made to the scene of Rasputin’s murder, in St Petersburg: the basement room in the canal-side palace once owned by Prince Yusupov, the chief of the plotters against Rasputin.


It’s in one of the grand gilded living rooms of the palace that you get the first glimpse of the horrible events of December 30, 1916. A group of rather creepy waxworks representing some of the conspirators is huddled around an old phonograph. ‘Waiting for Rasputin,’ the guide says, ‘they listened to the same record over and over.’ They were nervous. Rasputin was a favourite of the Tsar and his family and they could not be sure how he would react over his death.’ But it wasn’t here this room that Rasputin was lured to his death; oh no, though the prince, pretending friendship, had invited Rasputin to come and take tea at the palace, he had no intention of letting this ‘dirty peasant’ set foot in the fine rooms of the palace. No, Rasputin was to come to the basement. The conspirators only waited upstairs so as to be on the spot after Yusupov had done the deed and they could get the body out of the house.

Wax figures Rasputin & Yusupov

The basement room is even more chilling. There’s not much furniture, apart from a table, a couple of chairs, and a tall Orthodox cross in a niche. There are more creepy waxworks—the tall, bearded, long-haired figure of Rasputin sitting at a table with food and drink in front of him; the elegant figure of Prince Yusupov staring glassily at the lowly intruder. Though Yusupov and his ilk despised Rasputin as a vile commoner, they were not immune to his reputation as a sorcerer, and fear was also present in the room that night. The guide tells us the famous story—of how Yusupov, plying his guest-victim with poisoned food and wine, grew desperate as none of it seemed to have an effect; how Rasputin, feeling perhaps the weight of hatred and fear in the place, got up and went to the cross, and falling on his knees, began to pray; how Yusupov chose that moment to stab him in the back; how Rasputin fell, and the prince, thinking he’d finished him off, rushed off to fetch his friends so they could drag the body out; and how, returning to the basement room, they found Rasputin gone, and a trail of blood leading outside, by the canal where they cornered their victim and shot him several times, but to make sure he was dead, threw him into the water.

The cross

I’ve read the story many times; but there is something deeply disturbing in hearing it again here, in the place where it happened. And when we go into a nearby annex and are shown the autopsy photos of Rasputin’s body–‘It was clear from the autopsy he had died from drowning, not shooting or stabbing or poisoning,’ says the guide—I feel overcome by horror at what was done here. It was a vile scheme, a cowardly plot—and a vicious own goal which far from ‘saving’ the Tsar from bad counsel, actually helped to precipitate the cataclysmic events which would lead to the destruction of the monarchy and the triumph of the Bolsheviks.

There’s a weird coda to the story of Rasputin. When the Bolsheviks took power, one of their first acts was to dig up the body and destroy it—such was the power, even after death, of the legend of the man. But as the body was put on a bonfire to destroy it, suddenly, driven no doubt by chemical reactions, it sat up, causing panic. Though the body was eventually burned and the ashes scattered in an undisclosed location, it was yet another piece in the puzzle that was Rasputin—a puzzle that fascinates people to this day.


Trinity: The False Prince is released on the 8th of October.

You can grab a copy of Trinity: The Koldun Code now!

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The Five Stages of Falling in Love with Ebooks

Posted August 20, 2015 by Momentum

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You never want to give up your beautiful, beautiful books.

Stage One: Curiosity

You get an e-reader and some e-books. Maybe you borrow one from a friend, maybe you already had a tablet, and you don’t want to carry a pile of books on a long trip. Maybe you are just curious, and want to see what all the fuss is about. But, you insist to yourself, your heart still lies with physical book. You’ll never want to give up your beautiful library.

Pixels can never compare to that smell!

Stage Two: Denial

There’s a small voice in the back of your head saying that this ebook thing isn’t so bad. You ignore it, and you focus on all the things you love so much about physical books. They way the paper feels. The smell. Oh the smell! Nothing compares to the smell of a book, you tell yourself. You think about buying perfume so you too can smell as good as a book.

You enjoy it, but you still don't quite trust it...

You enjoy it, but you still don’t quite trust it…

Stage Three: More Denial

You find yourself reading more and more book on your ereader. You don’t tell people how much you like it, and you still carry around an old paperback “just in case.” You make jokes about how real books don’t need to be recharged, while anxiously hoping your ereader isn’t dead so you can finish the book you started yesterday. You start realizing how much you love adjusting the font size, the page color, and the brightness.

You could never bring this many books with you before!

Stage Four: Assimilation

You realize resistance is futile. You love your ereader, and you want it to be a part of your life. You take it everywhere with you, and you start telling everyone about how nice it is to carry hundreds of books in your pocket. You think about getting your grandmother one for her birthday.

They’ll have to bury you with this thing.

Stage Five: Happily Ever After

Your ereader is fully a part of your life. It usually isn’t far from your hand, just in case you have a spare moment to read. Maybe you’ll never give up your bookshelves, and there will always be books you prefer to read in their physical form, but ebooks are taking up more and more of your reading time. You realize that there’s room in your heart for both ebooks and regular books, and that anything that helps you read more is a good thing.


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Cover reveal: Field of Mars by David Rollins

Posted July 9, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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Episode One – released 13th August. Pre-order now!

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Marcus Licinius Crassus’s lust for gold and glory was legendary. What became of his army is myth.

In Crassus the tyrant, Rufinius the soldier, Appius the historian, Mena the hag and Lucia the Golden Whore, David Rollins brings to life a mystery that has plagued historians for centuries. The only constant in this world is Mars, the god of war, and who he will favour is anyone’s guess.

Desperate to write himself into the pages of history, proconsul Marcus Licinius Crassus marched 40,000 Roman legionaries into the heart of the Parthian empire. More than 10,000 were never seen or heard from again.

In a story that spans empires and generations, this vanished army’s fate is finally unveiled. From the streets of Rome to the deserts of ancient Iran, around the globe into the heart of an empire vaster than anything Rome ever imagined, a young Alexandrian soldier is borne on the tides of the age of empires from soldier of Rome to slave of Babylon to commander of armies.

Perfect for fans of Robert Harris and Conn Iggulden, this sweeping historical thriller takes the reader on an epic journey across ancient empires and into the unknown stories of myth and legend.

Episode Two – released 27th August. Pre-order now!

Field of Mars ep2

Defeat does not come easily to a soldier.

In the wake of an epic battle with the Parthian empire, Proconsul Crassus’s Roman army faces a crisis the likes of which Rome has never known. Centurion Rufinius, one of the few surviving officers, must ensure safe passage for his army and himself.

Facing turncoats within the ranks and temptation from a mysterious beauty promised to the king of a distant empire, Rufinius must fight for his life and for love. In cold-blooded slavers’ pits and on bended knee before foreign generals, Rufinius will do anything to renew his men’s faith in themselves.

Tested from within and without, Rufinius must learn to lead his men at a time when there is no best option. The first battle that must be fought is one of wills. And on the outcome will hinge the fate of empires.

Episode Three – released 10th September. Pre-order now!

Field of Mars ep3

Even a soldier fears to march into a land his gods have never known.

Struggling to believe that the horizons stretch so far, Centurion Rufinius leads the remains of Crassus’s Roman army ever eastward.

His passion for Lucia intensifying, and his conflict with his own men reaching breaking point, Rufinius must demonstrate to his men and to General Saikan that he can repair this broken army.

Kept imprisoned in a wagon, the Golden Whore Lucia presents Rufinius and the hag Mena with an opportunity, but with it comes a risk that could kill them both.

Should he prevail, this peril will not be Rufinius’s last. He and his men must yet answer the call of the horizon, beyond which a vast empire awaits, rich with incalculable spoils.

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A Girl and her Ebook: A Romance

Posted March 11, 2015 by Achala Upendran

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I fell in love with ebooks the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once.

Sort of the way they did, you know?

Sort of the way they did, you know?

Four years ago, I was gifted a Kindle Fire. Enthusiastically, I downloaded a couple of titles, mostly course books that I couldn’t be bothered to search for in campus shops and online retailers. I told myself that these were books I probably wouldn’t reread once I graduated, and I didn’t need them clogging up space on my shelf and making my move out of the dorm any more difficult than it had to be.

This says a lot about my relationship with my Kindle. It was a repository of information whose nature, I assumed, was important but temporary, not a hallowed digital vault of books I planned to return to again and again. Frankly, I couldn’t make myself love this device; I bestowed no cuteisie nickname upon it, didn’t carry it with me everywhere and eventually, after I graduated college, reduced it to little more than a glorified gaming device, on which I played various silly, time consuming things. But an ebook reader, it was really not.

The ebook versus ‘real’ book debate has been raging for a while now, and people are as sure as ever that the upsurge of sales in one seems to indicate the death of the other. Publishers and their ilk really are a bunch of doomsday prophets, aren’t they? Surveys are always being conducted, asking people what they prefer to read and what they prefer to read it on and there’s always that sense of absolute vindication and triumph in the voice of the journalist who declares that yes, physical, paper books are winning this race.

We will ignore the irony here: most of journalist’s readers are accessing his words through some kind of electronic device, more like as not.

Oh irony, you terrible thing.

Oh irony, you terrible thing.

I only really got into ebooks recently, three and a half years after my Kindle was given to me. It happened, mostly, because I got a smartphone (I know right, what was I doing without a smartphone for so long? How did I amuse myself?). With the smartphone came all those wonderful apps, like Amazon and, here in India, Flipkart’s Ebook Reader. Lying magician kingin bed one night, I realised i really, really wanted to read Lev Grossman’s ‘The Magician King’. I checked Amazon and Flipkart: both said it would take them at least a week to get the book to me (evidently it wasn’t much in demand where I was), but I could buy the ebook (at a considerably lower price) and read it immediately.

Everyone who has ever lusted after a book, waited months for it, or just finished its predecessor in a series and is dying to read the next knows how very irresistible that offer is. To be able to literally read a book the minute you want to—that’s an offer that few can refuse.

I clicked, I bought, I started to read. And the best thing about this purchase was that I never had to worry about whether or not I had put it in my bag. I didn’t have to weigh my purse down, or carry a bigger one just to ensure that I always had some entertainment to hand. It was on my phone, my digital limb, and it was going with me everywhere.

The convenience of the ebook really can’t  be overstated. It’s so amazingly easy to play with: you can highlight stuff with little concern about ‘blemishing’ a copy, you can put bookmarks in everywhere,even scrawl little notes without tarnishing the fine print. You can have a huge library on your device and the luxury of options—stuff that would come at a huge price, weight wise, if you were to carry physical books. I love my ebooks for all these reasons, and of course the little boost I feel about saving paper makes me feel just the teensiest bit heroic.

Like, you know, Frodo.

Like, you know, Frodo.

That being said, I don’t think physical books are going to go away any time soon, nor will I contribute to that. I still enjoy the feeling of a book in my hands, and I dare say that there are some authors who I’ll buy ‘real’ versions of rather than ebooks. And it’s going to be a long time before graphic novels move into digital format, for me at least. Though with enhanced ebooks becoming a thing…who knows how long that will last.

But I am no longer of that party that believes that only physical books were ‘real’, that having a book printed on paper is any indication that you’re a better writer than someone who’s chosen to go the ebook way. What makes or breaks a book is its story, and what builds that story is, most often in the books adults read, words. And words are the same, whether they’re in an ebook or printed on a piece of paper.

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Book Bingo – The Reading Game You Need to Play

Posted January 9, 2015 by Eve Merrier

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A new year comes with it pressure to make resolutions, and in the reading world, it’s usually, “How many books are you going to read this year?” Personally, I’d rather not set a numerical goal: What if I choose to read Ulysses, then War and Peace? Or one unending tome? I’d rather not race through it to arbitrarily win against myself. I think all reading time is time well spent. Many book bloggers do the number thing beautifully-, for example – but personally, I’d be terrible at keeping to a target. I’m sure I can’t be the only one.


That’s not to say I don’t like a challenge.

When not writing, editing, or generally spending time on the interweb, I work for the library service. I’d like to introduce you to the brilliant game that we’re all playing in the libraries at the moment. It’s called ‘Book Bingo’.

Here are the rules:

1. You pick a line of six squares. The line can be vertical, horizontal or diagonal.
2. For each square, match the description with a book of your choice.
3. Read the six books (not necessarily in row order). Tick them off as you go.
4. Glory in your reading achievements.

Book Bingo Surrey Libraries

This is the Surrey Libraries version of the Book Bingo card. If you happen to be reading this in Surrey, England, I strongly suggest you find yourself a participating local branch. If you’re not, do it just for fun with the shelves of your local bookshops, library, charity shops and the contents of your ereader (perhaps with a few shiny new Momentum titles). You just need to read six books, of your own choosing, in your own sweet time. That’s my kind of challenge.

peanutslibrarycardBook Bingo could inspire you to discover books that you’d never think to try. It’s also a bit of an intellectual challenge: While covering at a charming village library we tried to come up with books set in schools that were suitable for adults (and weren’t Harry Potter). Another brilliant attribute of Book Bingo, and specifically this card, is that it encourages you to ask for recommendations (especially from people who work in libraries – they know their books!). In my opinion, this is the absolute best way to discover new favourites. It also encourages you to chat to other book lovers, which is always a life-affirming treat.

While I’m on the subject, enjoy the sneak peek of my bookshelves in the above picture. I unreservedly recommend 100 Facts About Pandas.

Join me in a game of Book Bingo! Do you want to play? Tweet me @EveProofreads.

UPDATE: We loved this idea at Momentum so goddamn much that we made our own game! If you want to play Momentum Book Bingo share your results with us on Facebook and Twitter! 


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Cover Reveal – Avenger (Intrepid 3) by Chris Allen

Posted January 6, 2015 by Michelle Cameron

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Alex Morgan is back and he isn’t playing by the rules.

Policeman, soldier and spy for INTREPID, black ops agent Alex Morgan is hunting the Night Witch—the head of a shadowy criminal empire spanning the four corners of the globe and connected to Chinese triads, corrupt cops, and the Russian mafia.

When Morgan’s sent to China to shadow INTREPID’s newest agent, Elizabeth Reigns, he soon discovers she’s been sold out and the triads are after their pound of flesh.

With Reigns in his corner, Morgan must find a way through a complex labyrinth of scattered connections and corporate takeovers to find the real Night Witch, and crush an empire built on trading in human life. But there’s only one problem. To achieve his objective Morgan must confront an enemy he thought was already dead and buried. Will Morgan have what it takes to survive?

Avenger is available for pre-order now, and will be released on the 22nd of January.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Posted October 17, 2014 by Michelle Cameron

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One of the greatest compliments that I ever received from a reader was the news that, the evening after finishing the book, she was idly contemplating hosting a barbecue for the weekend and began mentally listing those she would invite. Halfway through, she realised that she’d included several of the characters from the book itself. The fictional characters. In the short amount of time that it had taken her to read the story, they had become her friends. And I know exactly what she means (I even developed a sort of crush on a male character I wrote once, and the ending – especially pairing him up with someone else – was a little like being dumped). But every time I finish writing a book, I experience an oddly nauseous mix of elation and regret. It’s impossible to even contemplate a new project until I go through a period of recovery, of separation. I mope around the house, eat copious amounts of chocolate, and make complicated calculations regarding the sun and the yardarm and a glass of wine. Although experience tells me that turning my book hangover into a real one doesn’t help. At all.

But that’s also why I’ve enjoyed writing the Nell Forrest series so much. Starting each new book has been like re-visiting old friends, catching up with what’s been going on in their lives, accompanying them as they move forward. It’s a reunion of sorts. Sure, there’s always a few characters that are best avoided (and if they turned up at the door, you’d be better advised to ring the police than let them in), but what’s a murder mystery without some colour? Nell Forrest though – well, she’s the sort of person that I’d invite to a barbecue. And I knew I’d have to write her that way if she was going to stay around (Hercule Poirot is not the type of protagonist I’d be able to have in a series). As both a reader and a writer, I like to connect. But Nell is more than a connection – she’s a friend. I might not have her phone number but I know where she lives. She’d know when to give me space if she knew I was moping, or drop in with buckets of chocolate (we’d probably even go retro and have a fondue, with strawberries and bananas and marshmallows), or help me with the sun/yardarm calculations and then say ‘what the hell, let’s open the bottle regardless – in fact make it champagne!’ Damn, I miss her.

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How to read more than one book at a time

Posted May 27, 2014 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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It occurred to me the other day – not for the first time – that I was reading too many books at once. For multiple purposes, some legitimate, others more indulgent, the reading pile is not so much reflecting those yet to be read, but rather those that are in a current stage of being read. And this would be okay, if I didn’t keep adding to it.

It works like this: first, read a book because you want to.

Then, read a book because you have some other obligation (in this case, I need to teach the book to a classs, which must happen in a timely manner to fit the curriculum).

Then, join a book club so that you have another time-determined book to read.

Then, join another book club with different people because misery loves company, and obsessive book readers need a different crowd to share their obsessions with.

Then, pick up a book that you have already read but just have to dip back into because you love it so much and can’t resist. Or the book loves you, it practically knows what you like from a read. But you have an open relationship. It lets you read other books so long as you come back to it. Anyway.

How do you read multiple books at once?

1. Invest in audiobooks

This is the best way to do it, especially if you have a regular, clockwork-type schedule that involves commuting. Additionally, with digital downloads replacing CDs, they’re infinitely easier to manage now. (I feel old saying that, but come on, the Stephen Fry-narrated Harry Potter audiobooks were something like 100 discs. That’s a lot of inserting in and out of the car stereo.)

As someone who was prone to re-reading a lot, I decided a while ago to save all the books I had already read for audiobooks, to read them in an entirely different fashion. It’s great.

Essentially, I get a half hour in on the drive to work, half an hour back, and with books varying from ten to forty hours in listening, you can cover a read in a couple of weeks. Added bonus: switching your brain out of work-mode on the way home.

2. Alternate days

One book one day, one the other. Oddly enough, this can create more excitement in sitting down to read a book, knowing that you’ve got to wait just a bit more before you get back to it. And then the disappointment at having to wait another day to pick up the next chapter is quickly erased when you get to return to the other book your’re reading.

For advanced players of this game: have a different book for each day of  the week. You have your Monday book, your Tuesday book, and so on. I’m not even kidding.

3. Limit your time

Half an hour on one book, then switch. Almost like a Pomodoro technique for reading. This does have the unweidly effect of blurring plots and characters into one big congealed narrative mess, but sometimes that’s not so bad. When someone tries to pitch a book as American Psycho-meets-The Lord of the Rings, you could actually achieve that just by going from Bateman to Baggins in one sitting. Think of the possibilities.

4. Mix your mediums

You’ve got the book by your bed, and the audiobook in the car. Now just add one on your phone, stick another one on your iPad by the couch and you’re set. Each place becomes a specific read, so that not only do you vary when you read your multiple books, but also where you read them.

5. Relish the differences

Ensure that each book you’re reading – at different times, in different places, in different ways – is wholly different to the rest. Keep your genres and your styles distinct, to minimise cross-pollination of your imagination, and keep each story vibrant and resonant.

For the ultimate book nerd, keep notes as you go, allowing yourself time to reflect and ingest before switching onto the next book. Then again, if you’ve got time to make notes, you’ve got time to squeeze another book in.

Occasionally I do preference one book over another, and it gets a bit more of a go, but I’ve yet to feel like I’m not reading anything properly, or doing any of the books a disservice. In the end, I don’t think it’s a byproduct of the hyperactive state society seems to exist in these days (though perhaps it does have something to do with that post I read a while back on calculating how many books you can read before you die), but I don’t seem to be able to get out of this multiple-book state.

But why would you want to, when there are so many books to read?





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Judging bookshops by their covers

Posted April 4, 2014 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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With reports of yet more bookshops closing around Australia, the ongoing decline of physical bookstores seem to be increasingly accurate and foreboding. It is unfortunate, and especially saddening, to see longstanding stores close due to the realities of current market.

If there’s one thing that’s certain it’s that we buy books very differently these days. One of the interesting points that came out of the Digital Writers’ Festival panel in February was how we interact with book buying wholly differently now. The trawling of pages and suggestions through Amazon and other online retailers seems to be replicated in our actual presence in book stores. 

Customers still scan the shelves, getting lost in the array of new titles and old familiars, disappearing into an endless breadcrumb trail from one author to the next, one interest to the next. And yet now we come with backup. Armed with a phone, we can check reviews, check Goodreads, check whether it is actually the book we were thinking of. I have found that I’ve become more discerning, less likely to walk out with armfuls of books than I used to be, but more likely to actually get what I want. And while this does initially appear to remove some of the thrill of surprising discoveries, perhaps we’re now gravitating towards the position where book-buying is more easily analysed.

Instead of solely relying on the handful of print reviews and general word-of-mouth from what little is advertised, and what generally is shared and recommended by trustworthy reader friends, we can now actually draw on a vast array of resources carefully suited for our tastes and inclinations, to arrive at purchasing the book we want.

In short, we’re not relying on judging the book by its cover anymore.

Buying books digitally relies on our knowledge of the material, of the author, or of the quality behind the recommendations and suggestions, as well as the marketing facilitating this process. Less rests on the immeasurable qualities, so it makes sense for us to carry this process of purchasing into traditional bricks-and-mortar bookstores.

The stores that enable this will surely benefit. It’s not a question of diversifying the products – trying to turn a bookstore into a store that also has books – but enabling the customers to find and enjoy the products they want.

Additionally, with community libraries also struggling to retain viability and legitimacy, perhaps we’re reaching the point where the difference between a library and a bookstore needs to be eradicated. One offers access through loans and programs and education, the other through sales and possession. But essentially both deal in the same product, and can exist along the same spectrum of customer involvement.

As models such as iTunes show, it isn’t necessarily the physical item we’re wanting to own. We place convenience and ease of purchase at a premium, and have happily transitioned from VHS to DVD and Blu-ray, and now to downloading and streaming the content we want. Ownership isn’t as important, not even as a status symbol. We’re more focused on ensuring we have watched what we wanted, we have listened to the music we like, and that we have access to the information we need.

For books, we’re never reading more than we are now. We’re just reading differently. We’re buying differently. And we’re buying for different reasons, reasons that are perhaps truer to our actual wants and needs. We can spot advertising at ten paces, and run screaming from cynical attempts to coerce money out of us, but we enjoy the ease of getting what we want.

Buying books, loaning books, reading them on paper or digitally, discovering them in a store or online, it matters not in the end what our specific choices are, so long as we can get to them. I want to walk into a store and be able to find what I want, or at least discover what I want. By the same token, I want to know when I don’t want it. I want to be informed if this is the right book for me or not.

We want less barriers between us and the world. Among all the drastic changes to the way society and commerce interact in recent years, the removal of borders, boundaries, gatekeepers and red tape between a person and their goal has become the most distinct. Bookstores, both physical and digital, are there to get books to people. We’re perhaps in a position to witness that happening more clearly and more effectively than before.

Hopefully we will be in a position where nobody, not the customers or the books, will be judged on superficial qualities, but instead with understanding and merit.

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11 February new release titles

Posted February 11, 2014 by Mark

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8 Hours to Die by JR Carroll

An isolated farmhouse. One knock on the door will shatter their peace. No phones. No neighbours. No help. And the clock is ticking…

Ex-cop turned criminal lawyer Tim Fontaine and his wife Amy are heading for their weekender – a restored farmhouse in remote bushland known as Black Pig Bend.

But even before they’ve eaten dinner, three outlaw bikers arrive on the scene. Suddenly Tim’s house becomes a fortress. Who are these people? Why have they come? Who sent them?

As the lights go out and darkness descends, their idyllic world is transformed into a nightmare from which there is no waking up. Tim must grapple not just with formidable adversaries, but with unsettling questions relating to his own past, both as cop and lawyer, and even to his marriage.

But even if they survive this night against appalling odds, the ordeal is far from over. For when the past comes knocking, it will not be denied …

Not for the faint hearted” – Shane Maloney, author of the Murray Whelan series

8 Hours to Die scorches along relentlessly, displaying all of JR Carroll’s trademark thriller-writing skills: hard-edged prose, vivid characterisation, a strong sense of place and tense plotting.” – Garry Disher, author of the Wyatt series and the Challis & Destry series

Read an excerpt

Purchase from your preferred ebook retailer


9781760080785_Memory of Death_cover

The Memory of Death: Death Works 4 by Trent Jamieson

He thought he’d return from Hell a hero. But things are never easy when your business is Death.

Steven de Selby gave up his love, his life, and his lucrative position as Head of Mortmax, the corporation in charge of Death. Then he found himself banished to the briny depths of hell. But hell has never held him before …

Now Steven’s back from hell, after escaping from the cruel Death of the Water, but he’s not sure how or why, or even if. No one at Mortmax trusts him, and he’s running out of time to prove he is who he says he is.

Steven is about to discover that hell really is other people, and the worst of them may well be himself.

Read an excerpt

Purchase from your preferred ebook retailer



What Goes on Tour by Claire Boston

What goes on tour, stays on tour … or does it?

Few people know that socially awkward Adrian Hart is actually rock god Kent Downer, and that’s the way Adrian likes it. His privacy is essential, especially now that he has guardianship of his orphaned, ten-year-old niece, Kate. But when the nanny quits in the middle of his tour Adrian finds himself in a bind.

Until Libby Myles walks into his life.

Libby has only ever wanted to become a full-time author and prove to her parents that she can make it on her own. On the surface, the temporary job as the nanny for Kent Downer’s niece looks perfect—the pay is fabulous, the hours are short and Kate is a big fan—it’s the rock star that’s the issue.

Arrogant and way too attractive for anyone’s good, Kent Downer has enough swagger to power a small city. But when he’s out of costume he’s different—shy and uncertain. For Libby it’s a far harder combination to resist. She needs to find a balance between work, writing and ignoring her attraction to the rock star, because if she falls for him, it could mean the end of her dream.

But when a horrible scandal is unleashed—putting young Kate in danger—there’s more heat between Libby and Adrian than just sexual attraction. Libby must figure out if Adrian ever cared for her, or if it was all just part of the show …

Purchase from your preferred ebook retailer



Sly by Rick Feneley

Meet the Bulli Boys, if you’re brave enough. 

Sly Fox lives with his one-legged alcoholic father, incontinent Communist grandfather and his dog, Comrade, in a run-down beach shack in the coastal town of Little Bulli. New-boy-in-town Brett ‘Harry’ Harrison is intrigued by the outcast Sly and strikes up an unlikely and forbidden friendship with him.

Together the boys discover the delights of sex, drugs and cheap booze, but their great passion is the story of Sly’s pioneering ancestors, as revealed by the dusty and fragile Fox family chronicles.

Sly and Harry’s friendship is indestructible, or so they think, until a shocking act of betrayal alters the course of their lives forever.

Read an excerpt

Purchase from your preferred ebook retailer


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Podmentum: Our Anticipated 2014 Pop Culture, Marriage Thrillers & Dino Porn

Posted January 31, 2014 by Mark

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In this episode we’re joined by new recruit Patrick Lenton, and discuss what we’re looking forward to the most this year in pop culture. After that, we discuss the emerging Marriage Thriller genre that’s been highlighted with the arrival of Gone Girl. Finally, things get a bit lewd as we discuss beast erotica. WARNING: Spoilers for Gone Girl and both the TV and novel series of Game of Thrones.





Saga by Brian K. Vaughan


What the Ground Can’t Hold by Shady Cosgrove


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


On the Steele Breeze by Alastair Reynolds, Batman: The Court of Owls



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Cover Reveal: Sly by Rick Feneley

Posted January 28, 2014 by Mark

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We’re very pleased to reveal the cover for Rick Feneley’s wonderful coming of age novel, Sly. First published in 1995, Sly is being reissued as an ebook via Momentum. With its universal themes, engaging narrative and vivid characters, Sly is sure to appeal to a new generation of readers.

Meet the Bulli Boys, if you’re brave enough. 

Sly Fox lives with his one-legged alcoholic father, incontinent Communist grandfather and his dog, Comrade, in a run-down beach shack in the coastal town of Little Bulli. New-boy-in-town Brett ‘Harry’ Harrison is intrigued by the outcast Sly and strikes up an unlikely and forbidden friendship with him.

Together the boys discover the delights of sex, drugs and cheap booze, but their great passion is the story of Sly’s pioneering ancestors, as revealed by the dusty and fragile Fox family chronicles.

Sly and Harry’s friendship is indestructible, or so they think, until a shocking act of betrayal alters the course of their lives forever.


Sly will be released worldwide on 11 February 2014, and will be available for $4.99 where all good ebooks are sold.  






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Posts with Momentum

Posted January 24, 2014 by Mark

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Here are the five most-viewed posts from the blog this week:


5. Box office nerdery: billion dollar movies in 2014


4. Should the Thrawn trilogy remain in the Star Wars canon?


3. Objectifying books


2. The world according to Marvel


1. Everyday rejection letters

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Objectifying books

Posted by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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Last year recorded the biggest sale of vinyl albums in Australia since they started tracking their sales in 1991.

What has this got to do with books? Well. Not that we want to put anymore air to the theory that paper books are technological dinosaurs slowly asphyxiating in a digital meteor cloud, but the resurgence of vinyl music does illustrate some interesting things about the role of traditional books now and in the coming years.

Vinyl’s revival has been coupled with the digital era of music purchasing. Part of the appeal now is the bundled digital download offered with many new vinyl presses, and the ease of digitally transferring many old records. Music has shown that it can sustain two diametrically opposed formats – one that prioritises convenience, the other that emphasises the object of music itself.

Clearly there is an element of nostalgia here, but nostalgia doesn’t really drive commerce – outside of Antiques Roadshow. What I think is occurring is a transition in how we perceive music. It is now two things – music as an aural experience, and music as a physical experience. Certain music we desire aurally, others we desire the object. It is a fetishisation, after a fashion. The packaging, the art, the physical experience of listening to an album beginning to end, that becomes the desired experience that the object allows.

So, what then for books?

In 2000, Mark Z. Danielewski released his meta-fictional horror story House of Leaves. This was followed up by several different editions, including the 2006 remastered, full colour edition, full of torn notes, handwritten inserts, typewritten attachments, drawings and other paraphernalia that twists the reading of Danielewski’s narrative into something beyond just words on a page.

I wanted to set this book for my book club, but most of us use ereaders and there is no known way Danielewski could create an ebook version of House of Leaves. It is very strictly a book to be read in hard copy.

Secondly, film and TV director J.J. Abrams (yes I know) and author Doug Dorst teamed up to write another convoluted book called S. This takes the form of a 1940s overdue library book, The Ship of Theseus, which arrives in a sealed black box (it must be cut to be read). The Ship of Theseus is itself ‘written’ by a fictional author – V.M. Straka – and has been handwritten all over the margins by two other ‘characters’. These characters have also included postcards, letters, napkins and other bits and pieces in the folds of the pages, so that the whole book itself takes the shape of a found object for the reader. Dorst and Abrams wanted to create a story that exists in the margins of another story, and again this is something that could only be conveyed through a multi-layered, intertextual object like this.

Without debating the merits of the stories themselves – I’ve yet to finish reading both – it is quite clear that S. and House of Leaves are intent on reasserting the physical experience of reading a physical book. This is not to dissuade against ebooks, but rather use the traditional format for a reading that is unique to its medium.

So, are we seeing a resurgence of the hardcover book as a fetishised object? If music can be both the sound and the object, are we witnessing books becoming both the reading and the object? As Mark wrote last week, people are these days purchasing books in a divided fashion – some assigning certain reads to ebooks, with others being saved for hard copies.

Both titles mentioned here are clearly meta-fictional in their approach to story, and the medium supports that approach. This is not to say the fetishisation of traditional books is due to an inherent need of the story – the purchasing of hardcovers, of first editions, of illustrated copies and reissues show there is a long-established market for the book as an object. There has also been discussion over digital copies of books accompanying the hardcopy purchase, much in the way of vinyl.

Will book writers, book makers and book buyers begin to distinguish themselves more clearly as having and wanting two distinct types of books, even more than they already have? Will we want one type of reading digitally, and another physically?


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Win: The Bold and the Beautiful Novellas

Posted January 23, 2014 by Mark

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Want to read The Bold and the Beautiful novellas before anyone else? Forbidden Affair and Collision Course aren’t available until next Tuesday, but we’re giving away ebook copies of both stories to ten fans.

To win, all you have to do is email and answer this question:

Which character from The Bold and the Beautiful would you want to marry and why?

Use “BOLD” in the subject heading and be sure to include your name alongside your entry. Winners will be contacted via email by 5pm Friday AEST, so get those entries in quick! Click the links to the right to read more about these fantastic novellas.



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Posts with Momentum

Posted January 17, 2014 by Mark

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Here are the five most-viewed posts from the blog this week:

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5. Game of Thrones season 4 trailer



4. What this scene from Harry Potter can teach us about adapting popular fiction



3. Don’t worry about the upcoming Star Wars trilogy


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2. It’s time to start worrying about the new Star Wars trilogy



1. Nine reasons that being a book loving shut-in is better than being a social butterfly


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Ebooks and physical books: how do you manage your collections and purchasing habits?

Posted January 16, 2014 by Mark

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The desire to have a great collection of physical books in your house is one that’s often dismissed as showing off. You only want the books there because you want visitors to know how smart you are, or how unique your taste in literature is, you want to show people that you’re a precious snowflake (indeed, no two collections are alike).

But there’s also another reason – happiness. I love the books on my shelf, I love seeing them when I walk through the door, I love being surrounded by them when I’m unwinding after work. The books on my shelf aren’t for other people, they’re for me, and are an integral part of the way I’ve chosen to decorate my home.

There’s an argument that as a purchaser of both physical and digital books, one has an obligation to purchase the “good” books in physical form and the “trash” in digital. There’s even data that backs this up as a trend. Other arguments are driven by price, or by loyalty (for example, continuing to purchase an author in paper to complete a physical collection).

I tend not to follow any rule when it comes to book purchasing. I purchase for a variety of reasons, and usually my mood at the time is the decisive factor in which format I opt for. As someone who reads a lot, ebooks are a wonderful way to not drown in the physical object, but as someone who finds relaxation and peace being surrounded by books, I still love to shop at physical bookstores.

Do you have any rules you follow when it comes to purchasing? Let me know in the comments.




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Coming Soon: Thrilling Crime Novels from JR Carroll

Posted January 15, 2014 by Mark

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When the past comes knocking, it will not be denied …

Ex-cop turned criminal lawyer Tim Fontaine and his wife Amy are heading for their weekender – a restored farmhouse in remote bushland known as Black Pig Bend.

But even before they’ve eaten dinner, three outlaw bikers arrive on the scene. Suddenly Tim’s house becomes a fortress. Who are these people? Why have they come? Who sent them?

As the lights go out and darkness descends, their idyllic world is transformed into a nightmare from which there is no waking up. Tim must grapple not just with formidable adversaries, but with unsettling questions relating to his own past, both as cop and lawyer, and even to his marriage.

But even if they survive this night against appalling odds, the ordeal is far from over. For when the past comes knocking, it will not be denied

8 Hours to Die is released on 11 February 2014

On 21 January 2014, we’re releasing five JR Carroll classics as ebooks. Check out the details below:

9781760080198_Clan_coverNo-one can mess with the clan and expect to live…

The Killing: An unarmed teenage ram-raider is gunned down by police in a back alley …

The Family: The Beatties, one of Melbourne’s most notoriously lawless clans stretching back to the Sixties. Now their youngest is dead, and Melbourne holds its breath, waiting for the payback it knows is coming.

The Job: But someone is planning the biggest hold-up in Australia’s history, and no-one, not even the Beattie family, is allowed to get in the way ..

9781760080228_Hard Yards_coverIt’s September 2000, and the Olympic Games are about to descend on Sydney. The city is at fever pitch, but Barrett Pike, private investigator, couldn’t care less.

The excitement in Barrett’s life comes via his part-time squeeze, the glamorous and successful Andrea Fox-Fearnor, and the after-dark activities of Sydney’s notorious criminals – in particular, the sartorial stand-over man, Ernesto “Hollywood Jack” Tucci.

When a violent incident at a restaurant in which Barrett’s bull-at-the-gate treatment of an infamous piece of pond scum is witnessed, Barrett is made in an offer even he can’t refuse – $150,000 to bodyguard Titus “Bunny” Delfranco, the fastest man in the world. Sounds like easy money, but the sprinter has a million-dollar tag on his head, and an American ex-marine turned bounty hunter, Edward Hickey, is going to have Bunny running for his life. And Barrett, together with his main man, the formidable Geoff O’Mara, is going to have his work cut out staying in the game – and staying alive.

Add to this mix a shadowy team of car-bombers, an exotic beauty with gangland connections and a doomsday sect hell bent on revenge, and the result is a complex, nightmarish thriller that pushes the genre about as far as it can go this side of the apocalypse

9781760080242_No Way Back_coverHis fellow cops say he’s trigger-happy. 

His ex-wife says he’s unstable.

His new lover says he’s obsessive.

His superiors say he’s off the case and under investigation.

His world is coming apart …

He’s a cop on the trail of a killer the law can’t touch.

He has his own brand of justice.

He’s got nothing to lose. Except his life.

When you’ve been pushed to the edge, there’s no way back ..

9781760080266_Out of the Blue_coverThe shockingly violent death of his wife was no accident. And Dennis Gatz knows it.

But the cops aren’t interested. Gatz is a loose cannon who couldn’t handle the force. No longer one of them. No longer worth the trouble.

But trouble’s on the way. Someone’s out to get Dennis Gatz and he can’t wait to meet them. Head on.

This time it’s personal. This time he’ll do anything for revenge. And the best revenge comes out of the blue

9781760080280_Cheaters_coverBig risks, big reward. But no-one ever said that cheating was easy… 

Danny Gold has the Midas touch on the roulette tables. Soon he’s making big bucks washing cash for businessman-turned-porn-movie-maker Sigmund Barry, with all the fringe benefits.

Robert Curlewis lived the good life — until booze and smack took hold. When a fellow desperado, Florence, witnesses the vicious slaying of a young gambler in Melbourne’s Chinatown, Robert is no longer wasting his life, he’s trying to hold onto it.

Throw in a wild card, a rogue Kiwi commando running his own agenda, and you have a full deck of players with one thing in common. They are all CHEATERS.



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Excerpt – A Single Girl’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by JT Clay

Posted November 13, 2013 by Mark

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The following is an excerpt from A Single Girl’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by JT Clay, a novel about hippies, zombies, friendship and love.

“What are you making?” Q asked.

“It’s an altar to the spirit of the river,” Rabbit said. They had reached the stream and were dangling their feet into the snow-melt water. Q was throwing in sticks. Rabbit was piling up a cairn of smooth stones.

“Really?” she said, embarrassed on his behalf.

“I’m messing with you. It’s a pile of rocks. But it’s funny that people stack rocks when confronted by natural beauty. It might be a ritualistic act that honors nature, buried deep within the collective subconscious.”


“We vegans frighten you, don’t we?”

“No! Not at all!” said Q. “Okay, yeah, but you and Angela are cool.”

“Thanks. That’s the least awkward thing you’ve said all morning.”


Rabbit sniffed. “What’s that smell?”

“It’s my new fragrant spray,” Q said, glad she had made the effort this morning. “It’s called Ocean Flowers.”

“Like algae?”

“Oh,” said Q. “I guess.”

“Cool. I like algae.”

They dangled and they sat. Q, not used to being in the wilderness without a map icon to click on, tried to orient herself. They were a long way west of Sydney, high up in mountain country. The air was cool and rich and full of earthy scent. The ground poured into gullies and choked on shrubs. There were no power lines, no roads, no straight lines from anything man made. They were in someone else’s land.

The quiet of the morning was interrupted by Q’s regular slap! whack! at mosquitoes and ants. After a while, Rabbit intercepted her hand.

Her face burned and her belly flipped. He was holding her hand!

“They’re part of the bush,” he said. He let go of her hand and turned back to the stream. “Let them be.”

Q sighed. It was nothing after all. “Things are biting me,” she said. “Anything less than extreme self-defense would be weird.”

Rabbit grinned and steered away an inch ant with a stick. “She’s all right,” he said. “You have to be— ow!” He sucked his finger and breathed through his nose. Q giggled.

A movement on the bank downstream caught Q’s eye. She couldn’t make sense of the image at first. Something large and brown lurked in the trees, hunched over the edge of the water. Was it drinking?

No. Not drinking. Another color poured from the creature into the stream. Red. The brown shape was the heart of an expanding pool of red.

Q tapped Rabbit on the shoulder, put a finger to her lips and pointed at the shape. He didn’t see it at first.

“What’s there?” he said. Q waited for the image to make sense, then decided she preferred the abstract version.

“It’s creepy old caretaker guy,” she said. “He’s washing something in the river. Something bloody.”

The man stood up and disappeared into the bush. Q waited until he had gone, then walked downstream to the spot where he had been. There were footprints and blood on the river stones, but the creek itself had washed clean. She didn’t like that man. He reminded her of Chapter Seventeen, The Survivor Type and how to avoid being eaten by one. She returned to Rabbit and scribbled in her little black book.

“Are you writing about our walk in your diary?” Rabbit asked.

“No— yes— sort of.” She put the notebook away.

“What do you write about? Your fears and doubts?” Rabbit asked.

“Sometimes. Like, have you ever noticed that the things that scare us the most aren’t just monsters, but monsters that can turn us into one of them?”

“I know exactly what you mean,” Rabbit said.

Q grinned. He understood! “Vampires and werewolves and zombies,” she said.

“Lawyers,” Rabbit said, shaking his head. “I’m surrounded by them every day. All I want to do is sing folk and make the world a better place and I’m terrified that one day, I’ll forget all that and start overbilling on my time sheet.” He looked so sad.

“Cheer up,” Q said. “I reckon that fear is more common than you think.”

“Kate does not agree,” Rabbit said. “She says I’m wasting my life. She thinks I’m a failure.”

“You? Nah. Anyway, how do you measure success? Your first job? Your first house? Your first stalker?”

“I don’t need to be the best at anything,” Rabbit said. “I just want to be a better person.”

“Me too,” Q said. “I just want to be a person.”

Rabbit’s fingers drifted to a piece of cord at his throat and he pulled out another wooden snake pendant, almost identical to Pious Kate’s, except that this one had glinting green eyes instead of red.

He’d made them matching necklaces.

“That’s pretty,” she said, kicking water and thinking corrosive thoughts.

Rabbit dropped the snake as if it had bitten him. Maybe he was thinking corrosive thoughts, too.

“Kate came up with the design,” he said, glum. “She gets upset if I don’t wear it.”

“What’s the deal with you two?” Q asked in a careful tone, in case she got an answer she didn’t like.

Rabbit watched the moss-covered rocks beneath the surface of the water. “We’ve been best friends since kindergarten,” he said.

“My best friend’s in kindergarten, too,” Q said.

“We were thrown together. The only two vegans at school.”

“Oh!” said Q, with sudden understanding and relief. “You were the little Cantonese kids!”

“What?” Rabbit’s face crinkled into that expression so familiar to Q because it was what people wore when they were trying to interpret her.

“The two kids who didn’t fit in. You smelled weird. You had weird food. Your parents were weird. Everyone picked on you.”

“Thanks for bringing it all back,” Rabbit said.

“But it’s okay now,” Q said. “No one cares any more. We’ve grown up.” Q thought of her online crew. They would never have found each other as children, but as adults they stood together against the darkness, with Jeremiah BownZ off to one side and downwind – acceptance had its limits.

Should she venture a hand onto his shoulder? Or just throw herself on top of him and pin him to the ground for a kiss? It was a flawless plan, unless he knew Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. She was about to make her move when he spoke up.

“We should head back,” he said. He put on his sneakers. “You need to soak the lentils.”


“You’re rostered on to cook tonight.”

Q guffawed. Rabbit did not join her. “No, seriously?” Q said.

“Sure,” said Rabbit. “We take turns.”

What would these hippies expect? Would she have to do it alone? Would Angela help? “Me and my dad don’t do much fancy cooking at home.”

“Make a dish you’ve made before,” Rabbit said. “What do you usually eat?”

“Takeaways. Microwave dinners. Sometimes Dad makes dyslexia stew, where he accidentally replaces every ingredient in the recipe with the wrong one, then adds bacon. It was good once.”


She could tell by his tone that she had lost face. What had she said? She dropped her head and concentrated on tying her shoelaces, which were much more difficult to fasten than they had been for the past eighteen years. “It’s not like I don’t know how to cook. Sometimes I grill up a couple of ginormous steaks, two huge piles of beef, and we smother them in barbecue sauce on the grill and cook them rare so they’re all gooey and bleeding inside…” She stopped talking. Rabbit was pale. He looked like he was about retch. She took a step back. “I mean—”

There was a brain-shattering scream from the direction of the camp, followed by four clear gunshots. After a pause there were several more shots in quick succession.

“Thank God,” said Q. She ran toward the sounds.


Click here to purchase from your preferred ebook retailer


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Exercises for bookish people

Posted November 11, 2013 by Mark

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We bookish types have a reputation for being lazy when it comes to sprot and exercise. In fact, people think we’d much rather be drinking and reading than playing a soprts game with balls and stuff. But here at Momentum we’re not lazy when it comes to exercise and sorpt. Let me present our totally not lazy list of eight five exercises to keep you fit while you read.

5. Book toss

You’re reading a book and it’s really not that good. What do you do? Hurl it across the room, of course! Reps: 1. Calories burned: Like, 7 or something? I’m going to say 7.

4. Lifts

For this one you’re going to need a big glass of wine, or a bottle. Basically you lift a full glass as often as you can while you read. For best results the glass should be brought as close to your face as possible. Reps: As many as you can handle. Calories burned: Probably about 10 per lift, so the sky is the limit with this one. Wine doesn’t have calories* so this is just a good exercise.

3. Turn and stretch

Turn a page, stretch from finger to wrist. Reps: As many as you can handle in a session, although you could go for ages as plenty of people already have strong wrists if you know what I mean/get what I’m saying/wink. Calories burned: 1 per page, so for best results read a whole book.

2. Balance

Balance a book on your lap or leg. This will centre you or something. Reps: I guess it’s just 1. Calories burned: Do we have any cheese? I’m hungry.

1. Ereaders

Ok, yes I know we’re a digital first publisher and I know I’ve ignored ereaders up to now. But here is the best way to get fit with an ereader: read in the bath. The amount of coordination and effort involved in not dropping your device in the water is huge. Especially for bookish people, who are naturally clumsy (especially once clothes are off). Reps: I actually don’t even know what the exercise people mean by ‘rep’. Calories burned: It’s a constant burn. You’ll feel it. Especially if you accidentally hit the hot tap! Boom!

*Completely, utterly and totally untrue (according to my colleague but what does she know).
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Horror in the 21st century

Posted November 8, 2013 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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Recently I read Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. It was a book I had been meaning to read, having gathered a reputation as one of the pre-eminent horror novels of the twentieth century. A portion of this reputation stems from its recommendation by Stephen King in his book on the horror genre, Danse Macabre:

‘It is usually easy to divide horror novels into those that deal with inside evil and those that deal with outside evil. Occasionally a book comes along where it is impossible to discover exactly where the line of evil is. The Haunting of Hill House is such a book.’

A rather more significant reason for its reputation is that it’s exceedingly well written. Taut, tense, and very much playing into a Gothic tradition of the haunted house, Jackson wrings the reader dry with a character’s slowly decaying sensibility in the atmosphere and environment of Hill House.

It is, though, unfortunately a little underwhelming. I was more intrigued by the style and mood of the book, rather than by the horror of it. Despite a couple of moments of real frights, neither near the ending mind you, I was never really lifted into anything terrifying. To put it another way, I didn’t go and lock the book in another room of the house after I finished it. (I’ve heard of people putting horror books in the freezer. I wouldn’t go that far. I might need something from the freezer.)

Regardless, this got me thinking. What constitutes a horror novel? Back in that forgotten era when Borders existed, it used to have its own section, largely stocked by King and Koontz and Straub. But these days it seems to have been subsumed by the Sci-Fi and Fantasy sections (I’m not a fan of dividing fiction up this way in bookshops, but anyway). It’s interesting to note that it seems to be a genre people are avoiding, even resistant to as a label.

It does have certain connotations, granted. Mention horror and people generally envisage something of the Gothic supernatural, dashes of Poe, unspeakable unmentionables of Lovecraft, and the aforementioned tomes of King. Lately, newly published books that might otherwise be called horror are being relabelled as dark fantasy, even dark mystery, as if we might need to deliver horror by subterfuge to the reader. It feels akin to the Harry Potter books being repackaged with more ‘sensible’ covers so that adults could read them and not worry on the train of looking like they were reading kids’ books.

Anyway, I wanted to get to the bottom of where horror is at the moment, as a genre. Is it its own? Does it have its own defined rules? Boundaries? Tropes? Is it more than werewolves, vampires and mummies? Or is it a subgenre of something else? Or an extension – an extra – to pre-existing genres?

We certainly know what horror used to be. From Frankenstein to Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, to The Raven and At the Mountains of Madness, we can clearly chart the path of horror as a tradition. But now?

Can we clearly say what horror is?

The easiest path for me to answer this is to read more horror. And the first port of call is one of the established horror fiction associations: The Horror Writers Association. A worldwide association, it was formed in the mid-eighties during the ‘new’ horror boom of popular fiction. On its launch, it then began the Bram Stoker Awards, a prize for superior achievement in horror writing, an award that has been given every year since 1987.

This seemed to be a good place to start. And it’s a good list too. For however long it takes me, I’m going to read my way through the winning books in order to get a greater understanding of where horror is now, 26 years after the first Bram Stoker Award. (I should add, they award novels, short fiction, graphic novels, screenplays and a whole host of categories, but for the purposes of this exercise I’m going to just look at the novels.)

With just a brief scan down the list, there’s some cracking reads on the horizon: American Gods, The Silence of the Lambs, Lost Boy Lost Girl, Zombie. And before you suspect it’s just a thinly veiled excuse to read more King, there’s only a few of his, and I’ve not read any of them before. Though you’re probably right.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the genre has to offer. What the different authors do, and how different they are to each other. Great horror, I feel, is a rare thing, and a difficult thing to write, and exceedingly undervalued.

Oddly, the first winner was a joint award, to King’s Misery and Swan Song, by Robert R. McCammon. And in the spirit of fairness, I’m going to forgo Misery and just focus on McCammon, given that I’ve not read anything of his before, and he has three winners on the list. Clearly worth looking at.

Twenty-six horror novels. And me.

I’ll keep you posted.

Though I don’t know how my ereader will go in the freezer.


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Special Edition Books

Posted November 6, 2013 by Craig Hildebrand-Burke

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A while ago I wrote about enhanced ebooks, about how they had largely been somewhat underwhelming and that though the medium offered much in the way of potential, there was more enhancement in the reading experience to be had in a 1980s Choose Your Own Adventure paperback.

So, in lieu of offering a successful model for enhanced ebooks, I’m offering a potentially similar – though fundamentally different – option: special editions.

Perhaps where enhanced ebooks aren’t getting it quite right is in the idea of what they’re meant to be doing. So far they seem concerned with the medium, that reading an ebook is somehow different in its essence to reading a paper book. And because the medium is different, it can therefore change the experience, provide an alternate journey through the story, and as a result, enhance it.

So far this usually seems to be through inflationary methods: interactive maps, hyperlinked indices and character details, images, sound and video. Enhancement here seems preoccupied with turning a book into something that it isn’t.

The difference in medium is misdirection. Ebooks are still books. They are still read like books – with a certain degree of qualification. This experience shouldn’t really change, lest enhancements give the way to novelty, and then redundancy.

While DVD sales may be on the wane, the special edition model offered by them and BluRay is worth considering. Here, the original story is still intact. What is offered in addition is a supply of extras: development stories, interviews, commentaries, outtakes, deleted scenes and so on. The rise of special editions saw consumers become wise to the early release of the vanilla edition – the film without any extras – and merely wait it out for the more expensive yet more enriched viewing of the special edition.

With downloads now supplanting the vanilla releases, the special editions are quickly becoming a norm for hardcopy releases: audiences now expect the extras, the special has become standard. What remains intact, however, is the original story itself. Unless the original director chooses to recut a new version – something that is becoming rarer – there isn’t a preoccupation with enhancing the film from what was seen in the cinemas.

So can’t special editions work for books?

The text of the book would still remain the same. Previously explored enhancements only make the book itself less navigable – and this is something that cannot and should not happen in books. The joy of reading a book is in how simplistic the form is through its elegance. Its linearity serves the story, serves the reader, and makes it a model that can’t fundamentally alter, and hasn’t in centuries. So that ideally remains, eschewing any temptation to drive the reader away from the story into a cul-de-sac of an image or video or whatever else.

But ultimately the one thing implicit in a linear read is that it ends. The story stops, the characters finish, and we have to find something else to read. Unless more is offered.

Why not show behind the scenes of the creation of the book? Stories from authors about where ideas came from, about the foundation of characters, settings and scenes are always devoured by readers with eager anticipation, so why not include these extras as part of what a reader receives alongside the book? The readiness of readers to attend and meet and listen to authors at signings and festivals show that the interest is palpable.

The proliferation of books on writing, by authors who often cite examples from their own stories about how they were developed, is potentially also something that could be included. The stories about stories are fascinating in their own right, and worthy of readership. Allowing readers to discover what happens after a book is accepted, and how it is then developed to become ready for publication, would be fascinating for anybody who has just finished reading that actual book.

There isn’t anything hugely groundbreaking here. All of these things are often available for readers from a variety of places, but these are usually beyond the experience of reading the book itself. Offering readers a book that packages many aspects of what goes on around the book itself would create a special edition worth purchasing. Possibly.

To me, a workable model could be one that looks at the before, the during and the after. What happened before the writing of the book, for the author, that deliberately allowed them to create the story they did. Then what occurred during, what detours did they take, what was left out and what had to be included in service of the story. And then the afterwards, the reflection and acknowledgement of what ended up on the page.

As a reader, I’d like this. I’m unsure how much this has already been explored, or how viable it is, but I think a special edition book would be an excellent way of enhancing the reading of a book, rather than enhancing the book itself. And the experience of reading a book is still unchanged. All of this is trading on words, which is the contract a reader signs up to when the pick up a book, digital or not.


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Podmentum: Chopper, Gravity and Stephen King

Posted October 31, 2013 by Mark

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In this episode we talk about the death of Momentum author Mark Brandon “Chopper” Read and what it means for publishers when authors pass away. Then, we all went and saw the new movie Gravity, and we chat about what we thought of the film and whinge about minor details. Finally, Mark sat down with regular contributor to the Momentum blog, Craig Hildebrand-Burke, to discuss Stephen King and Doctor Sleep.


Advertised books

Out of Exile: A Tom Bishop Rampage by Luke Preston

Holding Out for a Hero by Amy Andrews


What We’re Reading


NOS4A2 by Joe Hill


The Yoga Sutras by Patanjali


The Last Girlfriend on Earth by Simon Rich

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King



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