Tag Archives: Vincent Holland-keen

The Office of Lost and Found re release

The Office of Lost and Found by Vincent Holland-Keen is officially re released today.

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Thomas Locke can find anything. You know the hurricane that hit a while back? Word is he found the butterfly that started it. So, when a desperate Veronica Drysdale hires Locke to find her missing husband, it makes perfect sense.

Except the world of Thomas Locke doesn’t make sense. It puts monsters under the bed, makes stars fall from the sky and leads little children to worship the marvels of road-works.

This world also hides from Veronica a past far darker and stranger than she could ever have imagined. To learn the truth, Veronica is going to have to lose everything.

And that’s where Locke’s shadowy business partner Lafarge comes in…

As this is a re release with no substantive changes I refer you to the kind words of some of the early adopters of VHK’s line on the absurd.

The Eloquent Page The thing to remember is that this isn’t your typical, by the numbers, urban fantasy this is something completely different. This novel is going to challenge your perceptions and force you to use the old grey matter. Underneath this splendidly quirky detective story there is an interesting on-going commentary about the nature of belief and those that choose to be believers. The key thing to remember when reading this metaphysical mind-bender, to paraphrase The Matrix, is that ‘there is no spoon’.

Elizabeth A White was very kind about this and the YA follow on Billy’s Monsters : To call Vincent Holland-Keen’s debut novel The Office of Lost & Found merely “strange” is an understatement of epic proportions. Of course, in my world strange means creative, original, enchanting, challenging, and mind-blowing, which means the über strange of The Office of Lost & Found makes for an amazing read; one of my Top 10 of 2011 in fact.

Crime writer Luca Veste  ‘The Office of Lost and Found’ is a novel unlike anything you are likely to read this year. Probably next year as well. It’s staggeringly different to anything else I’ve read since picking up a copy of a Douglas Adams book when I was a teenager, really enjoying it and then never reading anything in the same vein since. With character names which border on the ridiculous, situations which still make no sense to me and a plot which continually surprises right up to the end, ‘The Office of Lost and Found’ should find its way onto every readers shelf at some point.

Tony Lane I would recommend this book to anybody who is slightly unhinged or at least open to the possibility that pan-dimensional aliens are already walking amongst us. It is a wild and thoroughly enjoyable read that I will be recommending to my friends, and certainly reading again at a later date.

It might be fair to say this is not a book for those who like a safe predictable read. The book contains a short story in the same world, notes and sketches by the author along with the original cover as part of the back matter.

North Vs South at Harrogate

Sadly Aunty Fox won’t be attending Harrogate this year, however Fox Spirit will be well represented at the Football Grudge Match between North and South because House Fox demands trial by combat!

warcry

Never has their been a battle so epic as when crime writers throw down on the pitch near the Old Swan in the genteel and pretty gritty and dark surroundings of Mordor Harrogate. With more on the line here than at Helm’s Deep these two teams of pasty & sun deprived fearsome and heroic stalwarts of crime culture will meet in a silly game devastating battle.

Anyway, The North will be wearing Fox Spirit colours on their shirts because the north remembers or it’s going to rain or something. Skulk author Vincent Holland-Keen will be representing the North in this bloody and merciless battle, so there is Fox pride on the line and no pressure Vincent, but the losers will be sacrificed to the god of Fire while the winners will be witnessed entering the halls of Valhalla, all shiny and chrome.

valkyries

The teams provisionally look like this:

FOR THE NORTH – WEIGHING IN AT THREE TONS

  • Luca Veste
  • Col Bury
  • Nick Quantrill
  • Howard Linskey
  • Vince Holland-Keen
  • Craig Robertson
  • Tom Wood

FOR THE SOUTH – NOT WEIGHING THEMSELVES AS THEY’RE SOUTHERN SOFTIES

  • James Law
  • Will Carver
  • Tim Weaver
  • Phil Patterson
  • Chris Ewan
  • Adam Hamdy
  • Graeme Cameron

The monsters under the bed.

Billy’s Monsters by Vincent Holland-Keen

Paperback available now, ebooks comings soon.

The monsters lurking under Billy’s bed when he was small were real, also not so much lurking as hanging out. Now some of them travel with him in a backpack and when he meets two sisters with a serious supernatural problem Billy’s backpack makes him something of an unlikely hero. 

 

billys monsters - front coversmall

Cover by Vincent Holland-Keen

Billy would be an ordinary sixteen your old boy if his best friends in life weren’t monsters from under his bed.

Scarlett wants to be an ordinary sixteen year old girl, but her life is on hold thanks to her younger sister, Hester.

Hester is special. She doesn’t know why. She doesn’t know she’s part of a sinister conspiracy centred around the exclusive Elderigh College. She only knows that if she doesn’t keep quiet, the monsters will find her….

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Billy’s Monsters : Interview with Vincent Holland-Keen

billys monsters - front coversmall

Billy has a minor role in the adult novel The Office of Lost and Found. What about him made you want to follow up on his story after the events of that?

Well, it wasn’t my idea; you (Aunty Fox) suggested it 😛 But despite that, I did think it a good idea. It had been a while since I’d finished a novel, the proper sequel to The Office of Lost and Found had stalled, and tackling YA just felt right. As a kid, I loved ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’, ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ and ‘The Dark is Rising’. As an adult, I’ve been just as enraptured by Harry Potter, the demon Bartimaeus and pretty much anything Diana Wynne Jones has written. A child or teenager going on an adventure seems inherently more dangerous because they have relatively little power in our world. Grown-ups are primed not to believe them. They can’t solve a problem with a credit card. If they want to chase down a villain, they have to get on their bike or catch a bus. And because they haven’t experienced as much of the mundaneness of life, they can see magic where an adult might not. Personally, I can’t understand why a writer would want to write a novel about a navel-gazing university professor for a coterie of literary critics when they could be writing about explosions and monsters for the kid they were when they discovered their love of stories. Billy was my excuse to do just that.

Were there any difficulties in adapting the Lost and Found world to a YA suitable novel?

No. Do you need a longer answer? Oh, okay then. The Office of Lost and Found is deliberately weird. It’s set in our world, but with a grim strangeness bleeding into it. One of the lead characters repeatedly tells the other that there’s no point trying to make sense of what’s going on, because the answers don’t make any sense. Most of the strangeness is pushed to the background for this follow-up in order to focus on just one of Lost and Found’s threads: monsters that lurk under the bed. Of course, that on its own is fairly conventional in fiction terms, so the fun comes in exploring the repercussions of that reality and throwing in twists on the concept you might not expect. In fact, the most difficult part was figuring out how to handle swearing. There are a least a few occasions where the right word to use was absolutely the f-word, but I fudged in something else instead. That’s not to say the prudish won’t find some abhorrent language in there, but in relative terms I tried to keep it quite prim and proper.

Most of us don’t embrace the monsters under our bed. What makes Billy so different?

But you do, right? I can just imagine you giving the monster a big hug before bedtime and the monster sighing and patting you on the back and going ‘yes, yes, that’s quite enough of that’. I don’t think Billy would quite go that far and to begin with he was certainly as scared as a typical child would be. He feared those misshapen shadows glimpsed out the corner of an eye until he was shown how to view such things in a new light; one where a gruesome hybrid spider-rhinoceros creature could instead be a mate you played tag with (with emphasis on the ‘could’; just like humans, some gruesome hybrid spider-rhinoceroses are assholes you wouldn’t want to play tag with). So I don’t think Billy is really that different from anyone else, he was just given an opportunity denied to most of us.

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How would you describe Scarlett and Billy’s unusual brand of heroics?

Billy watches too many movies, so likes to think he’s an action hero – Indiana Jones, John McClane, that sort of thing. But there’s a difference between racing into a burning building to save a puppy because you want to be the hero, and racing into that burning building because you want to save that puppy. In contrast, Scarlett absolutely doesn’t think she’s a hero and only does what she feels she has to. Consequently, she’d probably be annoyed if you did call her hero.

There is obviously a lot more to explore in the world of the Nightmare Factory. What are the chances of a follow up having more action take place in that world?

None. Well, maybe a small chance. The worlds conceived in The Office of Lost and Found stretch far beyond the realm of monsters, so I’m interested in seeing what else is out there. And then it would be interesting to see how that something else impacts on our world and maybe the world of the Nightmare Factory. As a general rule, I’m all for smushing lots of things together to find out if the resulting reaction is pleasingly combustible. But for the time being all I can say is that the follow-up to Billy’s Monsters is going to be concerned to a greater or lesser extent with clouds of the white and fluffy variety.

Billy’s Monsters…..Billy

Coming soon…..

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Billy’s Monsters…..Scarlett

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Not the Fox News: The First State of the Union

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future recently. It’s sort of my job, but it’s also something that we can’t avoid at this time of year. 2013 is calling time and putting the chairs on the tables whilst 2014 is trying not to look too nervous as it takes its tracksuit off and warms up. This is a time of year where reflection isn’t just expected it’s almost compulsory.

That leads to some really kick ass writing by the way. Paul Cornell’s 12 Blogs of Christmas are always really good value but this year he’s been on exceptional form. 2013 has been what my amazing girlfriend would call ‘burly’, an intense, bruiser of a year that’s worked hard for all 365 days and is only reluctantly showing signs of slowing down. There have been times, and anyone who was reading my blog in the top six months of the year would know exactly what times they were, when it’s been deeply, profoundly unpleasant.

Thanks for having my back this year, Phil.

That lack of pleasant hasn’t just stemmed from the profound professional frustration I’ve felt for a good chunk of this year. A lot of it has stemmed from the realization that a lot of the time, geek culture enables and encourages misery. The whole concept of geek/nerd/counter culture is so wrapped up in being the underdog that even when we aren’t, we’re conditioned to act like we are.

It’s not just that there’s always something wrong with a movie or a book or a comic or someone’s blog post either, although God knows that sort of stuff has been endemic this year. When we’re not complaining that something’s been done wrong, we’re complaining it’s been done at all and we absolutely will not stop until the same nine people agree with us, argue with us or passive aggressively block us on Twitter.

Again.

I’ve seen things, to misquote Roy Batty, that would make you go ‘…Wait, you’re supposed to be a grown up? You’re the industry leaders whose standards we all have to aspire to? SERIOUSLY?’

I’ve seen authors ignore some of the first people to beta read their first book as they pass in convention hallways. I’ve seen authors pick fights they had no business being anywhere near or comport themselves on Twitter in a manner that suggests their ASSHAT UNION membership card has arrived and they’re just so pleased they can’t wait to show it to everyone.

It’s not just authors either. Bloggers who’ve picked fights for no reason other than they can, journalists who’ve started fights they can’t finish then played the victim card and run. I’ve seen celebrity authors pampered and sucked up to by the same editors who let out streams of invective as high pitched as they were ineffectual at people who they thought beneath them. I’ve seen ‘fans’ race to pour scorn on anyone who dared to like something they didn’t, or sneak pictures of an old, tired, ill man because it might be the last time they were in the same room as him and God forbid they should treat him like a human.

I have so much more. I have an amount you wouldn’t believe of stories of people being dicks. Objectification by both genders, high school cliquery, bullying, the sort of cult of personality bullshit that makes you want to not just leave these people’s company but shower and not stop until you feel clean again.   Fandom, and I actually cringed writing that word, has shown the world it’s ass over and over in 2013.

It’s been pretty depressing at times. You may be able to tell.

Here’s the thing. I have an outsider complex the size of a small moon at the best of times and there’ve been months this year that I’ve felt like a man without a country. Times where I’ve looked around at the conversation and the people leading it and frankly wondered if it wasn’t too late to learn enough about football and soap operas that I could fit effortlessly back into the general population, sort of like Bruce Campbell at the end of Darkman.

I didn’t for three reasons. Firstly because simply making that comparison tells me this is where I should be, secondly because Bruce Campbell already had that exit sewn up and thirdly because when it comes down to it, I’ve seen what comes next. And it’s BRILLIANT.

Seriously, the dusty cults of personality, the grudges held for years, the ludditery and celebration of the past at the endless, endless expense of the present and the future? It’s being replaced, person by person, con by con. What’s replacing it, Commander Bowman?

See, Dave knows.

But surely publishing is dying? I pretend to hear you cry. Publishing isn’t dying. Or rather it is in the same way that comics publishing was dying a decade ago when I ran a comic store. Numbers are down, prices are up, electronic retail is squeezing it dry and the sky is falling.

But the sky is always falling.

Comics endure. Books endure. We endure and survive and, ultimately, evolve. Look at the indie press scene in this country and don’t use small press as a term, please. It belittles the hard work of everyone involved in companies like Anachron, Jurassic and Fox Spirit. These are groups of people whose invention is matched only by their lunacy at working so hard for so little financial gain. Colin Barnes, Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry, Aunty Fox, all the others have stepped up and MADE something whilst everyone else has been busy doomsaying and remembering how drunk they got at We Like A-Line Flares and The Bay City Fucking Rollerscon back in 197aeons ago.

Authors, editors and agents are the same. Lou Morgan, Andrew Reid, Joan De La Haye, Jennifer Williams, Liz De Jager, Alec McQuay, Dan Sawyer, Vincent Holland Keen, Adam Christopher, Colin Barnes again, Steven Saus, Scott Roche, Jared Shurin and Anne C. Perry again, Tim Maughan, Kate Laity, Mhairi Simpson, David Barnett, Nayad Monroe, Sarah Hans, Mur Lafferty, Lee Harris, Amanda Rutter, Den Patrick, Will Hill, Kim Curran, Guy Adams, Tom PollockDjibril al-Ayad, Matt Wallace, Jacqueline Koyanagi, Juliet Mushens and all the others have built their careers from the ground up. Brick by brick by author by book these people have hand sold, promoted, represented appeared on podcasts, written blogs, submitted work, read slush and slowly and surely they’ve made ground. Slowly and surely they’ve changed the game. Slowly and surely they’ve won .

You know the coolest thing about that list? I added to it twice and I know it’s not complete, even now. These people, and the legions I missed, are building the future with a combination of grim determination and total empathy. The con organizers are the same, and anyone who thinks different hasn’t looked at Nine Worlds, the plans LonCon 3 have or what Lee Harris and Sophia McDougall are building at FantasyCon ’14.

It won’t be overnight, because it never is, but the change that’s coming isn’t just one of talent, it’s one of atmosphere. At every level of every element of genre fiction publishing, the culture is changing from one of tradition and exclusion to one of individuality and inclusion. Yes the support structures are smaller, yes the work is harder to do but the rewards are all the sweeter if you can do it. Like the man says, it’s a good life if you don’t weaken and everyone I mention here can attest to that. These people love what they do so much they teach other people to love it too. No whining, no backbiting, no psychological games. Just the agent, the editor, the publisher, the writer, the reader and the text and, yes, they’re all walking into a bar.

This is a wonderful time to be anywhere near fiction. The step change that’s coming will echo up and down for decades to come and it’ll be so much more positive and interesting than so much of what we’ve had to put up with in recent years.

What do you think, Josh?

Good boy.

What’s next? That’s easy. It’s the future. And this time everyone’s invited.

Happy New Year

 

Jacqueline Koyanagi

Tales of the Fox & Fae cover reveal

It is a thing of beauty is it not? The cover is designed to fit with the style of Nun & Dragon and is by Vincent Holland-Keen.

fox-and-fae front-cover-1

 

The book will contain stories by Chloe Yates, Andrew Reid, James Bennett, Cat Connor, Geraldine Clark Hellery, Peter Ray Allison, a comic strip by Jasper Bark, Margrét Helgadóttir, Alec McQuay, Haralambi Markov, T.F. Grant

 

 

Paperback Cover

This is the clean version of the paperback cover. Click it to see it in all it’s glory, but I love it, so very beautiful.

The ebook is available now from Amazon and Wizards Tower

Vincent Holland-Keen

Vincent Holland-Keen has joined Fox Spirit with his novel ‘An Alternative History of Balesley Green’ which will be coming out from Fox Spirit Books.

Balesley is a darkly comic novel about the things that can happen in an apparently sleepy village in the English countryside.

‘When we were kids, this was a place of excitement, mystery and adventure…’

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