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Mark Chadbourn Interview
Jack of Ravens and The Burning Man
You Might Also Enjoy
Pyr Around the Web
Coming Soon
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April 2, 2012

April sees the return of Jack Churchill in Mark Chadbourn's Kingdom of the Serpent
trilogy. Jack of Ravens is in stores now, with The Burning Man releasing later this month, and Destroyer of Worlds concluding the trilogy in May.

Pyr-a-zine Exclusive: Mark Chadbourn on Mythology and Music for the End of the World

In conjunction with the US release of the Kingdom of the Serpent trilogy, we asked Mark Chadbourn a few questions about mythology and writing the books. Enjoy!
Rene: In Jack of Ravens, Church gets to take a direct look at Celtic history, but history and mythology are very important through the trilogies.  One facet of the books is the way that history and mythology are woven throughout to create a secret history of magic. What led to your interest in mythology, and how did you decide to incorporate it in the books?

Mark ChadbournMark: I was a very young child when I first came across the Norse and Greek myths.  But it was Marvel Comics use (and abuse!) of those stories that first set me thinking that these tales were important and somehow still relevant.  When I was around 13, I stumbled across an academic study that showed how these mythologies were still shaping our lives today.  The book looked at how they carried information that was vital to the societies of that time and place, and the stories were used to pass that information down from generation to generation--because we remember stories better than we do dry factual information.  The psychologist C S Jung also wrote about how these mythologies contained symbols that were lodged in our unconscious as archetypes and which had the power to affect all of us on a deep level.  When I was putting together the story for these trilogies, I was thinking about how something as ephemeral as stories weaved into the real world and affected real events.  That was really the starting point--to see if the oldest stories of all still affected us today.

Rene: One thing I've enjoyed about the books is the way the stakes continue to rise and change, even at the end of the world. What are some of the challenges of writing the apocalypse?

Mark: If you watch the films of Roland Emmerich, you can see how easy it is for too much apocalypse to become boring and wearying very quickly.  One challenge is that big threats can seem too big--there always has to be a personal cost.  The end of the world might seem a big deal, but in story terms it's something we've all seen time and again. The trick is to keep reminding the reader what it means for a character they care about, and what they stand to lose beyond their life.

One of the important 'rules' of action writing is to keep raising the stakes--set a deadline and then shorten it.  If you know the apocalypse is coming at the start of the book and you know it's *still* coming halfway through, you take your eyes off the road and begin looking for a new radio station.  So the other main challenge is, how do you set the stakes high and continue to escalate without going into the realms of the totally ridiculous.  

Rene: Is there a soundtrack to the writing of the Kingdom of the Serpent trilogy?

Mark: Music plays a big part in all these trilogies, and I have my own soundtrack while I'm writing the books.  Songs feature throughout--sometimes obviously, with direct mentions, and sometimes indirectly.  There's a running joke that each book's chapter one has a song title that one of the character's is struggling to remember.  With Jack of Ravens, it's "The Great Dominions" by Teardrop Explodes.  It's hard to recall what music I was listening to when I was writing it now, but I know that I did listen to a lot of sixties music for the section set in Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love, to get in the mood.  That part is titled Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die after a song by Country Joe and the Fish.  I'm a big music listener with very eclectic tastes and I've got tracks going back eighty years or so, so there's always a something I can hear to capture the moment.

But just for you, I've compiled an end of the world playlist:

"Hellhound on my Trail" - Robert Johnson
"Aloha from Hell" - The Cramps
"Armageddon Days (Are Here Again)" - The The
"Queer" - Garbage
"When the Sun Goes Down" - Arctic Monkeys
"Godless" - The Dandy Warhols
"I've Got my TV and my Pills" - Julian Cope
"Heaven Up Here" - Echo and the Bunnymen
"Shoplifters of the World Unite" - The Smiths
"Love Will Tear Us Apart" - Joy Division
"Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell" - The Flaming Lips
"Beasley Street" - John Cooper Clarke
"Burning Sky" - The Jam
"Sinnerman" - Nina Simone
"Too Tough To Die" - Martina Topley-Bird
"Demon Days" - Gorillaz
"Big Night Out" - Fun Lovin' Criminals
"Do Anything You Want To" - Thin Lizzy
"Burn it Down" - Dexy's Midnight Runners
"Boys from the County Hell" - The Pogues
"(I'll Love You) Till the End of the World" - Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
"Sympathy for the Devil" - Rolling Stones
"The End" - The Doors

Many thanks to Mark for joining us!
Only the End of the World Again

Jack of Ravens

"Chadbourn balances vividly realized worlds, plenty of action, and some wry humor to help carry this paean to hope in its war against despair."

            -Publishers Weekly


"...an incredibly well crafted book that is filled with very descriptive and lyrical writing that seems to bring Church and his journey to life in the reader's mind. While the central story of tragically separated lovers is nothing new, Chadbourn's telling of it is. This is a welcome addition to my fantasy library, and a book I will easily read again and again." -Bookworm Blues blog 

"The first book in the remix of Mark Chadbourn's work offers a more gritty take on a war between good, evil and indifference. Think the spirit of V for Vendetta mixed with Neal Stephenson's historicism and infused by the spirit of Shakespeare's Puck: a featured character certain to invigorate future books." -Edge

In Jack of Ravens, which was shortlisted for the British Fantasy Award, Jack Churchill, archaeologist and dreamer, walks out of the mist and into Celtic Britain more than two thousand years before he was born, with no knowledge of how he got there. Mark Chadbourn gives us a high adventure of dazzling sword fights, passionate romance and apocalyptic wars in the days leading up to Ragnarok, the End-Times: a breathtaking, surreal vision of twisting realities where nothing is quite what it seems.

"When he's on form, there is no one writing today that can The Burning Man do urban, gritty magic as well as Mark Chadbourn, and this book is very much on form, in terms of its action, exciting storytelling, and sheer force." -SF Site

"Chadbourn brings imagination to a rich tapestry he has already woven. . . . A very dynamic and visceral read with elements of nonlinearity and bendy timeline. Very enjoyable. . . . One of the best books in the series yet." -SF Crowsnest

After a long journey across the ages, Jack Churchill returns to the modern world in The Burning Man, only to find it in the grip of a terrible, dark force. With a small group of trusted allies, Jack sets out to find the two "keys" that can shatter the spell. But the keys are people--one with the power of creation, one the power of destruction--and they are hidden somewhere among the world's billions.

If you've missed his earlier work, check out the coupon at the bottom of the page to order World's End for half off! World's End is where it all began--the first of the Age of Misrule trilogy.

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End of the Century   The Office of Shadow Crooked Letter  

Pyr Around the Web
Fair Coin
 EC Myers joins Hour of the Wolf to talk about his debut, Fair Coin!

"Magic and science collide in this retelling of the classic fable about misguided wishes never having exactly the outcome you intend. Myers' tale has a massive twist thanks to the wacky addition of string theory, multi-verses and all kinds of cool physics theories. A complex plotline explores experimental theories in this fast-paced and fun story."
 -RT Book Reviews, four stars

Agog Film Productions Ltd. has optioned Alan Dean Foster's Sagramanda, with plans to start filming immediately. Which makes now a great time to read the book!

The Greyfriar audiobook is now available through Buzzy The GreyfriarMultimeadia, read by James Marsters. You can listen to a sample of the audiobook.

"I love this book. It's epic and lovely, heartbreakingly romantic (in every sense of the word), and an incredibly satisfying read, both for the characters and the richness of the world." -Marjorie M. Liu, New York Times bestselling author of the Hunter Kiss and Dirk & Steele series


Coming Soon

The Night Sessions


"Do give The Night Sessions a read if you're looking for a smart, fast-paced science fiction tale with a murder mystery twist; Mr. MacLeod doesn't disappoint in weaving a convincing future realm that is at once exhilarating and frightening in its complexity and sincerity." -AstroGuyz  


"As ever, MacLeod's depiction of the near future is achieved through solid characterisation and brilliant detail. His forte is the depiction of how belief systems can corrupt, and The Night Sessions is a stunning indictment of fundamentalism of all kinds." -The Guardian


A bishop is dead. As Detective Inspector Adam Ferguson picks through the rubble of the tiny church, he discovers that it was deliberately bombed. That it's a terrorist act is soon beyond doubt. It's been a long time since anyone saw anything like this. Terrorism is history. At first, suspicion falls on atheists more militant than the secular authorities. But when the target list expands to include the godless, it becomes evident that something very old has risen from the ashes. Old and very, very dangerous.   



That's it for this issue. As always, please check out our entire catalog and drop by our blog.

Happy Reading,

Rene Sears
Editorial Assistant, Pyr

an imprint of Prometheus Books 

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