BREAKING – SyFy’s Pilot of ‘The Magicians’ Cancelled – Replaced with Spell/Sword Series Order

Syfylogo

Producers Janice Williams and Michael London announced today that they were halting production on the anticipated pilot immediately. The adaptation of Lev Grossman’s bestselling fantasy series had been gathering a great deal of interest and excitement from fans. Williams spoke to reporters, “Everything was going great. Casting, script-writing, sets were built. But then we came to work yesterday and found the power had been cut and a team of carpenters dismantling the front steps of Brakebills. All they would tell us is they had a work order to re-purpose the lumber for use on ‘Helix’.”

London added “It was a SyFy level decision – not us, we were going to show the world something special with this show.” The series was being produced by Universal Cable Productions.

the-magiciansWhen reached for comment, SyFy president, David Howe, just sort of shrugged in between bites of a massive roast beef sandwich, “We had hoped that Lev Grossman’s blend of magic and realism would capture the imagination of a new generation of viewers and further strengthen Syfy’s ownership of premium quality sci-fi fantasy drama. But then we realized CHOMP – this shit is depressing as hell. We already punish genre fans enough with our content, I don’t think we need to have a show that actively mocks them for liking the concept of Magic.”

To fill the gap in the upcoming schedule, SyFy has greenlit a 26-episode adaptation of Spell/Sword – a self-published fantasy novel currently ranked #2,108,408 on Amazon. Howe assured reporters that the book was ‘rad as hell’.

The author of Spell/Sword, and it’s even less well selling sequel The Riddle Box could not be reached for comment as he is currently embedded within a small plate of green Jell-O for reasons of national security.

Query Letter on File

Dear Literary Agent of Sophistication and Skill,

I am the Alpha and Omega. Starlight is my rod and moonlight my robe. I can manifest Mr. Pibb only from places that Mr. Pibb should never emit. Lint fears me. All lint. It knows why. I am contacting you today because I have written a book and would like you to represent me to publishers. I have selected you for this task after your future self came to me in a dream and begged me for pistachio ice cream. You muttered something about the book, but it was indistinct as your mouth was full of green delicious.

The book in question is called Asteroid Made of Dragons. It is the third book in a

I look like this! Maybe we already know each other.
I look like this! Maybe we already know each other.

series of undisclosed number. It concerns the impending doom that threatens a planet stocked with fantasy cliches. This will be the most terrible of contrived apocalyptic scenarios — for after the asteroid hits and nuclear winter wraps the globe and crops die – there are also hundreds of concussed dragons. The main characters of the book have no knowledge of this dark fate as they are occupied with a bank robbery, unresolved murder charges from their past, confusion about their sexual awakening, a pan-dimensional witch cum narrative device, courtly intrigue, a lost recipe for Strawberry Tarts, and a team of hardened assassins that seek their death. They got their own shit to deal with, man. Will they save the world? Yeah, probably.

I have been cleverly subverting epic fantasy tropes for a few years now in foul obscurity. I’ve already unleashed the first two novels of my genre-mangling series, Spell/Sword and The Riddle Box. It’s too late for you to represent those, you missed out. Too bad you weren’t following my Tumblr feed in 2012. I have published no short stories and do not intend to. Published authors like [REDACTED] and [REDACTED]  have read a few pages of my stuff and responded with extreme tact but obvious concern. I am a danger to myself, the fantasy genre, and linear thought itself. I must be stopped. But I cannot be stopped. [I can probably be stopped.] You should only consider representing me if you  are interested in forever altering the DNA of the fantasy genre and dying alone in poverty and misery.

You have been warned and also enticed. I stand ready in my Dreaming Chamber to commune with you. Do you prefer emeralds or onyx as a resonator?

G. Derek Adams

Writer of Minotaur Poetry

First Three Chapters

Spell/Sword

The Riddle Box

Asteroid Made of Dragons [soon]

[I’m self-published, but traditional publishing most definitely has an allure. I watched Seth Fishman’s broadcast about query letters from the Worldbuilders charity and found it very helpful and responded with this garbage. This is the query letter I wish I could send. I am certain it will be helpful to anyone attempting to write their own!]

The Holy Detective

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Close your eyes. Okay, wait, open them again. You can’t read with your eyes closed. Are you reading this now? I guess I’ll need to wait for you to get bored and come back and read this.

Okay – welcome back. Now, metaphysically close your eyes. What do you see when you read the word ‘detective’? YES I KNOW YOU SEE LETTERS.

You are impossible to blog at. Simply impossible.

Now most normal people probably see Sherlock Holmes. Or Batman. Or Sam Spade. Or Tracer Bullet. Or Kay Howard. Or DCI Jane Tennison. Or Columbo.

Or any other number of gumshoes, thief-catchers, and head-scratchers. The ones who find. The ones who put the pieces together. The ones who solve the puzzle, catch the crook, go into the dark place and shine their big-ass X-files style flashlight on the things we’re afraid to look for.

All the way from Sgt. Cuff in The Moonstone to the watered down latter day sleuths that tromp across primetime underneath their personal assortment of L.E.T.T.E.R.S. — we love them. Or at least I love them. But I would make the argument that in our modern minds the role of detective has taken on a religious bent.  When they appear in a story we know their purpose, we understand their function. And when they succeed, when they drag the truth to light,there is a feeling of our faith being rewarded.

Humans have always used stories to understand the world that surrounds us. I find it interesting that so much of popular fiction in one way or another features this figure: the Detective as Hero. True Detective on HBO explored this trope in several fascinating ways — overlaying the mechanics of a procedural on the Hero’s Journey. As a side bar, I also found it interesting that the grungy, dystopic world of that show culminated in a moment of true, non-ironic hope and peace.

Maybe that’s why the popularity. If Campbell is to be trusted [ AND HE FUCKING IS] the mono-myth appears again because it mirrors the operation of the human psyche. Mapping the Hero’s quest to Detective stories is a natural pop-culture tic. The Call is some dead body in an alley somewhere, the Underworld an interrogation room, the Elixir a confession, a signed piece of paper, vengeance wreaked, the sound of the cuffs as they click closed. Across the board we make a solemn grunt of satisfaction as the Detective solves the case.  Other heroes have their battles take many forms, but for the Detective it most often boils down to ‘ Figure This Out.’ Maybe I just find mental battles more interesting in my dotage.

What do you think? Close your eyes again. [Metaphysically you ass.] When you see your Detective, are they outlined in a holy fire? Or, as is all too often the case, is it just me having a weird fixation?

Because I see it. Bayless and Pembleton, Mulder and Scully, Watson and Holmes. When the Detective appears I am on board. I lean forward, towards the TV or the page, eager for the first move to be made. I want them to get out there, out there in the dark and get on the trail. I want the hounds sniffing at the scent, I want the board covered with pictures and yarn, I want the detective to drink her coffee grind away at the problem. FOLLOW THE LEADS, GET IT WRONG, TRY AGAIN.  Play the violin and stare at the drop of green ink on the handkerchief and realize that the priest was blind so there is NO WAY HE COULD HAVE KNOWN THE KILLER HAD RED HAIR.

I may have a problem.

So yeah, I like mysteries a little. And detectives a bit.

When I realized that the most logical sequel to my fantasy novel was an Agatha Christie locked-room murder mystery, I was to put it mildly: NUCLEAR LEVEL STOKED. Just throwing all those toys in the box and rattling them around was exciting enough, but the idea of my hero becoming the Detective was the most exciting. Rime is a character defined by her intellect, the idea of matching her up against this type of puzzle was very exciting. Also, finding out that Rime has the same nerdy love for mystery stories that I do was another nice surprise. She’s so excited to step into that role. If I may put it mildly, she is a huge dork about it. Another surprise: Rime is not the greatest detective in the world. I wouldn’t say terrible exactly – but definitely not on speed dial for Commissioner Gordon.

So, what do you think? Is the Detective ‘holy’? OR HAVE I JUST GONE MAD.

[This post is a naked attempt to promote my new book, The Riddle Box. The first two chapters are free here and you can pre-order the ebook here. DON’T FALL FOR MY TRICKS.]

The Riddle Box – Cover Reveal

At last – no further preamble – here is the cover illustration for The Riddle Box!

Cover Illustration - Mike Groves @poopbird
Cover Illustration – Mike Groves @poopbird

Yes! Bask in it’s glory. So many thanks to Mike Groves – poopbird.com – for his fabulous design.

Thank you for enduring the flood of activity from the blog, but I’m afraid there will be more to come as the release of the book in August gets closer.

Shares, presses, tumbles, and retweets very much appreciated – but please always credit Mike Groves/poopbird as the artist.

Stay tuned at this spot for more ramblings, poorly planned self-promotion, and pretty good recipe for peanut butter cookies.

Please follow this link to add The Riddle Box to your Goodreads queue!

Judge Me By My Cover – Day 5

Oh, we’re so very close. This is just a line drawing of the final design. I had gotten used to seeing the ‘straight on’ view of the Bride – so when Mike dropped this different perspective in my lap, I was immediately in love. Stay tuned for the final cover reveal tomorrow!

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

 

[Sketches for the cover illustration of The Riddle Box, my upcoming novel. I’m showing off the design process and sketches this week before the final reveal of the cover.]

Final Cover Reveal: 7/12

The Riddle Box – Click the link to add to your Goodreads!

Judge Me By My Cover – Day 4

And now we’re back to the ‘bride’ – I was a little bit nervous about not putting Jonas and Rime [Our Heroes] on the cover, but our earlier discussions about a truly ‘evocative’ cover gave me courage. Here are two different versions of the ‘bride’ that Mike developed.

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

More of the ‘floating numbers’ from the cover of Spell/Sword – and the appearance of the secret symbol! It’s massively important to the plot of The Riddle Box, and also to other stories beyond for those that have been following since the Lodestar days.

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

I don’t know what the flowers are all about – but they look great. I also really started to enjoy how the Bride’s ‘skull’ could read as her literal skeleton or as some sort of creepy mask. Also the decolletage and blood – so tasteful.

[Sketches for the cover illustration of The Riddle Box, my upcoming novel. I’m showing off the design process and sketches this week before the final reveal of the cover.]

Final Cover Reveal: 7/12

The Riddle Box – Click the link to add to your Goodreads!

Judge Me By My Cover – Day 3

And then things got a little weird. As often happens, Mike surprises me with a design that I love, but has very little connection to what we had originally been working on.

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

 

Now, I love this illustration. We had some discussions about going with a very evocative image on the cover, instead of something directly related to the plot. The mystery transpires in the Manor of the Heart-Broken Lion in the novel – and Mike really responded to that. We ultimately decided to go back to the original trajectory, but SPOILER ALERT: this sketch will find its way onto the back paperback cover of the book and potentially tattooed into my flesh at some point.

[Sketches for the cover illustration of The Riddle Box, my upcoming novel. I’m showing off the design process and sketches this week before the final reveal of the cover.]

Final Cover Reveal: 7/12

The Riddle Box – Click the link to add to your Goodreads!

Judge Me By My Cover – Day 2

Never forget the wooden pigs.
Never forget the wooden pigs.

After the initial thumbnail, Mike got very fixated on the exact design of the ‘bride’. [Sort of like how all he wanted to draw for the first book was wooden pigs. It’s a long story.] He has a dozen different takes in his sketchbook, but here are the ones he sent me next for feedback. I, of course, was tremendously helpful – most of my notes disintegrated into – ‘looks awesome’ and ‘god I wish I could draw.’

 

Design Sketch - Mike Groves - @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves – @poopbird

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

You can start to see the signature ‘numbers’ creeping into the inked sketch.

[Sketches for the cover illustration of The Riddle Box, my upcoming novel. I’m showing off the design process and sketches this week before the final reveal of the cover.]

Final Cover Reveal: 7/12

The Riddle Box – Click the link to add to your Goodreads!

Judge Me By My Cover – Day 1

And so it begins. I am beyond excited to reveal the cover to my upcoming novel, The Riddle Box…but I have been over-quiet on the blog of late – so I’m going to need to ramp up to it. Just clog up your feeds with me for a few days, that’s basically what I want. I thought it might be fun to show a little bit of the process by releasing the sketches that lead up to the final design, before revealing the final cover on Saturday.

First the OG cover design, made by yours truly. YES, bask in its awfulness.

Or maybe it was a reanimated Jackson Pollack.
Or maybe it was a reanimated Jackson Pollack.

I think it’s safe to say that this cover is amazing. Sadly it requires a refined artistic sense to truly appreciate, so it’s probably for the best that I went for something a little more mass market.

All of the art you will see henceforth in this series will be from my illustrator, Mike Groves.spell_sword_cover_final [poopbird.com]. You should immediately click over there and take a gander at his work – it is delightful and amazing. The sketches I’m sharing here are rough and you should do  yourself a favor and look at more of his finished stuff. He is the perfect person to draw zombies or robots for you. Fans of the first book will immediately recognize his style from the cover of Spell/Sword – I was really fortunate that he had time in his hectic schedule to work on the cover for The Riddle Box.

And now – the first sketch.

 

Design Sketch - Mike Groves @poopbird
Design Sketch – Mike Groves @poopbird

I can tell you, my heart skipped a beat when I saw this thumbnail. The book’s lived in my head for so long, to see even this sketch of my heroes got me ludicrously pumped. The final design came a long way from this starting point – here would be a good point to thank Mike for his patience with my endless vague emails and texts during the design process.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more sketches and then…DUN DUN DUNNNN…the Final Cover Reveal.

Final Cover Reveal : 7/12

The Riddle Box — Follow the link to add the new book to your Goodreads!

 

The Riddle Box – 300 Words or Less

A manor. A murder. A mystery. The doors are closed, best keep your eyes open.

Jonas and Rime arrive at the House of the Heart-Broken Lion, interrupting a play and an opulent dinner party. An actor falls dead on the stage, the doors

Gustave Doré Plate XX - “Lancelot Approaching the Castle of Astolat,” circa 1867-69
Gustave Doré
Plate XX – “Lancelot Approaching the Castle of Astolat,” circa 1867-69

are locked, the authorities summoned. Rime has one night to solve the mystery and escape before too many questions are asked and her wild magic is discovered. Jonas is just excited that there’s really good cheese.

Thirteen guests in the manor. All the doors are locked. One of them is the killer. Can she solve the case before dawn?

A sea-elf shaman, a wood-elf scholar, a bard with an electric guitar. A gentle priest, a vicious trader, a rude dwarf who does not speak. These guests have secrets, could there be a secret guest?

Blood in the shadows, a killer stalks the halls of the Heart-Broken Lion.  How can Our Heroes triumph against a foe that neither spell nor sword can catch?

  • Secrets of Jonas’ past revealed!
  • [Not all of them, but, you know, some!]
  • Rime has a crush!
  • Cryptic clues!
  • Red herrings!
  • Partial nudity!
  • Bedroom hi-jinks!
  • Sweet guitar solos! [Described.]
  • A giant cow!

A truly original mystery shamelessly cribbed from Agatha Christie, Colombo, and N.C.I.S. Fantasy fiction bent into a new, strange shape.

Can you solve The Riddle Box?

[Argggg. I hate writing ad copy. This is my first stab [of many] getting Riddle Box into something easily marketable. Back of book, Amazon description, etc. I am shit at the elevator pitch — comments and reactions very much appreciated!]