Paperback Writer

To close out a great week of fun, Will has kindly written up a little something about music and fantasy.  As it really needs no introduction other than that, I’ll step out of the way and let him have at it.  Take it away, Will!

“And I want to be a paperback writer!”

Hands up if you remember that Beatles song?  Thought you might.  Those of you reading Kay’s blog (as I do, being one of her subscribers) have possibly looked at some of the fantasy work I put out.  If you have, you will know that music runs through the books as a solid theme.  As the books are loosely based on the adventures of a dwarf rhythm and blues band, that’s inevitable, really.  But stop for a moment and think about the link between music and fantasy.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that the two genres enjoy such close links. . .

The Banned Underground: Bass Instinct

biToday, a little later than my last several posts but better late than never, I have the honor of reviewing the latest release in The Banned Underground series, Bass Instinct.  The boys are back in town with a new friend in this book, and – hell’s bells! – it’s a g-g-g-girl!

Dai the drinking dragon has been kidnapped by the Dark Lord for nefarious purposes, and by his receptionist for even less reputable reasons.  Without their bass player, The Banned Underground are in deep trouble with their record label.  They have to produce the recordings for an album, and someone has stolen the tapes from the last gig.  Can they make some more recordings, or will Freya, the renegade dwarf bass player, distract the boys while the Dark Lord’s evil schemes come to fruition?

The Dark Lord has found some thugs to help him in his latest plan to invade the Dwarf Mansion, but they have other things on their minds – like looting and pillaging – and it’s all going wrong again.

Will record-producing Adam set his Ants on the Banned?  Or will it all come good in the end?  Time is Tight on this one for The Banned Underground…

With a blurb that focuses on Dai, I expected the story to focus a bit more on him.  To the extent that he had a larger role than in previous books, I guess you could say that it did, but it really did focus on him as much as I had expected.  That said, I loved the bits between Dai and Gloria, the Dark Lord’s receptionist, and I do hope that what started in this book will be continued in future installments.

The Banned are back in town and between the lack of tapes (from their last gig), the lack of gigs, and the lack of funds, trouble is the only thing they don’t lack.

The Banned Underground: The Vampire Mechanic

vmToday I’m having a look at the third book in The Banned Underground series, cleverly titled The Vampire Mechanic.  In book three, the guys help out new friends Santa’s Little Helpers, who have wrecked the sleigh…

Oh, dear.  Santa’s not-so-little helpers have “borrowed” his sleigh on their way to a Banned Underground concert – and crashed it on the way.  Can the Banned help them before Santa finds out?  But the mechanic who services the sleigh is a vampire, and getting the job done could be a challenge.  If that’s not enough, the Dark Lord’s Mercedes is getting a bit long in the tooth, too, and he fancies the sleigh as a replacement.  And will Grizelda, the off-white witch give back the reindeer after using one to win the local show-jumping competition?

With the vampire mechanic in the clutches of the apprentice Dark Lord and Grizelda’s dreams of blue ribbons, the Banned will have to go like a Bat Out of Hell this time. . .

The vampires in this story definitely don’t sparkle; they’re too depressed.  And at over six feet tall, Santa’s Little Helpers are anything but little.  The satnav makes a hilarious return, with the help of its Prescient Predictive Progression function, or PPP, and naturally Grizelda makes frequent use of her people to frog spell.  The Watches mix it up with some local Druids on their way to stealing Santa’s sleigh, and end up with Notsanta’s Notsleigh instead.  I definitely wouldn’t want to end up on his naughty list. . .

This series gets better with each book I read.  I feel like I’m a broken record saying that I laughed my head off and that I couldn’t put it down, but I wouldn’t say it if it weren’t true.  This book is a must-read.  So go on, already!  Read it!  Then we can discuss our favorite parts at length over a nice cup of tea and maybe a nice slice of cake or ten. 😀

(c) 2013.  All rights reserved.

Presenting Will Macmillan Jones, Comedy Goon and Author Extraordinaire!

Will's PhotographWith me today is Will Macmillan Jones, author of The Banned Underground series (and the Alliance of Worldbuilders’ resident Comedy Goon, as noted above).  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me, though without the aid of the Spanish Inquisition (and I’d so been looking forward to calling them up – no one expects the Spanish Inquisition! :D).

Tell us about yourself.
My bio will tell you that I’m a fifty-something lover of blues, rock, and jazz, and have (sadly) spent much of my time working as an accountant.  Some of my friends suspect that I’m a covert adrenaline junkie as well, having crashed hang gliders, done a little sailing (didn’t like capsizing), fallen over on the way up several hills and crashed the odd motorbike, and put various cars into ditches.  Er, there seems to be a bit of a pattern forming there. . .

Have you always been interested in writing, or is it a recently developed passion?
I’ve always loved reading, ever since I was a small child.  My father was a primary school teacher and read to me every night from a young age, something I’ve done with my own kids, too.  It’s brilliant fun!  So when at grammar school I was encouraged to write, I loved it.  But then it took a back seat for many years, until I discovered you could get a minor flesh wound from a pen instead of crashing into things, and I haven’t looked back since.

Can you tell us a little about some of your other writing projects?  Are they all fantasy, or do you write in more than one genre?
As well as the fantasy, I also write some paranormal books, on the edge of horror.  The first of these has been very well received indeed, and so I’ve a sequel in the works.  There’s also a children’s fantasy and a YA fantasy coming along.  I think I stay pretty much round worlds of pure imagination, because it’s so satisfying to create something that can be made to feel real.

Wanna know what inspired the series, why the baddies are accountants, or where the Banned will head next? The conversation continues behind the cut!

The Banned Underground: The Mystic Accountants

MAAnd now, Day Two!  Next up on the hit list, we’ve got The Mystic Accountants, the second book in The Banned Underground series.  The Banned’s hilarious adventures continue in this book as they set out to obtain a new throne for Lakin, Archlord of the Helvyndelve:

In the mist-haunted Dwarf Mansion, the Banned Underground has played another gig.  But this time the feedback has blown the Throne of the Mountain King apart, and the Banned must find a replacement on pain of, well, pain.  The junior dark lord is out for revenge, if his satnav doesn’t keep him from following the band.  Grizelda, the off-white witch and occasional aunt to the teenagers, is busy with some mad monks who want to conquer the world, starting with Wales.

Maybe Dai, the drunken dragon, can help?  Will the Tuatha stay out of the pub long enough to render assistance?  If not, Jailhouse Rock looms for the Banned Underground…

Once again, the jokes fly fast and furious.  There’s a lot going on in this book, between the Ben Buddhists who are trying to take over the world, Grizelda and the teenagers who are trying to stop them, the dwarves in search of a throne, and the Watches out to stop them.  But it never feels bogged down in details.  The pace is lively and keeps right on moving.  As with the first book, I couldn’t put it down.

But wait, there’s more!

The Banned Underground: The Amulet of Kings

tbuWell, it’s Day One of Banned Underground Week here in my little corner of the interwebs, and today I’m going to review The Amulet of Kings, the first book in The Banned Underground series by Will Macmillan Jones.  What’s it about, you ask?  Fix your peepers on this then and find out:

What could be worse?  Having to take a holiday in the (rainy) Lake District in the North West of England with an aunt who turns people into frogs for a hobby?  Or battling the local dark lord, whose attempt at world domination starts with the nearby underground dwarf mansion and its enormous collection of used pizza boxes?  Or getting involved with a jazz-loving bog troll and his dwarfish R&B band?  Or is it being miles from a McDonald’s?  Join the teenagers and find out in this comical adventure where jazz and magic make a tongue-in-cheek laugh riot!

In the first book of the series, we meet the goodies (Chris and Linda, Ben and Grizelda, Fungus and the Banned), the baddies (Ned and the Watches, the Grey Mage, Caer Surdin), and an assortment of other characters (the Edern, the Tuatha, the Bodgandor, and various dwarves and trolls) who all take part in a war to seize the Helvyndelve, home of the dwarves, and the Amulet of Kings, the power source for the whole place.  Naturally, chaos ensues and, just as naturally, the results are hilarious.

Full of jokes both good and bad (which makes them all the better, in my opinion), as well as a whole slew of rockin’ tunes, this book has it all: good food, good friends, good fun, and a good baddie in need of defeat (unless, of course, you ask him).  I first encountered this book – and its brilliant author – when it was up on authonomy, so I was beyond excited to find out that it had been picked up for publication.  I read it in only a few days – I couldn’t put it down.

Tomorrow, I’ll be reviewing the second book in the series, The Mystic Accountants.  It’s another goodie. 🙂

(c) 2013.  All rights reserved.

The bus stops here!

WMJ-Tour-Banner

This is a big week for me, blog-wise.  See, I love to help out a fellow author when and where I can and this week, I’ll be running a series of posts as part of a blog tour for my good friend, Will Macmillan Jones as he debuts his latest book, Bass Instinct.  It’s the fourth book in The Banned Underground series, which I absolutely adore, and I hope you all will, too.

So what’s in store?  Why, a little bit of everything!  I’ll be sharing reviews of the first four books, which are all hilariously funny comic fantasies set in the UK.  I’ve got an interview with the man himself, so if you want to learn a bit more about a great author, then be sure to drop in for that.  And on Sunday, he’ll be sharing a bit about some of the musical influences behind his work.  Now that’s a post you won’t want to miss!

(c) 2013.  All rights reserved.

Exciting things are heading this way!

WMJ-Tour-Banner

Don’t forget to stop back next week to have some fun with the Banned Underground and their fabulous author, Will Macmillan Jones.  Pizza and cake will be provided, and punch if I can find my recipe (alas, no beer, as I’ve let my liquor license lapse).  But with Fungus and the gang, there’s bound to be some fun ahead, so drop on by and let the good times roll! 🙂

(c) 2013.  All rights reserved.