Travel round-up… and all that fantasy authors have to live up to.

Well, the trip is over and I’m finally home after a quick pitstop in Vienna. Already I’ve had one day at work and it hardly feels like I’ve been gone at all! Oh yes, except when I came back after work and sorted through all 1,500 photos (just that many?)… it’s been an unbelievable experience, and I can’t recommend Oasis Overland highly enough. We saw loads but barely had to make a single decision – which made it incredibly relaxing too. The pace was great, and we never felt rushed through a site (or, for that matter, bored of one!)


  • Camel ride to the Pyramids of Giza
  • Abu Simbel
  • Haggling the markets of Aswan
  • Hot-air ballooning over Luxor
  • Tomb of Rameses VI in the Valley of the Kings
  • My quattro stagioni birthday cake in Hurghada
  • Breakfast at Shams in Dahab
  • Night Dive bioluminesence
  • Wadi Rum scenery
  • That first glimpse of the Treasury in Petra

Egypt and Jordan are both destinations that have been high on the ‘to visit’ list for quite some time, but that desire became even more heightened after selling The Oathbreaker’s Shadow. I’ve got a few videos coming up (probably over next week) that will tell you exactly why these far-flung destinations mean so much to the book.

But even more than being just ‘inspiration’, being privileged enough to actually visit these sights and not just stare wistfully at other people’s travel blogs has been a humbling experience. As an avid reader of fantasy, I’m used to being swept away to exotic locations that I can never hope to visit. But the more I travel, the more I’ve come to realize that, as fantasy authors have our work cut out for us trying to imagine anything more weird and wonderful than some of the locations that already exist on this planet.

But boy, do we have fun trying.


Over on The Lucky 13s: Novel Superstitions

Today, I’m back over blogging for The Lucky 13s for Superstitions Week! Who are some of your favourite superstitious characters from novels?

Novel Superstitions

Very superstitious… writing’s on the wall.

Just a little Stevie Wonder to get you in the mood!

For any new readers to The Lucky 13s blog, do you know that at the end of our introduction posts, all the Lucky 13s have to mention their favourite superstition? Mine is from a poem by A.A. Milne called ‘Lines and Squares’: never step on the cracks in the pavement – or else you might get eaten by a bear.

Read more…


Without further ado… my first vlog

Mistakes I made when shooting my first vlog:

  • Pronouncing ‘vlog’ like ‘vee-log’ instead of ‘vlog’
  • Thinking I could shoot at 10pm and be done before midnight
  • Believing I could wing the script
  • Shooting in a green painted room, which makes everything look a bit sickly

Hope you enjoy it anyway 🙂 Comments always appreciated, especially as its my first one!


Going on submission – time to light a candle

The weather has finally turned in London, and beautiful sunshine has shifted to rain – not so good for running, but perfect weather for staying in all day to read!

Spring tends to be one of the busiest times of year for submissions, with agents and editors gearing up for Bologna and London book fairs. With my editor hat on, I feel like I have submissions coming out of my ears at the moment, and distressingly most of them are brilliant! This is only distressing as I know I don’t have the money to buy them all – or the space in the schedule!

Author hat now firmly on (I’ve decided my author hat is my Vancouver Olympics tuque with maple-leaf-emblazoned-flaps over my ears), Oathbreaker will also be making the rounds at LBF, which is doubly nerve-wracking. I asked some of the Lucky 13s about how they dealt with on submission nerves, and one of them told me that she lit a coloured candle while her book was with editors, and asked all her friends to do the same. (ETA: Thanks to the lovely Elle Cosimano for this suggestion!) I was thinking about what colour might be good for Oathbreaker, and decided that it would have to be a warm, desert colour. Unfortunately the only candle I could find at home was white and pomegranate-scented – but that works too as pomegranate is an exotic fruit, and is something I could conceivably write in to one of my scenes as a yummy snack for my main character.

The candle is burning now… in front of my Middle-Earth-in-NZ map by Weta. Here’s to wishing everyone good luck who is on submission right now (even if you’ve sold your ms to your dream house, and everything else is now an amazing bonus!)


Congratulations to the lucky winner – and a post on settings

First of all, congratulations to Annabelle H (_annabelleh_) for being the lucky winner of the Wither/Fever Lauren DeStefano giveaway! If you would e-mail me your postal address (mcculloch[dot]amy[at]gmail[dot]com), I’ll get the books out to you straight away.

Over on the Lucky 13s blog, there’s been a lot of chatter about settings and world-buildings, from California (the setting of The Wig in the Window by Kristin Kittscher) to London (and beyond) in 1894 (the many fascinating settings of The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd). This is by far one of my favourite aspects of both writing and reading novels. A good setting can add so much to a story, almost becoming a character in and of itself.

The same works for movies and TV shows too. These are some of my favourite TV show settings:

It was a show full of sexy castaways, but there’s no denying that the island was the main star of Lost. Even when Lost lost its plot (and a few of those castaways), the mysteries of the island kept people hooked. And who wouldn’t want to be stuck on a deserted island like that? (without the creepy smoke monsters, of course!)

The Wire
Good Morning Baltimore, every day’s like an open door! Oops, wrong show… Still, what would The Wire be without Baltimore? The accents, the streets, the political tension – yes, it’s far from a complete picture of the city, but it certainly makes for great television viewing.

Sex and the City

The show was basically a love letter to New York City. Could characters like Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte really exist anywhere else? Each one of them is New York through and through. I think Sex and the City 2: Abu Dhabi (itself a gorgeous and exotic city) proves that in this case, New York is the only way, baby.


Game of Thrones
Yeah, I’m not going to be able to get away with writing this post without mentioning the best setting on television at the moment: Westeros. As a fantasy writer, George has been able to borrow from all cultures all over the world to create the lush, bleak, desolate, stormy lands that make up Westeros. And HBO are taking full advantage: this year, the show filmed in locations as varied as Croatia and Iceland (among others!) to get the perfect setting.