Monthly Archives: November 2017

‘Slab City Blues: The Collected Stories’ – Now Available in Audiobook

I’m pleased to announce that at long last my sci-fi noir series Slab City Blues: The Collected Stories is now available in audiobook, read by Steven Brand. The collection also has a brand new cover, illustrated by Kevin Goeke (see more of his work at with cover design by Shawn King (


Buy the audiobook here:  –  –  –

The audiobook should also appear on iTunes in the next few days if you prefer to buy your stuff from the Apple-verse.

The book is also available in ebook here:  –  –  Kobo  –  iBooks  –  Nook

You can also purchase a print edition here:  –

Book description:

Gangs, killers, and vampires. One war-torn detective is the only hope of survival for a crime-ridden orbiting city…

Blade Runner meets Se7en in this gritty five-story collection from New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Anthony Ryan.   

Alex McLeod paid dearly during the war for independence from Earth. It left the detective disfigured, jaded, and alone. In the aftermath of victory, Alex seethes as criminal factions and cold-blooded killers clash over control of the newly-liberated confederation. In his crusade for justice in the free states, he’s willing to break more than a few rules along the way…

The only home Alex knows is the slums of Slab, an orbiting city teeming with lowlifes, back-stabbers, and gene-spliced monstrosities. From the grimy streets of his city to the lawless Asteroid Belt, Alex goes toe-to-toe with a sharp-clawed vigilante, a mythical serial killer, and a gorgeous vampire with an ominous message. His quest won’t end until his homeland earns the freedom it was promised…

But even Alex may not be able to stop the impending Reckoning and a voyage to the one place he swore he’d never return: Earth…

Slab City Blues: The Collected Stories contains four exciting novellas and one sensational novel set in a world of hard-boiled sci-fi and cyberpunk. If you like hard-nosed detectives, futuristic planets, and pulse-pounding action, then you’ll love Anthony Ryan’s world of vampires, werewolves, and space.



The Empire of Ashes – Ebook Pre-orders Now Live

Good news everyone. Ebook pre-orders are now live for The Empire of Ashes (Draconis Memoria Book 3). For some reason it hasn’t appeared on Kobo yet – I’ll update the book page when it does.

Pre-order the ebook:  –  –  Nook  –  iBooks

Pre-order the US hardcover:  –  Barnes & Noble

Pre-order the UK hardcover:  –  Waterstones  –  Wordery


Doing NaNoWriMo? Some Tips on Writing Dialogue

As it’s National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo for us cool kids – I thought I’d offer some advice on writing dialogue. As ever with writing advice, feel free to pick and choose. What works for me doesn’t always work for someone else.

Dialogue can be one of the most difficult things for writers to get right, especially, as in my case, you’re attempting to portray the speech patterns of people who live in a made-up world. Depending on genre, you need to establish early on what idiom your characters are speaking in, i.e. are they going to be conversing in a medieval form of speech – rich in ‘my lords’, ‘your highnesses’ and sundry others – or will their speech be more modern?

It’s a good idea to start by establishing some basic rules for dialogue in your world, if we’re dealing with a world modelled on an ancient era how do people address each other during a formal gathering? How would a slave address his master? Making these rules and sticking to them throughout your novel will add to the sense of your world being a real place with long-established customs.

One of the pitfalls of writing dialogue is in the tendency for it to degenerate into a simple, often dull exchange of information in order to advance the plot. Obviously, some aspects of the plot should be progressed through dialogue, but it’s important not to make every conversation a question-and-answer session.

Having your characters talk about their past, instead of introducing them with a biographical prose description, is an effective means of bringing them to life. It also sells the notion of characters bonding through shared knowledge. Dialogue is also a great way to reveal aspects of character; an extrovert will talk more than an introvert, but the introvert may actually have something more interesting to say.

One method of making your dialogue more interesting is to observe the different ways people converse in real life, friends will banter whilst the conversation of strangers will be more stilted. Good dialogue will reflect the tone of your scene, a moment of conflict will usually involve terse, clipped speech, or perhaps none at all, whilst people engaged in a light-hearted social gathering will talk at length and with humour. Whilst you should endeavour to make room for humour in your dialogue, be careful about not overdoing it and make sure it’s actually funny – there’s a reason why relatively few people make a living writing comedy.

Whilst you should draw from real life in crafting your dialogue, don’t try to mirror real-speech in your writing. The way people talk in reality is rarely reproduced in fiction for the simple reason that it tends to make very little sense when written down verbatim. You have to find a balance between the reality of human dialogue and the need to convey necessary information to the reader.

By all means, watch movies for inspiration, but don’t try to ape the dialogue of well-known screenwriters, it’ll just sound like a parody at best or a poor imitation at worst. There are enough Tarantino imitators in the world penning endless speeches full of comic-book or TV references. Such imitators invariably miss the real lesson to be learned from Tarantino’s dialogue which lies in how it reveals the true nature of his characters – see Jules’s speech at the end of Pulp Fiction: ‘The truth is that I am the tyranny of evil men and you’re the weak.’

Finally, a quick word about attributions and the oft demonised adverb. Put simply, the S word is not your enemy. When penning your first draft it may feel tedious to repeatedly write ‘he said’, ‘she said’, but it’s something readers often barely register. The main watchword with dialogue is ‘clarity’, you need to make it clear to the reader who is speaking at a given time. Once you’ve established this it’s advisable to drop attributions altogether until you need them again, and when you do in most cases a simple ‘said’ is enough.

That being said (see what I did there?), feel free to put ‘asked’ or ‘enquired’ if it’s a question, or ‘demanded’ to illustrate a character’s anger. ‘Replied’, ‘answered’ and ‘responded’ are also perfectly fine, as are the more emotive ‘snapped’, ‘sighed’, ‘grated’ or ‘grunted.’ I’d advise using overly emotive attributions sparingly, such as ‘raged’, ‘exploded’ or (Dark Gods forbid) the now thankfully mostly defunct ‘ejaculated’. Using adverbs is a common method of adding emotion to dialogue but is, as Stephen King pointed out at length in ‘On Writing’, frequently over-used: ‘she said dully/softly/testily/moodily/extravagantly’ and so on. In most cases, the emotion of the character’s speech is most effectively conveyed in the dialogue itself and the scene that surrounds it. As an exercise take a look at a long passage of dialogue and replace every attribution with the word ‘said’ and remove any associated adverbs. You might be surprised how well it reads.