Review – Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel

Ok, so I’ve finally read a book, first time in years, got round to it eventually. It’s an odd thing to go from avid reader, to functionally not a reader, and be consciously aware of the fact. The last ten years of my life have been consumed by reading books that present fictional history as real history, and teach me how to manipulate words and numbers into worlds full of stories, and while there’s nothing – oh, and a lot of YouTube – wrong with that at all, I feel that I have lost a rather fundamental skill and lapsed woefully in concentration. I have forced myself to read a book, something that at one time came as naturally as breathing.

But that’s not a book review, that’s a rant. Continue reading “Review – Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel”

Top 10 Invisible Characters

I feel like I’m going blind looking down this list! All I can see are floating clothes! Something isn’t right here. Oh wait, I know, this must be our Top 10 Invisible characters. Before we see what cannot be seen, we must tell you that a character doesn’t need to be able to control their invisibility to be considered; however it must be a skill or ability they have, or something that’s just natural to them. As ever then, here’s this week’s unseeable Top 10!

I feel like I’m going blind looking down this list! All I can see are floating clothes! Something isn’t right here. Oh wait, I know, this must be our Top 10 Invisible characters. Before we see what cannot be seen, we must tell you that a character doesn’t need to be able to control their invisibility to be considered; however it must be a skill or ability they have, or something that’s just natural to them. As ever then, here’s this week’s unseeable Top 10!

Continue reading “Top 10 Invisible Characters”

Review – Xanathar’s Guide To Everything

Last year I kicked off the schedule by reviewing Volo’s Guide to Monsters, a fantastic alternative to wave after wave of Monster Manuals that we’ve enjoyed in previous editions, told from the perspective of Volothamp Geddarm, a peddler of of guidebooks in the Forgotten Realms. I finally got my hands on the guidebook written from the perspective of another famous denizen of the Realms, the beholder crimeboss Xanathar, who has knowledge in all fields that might profit or threaten him or his goldfish.

Xanathar’s Guide to Everything covers a wide variety of categories for players and dungeon masters alike, combining properties of both a Players Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide expansion. This book was awash with hype, partially because it’s been visibly in the making for months, maybe years. So without further spiel, let’s get into it: Continue reading “Review – Xanathar’s Guide To Everything”

Fantasy Story Writing

Book writing is an incredibly complex art, as we’re about to discuss in today’s topic: Fantasy Story Writing. Join Timlah as we delve deeply into fantasy stories and what makes them so interesting to read.

SFF, Science Fiction & Fantasy, is an art-form which has long been in our literary history. From the classics such as Frankenstein, to the questionable genres of The Epic of Gilgamesh, literature has been there for us all. Whilst we’ve all grown up reading or listening, perhaps even just watching the works of wordsmiths, we rarely talk about writing stories. Today, we’re focusing purely on Fantasy, all because I’m in the process of writing a series of short stories. I will post all of the short stories on this website for free, before I put out an eBook version.

Continue reading “Fantasy Story Writing”

Review – Cosplay Basics by Yuki Takasou & Rumine

Following the style of a Seinen manga, Cosplay Basics is a very well stylised tutorial into the beginnings of Cosplay. You can learn a lot about how to get started, why people Cosplay, who it’s for and some techniques. It’s an impressive book, which is really professionally printed. The pages feel good! It’s a premium price, but you get a lot of content and really damn nice pages to go with it.

We’re a website that’s dedicated to bringing you all within geek culture. Now, we get to combine two of our favourite fandoms on this website in just one book. Cosplay Basics is a beginners guide to the world of Cosplay. But what can this book teach you and what is the intent? Stick by us as we delve into the brilliant world of Cosplay Basics.

But first, some information about the book!

BIC Code JFCK
Published 16/07/2015
ISBN 9781935548812
Illustrations Black and White
Binding Paper
Price £13.99

Continue reading “Review – Cosplay Basics by Yuki Takasou & Rumine”

GeekOut Meetup 13/06 Summary

We had a smaller meetup this month, but it was still a night full of geekery and games… Read on!

Some nights just aren’t meant to be as big as other nights, but never mind: We still got out there and we still got our geek on and we also managed to do a book give away! Hurrah!

We had over 20 people signed up to this meetup, which is about average for us, but through the course of the night we only had 10 show up. But that was still 10 people, which the more you think about it is more than it was back when we first started the GeekOut meetups, back in September 2013! Interestingly one person who wasn’t signed up for the night came along, and he shared with us news that really it was just a quiet night everywhere… Huh! Even the pub was very empty itself.

Chess

A little disappointing, but not enough to stop our GeekOut meetups, I’ll tell you that much. In the mean time, this post is more of a shout out to those who did turn up. We had quite a few games of chess (Which really became one of the main games of the night, surprisingly! I guess it being joint #1 in our Top 10 Board Games was deservedly so.)

It turns out that after a few beers, I get easily distracted at chess! Oh dear, I must not drink beers during chess in future. Gotta keep my game face on.

Game face brought courtesy of Ash Ketchum.
Game face brought courtesy of Ash Ketchum.

Where to go from here?

We still had people at the event, we still had a damn good time: So although it wasn’t a total write off, I’m calling it down to the weather that people didn’t come to the meetup. But that’s fine: We’ve got someone who wants to run a simple DnD 5 campaign in one of the next meetups. The same guy also won the book: The competition was to come up with a name for a Goblin and let us know what that Goblin did in life. I can’t repeat the name that won it, for we’re a PG website… But let’s just say, it was ***Goblin the Hobgoblin. Yeah, nailed it!

The next GeekOut meetup is going to be July 10th, so if you’re around on that Friday, come swing by and say hello to the GeekOut guys! We’d love to see you there. I’m also going to be around at Bristol Pride, where I’ll be debuting a special kind of Oskar, so come say hi! I’ll be going to Bristol Pride with a set of tie-dye robes, Oskars face and a scythe I’m building, which I’ve already gotten the base sorted out for, I should have this made by next week.

Got any ideas I could use in a future GeekOut meetup? Let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter.

Writer Highlight – Stark Holborn

Writer Highlight

Welcome readers to another issue where we celebrate the works of writers.

This week, I’ve had the chance to have an interview with the awesome Stark Holborn, who is close to releasing more books in his or her series Nunslinger. If you want to meet Stark, he or she will be attending this years BristolCon! If you’ve not yet got your tickets, please do remember to do so! A few of us in the GeekOut crew will be attending, so do stop by and say hi. I’ll… probably have knocked up another costume or something for the event. It is me, after all.

So, read on and read about what the awesome Nunslinger series is all about and even learn a bit about the writer in the process.

 


 

Interview with the Writer – Stark Halborn

 

Q: Welcome to GeekOut South-West! As is customary, could you introduce yourself for our readers?

A: Stark here. Small time liquor bootlegger, moonshine brewer, purveyor of Penny Westerns and author of the Nunslinger series. Currently hanging my hat in Bristol, UK.

 

I tell you what, I'd rather see this style of avatar than the "games industry" ones flooding Twitter. You know the ones I mean.
I tell you what, I’d rather see this style of avatar than the “games industry” ones flooding Twitter. You know the ones I mean.

Q: So, you’re working on a series of books called Nunslinger. Before we go into the series, how did you get into writing?

A: I reckon reading is what did it: my parents read to me and my sister every night for years. Not just children’s books either. Pa started reading us The Lord of the Rings when I was 2 and my sister was 4. Took him nearly 3 years to read us the whole thing. I still remember hearing the end for the first time. My parents read us all sorts, basically whatever they were reading at the time, from William S. Burroughs to Brian Aldiss. Anyhow, that showed me that stories came in all shapes and sizes, and got me used to always having a book in my hand. From then, I guess it was natural to want to try writing them, too.

 

Q: I’ve read the first Nunslinger book which is awesome and really well priced on the Waterstones website. Can you tell me a little bit more about Nunslinger and how you began writing it?

A: Nunslinger follows Sister Thomas Josephine, a nun of the Visitandine order, who leaves her home in St. Louis, Missouri, to set out on the perilous journey west, in order to join a mission in Sacramento, California. It’s 1864, the heart of the Civil War, and the road is bristling with dangers. Of course, her journey is far from smooth, and before she knows it, she’s a wanted fugitive. Add in a mysterious drifter, a dangerously obsessed Cavalry Lieutenant, shoot outs, jailbreaks, snow storms in the Sierra Nevadas, deserts, bandits and steamships and you’ll be on the right track.

I began writing it… Well, to be honest I was sitting one Sunday morning, nursing a hangover and watching an old Western on TV. It was particularly bad one, featuring a nun who – when confronted by an objectionable grizzled ol’ cowchaser – seemed to forget every vow she’d ever taken in order to fall in love with him. “Jeez,” I thought, “that nun isn’t sticking to her guns at all.” (Sorry). So I decided to write one who would.

Seriously worth the read, jump to it!
Seriously worth the read, jump to it!

 

Q: I’ve noticed you’ve written a number of books in the Nunslinger series. How many more books are there and are there more books for this series? When are the next books due?

A: Nunslinger is a twelve-part series. The first nine e-books have been published in three-monthly instalments throughout 2014, with the final three due on 11th September. The Complete Series paperback is due for release on 4th December 2014.

 

Q: Who are your inspirations as a writer? Are there any common themes in their writing or do you like them all for completely different reasons?

A: You know, when I was 12 or 13 I was all about Tamora Pierce; she always had brilliant female lead characters and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that influenced my approach to Sister Thomas Josephine – at least subconsciously. From a more modern angle, David Mitchell is definitely an inspiration: he makes me want to be a better writer (after I’ve finished sobbing “WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER I’LL NEVER BE THIS GOOD” into the corner). In terms of Nunslinger, I’ve taken inspiration and research from Patrick deWitt’s The Sister’s Brothers, which I think has helped nudge Westerns into people’s attention once again, to Elmore Leonard, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Mary Hunter Austin and even 14th century mystic Julian of Norwich. So a bit of a mixed tub.

 

Q: What sort of research went into writing Nunslinger? How did you start the research and how do you keep track of it all?

A: Apart from the writers mentioned above, the quick answer is A TON. The American Civil war is a particularly well-documented time, which has its upsides and downsides. On the one hand, if you want to know what a fully functioning Philadelphia Derringer from 1859 looked and sounded like, there’s probably someone online who knows, and has posted pictures of it. On the other hand, it means that getting things wrong is pretty inexcusable. But there are some incredible resources out there, from internet archives to podcasts like Backstory, which help present a nuanced view of historical sources.

I keep track of everything using Evernote, and tend to research as I go. It certainly results in some weird Google searches, like: “which desert lizards are edible?”, “how to skin an iguana”, “history of mattresses” and “recipes for groundhog”. I also watched a man cauterize a wound in his own arm with gunpowder. He didn’t look very well afterwards but he put the video up on Youtube anyway.

A Philadelphia Derringer. I admit - Before this interview, I hadn't seen one of these before!
A Philadelphia Derringer. I admit – Before this interview, I hadn’t seen one of these before!

Q: You seem to be quite active in producing eBooks. Do you think eBooks are a good thing for writers, or should people be actively promoting physical purchases of books still? What’s best; digital or printed books?

A: I wouldn’t want to champion one over the other exclusively, but my heart, like those of many other readers, will always belong to print books. However: ebooks and digital works do have the ability to do things that print books simply can’t. My pa had a stroke, for instance, and isn’t physically able to hold print books open or follow the text from page to page. Not a problem with a Kindle. But rather than just shifting texts from print to ebook format and leaving it at that, I think it’s important to look at the differences between the two, and the potential of digital to explore not just what we read, but how we read and address that. That way, it’s about different experiences rather than competition.

 

Q: If anyone wants to keep up to date with your works, how can they get a hold of you or see any updates?

A: Y’all can always reach me on Twitter (@starkholborn) and that’s where most updates appear. But other than that, there’s my website, where most of the important things feature, but without tweet-based ramblings. There’s also Hodderscape for other SFF news, pictures of dodos and general taxidermy.

Ways to get a hold of Stark:
Twitter: @starkholborn

 

Q: Here on GeekOut South-West, we celebrate all things geeky. So what geeky hobbies do you divulge in?

A: I ain’t had much time for hobbies of late, apart from drinking bourbon and writing, but y’all can’t go wrong with watching and re-watching Firefly. Except that isn’t geeky, that’s MANDATORY. Recently, I’ve become partial to a board game or two of an evening, mostly Dominion, because I’m the sheriff in that town right now.

But first and foremost, reading. Always reading, and usually until far too late at night. I’ve just chomped my way through fantasy-western The Incorruptibles by John Hornor Jacobs and can definitely recommend it, it’s like Cormac McCarthy meets The Hobbit with a steamship and a bar brawl.

 


 

I’d like to extend my thanks to Stark for his or her interview with us today (we still don’t know). The enthusiasm he or she brings for their work is a delight to read and honestly, it shines through in the Nunslinger series. You can buy all of the released Nunslinger books from Waterstones.

Have you ever wanted to write a book but just didn’t know where to start? Just contact people who’re already releasing their works to the world, most of these authors are eager to share their experiences with people who are interested. Have you read any of the Nunslinger books before or ever heard of them? Let Stark know what you think of them, I’m sure he or she would love the conversation!

Until next time, this has been another Writer Highlight. If you’re a writer who’d like a little bit of exposure, get in touch with us via the Contact Us page – We’d love to do an interview with you!

Interview with the creators of Semi

Recently, I found out about a Kickstarter campaign for a lovely 200+ page comic called Semi.

Semi has an amazing art style and a really nice story behind it, featuring “Gods, Demons, Angels, Monsters and a spunky little girl who wants to be a gangster!”

Even better, there are 2 chapters available for free on Inkblazers.

After finding out about this lovely project, I decided I wanted to speak to the creators of Semi so I sent out an e-mail and secured us an exclusive interview with the wonderful duo! Let’s see what goes on with the creators of Semi!


Interview with the Comic artist and writer – Eudetenis (Artist) and Nezumi (Writer)

Q: Welcome to GeekOut South-West! First of all, as is customary on this site, please can you introduce yourselves?

Nezumi: I go by the name of Nezumi. I’m twenty-seven years old, and in my last year of college. I’m pursuing a bachelor degree in Creative Writing for Entertainment. Can’t wait to be done with it!

Eudetenis: I’m Eudetenis, the artist. I’m almost 24 years old, and it’s nice to meet you! :)

Q: You’re working on a new comic called Semi, which looks wonderful. What’s the inspiration behind the story?

Nezumi: I always wanted to create a long running story with a powerful females surrounded by equally powerful males. I’m a huge fan of series like, Yu Yu Hakusho, Naruto, Inuyasha, Baki the Grappler and Hajime no Ippo. I’m also really big on mythology, demons, angels and all kinds of supernatural craziness! All of that basically came together to create the plot of Semi!

Q: What about the art direction? Why did you opt for a manga styled visual?

Nezumi: My love for anime/manga stems back to my childhood days of watching Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho on Toonami. It was the highlight of my day and during school the only thing I thought about. I fell in love with the Japanese art style and to this day I am a huge fan! I just love the look of it.

Q: You’re looking to raise $4,500 for this project. Most of the money is going towards getting the comic printed; How hard has the process been to get to this point so far?

Nezumi: I’ve been planning the Kickstarter campaign for the last year. I wouldn’t say the process was hard but I dealt with a lot of research. I literally had to read up on everything as I knew nothing about how the website worked. I also had to contact many, many different printing companies. Overall it was a lot of time-consuming work and I spent more hours then one would think on it!

Q: How long have you both known one another? Has this affected anything in the comic in any way?

Nezumi: I’ve known Eudetenis for over a year now! I can’t believe the time has gone by so quickly. In my opinion the length of time that we have know each other has made our relationship better. I don’t feel as if I’m dealing with just a ‘business associate’ I feel as I’m dealing with a friend and trust me this makes the experience far better. We get along pretty damn well and I hope that continues for years, and years to come.

Eudetenis: I met Nezumi on Deviantart around a year ago (I’m not so sure =p). She was looking for someone to do illustrations and her comic, called Semi. I accepted, liked the story, and then we talked about weird things everyday on my Livestream sessions. In some way, we started to really love each other. I want to support everything she wants to do and I’m so happy she wanted to hire me!

 

Q: You’ve been featuring two chapters for free via Inkblazers. Why Kickstarter and why now?

Nezumi: The volume is set to be complete by the end of this year, which means its time for us to go to print! I’ve started the Kickstarter so that we could make this happen! To have the actual book in my hands is going to be enough to have me dancing around the room with pure joy!

 

Q: The art looks absolutely stunning and the story is great; What advice would you give any would be writers or artists out there, looking to make their own comic?

Nezumi: As a writer the first advice I would give is to write a character, not a stereotype! Build your story around that character and what they have experienced in life. From there, craft your plot and jot down all the things you want to happen. As you continue to work on the story it will come together and you’ll notice that your characters will develop their own voices making them easier to write! All in all creating a story should be FUN! No matter what remember that! Write what YOU want to write not what OTHERS want you to write!

Eudetenis: Firstly you have to know: What is needed to make a good comic? Even if you just draw, it’s important to know the basics of storytelling so that the story will make sense. Second is the narrative: even if your drawing skills aren’t so great, with good narrative and sequence, your comic can be good. Third is all relating to drawings, from basic perspective to effects, practicing everyday will sure make a result!

 

Q: What’s in the foreseeable future for you both? Will you continue to create comics together, or is this a one off?

Nezumi: I really hope to continue making more comics with Eudetenis! I have a quite a few other ideas that would look great as comics! However, for now Semi is the main focus and will be for a great deal of time!

Eudetenis: I want to support Semi until the end! I like interesting stories and I’m sure Nezumi has many surprises awaiting us!

Q: You come across very enthusiastic about your comic and it’s obvious that a lot of care and attention has gone into every page. Other than your comic – What are your passions and “geekdoms”? What do you enjoy doing the most?

Nezumi: I really enjoy watching Star Trek and Dr. Who! I’m also a huge fan of reading fanfiction! Like… I’m a major fanfiction reader and use to write the stuff all the time. I still would if I had the time! I do enjoy MMORPG as well. I used to play WoW nonstop and recently I got into Elder Scrolls Online! It’s great and I’m totally looking forward to the justice system they should be introducing soon!

Eudetenis: I love my husband (he writes comics, novels and is also my manager)!! He taught me how to draw and how to create a story! He supports me everyday! I love to draw our personal comics! It’s marvelous to see the characters you were dreaming of for years come to life. It’s amazing how personal experiences in life can change the way you see the world and somehow find its way into your comics! Also I like to draw random things on paper – and I love my cat, portable videogames and music!

Q: Last question now; If people want to keep up to date with your future endeavors, is there any way for us to see what you’re both up to? Any websites or pages to watch?

Nezumi:  You can follow me here: http://www.inkblazers.com/authors-and-artists/Aka-Nezumi/detail-page/29035 and http://aka-nezumi.deviantart.com/

Eudetenis: You can check out my works at: http://www.inkblazers.com/authors-and-artists/EUDETENIS/detail-page/69301 and http://eudetenis.deviantart.com


I’d like to extend my thanks to both Nezumi and Eudetenis for their time with us today. Remember to check out the Kickstarter Campaign! Click here!

With a great looking comic, a wonderful narrative and awesome artwork, Semi is looking in good shape to be kickstarted. I’ve backed this, I can’t wait to receive an actual physical copy of the comic which’ll sit very nicely on my bookshelf (Once I’m done reading it, of course!)
The aspect I enjoyed the most however is the passion these two have for their work. They were eager to sit down and chat to us and for that, I’d really like to thank them.
If you’ve made a project and want to have an interview with us at GeekOut South-West, why not contact us at GeekOutSW@gmail.com or use the Contact Us page? Did you all enjoy the insight to this comic? How about the actual comic itself, has it enticed you to back it or even purchase it when it’s fully backed? Let us know in the comments below!