Friday, February 07, 2014

Guest Blog by Paul Kearney regarding A Different Kingdom (and giveaway) - February 7, 2014

Please welcome Paul Kearney to The Qwillery. Paul is the author of three series - The Monarchies of God, Sea Beggars, and The Macht - in addition to several standalone novels. A Different Kingdom was republished by Solaris on January 28, 2014.

I’m hitting forty-seven years old in a few weeks, and I guess like a lot of guys coming up on numbers like that, I find myself shaking my head and wondering where in the hell the last twenty years went. Last week my second novel, A Different Kingdom, was republished by Solaris, bless ‘em. I wrote that book in 1992, when I was twenty-five years old. In that year I could run three miles in sixteen minutes. I had just fallen in love with a beautiful young woman who is now my wife. And I was a professional writer, getting paid to do what I would happily have done for free.
      I was happy as a sandboy. The country in which I lived was mired in sectarian murder, and I had to carry a pistol with me at all times, but apart from that, it was all pretty damned good.
      Northern Ireland was a strange place back then. A mixture of hail-fellow-well-met bonhomie, and sudden, insane violence. One had to be careful to whom one spoke, and what was said. The security precautions we go through now at airports, back then were commonplace at the entrance to shopping centres. But for all that, it was a great place to be young. I would go up to Belfast every weekend to see my girlfriend, and the place was edgy and alive and buzzing. I remember peering out of her window one night to try and see where the machine-gun fire was coming from.
      Back home, where I had returned to write my book, not much had changed in a decade or two, but the first ripples of the oncoming tsunami were already being felt.
      I grew up in deepest County Antrim. My family was bound to the land, and to the livestock that grazed it. It’s hard to describe the feeling of being so rooted in a single place, where an entire childhood is spent roaming fields and woods and rivers until every nook and cranny of the surrounding countryside is as familiar as furniture. We had favourite trees, secret hollows, and our own names for everything. I say we - I grew up with two brothers and a vast cast of cousins who visited regularly and stayed in the rambling farmhouse which belonged to my grandparents. We were an energetic horde who were unceremoniously thrown out of the house every morning after breakfast (in the summer – but of course it was always summer) – and told to amuse ourselves. We would disappear for hours, roaming the land, fighting, playing, building forts and dams, exploring, and then trickling back for a well-earned supper, tired, faces burning, legs aching.
      No better childhood could have been organised or conceived than the one I knew, and I am intensely grateful for it to this day.
      The land itself changes. It can take decades, and is almost unnoticed at first, but there is no stopping it. A favourite tree is cut down. A quiet meadow suddenly becomes a housing development. In the hills behind my home was a rambling, boggy wood where I saw my first badger. It was levelled to provide coarse pasture, the very stumps of the trees dragged out of the earth.
      That process was just beginning when I first sat down to write A Different Kingdom, twenty-two years ago. I wanted to set in record the world in which I had grown up, to describe it as it was, before it was destroyed.
      In the mid 1970’s rural Ulster – at least where I lived – was a pocket of quiet. Hard to believe, in that bloody decade. We had checkpoints, and bombs, and the old farmhouse was shot up one night in an abortive attempt to kill my policeman uncle – but by the standards of the rest of the province, our little world was positively bucolic.
     More than that; we who grew up in that era had a connection to the land which I no longer see. I have six nieces and nephews, all great kids, bright as buttons and well brought up. But I do not see in their lives the same innocence, the same freedom, that I had at their age.

So I wrote a book. It’s about that world. It describes my grandparent’s farm as I remember it, and the country as it was. It goes deeper, into the land as it might have been, if it had become meshed with myth; if fairy-stories were true. It is about a young boy who must grow up– but his childhood becomes part of the land itself. His life is entangled with the stories and the legends and fantasies of the very earth upon which he walks.

Looking back on the book now, I have to gulp when I see the things I described. Back then I was just writing with no thought whatsoever for an audience. I had a story I wanted to get out. In that sense, Kingdom is the most honest book I ever wrote – or will ever write. To see it in print again is like watching a little orphan limp out of a cupboard back into the light.
      And off she dances, into the brindled sunshine and shadow of the wild wood.

A Different Kingdom

A Different Kingdom
Solaris, January 28, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 432 pages

A different kingdom of wolves, woods and stranger, darker, creatures lies in wait for Michael Fay in the woods at the bottom of his family's farm.

Michael Fay is a normal boy, living with his grandparents on their family farm in rural Ireland. In the woods there are wolves; and other things, dangerous things. He doesn’t tell his family, not even his Aunt Rose, his closest friend.

And then, as Michael wanders through the trees, he finds himself in the Other Place. There are strange people, and monsters, and a girl called Cat.

When the wolves follow him from the Other Place to his family’s doorstep, Michael must choose between locking the doors and looking away – or following Cat on an adventure that may take an entire lifetime in the Other Place.

This is Paul Kearney's masterpiece.


The Way to Babylon
Solaris, May 27, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

Broken, bereaved and happy to let his fans go without the next book in his bestselling series, fantasy author Michael Riven expects to go home to his isolated cabin and avoid people. But instead strangers seek him out and lead him on a journey away from this world and into Minginish, the imaginary place where his own novels were set, but which is more real than he can conceive - and in danger from legendary beats and unimagined terrors.

Michael Riven has fallen off a mountain. The bestselling fantasy author is broken in both body and mind, as the fall also claimed his wife and climbing partner Jenny. Readers are desperate to know what will happen next in the fantasy world Minginish, but neither writing, nor living, are of interest to the author as he lies in traction and his heart bleeds.

But there are others seeking the scribe out. Men – and someone who is not all human – have begun a quest to find a way to rescue their blighted homeland, and their road will take them between worlds. Michael Riven will return to his home in Scotland; he will accompany a stranger out into the hills and find himself led not over the local landscape but into a place altogether more familiar and terrifying: Minginish itself, a real place more surprising and unpredictable even than the world of his novels.

Beasts of myth and legend stalk a land where the seasons have gone awry. Michael must take up the companions of his stories – Bicker, Ratagan and Murtach – and find a way to mend the sundered world. If he can, he may even find that Jenny’s existence did not end that day on the mountain.

The Way to Babylon was Paul Kearney’s debut novel, and this is its first publication in North America.

About Paul

Paul Kearney is the critically-acclaimed author of The Monarchies of God, The Macht and the Sea Beggars series. He has been long-listed for the British Fantasy Award. 

The Giveaway

What:  Two entrants will each win 1 Mass Market Paperback copy of A Different Kingdom by Paul Kearney from The Qwillery.

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on February 18, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I read A DIFFERENT KINGDOM years ago when it was reviewed by Adam Whitehead at Wertzone, and fell in love. It's a rich, beautiful story that took me straight back to my countryside childhood. After this blog post, I want to read it again!

  2. Paul, I grew up in Co Antrim too, near Bushmills. Deep country there too. My early life was much like yours, hordes of cousins, woods, fields, collecting frogspawn, Belfast sinks full of tadpoles, long walks along the river bush. In 1992 I came to Queens and have never gone back. I miss that life. I turned 40 last year and I too wonder what happened to the last 20 years. I look forward to reading A Different Kingdom and eagerly await your next forks of fiction.

  3. Thanks for sharing the books. I am adding them to my list.

  4. I haven't read any of the books but they sounds very interesting and they are something I would definitely read. Thanks for the book description and interview.

  5. I'm looking forward to finding out more about the Other Place. The books sound great & I LOVE the covers.

  6. oooh... sounds interesting - I will look forward to the read!

  7. Sounds intriguingly different from Kearney's epic fantasy.

  8. I also grew up in the country playing outside, minus the violence, and am sad to see how much it has changed. Running around carefree and wild isn't an option for the generations growing up now. Nice blog post.

    Your book sounds like a fun read, congrats on it!