As I noted in my July 27th blog entry, I managed to get through my final edit of The Gallows Gem of Prallyn. Well, as I did so, I realized that characters in the book mention places in Thrylland that hadn’t managed to get onto my map. Well, I updated the map and here is the updated version!


Well, tonight was not a night of advancing my plot in The Winter Wars, Book Two of Northern Fire. Josée and I passed a lovely evening talking about how to take successfully the next steps in putting The Gallows Gem of Prallyn into the world. Then our thoughts turned to I meeting I have lined up with Stephane Pham ( to discuss ideas for artwork for the Northern Fire duo-logy. A bottle of good Argentine wine helped generate the unrivalled wonders of artistry that you can see below. Steph will, no doubt, just roll his eyes and discard it. Over to the comments section to say if he’d be right or not!

Well, I just finished rereading The Gallows Gem of Prallyn today.

I wanted to go over it one last time before going live with it in the coming weeks. I really wanted to make sure, sure, sure that there were no typos or missing prepositions or any such ridiculousness. Via the wonder that is Twitter, I came across a “directly published” fantasy author who seemed to have interesting ideas. I bought one of his books via a web portal and, frankly, find it hard to believe that I paid good money for a work so littered with typos and careless use of pronouns that it jolts my reading. The last thing I want to do is present an unprofessional product to the world under my name, but, more importantly, I don’t want to cheat good folk out of hard-earned money in exchange for a sub-par product.

The blog entry on June 5th noted my frustration that there were still some buried in the manuscript after my wife, Josée, read it and found a couple. And this, as I note in the blog entry, in spite of working with an editor for a year on the blasted thing! That convinced me that another, final, look at it would be a good idea if I really was serious about wanting to put into peoples’ hands a professional work of fiction. So, last weekend, during our time at a finca in Nocaima, just west of Bogotá (as they call in Colombia an acreage) I started the book again. (See the attached semi-obscene photo of me hunting typos.) 

It was the first time I had read the book in about three or four years. So, while my website should in theory be dedicated to the promotion of my “brilliant works of art” rather than running them down, here are some impressions:


First, the good news is that there were very, very few typos. I think I picked up about three or four. And, yes, there were a couple of places where a preposition had disappeared (I SWEAR they were there originally!)

Second, the REALLY good news is that MAN were there a lot of inconsistencies in how I capitalized titles. “The soldier said to his Captain that he couldn’t see the threat,” in one paragraph, immediately followed by, “The captain considered his options and decided to shoot the author.” This is now hopefully fixed, and hence my attitude that it’s really good news … it’s really good news that I don’t inflict such brutality on my readers!

Now, on to the more profound thoughts … I liked the book. It’s got a lot of characters and story lines, but I do think that I managed to give the main characters their own voice and a genuine trajectory anchored in plausible motivations. I think that it hangs together well, and in so doing is a testimonial to the excellent work of my editor Linda Sanborn (I’m sure that the version she edited had the prepositions as well!).

One thing that did strike me is that it is clearly the work of a younger man. I started the beast when I was 26, I suppose. An excellent Ottawa-based film critic, Robert Fontaine, said in his recent book True Confessions of a Film Critic 1 …movies change over time because we change. A film that you saw as a child is not the same film when you view it at age forty.2 Reading Gallows Gem at 46 really underscored to me how I had changed. I wasn’t so apprehensive of adorning the pages with descriptions of powerful magicks and interventions by non-human monsters (there are human monsters, after all). There is a reason for this this within the bigger picture story I have in my head and that slowly gets revealed in the book, but let’s just say that the Northern Fire books, Harbinger and The Winter Wars, are very different in this regard.

Also, Northern Fire is a much different story and I think I like how it moves forward better. Concentrating on fewer characters perhaps allows one to get closer to those characters, allows them to develop in less-abrupt jerks (or, in Elkor’s case, to develop into a less-abrupt jerk). There just seems to me that there are deeper insights developing. That said, perhaps I should actually bring The Winter Wars to a conclusion before I conclude anything!

All this to say, I am proud of The Gallows Gem of Prallyn and the accomplishment it represents. But I wouldn’t write it now like I wrote it then!

I hope you are able to get access to it and enjoy it in the coming weeks.

As ever, I would be interested in whatever comments you might want to provide about it (or anything else on this website!).


1) True Confessions of a Film Critic by Robert Fontaine, General Store Publishing House Inc,

2) Robert Fontaine, True Confessions, Page XIII

I looked at an entry today on a website for fantasy fans (Fantasy Faction) and read a thought-provoking contribution about preconceptions and prejudice in the industry that are preventing women from taking their proper place in the pantheon of great fantasy writers. Or perhaps rather, preventing them from getting recognition in the pantheon of great fantasy writers. You can check it out here

The post and the debate in the comments section beneath it certainly made me think on the subject. The contribution of Cecily Kane particularly made me think. Cecily can be found on Twitter or at her website ( My own site is still under construction (and may be so forever), so I added the great Patricia McKillip to my listing in the links of this website as fantasy authors I esteem for ensuring that realistic protagonists (and antagonists, for that matter) populate their works. There is another women writer whose books I liked a lot, but for the life of me I can’t remember her name, so I’ll have to do some digging before I post a link to her work as well.

I hope that in my writing I do not send a message saying, even subconsciously, that “this is not a place for you.” Au contraire, I hope that the works are accessible and portray genuine women. 

I thought about the role of women in a fantasy setting a lot during the writing of Gallows Gem. I was torn between either portraying a sexist world and the injustices in it to parallel our own world, or, portraying a world as it could be, with more balance. And yet, the vast bulk of my characters turned out to be men anyway! Damn! How’d that happen? I asked my copy editor, Linda, about it and the women I asked to review the draft, and I got surprising answers back. Yes, the bulk of the characters are men, but the most important character is arguably a woman (resolving to tear down an established church in a kingdom is pretty audacious after all). There are women portrayed in positions of power. Some are principled, some are principled to their own damnation, and others interpret their principles flexibly, also to their own damnation or salvation. In short, they liked it.

As I move to publishing Gallows Gem (hopefully in the coming months … or perhaps even weeks) I will be interested to get feedback on this point.

On my March 12th blog entry, you will recall I winged about needing cover art. Well, I have been working with a very talented designer, Steph Pham, and he has produced something very interesting. Without further ado, here is the cover of The Gallows Gem of Prallyn! 

Feedback is welcome!

If you ever want to work with Steph, contact him at

What is the appropriate headline? 

Brazil put the sword to Colombia this afternoon and, appropriately, it’s raining in Bogotá. If only the Cafeteros had played the first half like they played the second, it might have been different. Or, had they but played like they had played hitherto fore in the tournament, they would have been in good shape. But, mistakes they hadn’t been making arose, and not even the type that come as a result of the pressure of playing a great team: daft mistakes like; poor passes, stupid fouls, not bothering to stay onside. I don’t think the reffing helped either. I didn't see any contact on the foul that led to the second goal, though again, as a goalkeeper, I have no idea why a goalkeeper who had been having such a great game and tournament was so central in his net with a wall protecting him. Another daft mental error.

And yet, after 95 minutes, the ref blew the final whistle and … Colombia’s new heroes were celebrated loudly in the pub where we were watching the game. It was lovely to see and very much consistent with what I have learned of Colombians. Reaching the final eight was a great success for them and those in the pub knew it all-too-well. What a wonderful spirit!

ian at ianmckinley dot com (written this way to guard against spam … you know how to interpret it) © Ian McKinley 2016