Thursday, August 28, 2014

Straight Chatting from the Library - Michael John Grist

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Michael will be awarding an autographed print copy of Ignifer's Rise to a randomly drawn winner.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.

Scarred boy, hunted by monsters, must unite castes and save-
Sorry, ran out of words :(

Do you have any bad book habits?

Dog-earing instead of using a bookmark. Actually, with a few books that I re-read multiple times over the years, it's always really funny when I come upon a past dogear, and find myself folding it back down. How funny, that me in the past, with mostly the same brain as me but thoughts that must be a little different, was reading this same story, and choosing to stop at this same place. A kind of time travel, peering into the past. Or into the future?

Also taking books into the bath. I never dropped one, but the steam makes them swell. However, neither of these is a problem any more, because ebooks! And I have a waterproof case for my reader (an iphone).

One book at a time or multiples?

I don't like to do two things at once, so just one. Likewise if I have study I have to do (I'm on an intensive study course right now) I can't write until I get it cleared away. Then, as long as I have about a month or two fairly clear, I'll pick up my computer and write a book. So yeah, one book at a time for both writing and reading. And less study...

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)

I do believe I pre-answered this one, excuse me.

Least favorite book you've read this year?

Easy, Blake Crouch, his book is called Run. It's been really popular. It's a story about a family that has to run away from gangs of people who are hunting them down. I just found it dull and repetitive. I put it down halfway, after already thinking I should have put it down quarter of the way. Sorry Blake. But he doesn't need me, obviously his book hits the mark with plenty of people.

Favorite book you've read this year?

Also easy, The Martian by Andy Weir. they're making it into a movie, I hear. Great science fiction tale of a guy that gets stranded on Mars, and how/if he survives. Most of the book is made up of fascinating calculations about how to make oxygen, food, water, from the bare materials he has left over. It's a series of short, sharp problems being solved, in a fascinating setting, and it just gripped me.

When do you do most of your reading?

Probably on the train these days, while commuting. Ereader apps are a brilliant thing.

Favorite place to read?

Probably lying in bed in the morning or the evening, tired through from a good day, and it's raining outside so feeling no pressure at all to go out. Even a storm would be better. Dive into a book, yeah.

Favorite genre?

It used to be fantasy, but these days it tends to be science fiction. I'm not sure if that's where the interesting ideas are now, but perhaps. I haven't read a Tolkien-ish fantasy for years. I still read some weird fantasy, some dark, most stuff except elves and dwarves.

How do you keep your books organized?

I didn't have a lot of shelf space in my apartment in Tokyo (I'm now in London, where I probably won't have too much space either), so I catalogued by how much I liked my books. My favorites got to be in the most visible spots, and near me. the ones I didn't care about got relegated to the hidden bookshelf in the corner half-blocked by the TV.


The fate of the world is written in scars. In a bleak industrial city where marks in skin are a sentence to death, Sen is a child condemned. Cursed with mysterious scars carved by his own mother's hand, he leads a fearful hidden life in the city's last abbey.

Then the King's brutal Adjunc attack, and Sen barely escapes with his life. Lost and alone in the city's dark hinterlands, he begins an exhilarating race to find the truth behind his scars. In stinking black sewers and the lava-buried ruins of an ancient civilization, he uncovers a truth far stranger than he ever imagined, laid out by his long-dead mother: an apocalypse god is rising, and only the legendary hero Saint Ignifer can stop it.

But Saint Ignifer is dead.

Revolution rocks the city. The blood of all castes runs in the streets. With a storm of new faith raging out from the barricades, Sen must embrace the terrible fate his mother wrote in his scars- in the volcano's caldera, at the end of the world- before the black jaws of the apocalypse descend. For the Rot is coming, and the Saint must rise.

Sometime after his four hundredth posting he saw the creature clearly for the first time. In the distance over a dawn-dappled roof-rise, it was an insect-thin figure bowed beneath abulbous sack, tearing at a posting stuck to a foundry's brick wall. Sen's heart lurched with asickening double beat, then he dropped his pack and bucket of paste, sprinted to the cornice,slid hand over hand down an anchored revelatory tube, and landed near where the creaturewas scrabbling.

It turned slowly, and for a moment Sen's knees weakened as he met its Sectile eyes.

A Spider.

The caste was Unforgiven, excised in the city for centuries as a monster. He'd only ever heard of them in the legends of Saint Ignifer, but here it stood before him, fear blooming off it. Its shaggy black head was monstrous, too large for its shrunken body, blooming with bulbousompound eyes. Within its lipless black mouth waggled only dark stubs, where long mandibleshould have protruded. It stood on two stick-thin Sectile-limbs, with two raised to the wall, while only bulges within its brown mocking coat hinted at its remaining four limbs.

Sen stared at it, and it stared at him, the moment stretching out in the pink dawn light.

"What are you?" Sen asked at last.

The sound broke the spell, and the Spider hurled its sack of papers down and took off down the nearest alleyway.

Sen sprinted after it. His feet hammered the cobblestones, his arms pumped, and the strange Spider bolted along with an awkward and rolling grace, its four limbs twisting in unnatural ways. It turned left onto a hawking street just beginning to fill with morning crowds, sped amongst them like water  through a sieve, never losing pace as it darted left and right, always ahead.


Michael John Grist is a 34-year old British writer and ruins photographer who lives in Tokyo, Japan. He writes dark and surreal science fiction and fantasy, inspired by authors such as David Gemmell and Orson Scott Card.

In his free time he explores and photographs abandoned places around the world, such as ruined theme parks, military bases, underground bunkers, and ghost towns. These explores have drawn millions of visitors to his website:, and often provide inspiration for his fiction.

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