The Black Hand, vol. 12
Closing the Gates of Hell
We’ve all been through a lot in the last few years, and I have to say it’s heartening to know that perhaps it might all be over – especially now they’re closing the actual Gates of Hell, a 230-foot wide sinkhole full of dangerous gas in Turkmenistan that was lit on fire by the Soviets in 1971 and has been burning ever since.
Apparently, while searching for natural gas deposits, the gases in the crater were accidentally ignited. Now the sinkhole – which is known properly as the Darvaza Crater, and looks a lot like a fantasy version of the marshmallow pit at Burning Man – is permanently on fire, and can be seen for miles around.
Maybe once the Gates of Hell are closed, we can all go back to normal life? I’m hopeful.
Hello and welcome!
There are a lot more of you reading this newsletter now than when it first started, and I find that absolutely delightful – a massive round of applause to everyone who’s been with me from the beginning, and if you’re new to The Black Hand, thank you for joining in, and welcome!
I usually kick off with some weird crime story or macabre factoid that I’ve discovered in my book-research wanderings, so please don’t be put off, the whole newsletter isn’t like that at all (sometimes it’s even weirder <snort>).
I typically include writing news, events, work-in-progress snippets, book and TV recs, #LoveOzYAbookclub updates, and the occasional giveaway – there’s a giveaway contest in today’s edition, in fact, so read on!
The Killing Code on GoodReads
Wowowow, the book cover is up everywhere now – and it’s popping up on lists on GoodReads.
One of the best ways you can support a book (for free!) is to build buzz online, and adding The Killing Code to your shelves, or voting for it in lists really does help. You can also be a total legend by asking your school or public library to order the book for its collection. And if you’re in the US and you want to preorder, (ANZ readers, your time is coming) well that would be awesome too.
Doing all or any of these things gives a book a helping hand - it sends a great message to the publisher, increases a book’s chance of success, and also makes the author feel very loved 😊
I can’t wait for this one to arrive! September can’t come soon enough 😊
I mean, I was always going to get around to reading a series called ‘The Murderbot Diaries’ – but I honestly wasn’t expecting to fall so absolutely in love with this character: a SecUnit (Security Unit) cyborg which has hacked its own governor module and developed an individual personality, which it mainly uses to watch entertainment media like Sanctuary Moon. Oh, and make deadpan mental asides while saving its human clients from accidentally killing each other or themselves.
Tuning in to Murderbot’s frequently-hilarious first person POV is like listening to a combination of RoboCop and Marvin the Paranoid Android, and the action-thriller stories it narrates are cleverly plotted and give a vision of a possible future full of diverse characters, megacorporations, and life on strange new worlds.
Created by Martha Wells, who is clearly a genius, each novella sees Murderbot trying to deal with disaster and various exasperating humans, as well as evolving a little more, and investigating further into its own backstory. These books won a bunch of a awards, most recently a Hugo, and boy, do they deserve it. Start with All Systems Red and go on from there –absolutely highly recommend.
>>>Murderbot end message
I’m going to be live online at Genrecon this month, talking on a panel and giving a seminar. If you’d like to join me, check out tickets for this rocking event on February 18-20 – I would very much like to see you there!
What I’m doing
School is back! And so am I, in my teacher clothes, while hoping I’m imparting some wisdom to my students. I’m taking some leave this year, so I’m enjoying the time in the classroom – while I won’t mind taking things a little slower after term one, and getting the chance to really dive into book-writing, I’m going to miss my students heaps while I’m away.
I’ve been watching a little bit of television over the school holidays – amazing! Usually I never watch telly, but I finally saw Chernobyl, which was so, so good. Hardcore, but hey, it’s a nuclear accident in a grim 80s-era Soviet landscape, so it was bound to be bleak. But Chernobyl was actually extraordinary: the true story, the casting, the script, and the acting. Definitely give it a watch if you haven’t yet (just, y’know, ymmv with hardcore bleakness).
I’ve also seen the first 3 eps of Station Eleven. The book, by Emily St John Mandel, is one of my all-time fave reads, so I started the series with trepidation, which has proved to be unfounded so far – the creators have done an excellent job translating the book to the screen. Well worth a watch.
While I’m on a roll with shows, the next thing I want to watch? YellowJackets. Omg, I’m excited, that show sounds right up my alley.
None Shall Sleep sequel update
A voice she hasn’t heard in three months. It stops her cold and warms her at the same time. Five whole seconds pass until she grips the phone and gathers herself. ‘Travis?’
‘Listen. I didn’t want to call you. I’ve been… I’ve been trying to get them to leave you alone.’ His voice is low and urgent.
She’s immediately alert. ‘What is it?’
‘Special Agent Carter’s on his way to you. Don’t freak out, all right? He’s an okay guy. Emma, they want to take you into protective custody.’
All the hairs on her body prickle up. She hears herself take on a tone she never uses in the dorm. ‘Travis, what’s going on?’
‘Have you been reading the news, Lewis?’ He pauses. ‘Read the news.’
There you go: a tasty snippet of what’s in store for you when TIL DEATH DO PART finally makes it into your hot little hands…
When will that be? I don’t know yet.
Negotiations are ongoing, but I’ve been assured they’re reaching a conclusion, which means I’ll have news to share with you soon.
Holy heck, I’m loving writing this book. Like, I am loving it. So much happens to the characters, and it’s such a personal evolution for all of them… I’m writing the finale right now, and guh.
Prepare for the hair on the back of your neck to stand up, and to have your feels absolutely murdered.
We finished last year on a high note with ANYTHING BUT FINE by Tobias Madden, which was adorable – and we’re kicking off 2022 with action and drama, reading THE MIDNIGHT GIRLS by Alicia Jasinska. Feel free to come along and join in with our monthly reads anytime here on the bookclub group page.
Yep, as I mentioned at the top of the page, I’m running a giveaway contest this month, to celebrate the start of a brand new year and spread the love about THE KILLING CODE 😊
The prize is a beautiful, black-edged, US hardcover edition of NONE SHALL SLEEP, all personalized and signed by me. The edges were hand-coloured by @bookscandlescats (IG) – she does a fantastic job with sprayed edges, and when I had a copy made for myself, I asked her to make me a special giveaway version:
Here’s the drill if you’d like to win:
1. Share a pic of THE KILLING CODE cover on Instagram or TikTok
2. Include the words BREAK THE CODE, FIND A KILLER and the release date SEPT 2022
3. Tag me @elliemarney (IG) or @elliemarneyauthor (TikTok) so I know you posted!
4. In a week’s time, I’ll put every entrant’s name in the hat and draw a winner.
This giveaway is international, but it’s only open to newsletter subscribers (both free and paid), so you have a better shot at winning. I’ll contact the winner via email and get your parcel in the mail.
Not sure what to post? I’ve got a pic here you’re welcome to share!
That’s it – good luck!
I’m here to encourage you to check out some brand new titles already released this year, because they’re fabulous.
The first one is Only A Monster by Vanessa Len (I am waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail – ugh, hurry up, mail) and the second one is These Deadly Games by Diana Urban, who is an excellent human, and the third one is actually two third ones by Amie Kaufman: the conclusion to her YA fantasy duology with Meagan Spooner, Beyond the End of the World, which is amazing, and the sequel to her gorgeous MG fantasy series with Ryan Graudin, The World Between Blinks: Rebellion of the Lost.
Please do jump onto the links and have a squiz at some of these cool titles to see if they take your fancy!
And phew, that’s all from me this month.
Remember last month I said I’d get all nostalgic about my New Year vacation? Well that vacation already feels like a million miles away in the distance, but I still recall it fondly: days spent waking early (my natural state even without an alarm) and writing in notebooks by the sea; lazing around our campsite under the tarp, reading books and chatting with my kids, then a wander down to the beach for a kayak around the bay; a nap in the tent before evening dinner preparations on the camp stove. No electricity, no phones, no laptop, no news – just the slow rhythms of the day and feeling a little pink from the sun.
So no matter how hectic things get now, I’m carrying that lovely holiday recharge feeling with me into the next few weeks/months, and onward. I really hope your 2022 is off to an excellent start, and I’m sending all my good wishes for you for the year to come!
See you next month – stay well, get your booster, and happy reading.