Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guest Blog by Jonathan Wood - Writing a series - and Giveaway - March 12, 2014

Please welcome Jonathan Wood to The Qwillery. Jonathan is the author of the fabulous Hero series. No Hero was published on March 11, 2014 by Titan Books.

Writing a series

I never meant to write a series. I never really meant to write No Hero at all. I came-of-age aesthetically reading the New Weird books of China Mieville, Jeff Vandermeer, and K. J. Bishop. That was the sort of writer I was going to be. Iconoclastic books, challenging assumptions and norms.

Then my agent read one of those manuscripts and suggested I go away and learn a little more about pacing.

It's probably the best piece of advice I've ever received.

I listened to my agent. I went off and read a couple of thrillers. I had a rollicking good time. Then I sat down to write a quick practice novel where I could put the lessons I'd learned into practice. I churned the thing out in about six months, and then (because really why not?) I sent it off to my agent while trying to work out a serious project to work on.

Except then my agent got back to me and told me he really liked the manuscript. It just needed a little work. You know, just completely overhaul the voice of the protagonist in my first-person novel. That's all... But again, I listened to him. I buckled down, did three more months work, and changed Arthur Wallace from beligerent noir cop to a hapless everyman with a wry sense of humor. I shot the manuscript back to my agent, and resumed my attempts to come up with a serious project.

And then my agent sold the book for a two book deal.

Obviously this was awesome-ness of the more epic variety. There was elation. There was celebrating. There was little sleep. Then there was the realization that I had to write that second book.

I hadn't really planned to write No Hero so writing a sequel seemed a bit of a stretch. A writing friend made a suggestion about a scene fighting a zombie T-Rex so at least I had a starting point, but where the hell did I go from there?

I started thinking about series I'd come across. My first thought was of the frustration I usually felt when I went to a bookstore or library only find just the second and third books of a trilogy with the first one nowhere in site. But then I thought of the thrillers I'd been reading, of the series I'd come across that could be read out of order. Sure you missed the emotional heft of a few beats, but for the most part the book existed intact. So if I was to write a sequel, I wanted something that would exist in that space. A stand-alone adventure. That was a liberating realization. It meant I didn't have to revisit ground I'd already trodden upon. I could keep to the series' pulp roots but explore fresh territory.

Next I realized that most of my experience with series doesn't come from books but from TV and comic books. These are the long serial forms of our time. The X-Men comics have been running since the 70s. Obviously the continuity has become a bit screwy over the time, but there has been an attempt to tell a story that makes sense over almost 40 years of reading. What ties it together is the characters. When I think of the X-Men before I think of events, I think of characters. I think Wolverine is the best at what he does. I think Cyclops is still acting like he has a rod shoved up his arse. The threats they face may change, but there's a through-line in those characters and their relationships.

Fast forward a few years and now I'm working on book four in the Hero series. The series has grown one book deal at a time and I'm yet again in that place of needing to write a slightly unplanned sequel.

But it's OK now because the principles I worked out while writing book two still hold true. I keep the adventures individual and the relationships continual. My characters have new threats to face but they always have each other. Their relationships give the books a narrative backbone that carries them through each twist of events. And now, if I need to write a sequel, I just turn to my characters, and I know I'm going to be alright.

No Hero

No Hero
Hero 1
Titan Books, March 11, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
(previously published by Night Shade Books)

"What would Kurt Russell do?" Oxford police detective Arthur Wallace asks himself that question a lot. Because Arthur is no hero. He's a good cop, but prefers that action and heroics remain on the screen, safely performed by professionals. But then, secretive government agency MI12 comes calling, hoping to recruit Arthur in their struggle against the tentacled horrors from another dimension known as the Progeny. But Arthur is NO HERO! Can an everyman stand against sanity-ripping cosmic horrors?

Qwill Thoughts about No Hero

No Hero is essentially a book about an ordinary man trying to grapple with the unfathomable. Arthur Wallace is a police detective in Oxford, England going about the business of solving crimes when he becomes involved in something extraordinary. He’s then recruited by M137, an understaffed British government agency that deals with the Progeny and their threat to Earth. The Progeny are tentacled nightmares from another dimension. They are Lovecraftian in their creepiness. While they are presently not on Earth, their agents are. These agents are working to find a way to bring the Progeny to Earth. If that happens, the Earth will be consumed.

I really like Arthur Wallace. He’s a very engaging character, and I was firmly cheering for him in the fight against the Progeny. Arthur gets through some of the most difficult situations in the story by wondering what Kurt Russell would do. It works for him; it focuses him… sometimes. He is just a regular guy who tries to do what appears to be impossible. He often wonders what he’s gotten himself into, but still soldiers on.

Arthur’s co-workers at M137 are a bit unusual. I truly enjoyed getting to know them. Jonathan Wood does an excellent job developing these characters. Each of Arthur’s co-workers is important to the story and the unfolding events as they battle against the Progeny threat. There is even a touch of romance though romance is by no means the focus of the story.

No Hero is an exhilarating story with excellent pacing. It is at times humorous, at times thrilling, at times frightening, and at all times a terrific read. I don’t know what Kurt Russell would do, but I will definitely read the next book about Arthur Wallace.

- Review originally posted on August 9, 2011


Yesterday's Hero
Hero 2
Titan Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Another day. Another zombie T-Rex to put down. All part of the routine for Arthur Wallace and MI37—the British government department devoted to defending Britain from threats magical, supernatural, extraterrestrial, and generally odd.Except a zombie T-Rex is only the first of the problems about to trample, slavering and roaring, through Arthur’s life. Before he can say, “but didn’t I save the world yesterday?” a new co-director at MI37 is threatening his job, middle-aged Russian cyborg wizards are threatening his life, and his co-workers’ are threatening his sanity.

As Arthur struggles to unravel a plot to re-enact the Chernobyl disaster in England’s capital, he must not only battle foreign wizards but also struggle to keep the trust of his team. Events spiral out of control, friendships fray, and loyalties are tested to their breaking point.

And coming in 2015

About Jonathan

Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York. There’s a story in there involving falling in love and flunking out of med school, but in the end it all worked out all right, and, quite frankly, the medical community is far better off without him, so we won’t go into it here. His debut novel, No Hero was described by Publisher’s Weekly as “a funny, dark, rip-roaring adventure with a lot of heart, highly recommended for urban fantasy and light science fiction readers alike.” listed it has one of the 20 best paranormal fantasies of the past decade, and Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels described it as, “so funny I laughed out loud.” His short fiction has appeared in Weird Tales, Chizine, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies, as well as anthologies such as The Book of Cthulhu 2 and The Best of Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Year One. He can be found online at

Website  ~  Twitter @thexmedic  ~  Facebook

The Giveaway

What:  Three entrants will each win a Mass Market Paperback copy of No Hero by Jonathan Wood from The Qwillery.

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

Who and When:  The giveaway is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Giveaway ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on March 24, 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. The look and feel of No Hero reminds me a bit of Simon R. Green's Nightside series, but with a dash of Dark Skies (the TV series, not the movie) thrown in. I'm looking forward to reading the first book. Time to put this on my Goodreads "Want to Read" list.

  2. It looks like a fun series. I'd love to read it.

  3. Sounds like a really good series. Thanks for the giveaway.

  4. I am still a fan of the X-Men or I should rather say Marvel Comics. I haven't given up on it. Kind of nice to know that is what has influence you to write these three books. I love dark and humorous and at the same time a thriller.

  5. I hadn't heard of this series before, I'm so glad it was featured on The Qwillery because it sounds pretty darned awesome. I'm definitely going to be checking out all the books in the series.

  6. congrats to Jonathan on the new release! Thanks for sharing your "writing journey" with us )

  7. Sounds like an interesting series

  8. Ooh. Sounds good and the covers also make me want to crack them open! I totally had to add these to my TBR pile...

  9. This series really does sound amazing & the covers are incredible.

  10. Ha! Fun to read about your journey to not writing this series! :) Life seems to have ideas of its own at times, and the most you can do is roll with it. And you rolled right into a multi book deal. So good for you!

  11. The Nightside meets the X-Files, with a dash of Cththulu, how can I resist I must put this book and its accomplices on my wish list.