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Is He a Twin or a ‘Shadow Master’ – @angryrobotbooks & #craigcormic

ANGRY-ROBOTSHADOW MASTER author (an Angry Robot author) that he is a twin whose bother is an OBGYN… OK CREEPY***KINGOMG’ism. Can you say DEAD RINGERS with Jeremy Irons but IRL??? Seriously. I have read the book, it is AMAZING BALLS!!!! Michelle Patricia Brown, YOU MUST READ IT!!! Seriously!!! In fact I have to put the book info before the interview stuff because OMG IT IS SO GOOD! HELL it is an ANGRY ROBOT BOOK!

 Follow along and anyone who comments will be entered into a Cabin Goddess Giveaway

CG -Tweet the book: You are challenged to tweet a synopsis of the book to include your tweet handle, GO! 

Shadow Master is a kick arse tale of alternative history, love & conflict, madness & magic#craigcormick

CG – Introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you. (As in tell us something NOT in your bio, give us a dirty little secret not having or having to do with your writing – please take the chance to not take yourself too seriously and enjoy!)


Some things most people don’t know about me is that I have an identical twin. He’s a medical doctor and does ultrasounds and things – and at least once a year a woman will go to see him, who knows me, but doesn’t know I have a twin and will – for instance, hop up on the couch and put her feet in the stirrups and look around quite nervously and then glance down between her knees as the doctor comes into the room and go, ‘Eeeeeeeeek!’ And she’ll call for the nurses and say, ‘Call the police! Call the police! He’s followed me in her. He’s a pervert!’ And he’ll say, ‘It’s alright, I’m the doctor.’ And she’ll say, ‘Bulls*@t you’re the doctor! I know you! Call the police…’ And it goes downhill from there until a nurse or another doctor comes in and vouches for him and he shows them his ID and explains we are identical twins.

The nurses tsk-tsk-tsk and then walk outside and laugh so hard they have tears coming from their eyes. And he just has to say to me, in passing. ‘Happened again.’ And I know exactly what he’s referring to.

CG – The story behind the Medici and Michael Angelo and the Lorainnes and Galileohas always has been one I have adored. I have read historical fiction on in from a couple sources but have after reading your unique take was enflamed again to read the history again. The fantasy dystopic world steeped in these famous historical figures and events, just amazing.  Tell us a bit about how this came about and how some of your other stories emerged?

So I’m relatively new convert to spec-fiction, having been a writer of more literary fiction most of my life – with about 20 fiction and non-fiction books published (  although for me all writing is writing and I tend not to get bogged down in genrefication (that looks to me like neo-classical sci-fi, with a touch or quest hero and a dash of post-steam-punk etc). I have used a lot of fantastical elements in my writing anyway, and much of my work deals with reinterpretations of history, so the move into what is termed spec-fiction was fairly easy.

Okay, that’s part of the explanation. The other part is that my day job is as a science communicator and I’ve travelled to a lot of interesting places, including Antarctica for work – but a few years back I was at a conference in Florence in Italy, and while walking around the Galileo museum I got this idea – what if science behaved like magic? And what if, when Galileo invented the telescope, it actually transported you across to what you were looking at – and what if the early chronometers actually slowed down time? And the idea for the book sprang out of that moment.  Most of my ideas tend to sneak up on me at moments like that, and so I always carry a notepad with me to catch them when they strike.

Incidentally a highlight of the Galileo museum, if you ever get to go there, is finding Galileo’s mummified middle finger in a glass jar, turned to point at the main cathedral in the city. Check it out HERE!

CG – Tell us three things we should pay attention for when we read you’re THE SHADOW MASTERS  which will not ruin the plot.

There are two warring houses in my book – the Medicis and the Lorraines – and a young woman from the Lorraine household, Lucia, is in love with a young man from the Medici household, Lorenzo – and much of the book describes the efforts of the two to reach each other (dodging the mad monks, assassins, kidnappers and plague and so on). It sounds a bit derivative of Romeo and Juliet, yes? But in fact I’ve ‘scaffolded’ the story on an 18th Century Italian novel the Betrothed (Il PromeAlessandro Manzoni in 1827.

Did I hear you ask, ‘Say what?’ Well, it’s actually described as one of the most famous novels in Italian, and the first dealing with Italian history, and was itself inspired by Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe.  It is set in 1628 and tells of the plague years and the politics and church of the time – and has two young lovers (Lorenzo and Lucia).

So for that vast number of your followers with a 19th Century classical Italian literary bent, you’ll find more than three allusions from Italian literature in the Shadow Master.

CG – If you could cast THE SHADOW MASTERS who would you choose to play your main characters? Why would you? (I can find the images or you can submit them either way we are good to go).

Craig-CormickGood question and I’ve actually had a think about that. It’s a running joke in a lot of my non-fiction, asking people who would play them in the movie of their life. So the Shadow Master is hooded and hides his face most of the time so it could be anybody – but I really like the idea of Michael Fassbender’s wicked teethed smile peeking out from under the hood. The love interest characters, Lucia and Lorenzo, I’d like to cast young actors you can actually act rather than celebrity actors who just grin and look pretty.

However I heard Lee Child giving a talk at the literary seminar in Key West that I was lucky enough to attend earlier this year (it was awesome and is what all literary festivals should be like) where he said he didn’t really want Tom Cruise cast to play Jack Reacher, but the producers said if they didn’t cast TC they wouldn’t get the funding they needed to make the movie. So if looking for known actors I might cast young Matt Damon and young Scarlett Johansson.

CG – Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing? Candy / snack food / bubble baths / Do a Hemingway (as in a whiskey bottle) / 80’s hair band you break out in song too when you just cannot figure out the next line to write and that bitch of a muse is off on her own hunt)?

Romeo-and-JulietThat bitch of a muse and me and fairly well-acquainted, and my main problem with writing is keeping up with her. I write fairly intensely and when an idea hits me I roll up my sleeves and go like I’m on fire. My main problem is finding space and time to write amongst all the other things in life (like my wife is talking to me as I write this and expecting I’m listening to her. ‘Uh-huh, Uh-huh, Sure. Uh-huh.’) Having said that, my main writing vice is writing. My dream writing gigs have been at writers retreats up in the mountains where it’s me the scenery and a large table spread out with books and I just disappear into another world and barely stop to eat or sleep or anything else. I wrote the first draft of the Shadow Master in a month. Though I do like to find a theme song to go with what I’m writing and for the Shadow Master it was the sound track from Romeo + Juliet.

CG – What do you do when you’re not writing? (ie: What festive things do you do for fun? What things do you do when you make yourself have fun, and what is on the top of your list to do when you actually take two days for you (and family)

My favourite thing in life is hanging with my six year old son. He has autism and needs a lot of intervention to help the slow rewiring of his brain so he has a chance to live something like a normal life. Hanging with kids is great any time, but with him it’s special as he is wired so differently I learn new ways of looking at the world while I’m trying to teach him the way the rest of the world looks at the world.

I start the day at about 7am each day with him coming into our bedroom and sitting on my head and saying, ‘Dad. Time to get up and play. Come on dad. Come on.’ And I think we can all learn something from that, so the next time you’re considering lobbying your local congressman or woman, don’t write them a letter, go around to their place before 7am, get into their house and go and sit on their head and say, ‘Don’t sign that bill into law. Don’t do it.’

But like most writers, there is a small radar in my brain that is always on, and picking up ideas and watching people etc… Do you know the anecdote about Alexander Fleming – the story goes that he discovered penicillin not because he was looking for it all his life, but he just happened to have his radar on when a stray mold spore was borne through an open window and landed on an exposed bacterial culture.

If he wasn’t a scientist he would have been a writer.

CG – During the zombie apocalypse, what fictional character would you want watching your back? (I cannot help myself)

Aragorn. With a very big sword. (And maybe with that ghost army of the Oath-breakers of Dunharrow behind him)

CG – If your book was a meal what would it be? Meat and potatoes? Vegetarian? A light nouveau cuisine? 

So this meal is served up in a little restaurant in a back street in Florence on a warm spring night before the city is filthy with tourists. Join me. We walk down a few of the thin maze-like streets and find this little place in a tiny square. There’s a fountain on one said and the buildings around have ornately carved stonework around the doors, which are sealed up tight, hiding the undoubted delights inside them. But there is a tall thin Italian waiter with a mysterious smile and a bottle red under one arm at the restaurant and he beckons us over. We look at him and he gives us a shrug like it’s not biggie for him if we come to his restaurant or not, as it’s only for those who appreciate it. So we wander over.

He offers us a table inside, but we choose to sit outside at a small wooden square table, with a rickety wooden seat each. And then he brings us the menu but we shrug and say, ‘what’s your speciality?’ He pretends not to understand English and so we use sign language and Italish to get the message across. He smiles and disappears inside. He’s back in a moment with a glass of red wine each. Doesn’t ask us to taste it first because he knows just how damn good it is. And he’s right.

Then we feel that initial discomfort of being in a new restaurant fade a little and we start feeling good about sitting here and drinking and admiring the décor and then suddenly he’s back with appetisers. They look something like eggplants hollowed out and filled with cheese and bacon and some spices and things we can’t even identify. The waiter lingers just long enough to see us take a bite each so he can see the surprise on our faces. Then he’s gone again.

We’ve barely finished them when the courses start arriving and we understand the space and time miracle of these tiny wooden tables that look too small for a card game but hold an endless procession of soups and meats and deserts. Each more amazing than the last. Each a food hidden within a food hidden within a food, that we only find when we bite into it. There are some tastes that are familiar, but some that feel like we’ve only experienced them in dreams.

The meal goes on until just before midnight, and then when we pay the bill and rise and walk to the corner of the square, and look back, we can’t even see the place anymore and can’t find it again although we spend days searching for it once more.

“Interview and a recipe”

CG – Create a drink (with or without booze) representing your book in name and ingredients.

shadow-master-wine-RecoveredThe Shadow Master Cocktail: Take a tall thin glass. Add one nip of saki. Two nips of red wine. A dash of cinnamon. Warm the glass over a candle on a table with the lights down low. Drink in semi-darkness.


The Shadow Master entre. Not for the faint hearted. Take a lamb’s hearts and place it in the oven and bake for 20 minutes on low flame. Put the heart on a tray and slice it open, exposing two halves of the heart, still joined a little at one side. Into the ventricles in the heart place melted gorgonzola cheese with bacon chunks cut very small and tiny onion chunks. Sprinkle a little garlic on top and place back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes on medium.

Meanwhile take two wooden skewers and place on them, cherry tomatoes, capsicum, beef, horse meat (CG – you can use beef, or dog meat if you don’t have any horse on you guys) and lamb and hot chilli sauce. Grill these until they are well cooked.

Add brandy to the two cooked skewers, light it and plunge one into each side of the hearts and then serve.

CGFAST and FURIOUS – Don’t pause just answer what comes first to mind

  • Beer, Wine, Shot Glass and an ancient bottle of wine? Typical family Christmas meal.
  • Sand Castles or Taj Mahal? Taj Mahal. At sunset. One mild day. With the guards sitting at the machine guns actually smiling for once.
  • Killer clown or Clown killer? Clown killer. Especially killing that spooky clown from Stephen King’s It.
  • Spirits, Demons or Killer Clowns ?(so I am a little obsessed). Killer clowns in this instance, and letting them loose in the stock market building on a day when the markets have plummeted with many mum and dad investors losing a chunk of their savings.
  • Science or Magic or Espionage? Science and magic are actually the same thing – just different ways of looking at it.
  • Duct tape or Zip Ties? Duct tape for putting on the killer clowns mouths when we round them up again. Zip ties for their arms and legs and squirty flowers.
  • Chainsaw arm or shotgun leg (gotta throw a zombie apocalypse related question in here! 🙂 ? Hmmmm. Chainsaw arm makes it really hard to shave closely and shotgun leg is really hard to ride a bike with. The shotgun leg is probably less dangerous for my love life.
  • Happily Ever After or Mourning for their death?. Mourning for their deaths. Happily ever after makes us feel everything worked out despite all probability  and then we can forget it, but mourning for the deaths prays on us and sticks in our minds.
  • DISTRIC-9Horror Movie, Chick Flick or Action/Adventure? Action/adventure. Preferable sci-fi with black humour and political overtone. Think District 9.



CGAnything you would like to add… appearances, upcoming releases, where I can find someone to adjust the algorithms for my time machine?


I’m flying over to the States to attend the Convergence Con in Minneapolis in the first week of July and am giving three panel sessions: Evil Overlords 101; and my areas of expertise – Can Sci-Fi keep up with Technology? And Good Tech, Evil Tech.

The sequel to the Shadow Master is entering its sprint to the finish line – it’s set in a Venice-like city, and I’m using the Italian proto-tales of Othello, Romeo and Juliet and the Merchant of Venice within it that Shakespeare adapted into his plays. It’s also very kick-arse, though I think a little more funny than the Shadow Masteer.


Is He a Twin or a ‘Shadow Master’ –  @angryrobotbooks & #craigcormicShadow Master
by Craig Cormick
Pages: 352
Published by Angry Robot
on 2014-06-24
Genres: Epic, Fantasy, Fiction, General, Romance
Amazon • • Goodreads •

In a land riven with plague, inside the infamous Walled City, two families vie for control: the Medicis with their genius inventor Leonardo; the Lorraines with Galileo, the most brilliant alchemist of his generation.

And when two star-crossed lovers, one from either house, threaten the status quo, a third, shadowy power – one that forever seems a step ahead of all of the familial warring – plots and schemes, and bides its time, ready for the moment to attack...

Assassination; ancient, impossible machines; torture and infamy – just another typical day in paradise.

(c0ver art by Steve Stone)



So tell me …if you could rewrite a famous moment in time what would it be? 

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