Lord Grim­dark him­self, Joe Aber­crom­bie, tells all about his new short story col­lec­tion

SFX - - Red alert -

Wait­ing for the next novel set in the world of The First Law? You’ll have to hang on a lit­tle longer. But fans of Joe Aber­crom­bie’s work should be more than sat­is­fied with Sharp Ends – a col­lec­tion of 13 sto­ries set in the same realm.

“It’s like slip­ping on a favourite pair of boots,” says Aber­crom­bie of re­turn­ing to the set­ting for the first time since 2012’ s Red Coun­try. “It’s nice to be on fa­mil­iar ground af­ter time away.”

He de­scribes the col­lec­tion as fea­tur­ing a “galaxy of dif­fer­ent voices” and a wide- range of gen­res. The back­bone, how­ever, is pro­vided by a new pair of char­ac­ters, “Shev, the best thief in Styria, and Javre, Li­on­ess of Hoskopp”, de­scribed as “re­ally my fe­male take on Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser”.

Long­est of the 13 tales is the novella- length “Three’s A Crowd”, which Aber­crom­bie says is about Shev try­ing to put her past be­hind her. “She wants to start a new life, but when her lover is kid­napped she’s forced to re­cruit Javre for one last job...”

He also states that the sto­ries act “as back­ground to some of the nov­els and fea­ture fa­mil­iar char­ac­ters, the style of which vary from Ital­ianate crime ca­per to dried- up Western”. He hopes the book will be ac­ces­si­ble to new read­ers, point­ing out that, “all the sto­ries stand alone to some de­gree.”

Mean­while, the next novel con­tin­ues to ges­tate. “I’m writ­ing a new tril­ogy,” he prom­ises. “I want to take my time, re­ally de­velop the voices of the cast and hope­fully draft the whole tril­ogy be­fore I pub­lish the first book, so the whole thing is as co­her­ent and con­vinc­ing as pos­si­ble.”

Sharp Ends is pub­lished by Gol­lancz in hard­back and ebook ver­sions on 26 April.

Aber­crom­bie says it’s nice to be back on fa­mil­iar ground af­ter time away.

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