New Cover Art: The Raven of Toledo

Below is my latest piece of cover art. My last piece was for David Pilling’s historical fiction adventure The Half-Hanged Man part 1: The Wolf of Burgundy. This one (obviously) is for part 2 of that story, The Raven of Toledo, which is available on Amazon.

Historical Fiction The The Half-Hanged Man 2: Raven of Toledo

The Half-Hanged Man 2: Raven of Toledo available on Amazon

My next piece of artwork will be a bit different. It will be a dot drawing and will be the cover art for The Piece of Elias, my fantasy fiction short story which will soon be available on Amazon. The Peace of Elias is a supernatural tale of loss and revenge set in The World Apparent, the world in which The Best Weapon takes place, but with some different characters and far to the west of the world on the continent of Temeria.

So watch this space; more artwork and much more fantasy fiction to come.


Fantasy Fiction Novel to Short Story

I have always been a big fan of speculative and fantasy fiction, I think I can safely say there is nothing I would rather read. There is certainly nothing I would rather write.

Fantasy Fiction - The World Apparent pencil

The World Apparent by Martin Bolton

Unlike most writers I know (which isn’t many), I had never written a serious short story, I launched straight into a fantasy novel, albeit one I co-wrote with a more experienced writer. Ambitious, you might think, but the thought of writing a novel actually seemed less daunting than a short story. Maybe, because of the very fact that it sounds ambitious, there is less pressure for it to be any good or to meet anyone’s expectations.

A short story needs to be snappy, you can’t waste too many words on build-up, unnecessary strands or tangents to the plot. Every scene has to be incisive, fast-paced and at the same time have enough information to advance the plot and keep the reader informed as to what is going on. Compared to this, writing a novel seemed leisurely. Time either moves more slowly in a novel or the story covers a longer period. Either way, you have more time to explain things, build characters, create atmosphere or describe scenery.

I found it a real challenge to get from one scene to the next without it seeming disjointed and laboured. I’ve discovered that it is a serious skill to write short stories, you have to be slick and eloquent, otherwise it is hard to read and trips up on itself.

For me it was doubly hard because it was my first piece of serious solo writing, which meant that I had to find inspiration somewhere other than excitedly bouncing ideas off my co-writer over a beer. I had to come up with my own plot, my own background and my own characters. For a while I didn’t know where to start.

Someone gave me some good advice on the Goodreads forum: Write every day, even if you don’t like it or if it has nothing to do with the story you are writing, and eventually you will find the words you’re looking for. I did what they said and it really helped. It still took me a while but, with perseverance, I eventually got into my flow and finished the story.

This is just my experience of my first attempt at a short fantasy story, but I have a new found respect for short story writers. As you can tell from this blog, I’m not an expert on writing short stories (or novels for that matter) so feel free to disagree, you probably know more than me so I’d be interested to hear your opinion.

The fantasy novel I mentioned, co-written with David Pilling, is called The Best Weapon and is now available from Musa publishing. The short story is called The Peace of Elias will soon be available on Amazon.

Art and Fantasy Fiction

The drawing below is one I just finished for The Wolf of Burgundy, the first instalment of David Pilling’s excellent historical tale, The Half-Hanged Man, available on Amazon

Fantasy Fiction by Martin Bolton

Cover for The Half-Hanged Man 1: The Wolf of Burgundyavailable on Amazon.

Next to writing Fantasy Fiction, art is my biggest passion. Like writing, it calms me and fills a void within me which would otherwise be a vast, gaping hole. I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, I wouldn’t even call it a hobby, but something which I simply must do or I would cease to be.

I started writing Fantasy Fiction about three years ago, when I met David Pilling at the Tate Library and Archive. The result was The Best Weapon, our first epic fantasy, which is now available from Musa Publishing. I have found that creating pictures in your head goes hand in hand with creating pictures on a piece of paper, so I am never short of inspiration. My writing inspires my art, and vice versa.

Nearly all my work is either ink or pencil. I like working in black and white. I find that dots can create a dream-like feeling and give me the freedom to give something an atmospheric touch. Pencil, however, is probably my favourite medium; the colour of graphite is unique. I love the warmth in a pencil drawing which is non-existent in the starkness of black ink on white paper.

You can see more of my artwork by visiting I have recently added a few new pieces and I’d be interested to hear what you think.