Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Boy Who Wept Blood – Events

Being a writer seems to consist of waiting around with nothing much going on and then...

8th January sees the release of the paperback edition of The Boy With The Porcelain Blade. Rest assured I will be safely ensconced in a London boozer raising a glass to Lucien and friends.

Thursday 29th January is the big one. The Boy Who Wept Blood, book two of The Erebus Sequence is released and I’ll be at Waterstones flagship store at Piccadilly. 

My editor, Simon Spanton, will interview me about the books and my experiences being a debut author. I suspect there will be wine. There had better be wine.

You can find event info and ticket booking HERE

Saturday 31st January sees me signing for Forbidden Planet in Southampton. I had a great time at the store last year and am looking forward to returning. 

You can find the event information HERE

Finally, on the Saturday 7th February, I’ll be heading to Waterstones Kingston with Jen Williams, author of The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost, and co-founder of SRFC. We'll be signing and discussing of our books and Fantasy in general.

All in all it’s going to be a manic few weeks and I look forward to seeing you all, signing lots of books and enjoying a drink or two.

Something I should have mentioned back in October: I was delighted to be included on a series of audio short stories presented by Pseudopod.

It’s a strange little Halloween story that I wrote in two sittings. I hope you enjoy it. There’s also a ton of talented authors on the same podcast, so check them out.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Experiments and Secret Projects

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Some of you might know (out of the seven people who drop in here) that I was made redundant from my old bookselling job just as I signed the deal with Gollancz for The Erebus Sequence. I managed to blag myself two months copy writing work to keep the wolf from the door before I received my signature advance. I took a long hard look at my bank account and said, ‘I’m going to give myself permission to be a full time writer. Just for  while.’ 

It was an experiment really, both in terms of keeping the momentum going and if could I survive between advances. It’s far too early in my career to think about royalties, before you ask. I’m still paying off the advances.

Alas, as the leaves turn and a chill wind gusts through London’s dirty streets the experiment has ended. I had about fifteen months. I wrote books two and three of The Erebus Sequence. Book two’s publishing date has been brought forward a month to 29th January 2015. Book three will still see the light of day in 2016 as far as I know.

I also managed to write two short stories set in Landfall, one of which has found a home, though I can’t tell you where yet. I’ve also been lucky enough to have stories accepted by NewCon Press, Fox Spirit and Snow Books. That probably sounds like some ferocious momentum but I have to confess to losing my way after the string of events that took place in London this summer. Doubts crept in: I wasn’t sure what I was writing next, I wasn’t sure if it would sell, do grown adults really stay in their pajamas until noon? Is it reasonable to eat pizza more than once a week? Serious questions, I’m sure you can agree.

Why am I telling you this? you may ask. Generally the posts on this blog about being a writer and the industry itself are by far the most popular. I could write a post about Destiny but Joe Abercrombie did it (and did it better), I may yet write about how good Ancillary Justice is but for now I am rambling about Being A Writer. I heard George RR Martin speak this summer with Robin Hobb and he notably said ‘Writing isn’t a career for anyone who enjoys security.’ (I may be paraphrasing him badly. You get the jist). 

The reason I’m writing this post is to illustrate, as if you needed telling, that creative careers are often a leap into the unknown. My three book leap has ended for the time being. Writing will once again take place in the interstices of real life: scribbled notes on buses, ideas for names in lunch breaks, quiet nights in writing new scenes and losing at online Scrabble against my mum. Important Writerly Stuff. Being forced to claw creative time out of a day packed with the mundane is a good incentive. It’s a way to cultivate discipline; don’t wait for the right mood, just write, because this is all the time you have.

If this sounds downbeat then fear not. New Secret Project is growing all the time. I’d forgotten how strange it is creating a new world from scratch,but it is coming. I’m looking forward to introducing you to a new cast of no-nonsense characters and lonely, windswept locales. I’m looking forward to telling stories of Empire and unreliable histories, of oppression and rebellion. 

I’m looking forward.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Going Through the (Pro)motions

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Many reams have been used up writing about the various conventions this summer, but it was only as I sat at the BFS awards banquet that I felt inspired to write a post. Peter Newman, who will see his debut novel, The Vagrant released next year mentioned that he’d sat in on a panel I took part in. I had placed a copy of The Boy with the Porcelain Blade in front of me, face out to the audience. It’s something I’d heard American authors do, and I’d seen Django Wexler displaying his novel while moderating at LonCon.

It’s not something we really do at UK conventions, and Peter suggested we need to invite authors to do more of this. I suspect there’s a feeling of embarrassment about promoting one’s own work among us Brits that is absent in the majority of US writers. ‘Making art is all well and good, but marketing? Now, that’s just uncalled for,’ seems to be the unspoken rule.

Panels are rare times when an author has an audience staring at them for an hour or more. This is weird enough without factoring in that said author is required to say interesting things. Just about every other platform in the world would have a commercial break – television, cinema, radio, Spotify, YouTube, Facebook and so on. Why not panels? A book with a good cover is an advert all by itself. It doesn’t make you wait thirty seconds before seeing the video you selected. A book does not blare out music you don’t care for. A book won’t repeat and repeat and repeat. A book will simply stand on the table and provide shy authors with something to hide behind. And maybe, just maybe, it will pique the audience’s interest enough to buy a copy.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Peace Sells but Who's Buying?

There is nothing more unremarkable about London than waiting at a bus stop. These pauses in the quotidian coming and going are just dead time, shored up by whatever plays on the headphones. Not so this morning. It was not the bus I wanted, nor was it a bus that would be of service to anyone. An old Routemaster had been converted into a moving billboard by the simple application of huge transfers to both sides. The fact the company had chosen the Routemaster was no mistake, it was once the very symbol of a young, post-war London, way back in the 60s. And what better figure, so artfully displayed in black and white, than an elderly Ringo Star holding up the peace sign. 

A 60s icon on a 60s icon. 

The bus was advertising clothes and the designer has pledged a single dollar for each photo or video tweeted that features their hash tag, #peacerocks. A single dollar doesn’t seem all that much when compared to the asymmetrical biker jacket that sells for a cool $2,198.00. Still, a single dollar to a good cause (Ringo Star’s Peace and Love Fund) is better than no dollar at all, and this Twitter campaign will rack up some serious milage while advertising Slim Fit Button Down Shirt ($268.00) and Fleetwood Multi-Prong Boot ($898.00).

I remember scores of women who campaigned on Greenham Common at the start of the 80s. Women who protested against the USA basing cruise missiles in the UK. This, just like Ringo on the Routemaster, was no mistake. Women who had been confined to the kitchen and the home for so long were out and protesting for the sake of future generations. Mothers protecting their children. By coincidence, the Routemaster was being phased out around this time, along with the hope and optimism of the 60s and 70s, presumably.

I wonder what those veterans of Greenham Common would make of GQ magazine recognising Tony Blair for philanthropy? I wonder if they might have had their own hastag, or that they be subjected to endless vitriol from trolls and misogynists for daring to have a voice. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine the Greenham Common protesters might have listened (and still listen) to the Beatles. I wonder what they make of Ringo Star having to cosy up to an overpriced designer in order to raise money for his foundation? I wonder where the people who just wanted peace and love for the sake of not killing or oppressing people went?

Friday, 29 August 2014

That Crazy Summer

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the blog. Early August was a tide of events, kicking off with Nine Worlds, followed by Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books, then Gollancz Fest at Waterstones Piccadilly. And then the daddy of them all, WorldCon, or LonCon3 as it was also known. It seems conventions are incapable of having a single point of branding.

As a debut author I was keen to get out there and meet the public, hope I won them over in some way, and that they would buy the book. There was always a feeling I wasn’t doing enough, not appearing on enough panels, not rubbing shoulders with the right people. I spent eighth months writing The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, spent another two weeks polishing it before submission to my agent. Then another two weeks refining it for submission to Gollancz. Then there were copy edits and proof reading. And that is relatively quick for a novel in my experience. My prevailing thought was Well I spent all this time on it, it would be a shame if no one read it.

Fortunately people are reading it. Gollancz sold out of copies at WorldCon, which made me feel good. Amazon has steadily tallied up reviews (but feel free to add your own, every little helps and authors live and die by their ‘stars’ in the digital age). Friends send me pictures by text when they see it in shops, which is a fantastic feeling. Waterstones particularly not only stock it but recommend it in a handful of stores, which I’m profoundly grateful for. If I appear blithely ignorant of ‘how it’s going’ then it’s because I am. I don’t look at my own sales figures, that way lies madness I think. There are plenty of things to obsess on in life and sales figures could well unravel my tiny mind. My job should be writing, not fretting, after all.

High points of the summer were moderating the Epic Fantasy panel with Elizabeth Bear, Gaie Sebold, Rebecca Levine and Scott Lynch, who were all amazing. I’ve never moderated before and I’m grateful to the Nine World books track organisers for asking me.

Fantasy in the Court was the most charming boozy street party full of interesting people. I was even asked to sign a couple of copies of Porcelain. Thanks to everyone at Goldsboro Books for all their hard work.

As biased as it sounds, the Gollancz team kicked much ass with their event at Waterstones Piccadilly. It’s quite a thing to be interviewed (along with my fellow debut authors) by Gillian Redfearn, just moments after Sarah Pinborough has interviewed Joe Hill. Forgive me if I sound starstruck.

And finally I’ll sign off by telling you the third draft of book three of The Erebus Sequence. is complete. Thanks to my test readers Matt Lyons and Matt Rowan. Now I send the manuscript to my agent for quality control. Let’s hope she likes it.