Is It Spring Yet?


Thanks to a wonky jet stream it’s been a long, long winter in the Northern Hemisphere this year. Finally — finally! — it looks like the ice is beginning to retreat, at least in this corner of Old Blighty. Similarly, my own writing has been proceeding at a glacial pace these past couple of months. Hopefully the thaw will reach down into my brain and unfreeze the muse locked inside.

“The Bargain” accepted by DSF

Learned today that my short flash story “The Bargain” has been accepted by Daily Science Fiction. This is my fourth acceptance at DSF, and will be my sixth story to appear there in total (if you count Three Kisses as three separate stories). It also means that I already know I will (very probably) have at least six stories published in 2013 — and February’s not even ended! Not quite believing it all yet…I keep looking up, waiting for a piano to drop on my head and restore the karmic balance…

More details about “The Bargain” closer to its publication.

“Magic Creatures From Celtic Mists” Cover Reveal

Today sees the cover reveal for the anthology “Magic Creatures From Celtic Mists”, out from Artema Press in April, and containing my short story “The Unforgiven Dead”. More details about the story closer to its publication, but kudos to editor and artist Jeanne Haskin for the cover design.


Almost The End

Coming close to the end of 2012, and also to the end of the 13th b’ak’tun. Whatever that is. According to some, it’s time we all made sure our arrangements were in order. Real Soon. Hmmm. We shall see.

So far this year I’ve written eleven new stories, ranging from 350 words to 10K. Two were published and I already know at least two more will appear next year (assuming Q The Winged Serpent doesn’t scoff us all in the next couple of days). So, progress, I guess, building on last year’s first story sale.

It’s becoming very clear to me just how much I still have to learn, the areas I need to work on, the fact there is no end to the process of improvement…in many ways I find this really exciting. But, oh. If only I had just a little more time…


The Next Big Thing

Last week I was tagged for the “Next Big Thing” meme by Ilan Lerman and Georgina Bruce. Both are hugely talented writers, and if I could reverse tag them I would. The idea of “The Next Big Thing” is to answer ten standard questions and then tag more writers in turn, who answer the same questions on their blogs a week after, etc.

So here are the questions, and my answers:

1) What is the working title of your next book/short story/project?

It’s a novel. The current working title is “Heptatheon”.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It’s basically a continuation, a sequel to my first novel. I know there’s a lot of sensible advice out there saying you shouldn’t write a sequel to your first novel unless it has proven successful, but I just couldn’t resist returning to see how the story and characters developed. The setting — a constructed world — is designed to be a writer’s playground, so it’s difficult for me to stay away from it too long.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

Science fiction, definitely. Although the reader probably wouldn’t be able to distinguish it from epic fantasy in most cases.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

The protagonist, Urek, by Jake Gyllenhaal. Hudomek, his reluctant sidekick, by some unholy genespliced hybrid of Yul Brynner and James Gandolfini. In the first novel the villain would have been played by Tom Cruise, but in this one, I think I’ve got Ed Norton in mind. Their co-stars would be Meryl Streep, Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johanssen. Yes, it would be an expensive film to produce.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is the most difficult question to answer, especially as I’ve only just begun serious work on the WIP. Still, it’s always good to have a vague idea of what you’re trying to achieve.

Uh, how about this line for Voiceover Man:

“The fate of the world will be decided at the heart of the Heptatheon, where our hero will choose whether humanity or the gods triumph.”

Gosh, nobody has written about that before.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I honestly don’t know.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The last novel took just over four years. I’d like to think this one will take much less, but real life is pretty busy with a young family and a very full time job. I’ve really only just started it, so there’s a long way to go yet.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

…The good ones?

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

The original story was inspired by a tree that towers outside my work office. I imagined someone climbing up it, trying to escape from an imminent threat. What were they escaping from? And what were they escaping to? Urek’s story all stems from that.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

The first novel was essentially about the narrator coming to terms with the fact he wasn’t as human as he hoped, a journey of self-discovery. In “Heptatheon” the journey continues, but with the stakes and scale cranked up. Thematically, I’m attempting to touch upon the corrupting effects of power; plot-wise there will be intrigue, betrayal, struggle against impossible odds, giant monsters, massed battles and who knows what else. Although I know the ending (more or less), I’m a complete pantser at heart, so anything could happen on the way and probably will.

It will be interesting to read this post again in a few years time and see how the result matches up with my original intentions and expectations.

Now to hand on the baton.

To Erin Stocks a writer, musician, and graduate of the 2011 Clarion Writer’s Workshop. Her fiction can be found in the anthology Anywhere but Earth by Coeur de Lion, Flash Fiction Online, the Hadley Rille anthology Destination: Future, The Colored Lens, and Polluto Magazine.

And to Cécile Cristofari, an aspiring young writer who has so far had a couple of articles published by Strange Horizons and who I’m sure has a bright future ahead of her.

I can’t wait to see what their answers will be.



March already!

I’ve been meaning to update the blog for a few weeks now, but I’ve been putting it off, convinced that some new announcement is imminent: another story sale, an award short-listing, critical acclaim…but, alas, none of these things have come to pass. No, hold on — Diabolical Plots did honour “Amy’s First” with a “Recommended” rating, so one out of an ambitious three ain’t bad.

It’s been an unusually productive few months on the short story front so far this year. I’ve completed two flash pieces and three longer stories ranging between 4K and 8K words. Amazing, considering what Real Life and Day Jobbery have thrown at me. On the flip-side, progress with the second draft of the novel has been…erratic. Still managed to get 44% or so through it, but the major rehaul I’d envisaged has turned into more of a polishing exercise. Maybe that’s a good sign…