Friday, September 29, 2006
We ended Saturday night at the bar. Dave Budd and I found ourselves a place to perch and chat while the missus retired to our room, and we drank (or rather I did, while Dave tried his best not to explode on too much cola) and spoke about politics, of all things. Dave works for the news arm of the BBC and it’s great to get Auntie’s view on current affairs, it gives it a different perspective that may yet find itself into my writing, especially Smith. It was also a chance to indulge on the much missed debates on literature and film we had during our university years.
Oddly, the bar was pretty quiet until 11pm, and then it was like the flood-gates had burst, a torrent of fan-con-thusiasts streaming out from the lifts opposite the bar and the door to the conference rooms. Where they all came from, god knows; perhaps they’d hatched from some dank subterranean room deep below the Britannia Hotel, or perhaps the alarm clocks on the inside of their coffins were an hour or so late? Or perhaps Dave and I had missed some meeting we were meant to attend? It’s probably the latter, buy hey-ho…
Anyway, amongst those to swarm in was Conor Corderoy, author of Dark Rain. We had a long chat about his experiences under Macmillan New Writing, debating the whole agent thing, rights and royalties until getting onto the subject of writing itself. Conor spoke of the prequel to Dark Rain, a book that I rather enjoyed, and I eagerly listened to how that would pan out. We then chatted about my follow up to The Secret War and the problems I’ve encountered, before discussing when I should write Smith. I guess the advice given was that sometimes writing a follow-up to the first book (if there is one) should be timed closely to the original, rather than deviating to another genre (which Smith does). For the last few weeks I have been toying with writing Smith before completing The Burning Sands of Time (to give me a fresh perspective) but like a pendulum I’ve swung back to the latter. I think once The Secret Waris published I’ll get a better feel for it’s sequel – there is a lot of work to be done on the 2nd draft and I don’t wish to progress The Burning Sands of Time with my eyes closed.
Overall, it was a undoubtedly a constructive discussion that lasted until 1am; I guess I could have continued chatting until dawn, but Conor looked shattered having risen at 4am to make the journey to Nottingham that very day.
Ah, the things writers do for their art!
A Red-letter moment
Which brings me nicely to a red-letter moment: my very first autographs. On the Sunday we got chatting to two guys, Liam and his mate (apologies for forgetting his name!), and I mentioned I was being published next year – Sarah dashing to the promo table to ferret out a few of promotional cards for The Secret War. They were very interested in the book and asked me to sign the backs of the promotional cards! This was pretty cool, until I realised my moniker is pretty rubbish. My signature is basically a spidery tangling of peaks and troughs with a river running under it, so having signed them – feeling a little pleased with myself – I decided a new “book-signing” signature was in order.
So I spent an hour or so after the Con coming up with something that didn’t look like a drunk arachnid had wondered onto the page. It’s an improvement, believe me…
After feeling a little shell-shocked by the whole experience, writing these last four blog entries has made me realise how much I’ve taken away from the Fantasy Con. I’m not just talking about the debate on the perils of genre-labelling (a good closing speech by Clive Barker), nor the perils of trying to compare UK and US fantasy and horror writing; not even the perils inherent in the lure of the silver screen, or what Stephen King called “the glass teat”. No, those discussions have been informative as they would have been on the written page, or on a late night TV debate.
I’m talking about the tangible feeling of being with like-minded people, where the magic does come true in the collective imaginations that surround you. Where you discuss the fundamentals of writing, i.e. where you are going, while reflecting on where you’ve come from. For it is the personal stuff that gets under your skin, not the politics of fantasy versus horror, or who should lead a writing-society. These are but distractions from the positives.
And while it was all overwhelming, that inspiration remains; and like the ancient refusing to die, I’m hanging onto that feeling until next year, when this pandemonium of treasures begins again…
Hopefully, I’ll see some of you there.
Lessons learnt from the Fantast Con last weekend
1)Make sure your budget for the weekend is realistic. And then take more money on top of that.
2)It’s not always a good thing to get a room in the same hotel as the convention. And hotel food isn’t always that good!
3)Be mentally prepared when going to a writers’ convention.
5)Actually, read a helluva lot more.
6)End your writing for the day mid-sentence.
7)Get involved with other writing groups who are likeminded.
8)And just keep writing. The most important point of all. And I didn’t learn this from the convention either. I’ve always known it. The moment you procrastinate – the moment you put off your writing – is the moment it ceases to be a joy and is now a millstone. Don’t let it be.
Like the saying goes: “use it, or lose it.”
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Re-discovering the magic
My editor has told me to get some sleep. Good advice, but harder to put into practice. You see, for the past three nights my imagination has gone into over-drive, and the results are some pretty weird, lucid dreams like being an extra in the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. At times it feels like I haven’t slept at all.
But oddly comforting, and I’ll tell you why…
In the last blog entry I mentioned that I had lost something since graduating from university – notably the environment to discuss pertinent subjects on existence and fantastical worlds. But there was another thing that I lost, which has come back to me in waves, and that’s the feeling of being surrounded by my own imagination and other inspiration, that’s like having this warm bubble of magic envelope you with bright and wondrous experiences. I guess in a very real sense I can describe the feeling as thus:
When I was about sixteen years old, during those early Autumnal weekends, I used to sit by the patio window in my parent’s house. The garden stretched out before me on the other side of the glass, still green, but a patchwork of browns, reds and golds, from the fallen leaves of the ash trees at the back of the lawn. The sun would blaze (low-lying) into the room, and it was warm enough to sit with just a t-shirt and jeans in the dazzling light, with the smell of my mum’s potpourri kissing the air, while U2 or 10CC played on in the background. It was in this spot, sitting with my back against the wall, a few inches from the cold touch of the glass in the morning (it warmed up by the afternoon) that I would read book after book after book. Indeed, I used to sit for hours with a small pile of books on one side of me, a few magazines (usually FEAR), a glass of juice (with one ice-cube only – two would dilute it too much) and a note-pad and pen just in case inspiration struck straight as an arrow, driving me to scribble down some ideas.
Around me the world existed only as a bright warm glare, the gentle and slow corruption of nature by the seasons just out of reach, and the very safe worlds spilling from the prose on the page, sweeping me away into other places…
And that’s what it feels like – inspirational tranquillity and comfort, like nothing really mattered outside that magical bubble, because inside it I was creating epic worlds of the fantastic.
Due to the pounding banality of the day-job, I haven’t felt that way in years, until now. And I have no doubt this is down to the Fantasy Con last weekend. Something rubbed off on me, possibly the strange and the powerful, but probably the inspirational. And yeah, like when I was sixteen, my sleep is breaking up like toffee being hit by a hammer. And yeah, restless nights are a pain, but that “magic” is an old friend that I won’t wish away too quickly, I can tell you.
Reading and more reading
I knew it would come back to this, the whole business of reading. When I confessed a while back I didn’t read as much as I knew I should, for me it was a big confession, kinda like a professional footballer saying he doesn’t watch enough football. My reading deficiencies came to the fore at the Fantasy Con last weekend after buying enough books to last me a year or more, realising that I used to go through twice as many books as I do now. Those I spoke to at the Con read through shelves of books in a year, reeling off names and titles I plan to read but have no idea when. The reasons for this low output of reading on my part are minor, but many, and to be honest a lot of them are self-imposed.
So after coming back from the Fantasy Con, with the riches stacked up in my Writer’s News bag, I made a firm commitment to read a lot more. So far so good, as I plough through American Gods (which I’m enjoying immensely) and I have other books stacked up in the wings. I guess the lesson I’m learning here, is that you make time for the important things in life…
A pause for sanity
From the hectic and surreal pace of the Fantasy Con, I did find a natural pause on the Saturday night – to meet friends from Nottingham for a bite to eat and a chat. It was good for a couple of reasons – one it was cooler than the Con (which was a little warm at times), and secondly the friends were nothing to do with writing, and so you could talk about the mundane as well as the ego-stroking writing successes etc that were swallowed up so quickly beneath the heavy-weights attending the Con.
And there was also a chance to talk about non-fantasy writing stuff. Smith - my near future thriller - is very much in my thoughts right now, and I outlined the whole plot to my Nottingham pals and they took to it very well. As it turns out, the conversation might lead to a great piece of research for the book i.e. riding along with the local inner-city police as an observer. How cool is that? All I can say, is that Sarah looked at me with raised eyebrows, noting my excitement at being told that I would wear a flak jacket and luminous greens while on patrol. It all needs to be set up, and there is a chance it could be “shot down” before I get to experience it – but it’s something I’m really looking forward to – (the threat of mortal injury outside of that)!
Following the meal, I trekked back to the Con feeling a little clearer and calmer, and then promptly decided to spend the next couple of hours drinking and chatting with Dave Budd and Conor Corderoy (more of that in the next blog entry!).
And now for another pause … Yes there are many of these, and yes I’ve gone back on the promise to update the original blog entry to having separate entries, but there’s so much to get through and sometimes it’s a little tiring to read a blog entry that scrolls forever!
Monday, September 25, 2006
Okay, so let’s start with Friday. Firstly I got some really good news about the book-launch. The planned launch will no longer be in a pub somewhere in Sheffield, but now at Waterstones in town (arguably the biggest bookshop in South Yorkshire). Apart from saving quite a bit of cash, it’s also the perfect venue for my inauguration into the ranks of the published, and I am really looking forward to it. The bad news is that numbers are limited. Instead of having room for 200 guests (which while I could have achieved, I would have struggled slightly if anyone bowed out at the last moment), I am now down to only 100 guests maximum, so will have to cherry-pick and cut the guest-list in half.
I’ve tried doing this already, and boy is it hard!
So anyway, Friday had started off well. So let’s get down to the real purpose of the weekend…
I’ve been to a couple of conventions before - around Fantastic films, and a comic book convention, all when I was a teenager. So Fantasy Con is my first convention in, oh, twelve years or more. So I arrived in jeans, a shirt and a smile to discover that it really was like going back to my youth, where the vast majority of guests wore black, the blokes sported long-hair, and t-shirts with “New Model Army” plastered all over the front and back.
It was that mixture of both nostalgia and reflection that struck me first. You see I stuck out like a sore whatssit, while perhaps 12 years ago, I would have just merged seamlessly into the general melee of guests. I felt as though I had been away for far too long – into the mainstream world I guess. Will I ever go back to looking that way? I don’t have the hair for it (indeed it appears to be shrinking rather than growing) and the days of me marching into a record-shop to buy the blackest t-shirt stencilled with either Sisters of Mercy or New Model Army, are behind me – I remember those days with fondness, but it’s a corner I have since turned.
So I have to deal with that. And hey there were other people dressed as conservatively as I.
The other expectation that was quickly confounded was the idea of the convention being something that fans would gravitate towards. After-all, my experiences of conventions had been just that – for the fanboys or fangirls, that breed of enthusiastic people who would easily queue up for an hour for a writer’s signature, or even just a handshake. I know, I was one.
But Fantasy Con is not like that all. Indeed, if you were to look at the ratio of writers and publishers to fans and part-time fans, I guess it would be about 2 or 3 to 1 in the writers and publishers favour. In other words, this was beyond my experience of conventions – this was more a gathering of some of the most talented and brilliant minds of fantastical fiction that has been assembled in years. There were guests of honour sure – Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Raymond E. Feist, Neil Gaiman and Juliet E. McKenna, yet this does the whole thing an injustice in terms of the talent on show. I mean the following were simply there as guests!: Simon Clark, Pete Crowther, Mark Morris, Chaz Brenchley, Storm Constantine, Stephen Gallagher… I could go on and on and on. And if you don’t know many of the above, search their names on Amazon, and check out their books.
Needless to say, my intention was to march boldly into the Con and promote my book to anyone who would listen, yet in the end, the whole thing was really intimidating and just a little overwhelming, kinda like being the novice trying to mix with the masters. It was a sweet and bitter experience, so before I go into it further, please let me pause for breath. It might be a long pause for, oh, 24 hours or so, but I’ll be back…
...And breathe out.
Blowing one’s budget
It’s always a good idea to have a budget when you’re going to one of these things. After all, you are expected to eat, drink and buy a few books at conventions. And even when you’re presented with a goodie bag at the beginning with quite a few books lovingly pressed into your sweaty palms, there are enough stalls to entice you to buy, buy, BUY! And I blew my budget in spectacular fashion, partly due to the hotel itself (which was a tad expensive) but mostly due to the buying of many, many books. Especially from the indie presses. And that leads me to my next revelation…
Small vs Big
As I mentioned above, I was here to do a little self-promotion for the book. Yeah, it’s a little early, but then is it really too early to promote yourself? Well, I guess not, but I think preparation is key. And I must confess I wasn’t as well prepared as I should have been.
For a start, I was armed with order forms and a stack of promotional cards which I thought enough to get me noticed. But the indie press, (aka small press) had produced book-marks, high-quality catalogues, flyers, sample books… a weight of promotional material that literally drowned the likes of Harpercollins, Hodder Headline and the other “big press” publishers in a sea of the dazzling and spectacular. I realised on the Friday afternoon that if any material I had with me was spotted amongst the mountains of flyers spilling over onto each other, then I would be lucky – hell it would even be miraculous.
After chatting to a few of the indie press bods, like Chris Teague (Pendragon Press) and the guy on the TTA desk (my apologies for forgetting his name!) I quickly realised these conventions are where the indie press do the bulk of their selling. They put everything into it, and it’s not just the promotional stuff either – there were boxes and boxes of books, piled high, stacked under tables and probably hidden away in any orifice the Britannia Hotel had to offer. It was an impressive presence – and almost an embarrassment of riches as the indie press were publishing house-hold names in British Fantasy and Horror. Writers who I grew up with, who I read about in magazines like FEAR, that I thought had disappeared off the radar, but now found a home in the independent stables. My wallet was actually trembling at the sight of this, I can tell you.
The Masters in the flesh. And out of it.
Whenever anyone chats around the dinner table or at the pub about great living writers of the fantastic, it’s very unusual that any of the following are not mentioned: Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Raymond E. Feist. Yet here they were, all three together, and I for one would listen to what they said.
Each of these “big-hitters” had a one hour slot – a public interview followed by questions from the audience, and that’s not including the panels they attended during the con. Being a convention that was aimed at the writer and not strictly the fans, the interviews were less about anorak stuff, but more on the writing process – how did it start, where did it start, and where is it going? From great writers like these, it is this stuff that’s invaluable to new writers like myself.
For example, I learnt that the best way to keep the writing flowing when creating in shifts (very pertinent to me, as I am a spare-time writer!) is to finish the “shift” mid-sentence rather than the end of a chapter or subsection. I guess it’s like getting on a roller-coaster where you know the ride has to stop at some point before the end. Instead of taking a break at a natural pause i.e. when you are slowing down or gradually climbing up a steep piece of track, you actually halt at the point where you’re staring down the longest drop imaginable with a mixture of terror and exhilaration. You then later hop back on at that point, not having to slowly build up to that fear and momentum again, but instead flinging yourself back into the drama with almost sheer recklessness. It’s a trick that seems so simple, and to some reading this probably not a great secret, but it’s one I missed until this weekend. And having since tried it, yes I can report, it actually works.
At the other end of the writing spectrum, they talked about the soul of story-telling: the stuff of inspiration, the psychology of writing and the philosophy of the imagination. Listening to these guys and the debates that ranged across the panels, I realised my error that I have been largely writing in a vacuum over the last few years.
During my university years there were plenty of people debating their own existence, or new worlds, or the limits of the Imagination. They were the stock arguments of the pubs, clubs, and smoke filled dingy student lodgings. But that environment has long since departed, and all that is left are echoes of those discussions, growing fainter each year. It’s not like these questions cease to be a pertinent topic of conversation with me, rather they aren’t a topic of conversation in my current social circle, Dave Budd the exception (but he’s living in London – so it’s not like I can just walk down the road for a chat!). And this weekend revealed to me that I am the poorer for it. I surround myself with books and films, and paintings etc, but they are void compared to the most basic of communications, ie a good chat or debate.
Listening to these writers talk about stuff they probably spend their lives discussing over dinner parties, at conventions, in the foyer of their publisher, and probably in their sleep, it was another revelation – a spiritual kick in the head so to speak - that perhaps I had to get back into that environment before I lose it completely and become part of the banal landscape around my day to day life…
(AND NOW FOR ANOTHER PAUSE FOR BREATH…)
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
But even I was sucked in by the recent show, “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” And why not? It’s one of those reality shows where a nobody with a large amount of hidden talent is plucked from obscurity and given a chance at superstardom. It wasn’t because they were pretty (though they were) or could get their kit off, or could act like idiots and were pretty facile and vacant (Big Brother take note), but because they really did have talent. The quality of their singing alone was impressive and their acting on the whole would have been enough to get them through a few directors’ doors. No, these were not potential Z-list celebrities, but talented artists.
But the other reason I was hooked, was that I felt a certain empathy with them. After all, the winner was a girl who worked in telesales, a life-sucking job if ever there was. Now stardom on the stage beckons; it’s quite a turnaround and should give many out there – not just singers or actors/actresses – some hope that you can make it. For me, I was (and at the moment still am) working in a job I find quite mundane and while not life-sucking, I find it quite depressing that I never look forward to going to the day-job, yet I look forward to lunch-breaks when I write, and then evenings when I can go home.
And for a while that was all there was. My hopes and dreams of being published were as faint as the stars in a murky Sheffield sky.
That was until the writing equivalent of “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” began on Channel 4 in autumn 2004. I guess Richard and Judy’s writing competition is the closest thing to a reality TV writing competition there has been. Backed and ran by Macmillan Publishers, the competition received 46,000 entries – probably the same number of entries say X-factor gets, or Pop Idol, at the audition stage – and this was whittled down to 1 winner, and 4 runners up.
I entered the competition, and that is why I’m being published. Not because I was the winner. I wasn’t. Nor was I a runner up either. But from the rest of the huge volume of submissions, Macmillan discovered another dozen or so manuscripts they thought were high quality, and fit the criteria of their New Writing initiative. Of those dozen or so manuscripts I believe around half a dozen were taken on to be published, and I was one of those. Not bad for someone who was languishing in obscurity, and had resigned themselves about a year before to not being published, ever.
So, it got me thinking. After all, some of the singers on “...like Maria?” did not get through to the final, yet they are still winners. Just as there were only one winner and four runners-up published in the R&J 2004 competition, (but there were other published winners too through the MNW thing) I expect most of the “Maria?” singers will be performing at the West End or Broadway or some grand place over the next few years. You see sometimes those headline winners are not the only ones to find success.
And competitions on this scale breed talent...
So if a writing competition can attract 46,000 entries - with a good percentage being “high quality” - why not have another televised writing competition? Why not pluck more writers from obscurity? After all, in an industry that now freely admits they are struggling to discover new talent, how do you solve a problem like finding a new writer?
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Well now we come down to it. There's just over three months to go until the 5th Jan 2007, and publishing d-day...
So as there’s been a little more traffic on this site than usual, and some newcomers too, I guess it’s a good time to talk about The Secret War… So what is it? Well, the blurb below explains:
For thousands of years a secret war has been fought between Heaven and Hell. Daemons and angels, vampyres and knights, clash for the future of mankind, and as the two sides wage war across the world, innocent people are caught up in the conflict – men like Captain William Saxon and Lieutenant Kieran Harte, two friends who have recently survived the horrors of the Battle of Waterloo.
But now they face a greater struggle, against the daemonic forces of Count Ordrane, and the clandestine ambitions of the Vatican. They must try to survive assassination attempts, political machinations, epic battles on land and sea, and above all the power of a mysterious bronze pyramid – the Scarimadean – that brings everlasting damnation to all who come into contact with it.
Their only allies are an old man, a fading secret organisation in the Church, and an enigmatic warrior, who may hold the key not only to the friends’ fates, but to the fate of all mankind . . .
The year is 1815, when angels and daemons walked our
streets . . .
The Secret War is published by Macmillan New Writing, part of the Macmillan Publishing Group, available to buy in the UK 5th January 2007.
You can pre-order a copy from pretty much anywhere now, but below are number of links I've plucked from the web:
Macmillan New Writing
So who should like this book? Well, anyone who likes their action-adventures like Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, or Pirates of the Caribbean or Indiana Joneses. It should also appeal to anyone who likes their fantasy stories epic, emotional and at times gotesque - afterall there is horror in The Secret War too.
And so far so good in terms of those who've read the pre-proofed final drafts of The Secret War. I've had the thumbs up from a reader who doesn't usually like this sort of thing, and dare I say it, the book has made a couple of readers weepy at the very end - a first for me.
I can't wait until the reading-public get their hands on it!
It also appears that Napoleonic fantasy is becoming a big thing now, what with Peter Jackson optioning Naomi Novik’s Teramerie books for another epic series of films. The Secret War (as set in 1815) was conceived around six years ago in its current incarnation, and I think my timing has been a good. In my opinion, the 19th century has not been “pillaged” enough as a backdrop for fantasy or horror.
Yet 2007, may well be the year that all changes…
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Order Forms of the Conventional Kind
Those kind people at Macmillan, or rather Will my editor and Sophie his assistant, have armed me with some Secret War order forms to take to the Nottingham Convention on the 22nd. If anyone attending the Fantasy-Con at the end of the month is reading this, I'll see you there (and no, I won't rope you in on order-form duty either. Promise.)
Timing isn’t always great, especially when like buses, things come at once. Due to work commitments I missed out on going to the Scott Matthews gig in Sheffield last Wednesday. It might be a wild stab in the dark, but did anyone reading this go? Scott is a pretty talented geezer, and his album Passing Stranger is damn fine by the way. Hopefully I’ll catch a gig in the near future as he travels the length and breadth of the UK…
To paraphrase Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, “Good news everyone”, the website is almost done. Mel – my great gal-graphic designer – is putting the finishing touches on the site as you read this, and this Thursday I get a progress meeting to see how it’s all going. I’ve submitted the words so it’s now just a couple of weeks before the site goes live. I’ll do a comprehensive blog entry on what to expect from the site in a week or so.
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Lucy McCarraher’s launch do at Goldsboro Books last Thursday went really well. Congratulations to Lucy by the way… You can find a link to her blog on the left, and of course find out what Blood and Water is all about by clicking on The Secret War icon on the left and navigating to the Macmillan New Writing homepage.
For me, Thursday was a success for more than one reason.
Firstly it was a chance to catch up with my editor, Will, and publishing assistant Sophie. It’s only the second time we’ve met up, the first being on the imprint’s launch last April, so yeah it’s been a while as I’m not a Londoner and can’t just drop in for a chat when I feel like it! We had a great business lunch, the sort you have when you spend more time talking than eating. I guess for me, it’s having the face-to-face with your editor to get all the issues and assurances out in the open.
As a writer who dreams of being able to write full-time at some point, my imagination was foolishly hoping the words “next year Matt, you’ll be a millionaire!” would crop up, but like any grounded businessman, Will was cautious about successes, keeping my focus on promotion work and writing the follow-up, which is a good thing. We spoke of The Burning Sands… as well my plans for a third book. We spoke of A World of Night and other little projects I had, and throughout Will and Sophie were really enthusiastic and encouraging. Afterwards, I had that keen feeling of progression.
In terms of valuable lessons to those reading this blog, one point to note was the promotion side of things. MNW were on the ball. Sophie had provided a two-sheet bullet-plan that detailed the strategy of The Secret War’s promotion, down to where review copies will be sent, where news items will be alerted, as well public events etc. Not bad for an imprint that many people believe will do nothing to publicise their book once MNW publish it. After-all, they are trying to make money as well remember, and if they think promotion will do it some good, they’ll encourage it believe me…
Also, Will gave some good advice around signings. In my naivety, I suggested I would like signings here, there, and everywhere. Will counselled caution to booking so many and in vague areas of the country: “be selective,” was the advice. After-all, I guess there’s nothing worse than attending your own signings where the queue consists of maybe one or two people for the entire afternoon. Do that, say a dozen times, and watch your confidence get battered utterly.
Yeah, I’d say the meeting was pretty good. It shattered some myths for my own benefit, and gave me assurances on other matters.
And then the evening launch-do itself was a great affair. Goldsboro Books is a great bookshop with a fine atmosphere. The link left will guide you to it – a bookshop that deals in the main with first editions (signed usually) by great authors from your Welshs to your Rowlings, and I admit I was quite tempted (as most of us where –including my mate Dave) to come out with not just a copy of Lucy’s book, but about a hundred quid’s worth of other first editions!
What made the evening for me, was meeting up with the other writers again. Roger Morris was in attendance and on great form. As was Michael Stephen Fuchs, Jonathan Drapes (whom MNW publish in December with Never Admit to Beige), Cate Sweeney (who I didn’t actually chat to, but hopefully will around Christmas) and of course Lucy who was suffering from wedding-day syndrome – i.e. where the evening is all a bit of a daze and you seem to spend the entire time talking to dozens of different people, not sure what the time is and never getting the opportunity just to relax and let it soak in. I hope she had a great experience though, even with all the overwhelming attention. Mike Barnard and his wife, Jayne, also attended, and while again I didn’t get a chance to chat much to Mike, it was good to see him. Mike is Macmillan New Writing’s patriarch even in his absence, and having him at the launch is like having the blessing of the head of the “family”.
And that’s the key point about all this. It does feel like being part of a family – albeit a distant one that meets up times a year. The other writers are so friendly and so eager to impart advice, I guess because we hold a similar position: new writers, embarking on an interesting, exciting and – hopefully - successful career doing what we love…
PS: Apologies for the odd formatting of this entry - Blogger is playing silly buggers today!
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
The children’s book, A World of Night, went down a storm by the way. So much so, that if it does get published, I’ll dedicate it to my goddaughter, Isabella, who by the way is in the photo to the right. Kinda makes you broody.
Not mine, actually, but Lucy McCarraher’s. Her book, Blood and Water (see link left) comes out this week and I’m going to London for the launch-do at Goldsboro books. I guess it’s another chance to catch up with the Macmillan New Writers like Roger etc. Also, a chance to have a natter to Will Atkins (my editor) about the promotion of this book. At the end of the month I’ll be dabbling with a little promotion work at the British Fantasy Society Convention in Nottingham too, and I’m sure I’ll squeeze in a chat or two (with no doubt a few pints) with Chris T, Dave B and Conor Cordoroy (fellow MNWriter of ace book, Dark Rain).
Anyway, this is a fleeting entry, typed swiftly to say hello to you all, and thanks for your patience on the weekly blog entries. Life can get busy and complicated as you all probably know, and sometimes you feel you are running about with your head on fire. I guess things will quieten down over the next few weeks.
But then again, they might not.
Does anyone have a fire extinguisher going spare?