The Black Hours
I’d love to start with the good news. But it isn’t that good. It isn’t that bad, let me make that clear now, but it’s not the news every writer wants to hear. After reading through the third draft Pan Macmillan have decided to pass on The Black Hours, mainly for the reasons alluded to in my blog entry last month (see here). I wasn’t surprised, mainly because as soon as it was received there was a hesitancy about where The Black Hours sat in the great scheme of my career. After the readings it was agreed that it couldn’t be marketed as an “MFW Curran” book. It’s quite different to The Secret War, perhaps too different (it’s not a fantasy book) and that pretty much swung the decision not to publish – at least for the time being. The Black Hours is therefore shelved until after the Secret War series is complete and I can think about where I go from there. So yep, I’m gutted, especially as the book might have been published under MNW as a debut novel. But as an “MFW Curran” book, it just doesn’t follow the script.
Having said that, Pan Macmillan are very keen to groom me as fantasy writer – a brand name, so I’m pleased they think so highly of me. Gutted, yeah, but pleased.
We went to Whitby at the weekend. It’s not really news, but a worthy reason to post some lovely photos of Whitby Abbey, the man-o-war “The Grand Turk”, and me taking a turn on the wheel. Other than to take a well-earned break before the baby arrives, the other reason was to seek some Gothic inspiration – after all it is said Dracula landed in Whitby, though I doubt his reason for visiting was for its famous fish and chips. Nor would it be for the truly excellent second hand bookshops, where I spent quite a bit of dosh on deleted out of print copies of Philip Jose Farmer and Michael Moorcock novels.
But for me, the most valuable find was The Grand Turk, a sixth-rated frigate purpose built for the TV series Hornblower. It’s the perfect size and rating for the Iberian, the ship that features heavily in The Secret War and briefly again in The Hoard of Mhorrer, so this was a particularly joy. After the beguiling first moments of walking alongside her, and then boarding the ship to wander the decks, I was struck by the size – or rather how narrow the deck was and sheepishly realised that perhaps the description of the battle aboard the Iberian isn’t that accurate. Still, artistic license aside, if I get a chance to alter the battle in a later edition of The Secret War, I’ll pay the Grand Turk another visit (maybe even hire a few hundred people to act out the battle for me!)
Anyway, it’s quite possible that Matt Curran and the Grand Turk will be reunited in the near future, as after walking the ship I got talking to one of the owners/deck-hands and we started chatting about the various tours and trips the Grand Turk undertakes – with paying passengers. Better still you can book the captain’s cabin for voyages across to the continent, and sail in comfort while experiencing the joys of tall-ship sailing “on a fully armed and operational battle-ship*”.
And the timing is perfect. Well, nearly so. Money permitting, the Grand Turk undertakes voyages from Spring to late Summer, and with the planned commencement of The Fortress of Black Glass in September this would be the perfect spark for inspiration.
*Geeky Note: Try reading this bit in Ian McDiarmid’s Emperor Palpatine voice ala Return of the Jedi
The Fortress of Black Glass
Just a brief bit on this, but the first chapter is taking shape, and after speaking to my editor, we both agree this looks like a stonking start to the third book: It opens in a Danish city that is besieged by pestilence and poverty, and follows a funeral procession to the city’s cathedral. It ends with a devastating battle between two Dar’uka in the cathedral that reverses the opening chapter to The Hoard of Mhorrer. The two Dar’uka, Ishmael and Marresca, fight to the death as the mourners flee in terror, leaving its beleaguered archbishop to confront the victor. It will be gothic, it will be terrifying; it will be explosive and unrelenting.
And it’ll pretty much set the tone and pace for the rest of the novel.
I can’t wait!
Okay. Some not so good news now, and once more I’m a bit gutted ‘cos the timing for this is rubbish. I’ve been invited to attend the panels at Sci-Fi London, discussing everything from dystopias to pandemics in fiction and movies, but it pretty much clashes with fatherhood and I can’t ask the baby to wait to arrive until after the convention, so it looks like I’ll be bowing out.
But in the spirit of optimism, I’ll be a father then, which will be fantastic! I’ve put my name down for next year, so with a little luck you’ll find this bearded writer talking all things bloody and fantastical.
And finally, and briefly, I’m being interviewed for Un:Bound blog, and in a twist it will be a face to face, which hardly ever happens with magazines, let alone blogs. I’ll post a link here once the interview is up and running on the site (hopefully Hagelrat will squeeze some coherence out of my ramblings after several pints at the Devonshire Cat pub!).