Fantasy Con Looms Ever Closer

I cant wait for Fcon. I really cant. Just the book launch schedule already has me all of a flutter. On the Friday afternoon at 5pm I get 1/40th of the glory of Full Fathom Forty being launched. Then on Saturday at 10 my publisher, Proxima, launches not just the imprint, but two of their hottest authors, and then at 11 Sam Stone lainches her 4th book int he vampire gene trilogy. All, I believe, in the Bar Rogue. Who needs the rest of the program? :)


Cool Animation

My editor at Proxima seems to have been spending his vacation time scourinfg the net for cool animations and imagery. He found one by Fragomatix that looks a lot like how I imagined Aphrodite would look, and an amazing short cartoon by a guy called Jonathan Harris that sort of fits in with another Proxima book coming out this year, 'Hikikomori'. Go take a look here on Proxima's website


And away I go. I have 22 typed pages of backstory, background material, story outlines, and a dozen reference web pages.

It's time to start writing. Under:The Novel is officially started.

Now what would be really nice is if someone decides they like the short and publishes it, and then you can all get a hint of what the novel will be like. I like to have my cake and eat it :)


Kids dont read books, sez BBC

How was that for a newspaper style headline. Not so good, I know.

I just saw a disturbing report on the BBC's website. This is the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14621621

Apparently, less than 50% of children (8-17) read at least one novel a month. Superficially, I suppose, this makes for a good 'shock/horror' headline in the best tradition of British media.

But when you dig down into the article, you pull out little snippets like "just under half said they enjoyed reading a lot". This sort of thing - deliberately misrepresenting statistics to bolster an otherwise 'meh' headline - really annoys me. Its up there with 'taking [insert benign medication] doubles risk of [insert horrible disease]'. No real information, just the sensationalism.

I take some comfort for this report. Half of kids still like to read. That's a good thing. Boys read more comics and girls read more books and magazines. Also not unsurprising.

The only thing that does make me raise my eyebrows is the news that ebooks come bottom of the list for 8-17 year old readers. I would have expected a bigger pickup in the tech. After all, even girls like smartphones and laptops.

So I think I'm happy to go with glass slightly less than half full on this one.


Making work for myself

Why did I decide to write speculative fiction? Crime thrillers would be so much less effort, or romance, even. At least they are based in the real world.
But maybe that's why. I'm sitting here with thirty sheets of handwritten notes covering everything from the rules of magic to what people eat, from who is best at doing what, through to maps of important areas that exist nowhere except in my head. And I haven't even started on the plot yet!
Every time I start a new story, short or novel, I have to build a world. Usually from scratch. All of us writers of speculative fiction do, to one extent or another. Maybe that's why there are so many massive trilogies, or stories set in a common milieu, like The Culture.
And I guess that's part of the fun. Its also a huge source of frustration, when you find you cant do something because earlier in the universe you decreed magic worked a different way. Do you stick to the rules, or bend them? All up to you. How much do you want to rewrite.
Still, this universe has the scope to host several stories. Doesn't make me any more or less careful with it, and doesn't change how much detail I put in, but it make me think a little farther ahead.
Should be able to get to the plot by the weekend. Can't wait. The Under is such a rich universe, the options are going to be endless :)


Full Fathom Forty

You have to love the cover art for this antho. So pleased to be appearing in it



I'd almost forgotten how nice it is to be in that creative space where you are discovering where your next story is going to take you. Now that I've done as much as I can (for now) for the story I started in January (one written under my other, secret identity), its time to start scoping out the next project, and it looks like an unexpected front runner has made itself known already.

I had three possibles that had been kicking around since the new year; two were already more developed (a sequel to 'Aphrodite's Dawn' and a straight-ish fantasy tale) but its the runt of the litter that has suddenly taken off. After all, its a little over-confident to write a sequel for something you don't know if people will like :)

Plots and backstory and characters are all crowding around and jostling to be noted down. All I will say for now is that it is going be something of a Steampunk/Urban Fantasy cross.


New YA Fantasy and SF Podcast

Cast of Wonders is a new podcast specifically for younger readers of Sci-Fi and Fantasy fiction. I've subscribed, listened to the first two stories, and I'm impressed. Great stories and good production.
Cast of Wonders comes from the same stable as Cast Macabre, and other of my regular subs, also with a great selection of stories. Both are worth looking at 
I commented on the Cast of Wonders forum about this week's story, "The Unicorn Tree" by Alethea Kontis. I am not a great contributor to forums usually, but this really impressed me and I felt I had to tell them so.
Definitely worth a visit