Well, it’s that time again when everyone emerges blinking into the sunlight and heads off to Fantasycon for a weekend of fandom, alcohol and (if we’re lucky) a bit of debauchery. This year, Fantasycon has decamped from Nottingham and headed to Brighton on the South Coast.
If I had one criticism of Fantasycon, it would be that it’s always a little horror centric. That’s mainly due to the large number of horror writers and readers who attend, but I’m really glad to see that this year, there’s an abundance of fantasy guests: Gwyneth Jones, Joe Abercrombie and Christopher Paolini.
With my move to digital comics and the new DC 52, I’ve been thinking a lot about Batman lately. I’ve always been a Spider-man person myself – I’ve always enjoyed Peter Parker’s little quips – but the new 52 has confirmed that when it comes to DC, it’s the darkness of Batman that really pushes my buttons.
And because of the way my writerly brain is wired (rather than holding any secret ambition of writing a Batman comic) I’ve spent some time thinking how I would write Batman.
I’ve written a a number of novels. There was that Fantasy space opera I started writing when I was 16 and got some 90,000 words in. Then the NANOWRIMO experiment that turned out the foundations for a pretty good novel (really should get back to that some time). Plus tens of other writing projects and experiments. But this book, The Thieving King, second in a series I’ve yet to sell… well, it’s the second novel I’ve started with a view to actually selling.
And in approaching it, I’m coming to learn a bit about my own process.
I’ve never played a pen and paper RPG. When I announced this on twitter last week, it shocked a few people. How could someone who is such a fantasy geek as me miss out on AD&D?
The answer came when I popped round to my parents and discussed this with my mother.
“Oh, we stopped you having those things,” she told me. “We saw a news report that said it was some sort of cult and people were going mad. So we decided to keep you away from it.”
So the novel has been “done” and I’m in that state of post-novel ennui thinking about what I should do next. Should I start on the second book in the series or write something totally different.
On one hand, if the book does get picked up, I’ll have about a year to get book 2 done. No more being able to take my time, it’s into a world of deadlines. On the other hand, if the novel doesn’t get picked up, what use is book 2?
I’ve pretty much embraced the digital revolution. I moved to MP3 back when you marvelled at devices’ 512Mb storage. And I was an early ebook adopter, back when Fictionwise would let you buy ebooks from the UK without any regional restrictions.
However, I’ve been slow to move to digital comics. It’s not the concept that I have an issue with, it’s a case of storage. I don’t mind paying for content – I like my content to be legally acquired. But with that comes a condition. If I migrate from one device to another as formats and devices change and become obsolete, I want to be able to take my content with me. If that means having to crack a DRM so my mobipocket books can go onto my kindle, then so be it. I don’t mind going through a little bit of pain to do it, so long as I can IF it becomes necessary.
Last night I remembered when the release of the movie Blade worried me because the titular character was a half-vampire and I had one in my book. That was something like 13 years ago and since then the novel has evolved and grown into The Four Realms.
The thing is, throughout that evolution I’ve been very aware that I want to be original. I made the mistake for a long while of staying away from new fantasy novels for fear they might influence me and by the time I came back, my book felt so far removed from anything anyone else was doing it was both exciting and scary.
But needless to say, I’ve constantly strived to be original. That’s hard when you have a lot of Fantasy archetypal fantasy races, but then part of the fun was trying to subvert them in new and different ways. Where other authors went left, I turned right.
The end result, after a lot of hard work, is something I love, and more importantly something I think other people will love as well. But now my focus has to turn to marketing the book.
There’s the old adage that art is never finished, only abandoned. But, for me, I think it’s more a case of “art is continually finished, until it is abandoned”.
Flash back to last year when I completed the novel draft. It was incredibly exciting. A novel I’d been working on, trying to shape in terms of structure and voice finally came together, and was there on the page. In essence, it was finished.
Except it wasn’t. I then had to go over it, rewriting bits, editing others. I gave it to alpha readers and that resulted in more changes. Then it went for professional assessment and yet more changes were required.
It’s those changes that were finished Friday, meaning that the novel is now ready to send to agents. It’s certainly finished in that sense, but if an agent does pick it up, there’s a good chance further edits will be required. If a publisher then picks it up, there will be another couple of rounds of smaller edits. There will be more and more occasions of the novel being ‘finished’.
I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge. Actually it’s just a cheap cava, but it’s as good as. It’s sitting there waiting for the novel to be finished. Yet each time, I reach another milestone, I think of future occurrences of the novel being ‘finished’ and decide to hold off until the next time I finish it.
Over at the SciFiNow Blog they are running a series of posts by Star Wars fans recounting their first encounter with the franchise. It’s all connected with their latest issue and with the upcoming release of the movies on Blu-ray later this month. I’ve been a huge Star Wars fan for years so I was delighted to be able to contribute to this.
You can read my post about how I never got to see the movie in 1977 here. Enjoy!
It’s been a pretty crappy summer this year. There’s lots I could write about it, but some of it is ongoing, and as they say, “there’s probably a book in it”. Possibly several.
On the positive side, things are slowly resolving themselves. Writing and editing are getting back to normal and I’m keen to make up for lost time once they are. These things come along to try us, and try us they have. Only thing you can do is to try and stay positive and soldier on.