I have been told that I may reveal my latest book sale, so here goes: I have signed a contract with those marvellous men at Solaris to publish Champion of Mars (working title, but I’ll bet it sticks) in May next year.
You can probably guess from the name that the book riffs a little on the ‘Planetary Romances’ popular in the early 20th century, particularly those of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and pastiched so well by Michael Moorcock in his Michael Kane stories. Expect exotic alien landscapes and weird Martian kingdoms, perhaps even the odd princess, don’t expect full-on Flash Gordon antics, with gold lamé and harem outfits ; it’s not that kind of tale, as Champion of Mars owes equal debts of inspiration to William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars
Trilogy, and Liz William’s feminist Mars books.
It’ll be tough to match the writers above, but I’ll do my best. I genuinely love ‘dying Mars’ stories, and I’m very excited to be creating one of my own.
For those of you who are interested in how the whole commissioning process works, here’s a taster from my initial pitch for Champion of Mars, which neatly describes what the book is about. Pitches are usually a couple of sides of A4 long. Everyone does them differently, I am sure, but in mine I talk about what I want to achieve and why I want to write a particular story, as well as giving a two-line marketing soundbite, something you might read on the back of the book, and a more detailed story breakdown. I won’t post the first and last bit , because it spoils the whole story (As it would. That’s the point).
FYI, if the initial pitch is accepted (usually accompanied by a sample), then a detailed chapter breakdown follows. Is this the norm? Depends on the writer, the publisher, their agent and all that, but it’s working for me, so I’ll stick with it.
High adventure of the Burroughs ‘Planetary Romance’ kind married to near future
hard-core SF speculation.
In the far future, a terraformed Mars dies a second time. The Final War is beginning. Disgraced champion Yoechakenon Val Mora and his spirit lover Kaibeli are set free to find the long-missing Librarian of Mars and save mankind.
In the near-future, a scientist running from his past joins the Mars colonisation effort. His actions will have profound consequences that will ripple throughout time.
As you can read, it’s got a flavour of that two time-period trick many Mars books use, but rather than having a gentleman of one era cast into the future or past, mine’s actually set in two connected, but separate, eras on Mars, linked together by a number of self-contained (or are they? Er, no) short stories.
Sounds very far from Richards & Klein, eh? Well, maybe it is, and maybe it isn’t. Watch this space.
To round off, I now definitely feel that I have made it, as I have my own (if incomplete and slightly
inaccurate) entry on the Internet Speculative Fiction Database, and one on Fantastic Fiction‘s eye-wateringly blue reference pages! Go see! Go see now!