Archive for October, 2010


I’ve started to put my old “Deep Thought” pieces from Death Ray up on the site, I’ve done a handful today. They’re almost like blog posts. You might call it cheating, we in the media call it “repurposing content”. Go and check them out under “Opinion“. Hopefully you’ll find them interesting, there’ll be lots more to come.

I’m now well  into the rewrite of Richards & Klein: Reality 36. Having read a lot of fiction from new authors over the last 10 years or so, I’m beginning to see the mistakes of the neophyte in my own work, not least the inability pen convincing women (there are more, but they’re less apparent in my book, and where they do show up, far easier to fix). What was going to be a fairly minor redecorating job is now going to involve major renovation of one chapter, at least. But the book will be better for it. I plan to write about this, if I get time, in a little more detail later this week.

The other most important thing: bye-bye words.  I’ve got my snippy scissors out, and, by God, they’re flying, word fragments are spinning everywhere. Extraneous clauses, repeated imagery, non-essential description, bollocks dialogue… Whole paragraphs live and die at my say so. Bwahahaha! Already it is starting to read better. “Pace and clarity” as famed SF agent (the literary not the espionage kind)  John Jarrold said to me in the pub recently. Wise words, and that’s what I’m going for.

I got my dog at the weekend. His care is eating into my writing time some, but he’s not proving as much work as I thought. I’ve already started training him and he’s picking stuff up quite quickly. The house, predictably, smells of dog wee. Right now he’s small and cute, but he’s literally growing right before my eyes.

In picking him up I had to awkwardly manoeuvre through a whole new world of dog-collecting etiquette. One party, apprehensive and excited, yet trying to appear calm and collected; the ideal dog owner. The other party, sad yet striving for professional.

I’ll give you one example. We’re calling him Magnus, but the woman has been referring to him as Only, I think (he was the only pup in his litter), thus neither of us referred to him by name so as to avoid appearing too possessive. As he’d been inside, unlike the pups from a more conventional litter who’d been living in the garden kennels,  he was getting close to being her pet. I felt quite the meany for taking him away.

Predictably, he does not give a stuff. He’s a dog.

Hopefully I can be a responsible owner and not raise a monster, because if he turns out bad, he’ll be a real handful (I chant in my brain ’56 kilos, 56 kilos!’)

Here’s a picture.

Magnus. Cute, eh?


Golly gosh

Posted: October 22, 2010 in Random wifflings

Went up to London last night, despite getting the fear from the government’s terrorist alerts. I really should stop reading a the stories from the 7/7 inquest.

I was up there for Victor Gollancz annual publishing bash, the only thing I currently go to like that at the moment. When one does not have a proper media job, the river of glitzy invites runs dry. But I asked to go, so they had to have me.

All the people I’ve been most impressed with in my journalistic career have been authors and publishers, and it was great to catch up with everyone. I took along my brother Tristan as my plus one (a couple of years ago I took Aidan), who had a jolly nice time, even if I did embarrass him by bringing up the time he was sick in front of Ridley Scott’s director of photography after shooting on Defiance, a potentially career damaging moment. Anyway, great to see the likes of Rob, Graham,Jo, Sam, Darren, Jon, Simon, Julie, Dave, Joe etc, plus a few faces new to me, including Chris Wooding, whose book The Fade I heartily recommend. why, I recommend it so much I spent a good few drunken minutes recommending it to him also. That’s the trouble with these things, people keep filling your wine glass up as you talk, with the result that at least 20% of the time when I’m there I spend finding out what I said at the last one off the people I’d been conversing with/ pinned into a corner.

I got home at past midnight, asleep at 1.00am, up at 6.20am, off to swimming with Benny, got kicked in the nuts in the pool. Awesome. Then he spent all day shouting very loudly. Did I mention I drank a lot of wine yesterday? I love kids, me.

This week I finished the first draft of my (hopefully only the first) Black Library novel. That means that I am now working on redrafting Richards & Klein (in the cab back to the station, I was describing the book to Joe Abercrombie, among other folks who live in Bath, “What, it’s not called something like ‘Diamond & Schwarz’ is it?” he chortled. Er, actually…) Cutting and redrafting is my favourite part of the process of writing. I’m fond of tortuous metaphors, one is that writing is a bit like chipping a statue out of a block of stone, only you have to create your own rock first.

The first draft, that’s the stone block, right? Ah, suit yourselves.

Indeed, Mr Joe Abercrombie said to me that very night that he measures success in the rewriting stage by how many words he cuts out, as opposed to the initial stages when it’s how many you write. I agree.

While redrafting the first Richards & Klein book, I’m also running the old scissors over the sample novella I wrote to set the series up. The idea is to get that up here in two parts sometime over the next few months, so keep ’em peeled. It’s practically a short book in itself.

While we’re still on it, at the party I met a nice man called Barry Nugent, who runs an SF site named ‘Geek Syndicate‘, click on the glowy words to visit it, it’s worth a look, I assure you.

Tomorrow is dog day, when I foolishly rewrite the script of my own life for the sake of having a hound. There’ll be pictures and no doubt tedious training information. Tell your dog-loving pals to come to Haley’s Comment, the place for SF, northern whining, malamutes and chutney. It’ll be like Marley and Me but with more spaceships, and probably overall far less lucrative. If that isn’t special interest, I give up.

Now I must sleep.

Bring out your dead

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Yes, yes, protestations to myself aside that I would not allow this blog to be one of those the final entry of which reads “Latest exciting news!” dated March, 2006. I’ve been horribly slack, by a fortnight in fact. Here’s why.

My nanny was off for a week. Full-time Benny care ensued, no work was done. Last week included trips to two additional playgroups (we do swimming lessons every Friday anyway). In every one of these three activities, I was the only man. So much for 21st century shared roles. Lots of fun though, especially a slightly hippy outdoor environmental play down the woods. Very relaxing and worthwhile. (I tease hippies a little, and I shouldn’t. I can claim a great many of their eco beliefs as my own. In some ways, I’m a right-wing hippy, I suppose. Terrifying).

We all had norovirus. Projectile puking agogo! As with last year, I was ill but not as ill as my missus, who is only now recovering. Guess who was left holding the baby while being ill himself? And not figuratively either.

We’re preparing to get our dog. I’ve been sorting out puppy classes and vet visits and a consultation with the Bath Dog Whisperer (seriously). If I am going to get a huge dog, it’s going to have to be well-behaved. I’ve been sweating over images of it bouncing around, flattening visitors and eating sheep. Click here to visit the Dog Whisperer’s website. He’s like Cesar Milan, but from Manchester, not Mexico.

I’ve had a big deadline! Banging away on a novel for someone. The first draft has got to be finished by Monday. Nearly there, I’ve not had as much time as I hoped, partly because of the factors above, but also because my last job overran by a fortnight. Still on target, two chapters to go.

Yeah, they’re all rubbish excuses, but at least I typed them out. To make up for it I’ve been preparing an interview I did with Ursula K Le Guin in 2007 for Death Ray for this site. She’s one of my heroes, and I don’t do heroes ordinarily. It’s a great interview, with lots of extra bits. I’ll be putting it up once I’ve scrounged up some pictures.