This Writing Life

I went to Fantasycon by the Sea, which was in Scarborough at the end of September. I’d never been to the town before – it’s delightful. We stayed at the Grand Hotel, a slightly faded Victorian gem with wonderful views of the bay and harbour. Although the weather forecast was cloudy with some rain, we had a very sunny weekend. We met up with a lot of old friends and found some new ones. I was particularly glad to see Irene Soldatos and Harriet Goodchild, who I’ve known since the old Authonomy days but had never met before in the flesh. They were there promoting their books, Irene’s Bad Bishop, and Harriet’s The Crooked Path, which had only just come out.

I went to some panels, the Elizabeth Bear and Frances Hardinge interviews, and even did a reading from Dead Men. As usual, the reading venue was tucked well away from most of the con, and I only got an audience of eight. We did sell a few books over the weekend, so that was a bonus.

I’m trying to do more readings. Like most authors I suspect, I’m not a natural performer and I find it hard to read my stuff out loud in public. I used to hate reading around the class at school (we even had to do it in French once!) and I was usually several chapters ahead, and so had to stumble back to the right place when my turn came, but these are my stories, so I ought to be able to tell them. A friend has organised a monthly reading evening in a local pub – it’s called Fiction Fix. Here’s a link to a report on her website from the first one, with incriminating photos! I’ve done two readings there so far, and although the venue isn’t ideal and I struggle with using a microphone, it’s good practice. I found that the Anna and Zenni books are difficult to read from, due to the telepathic conversations that make much more sense on the page. Last time I read from The Third Worst Thing That Can Happen On Mars, and I found Vonnie’s voice was much easier to do.

The next date is November 6th, so if you’re near Peterborough, drop into the Draper’s Arms at about 8 pm. I plan to read something from my unpublished space opera, Warbird, which is waiting for a cover and will probably appear next year.

In other news, The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone is due to come out in print and e-book from Pro Se Press soon. I’m waiting for the galleys and to see the cover. I’ll post updates here.

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Full Set of Great Reviews!

The BFS has now reviewed all four of my self-published books. The latest review, for my short story collection, The Dragon, Fly, is here. Thanks, Stewart, and I’m so glad you liked them.

My Mars story should be out very soon – the issue of Pro Se Presents it will appear in is due this month. I don’t have a date on their re-issue of To Die A Stranger yet – as soon as I know, I’ll pass on the news.

It’s my Mum’s birthday today – she would have been 87. She died on the day the world ended, September 10th 2008, which was the day they switched on the LHC at CERN. Happy Birthday, Mum – I still miss you.

Just a Reminder

All four of my books will be free to celebrate the Fantasycon weekend, for five days from 28th September to 2nd October. Choose from – or grab all of –

No Earthly Shore, (US link) an SF novella about first contact with invertebrate aliens, with a side-order of synaesthesia, marine biology and patchwork patterns.

The Spook & the Spirit in the Stone, (US link) an SF/detective novella about  a kidnapped child, a spy who can read minds and teleport, a ghostly guardian and the two police detectives who have to untangle the mess.

The Dragon, Fly, (US link) a collection of SF and fantasy short fiction.

To Die A Stranger, (US link) an SF novel about an actress who almost dies in a crash, becomes a spy with psionic powers by mistake and has to run for her life, pursued by the intelligence organisation who runs such agents.

I shall be in Brighton, trying to avoid the rain, looking forward to eating at some nice restaurants and talking to all the interesting folks there.

Another Great Review

Just been blessed with another good review from the British Fantasy Society for Spook/Spirit/Stone.

These stories have lived for so long on my hard-drive, hidden and read by only a few. It’s strange and scary to let them out into the wild, to declare them a finished version that I can’t tinker with from time to time. It’s great that people like them and it’s really interesting to get different viewpoints on them. I’d never thought of Jerome as gruff, but that’s one of the weird tricks of fiction, that things that the author didn’t intend or plan sneak into the narrative.

There are some more Afton and Jerome stories – three short ones and two unfinished novellas. They’ll all appear on Kindle eventually, but I’m making no promises over when or how soon. As for a novel, I’m not sure I’m clever enough to write a full-length crime story, especially in first-person present tense, which these insisted they had to be in. I’d always thought of them as fragments of the detectives’ lives, each just long enough to suit the plot idea.

The Spook and the Spirit in the Stone is available from Amazon UK, Amazon US and also in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. It’s priced at 77p/99 cents at the moment, so a real bargain.