Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Prince Thief, You're Done

There we go, another book finished - he says, as if it's something that happens every other week and not the culmination of six of the most intense months writing I've ever managed.  And come to think of it, "finished" is a grandiose word for completing a first draft, when there's still four months of second draft and two months of third draft and probably a fair bit of tidying and proofreading and copyediting to deal with, not to mention thanks, dedications, all that stuff.

So - let's start again.  That's the first draft of Prince Thief, closing chapter of the Tales of Damasco trilogy, finished.  I won't lie, it's been a tough ride writing over 110'000 words around apparently random twelve hour day and night shifts, house renovation and all the other random horror and marvellousness that life insists on throwing at you.  I won't even lie and say but hey, it was all worth it, because that kind of statement takes the sort of perspective I don't have right at this minute.

But then, that's what September is for.  One whole month with no novel writing; one whole month to let Prince Thief sit, let it settle, figure out what needs to be done. I think at this stage that it's mostly just smoothing a great deal of rough edges and making sure that all the plot strands - of which, in stark contrast to Giant Thief, there are quite a few! - get their due time and tie up properly.  Yeah, to my absolute suprise I've gone and written something that's at least a little bit complicated, and so this redraft is going to be quite different from the two I've done before.  But that's a good thing, right?  I'm glad that Crown Thief is a very different book to Giant Thief, that Prince Thief is different again to either of them; I wouldn't have had it any other way.

In the meantime, while I may not be jumping up and done and necking champagne right now, at least there's a deal of satisfaction with what I've somehow managed to accomplish.  Back when I started thinking about the possibility of Giant Thief swelling into a trilogy - back even before that, when I drew close to finishing it and to wondering where the characters would go from there, whether they'd ever get what they wanted, whether Damasco could ever be anything more than a selfish, cowardly asshat - I had some clear ideas of what I'd want out of a conclusion. And I feel like that's the book I've written ... or something that's hopefully a bit better, because I'd like to think I'm a better writer than I was way back then.  I mean, in its own right, I feel like Prince Thief is a fun book, with much higher stakes that the first two, a more epic scale, a bigger cast, and perhaps a little bit of something to say for itself.

Okay, forget what I said earlier.  It's already feels a little bit worth it.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Whatever You Do, Don't Do the Twist

My story A Twist Too Far is out in Andromeda Spaceways issue 56 ... which just so happens to be their special, extra big 10 year anniversary issue.  10 years!  That's a loooong time for a magazine, especially in these wacky economic climes.  So paper hats off to the ASIM collective, who've pulled off something extraordinary and deserve all the spaceship cake they can eat.

A Twist Too Far is my third story to grace the pages of Australia's finest genre magazine.  It's a little bit Lovecraftian, a little bit Conan Doyle, and maybe there's a drop of The Prestige in there too, come to think of it ... what with it being about competing contortionists and all.  Why aren't there more horror stories about contortionists?  Contortionists are scary.  I mean, not as scary as gnomes, but not so far off.  They bend their bodies into shapes that human bodies aren't supposed to bend into, for fun and profit.  How is that not ideal fodder for a horror story?  And yet I've never come across another one. So, who knows, maybe I've written the definitive contortionist horror story.  Hey, stranger things have happened, and it certainly creeps the hell out of me.

And also some other people, hopefully, since A Twist Too Far has made it onto the reading list for the HWA's Stoker awards.  Sure would be nice to get nominated for a Stoker!  In the meantime, I'm taking comfort from the fact that not only have I somehow managed to get longlisted, two anthologies I have stories in - Dark Tales of Lost Civilisations and Slices of Flesh, both from Dark Moon Books - are on there too.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

The Dinocorp Needs You

Bob Molesworth gets a fair bit of mention on this blog, mainly because he's the artist of our comic book series Endangered Weapon B, but also because he's a tremendous artist full stop and it amuses me to go on about how good he is.  We've been electronically hanging out a lot recently, we have a couple of exciting things close to fruition and a couple more on the backburner, and so it only seems right that I should give a quick plug to Bob and writers Steve Horvath and Andy Briggs's recent publication, Dinocorps.

Here's the blurbage:

Entombed for millennia, a team of combat dinosaurs is accidentally reanimated by 14-year-old Carl Heyward. While trying to keep them a secret, Carl discovers the evil Saurons have survived too. Responsible for the last mass extinction event, they’re planning to eradicate the human mammalian vermin with another extinction event. The race is on to save the planet… again. World shaking action-adventure in this all-ages story!

You heard that, right?  Combat dinosaurs!  That means, dinosaurs with guns kicking ass.  Everyone loves dinosaurs, right?  I know I do.  Although granted, not as much as when I was twelve, which I think is probably the perfect target age for Dinocorps.  When I was twelve, I would have thought it was about the coolest thing imaginable.  I would probably also have been a little troubled, in ways I couldn't quite put my finger on, by the slinky lady dinosaur, Lieutenant Kayla.  Boy, I'm sure glad that stuff like that doesn't bother me anymore.

 Anyway, I obviously picked up Dinocorps for Bob's artwork and not for slinky dinosaur ladies.  One of the fun things about working with artists is getting to watch them evolve, and Bob's done a whole lot of evolving since we first came across each other.  He really does get better and better with every project he does, and it's a joy to watch. Plus, it means that the work he's doing right now on Endangered Weapon - and our other, secret mini-project - is his absolute best yet.  Which, from my point of view, is pretty great news.

So if you have a twelve year old to hand, or - like me - a significant portion of your brain that frequently forgets it isn't a twelve year old, why not give Dinocorps a go?   It's a lovely-looking comic book about dinosaurs with guns kicking the crap out of each other.  If you can find a single thing not to like there, you're probably a pod person.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Auditory Self-Indulgence

I just finished listening to my first ever audiobook.  Well, unless you count the bonkers seventies BBC radio adaptation of The Hobbit I won at a British Fantasy Society event years ago, but I think that was more in the way of a dramatic interpretation.  I mean, it had sound effects and a cast and painfully long musical interludes and everything.  So let's just say for the purposes of argument that this one was my first audiobook.

By non-too-massive coincidence, it was in fact my first audibook.

Which is to say, it was Brilliance Audio's interpretation of Giant Thief, as directed by Lisa Cahn and as read by the mighty and award-winning James Langton. This wasn't quite the act of vanity or self-indulgence it might seem, (although it's probably fair to say that there was a little bit of both kicking about!)  With the first draft of Prince Thief coming to a close and taking the whole damn Tales of Damasco trilogy along with it, I thought I was overdue a revisit of Giant Thief, to try and weed out any niggling continuity errors and pick up any last plot threads I might have left dangling.  It may only have been released six months ago, I may only have put the final touches to it late last year, but what with finishing a sequel and drafting a second sequel in the meantime, that all seems a very long time ago, and I was shocked to realise I was getting a little hazy on the details.

So it was research, right?  That's okay.  The fact that I'd been itching to listen it ever since I heard that Giant Thief would be out in audiobook had nothing to do with anything.  There's nothing at all weird about wanting to listen to a complete stranger read out your own book to you. Ideally in bed, while you're drinking wine and eating mango sorbet.

Anyway, as it turned out, such luxuries weren't to be.  But despite only finding time to listen to it while on the tube and wandering the mean streets of London, I have finally managed to get to the end of the Giant Thief in audio.  And it was fun!  James Langton does a great job of breathing life into the text, making the jokes funnier and the action bits more actiony and the characters more textured than I think they ever read on the page.  Although he sounds nothing like the Easie Damasco in my head, James crafts his own version of the character that's every bit as good.  And the same goes for the rest of the cast: his Moaradrid is both more thuggish and more wily than mine; his Estrada is a little softer and a little more likeable, but downright scary when she needs to be.

Which, I guess, was the point for me.  I remember saying in a guest post a while back that once your book's published, it sort of stops being yours.  More than with most creative types, writers are shut out of the process of other people actually experiencing and interpreting our work.  Maybe that suits some people, but personally I like to peek over the reader's shoulder whenever I get the chance - and I really like it when talented people take something I've done and make it into something better and different that I don't entirely recognise.

So cheers to Brilliance for giving me the chance to listen to Lisa Cahn and James Langton's Giant Thief.  It made a lot of my recent journeys a whole heck of a lot more fun.