Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Mangaquake Do Their Bit For Endangered Species

Just when I was thinking that the good news had dried up for the month, Richmond Clements - editor of Futurequake Press's Mangaquake - got in touch to say that, yes, he'd like to use my script Endangered Weapon P. It's the touching tale of a an insane professor, his kidnapped prospective wife, Nazi dolphins and the titular endangered weapon, who will have to remain a suprise for the moment because I've inadvertently found myself stepping on the black-and-white fuzzy toes of an established property. Richmond has suggested a quick species change for my protagonist, lest we both get sued, and I'm happy to consent. He's also asked that I decompress it a bit and give the story more room to breath. More pages of demented, Nazi-dolphin bashing madness? Yeah, I think I can stretch to that.

While I'm here, a link that I meant to post over the weekend: Mr Howell's title, Why science fiction authors just can't win, says it all - and it needs saying. Genre literature has never been more significiant or influential, sci-fi has never been more prevalent in film and television, and yet a writer like Margaret Atwood can still raise her nose at the very notion of her work being science-fiction and ninety-nine percent of the mainstream literary establish will rush to clap her on the back. Come on, people! To the barricades!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Dancing in the Winter Rooms with Electric Velocipede

As demented as it sounds, that title is a completely fair and accurate summary of my most recent bit of news, which hails from Saturday morning: my story Dancing in the Winter Rooms has been picked up by Hugo award-winning and World Fantasy Award-nominated magazine Electric Velocipede.

On a slight side note, I remember reading one of those 'how to write good' books - I think it was Lisa Tuttle's Writing Fantasy and Science-Fiction - and being utterly horrified by the author's comment that their usual approach was to write a story, and then scrap it entirely and write it all over again. What an unbelievable amount of work! And what would be the point, anyway? Just get it right the first time!

Perhaps needless to say, I haven't adopted the technique. But I did eventually realise that sometimes it really is the only way forward, and it's a method I've since used twice. The recently-accepted-by-Andromeda Spaceways The Painted City was one occasion, and Dancing in the Winter Rooms the other. It began as a weird, almost documentary-like non-story, which broke just about every rule worth breaking - it had no protagonist (or indeed characters of any sort), no real plot, no definite beginning, middle or end.

It took me a while to realise that, of course, but once I did it came down to a choice between binning it and starting again from scratch. In the end I kept almost nothing beyond the core concept: of a millennium ship divided into four regions, each corresponding to an Earth season, and of the nomadic human tribe that wanders endlessly through its corridors.

I'm very pleased with the final result, which does have a story, a protagonist, characters, a beginning, a middle and an end. And I'm even more pleased that it's going to be appearing within the winner of the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Fanzine.

Stockholm Syndrome Pays its Way and Then Some

On Wednesday I received my first royalty payment for The Living Dead anthology, published last year by Night Shade Books - which coincidentally was my first royalty payment full stop. I can't go into exact details, for a number of reasons, but suffice to say it was rather more than I was expecting. I've since had a brief e-chat with editor John Joseph Adams, who let me in on the exact sales figures. Again, I should probably keep them under my hat, and will say simply that The Living Dead has sold amazingly well, and continues to do so.

I'd like to lay all the credit for this at the door of my entry, Stockholm Syndrome - which if you're too cheap to buy the book you can read here or listen to in podcast here - but I guess that some of it has to go to that Stephen King bloke, and all the other great authors assembled therein. But mainly I think the blame for its absurd success lies with Mr Adams, for putting together such an inspired collection and then backing it to the hilt. Congratulations to him, to all the other authors, and to Night Shade, who I suspect will be rather pleased with its performance. Here's hoping it continues to find, entertain and gross out new readers well into the next decade.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Flight Booked With Andromeda Spaceways for The Painted Planet

Man, I'm worn out with coming up with crap names for these blog posts! I think we're up to about Wednesday, by the way, but the news keeps coming in and I can only post so fast.

Note to universe: that wasn't me complaining.

The gloriously titled Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, who published my almost as gloriously titled My Friend Fishfinger by Daisy Age 7 back in August 2007 - and indeed, provided me with both my first print and semi-pro sales - have clasped another one of my stories to their bosom. This one's called The Painted City, and if it's not quite as demented as My Friend Fishfinger was, it's a close thing. It's another one of my longer tales, that I've been struggling to find a good home for, and I'm immensely glad to see it headed ASIM's way. Also, unlike a few of my recent sales, it should actually be out pretty soon, which means December this year. Unless we all plunge into a black hole or something...

Friday, 9 October 2009

Doppelganger Honoured

Still on Monday news! Hey, we should reach the middle of the week by tomorrow...

Sandra Kasturi, poetry editor of Chiaroscuro e-zine, wrote to let me know that my poem Doppelganger, as featured in the July 2008 issue, received an honourable mention for Ellen Datlow's much-respected and practically genre-defining year's best anthology series.

The full list, along with the final acceptances, can be found here.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Other, Other Ten Thousand

Next bit of early October news (we're up to the start of the week now!):

The Other Ten Thousand, a flash fantasy piece originally published in issue 9 of OG's Speculative Fiction, has been picked up by Christopher Jacobsmeyer for his next Lame Goat Press anthology, to be known as Kings of the Realm: A Dragon Anthology.

The title says about as much about it as I could hope to, so I'll just add that it won't be out any time soon - in fact, it hasn't even closed to submissions yet, so if you have any tales of giant reptiles doing interesting things then you might want to consider sending Mr Jacobsmeyer's way. The projected publication date is the first half of next year, and as ever I'll post further news as it comes in.

Variant Frequencies Accept My Survivor Guilt

Lots already happening this month, so much so that I'm going to split it up into a few posts, as and when I have time:

First up, multiple Parsec Award-winning podcasters Variant Frequencies have accepted my post-apocalyptic sci-fi tale Survivor Guilt for adaptation some time next year. Survivor Guilt is another one of my very early stories - so old that the original draft drew heavily on the first Fallout game! - that's been floating around for a long time looking for a comfy doorway to curl up in. That said, the reason I've kept at it is that there were some strong elements worth preserving, and I'd like to think that the trimming of about 3000 words, a change of tense and title and about thirty redrafts have left it tight and polished. I'm very fond of it, it's ideally suited for the podcast medium, and I'm hoping that the kerzillion hours of work I've put into it combined with the efforts of the talented folks at Variant Frequencies will produce something rather special.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

No Rest For Ricasso

I said much earlier in the year that 2009 might prove to be a good year for anthologies, and - though the acceptance I mysteriously alluded to back then disappeared into the ether - it's looking like the prediction was on the money. Editor Robert J Santa has picked up my very long short story No Rest For The Wicked for Ricasso's Press's upcoming heroic fantasy anthology Through Blood and Iron, making four antho sales this year, along with the two from last year yet to come out. That's a good three or four inches of shelf space!

No Rest For The Wicked had as troubled a birth as anything I've written, and has the dubious honour of being my first "fixer upper". It all started with a short story called Gambit, which was almost-but-not-quite me trying to write straight heroic fantasy. It was a decent little tale, but it didn't really wrap up, and - partly for that reason, partly because I'd had fun writing it and partly because I thought its heroes deserved a longer run - I decided to write a sequel. That became How to Get Ahead in Sorcery, and ended up being about three times longer than the story it span off from.

Gambit clocked up a few rejections, which I'd like to think were because of its sense of incompleteness rather than because it completely sucked. I realised, after a while, that I'd left myself with two stories that were pretty much unsaleable on their own, since How to Get Ahead... relied heavily on information in its predecessor. I decided that, rather than resign them both to the "dead" folder, I'd have a go at turning them into what they should have been in the first place, a single story - and so No Rest For The Wicked was spawned. At the time it seemed like an exercise in futility, since stories of almost 10'000 words are a phenomenally hard sell. Thankfully Mr Santa proved me wrong - and paid me the magnificent compliment of a Fritz Leiber comparison in the process.

I mention this in the vague hope that someone may find it interesting, but also because when Through Blood and Iron appears it will probably explain a lot, not least the odd section title headings. No Rest also links into a number of my other published fantasy stories, a fact that I'll probably explore a bit more once it's out for people to read. Which, fingers crossed, shouldn't be too far in the future...