As ever I’ve been pretty lax in posting stuff here. Mostly I’ve been posting on Facebook or Twitter. I could justify this by saying I get more reaction and interaction there, and that more people spend their time on those social media rather than on blogs. Do I need to justify it? Not really. But the real reason I post there is because it’s easier to bang off a short paragraph about what I’m doing and feed it into the modern version of ‘today’s newspaper tomorrow’s chip paper’. I also spend a lot of my internet time using an Ipad, and typing out some long post on that touchscreen, with just a little window in which to see it, I find annoying. Anyway, I hope the recent FB catch-up posts here have served a purpose. But now I’ll have a ramble through the recent past and present, and probably repeat a lot of what you’ve already read in the catch-ups and elsewhere.
The main reason I’m writing here now is to take breaks from going through the copy editing of The Human – third book in the ‘Rise of the Jain’ trilogy (published on April 16th 2019). It’s a boring chore of mostly going through with a mouse to click ‘accept’ or ‘reject’. By this time I’m about sick of a book I’ve written and gone through ad nauseum and only with gritted teeth can manage two or three chapters without trying to think of other ‘essential’ task to do, like make a coffee, or put bee’s wax on a door. The Human brings me up-to-date on my present contract with Macmillan. At some point I’ll have a chat with Bella Pagan at Macmillan about a new contract (and suggest it’s time for a pay rise) but, despite this contract coming to an end, that does not mean I’ve stopped writing.
Since I was again ahead of my contract I turned my attention to writing short stories. One I started using something I’d excised from a previous book, but it grew in the telling and became a book itself titled Jack Four. This is the tale of a clone taken to the King’s Ship to be experimented upon, steadily ramping up into a border incident between the Polity and the prador kingdom. That done to first draft I put it aside and went back to short stories again. I did a few. Skin will appear in an Ian Whates anthology, An Alien on Crete will appear in Asimov’s and a novella called Moral Biology is destined to appear in Analog. I have others besides I’ve either yet to send or have been rejected. The Bosch is a novella that concerns a biotech world in the far future (after the Polity) where the ruler of that world raises the creatures of Hieronymus Bosch in a quest for vengeance. The Host is linked to Moral Biology. While Longevity Averaging is a near future (novella) based on my reading of present day life-extension research – the ‘longevity averaging’ of the title concerns how government works out when you get your pension.
Again, however, while in short story mode, I started something that had legs and kept on running. I have a working title for it of Cacoraptors but suspect I’ll be changing that in due course. This concerns the colonisation of a world just at about the time when the prador/human war starts up. All the lovable elements are there: prador, Jain tech, grotesque and vicious alien creatures (besides the prador, that is), human transformation, Polity double-dealing and lots of smoking wreckage. However, I’m writing this one in a different way. As I wrote what was initially a short story I started putting in ‘retroacts’ to fill in background. This became, to me, as interesting as the ongoing story and I did more and more. Now the book runs with the story in the present at the start of each chapter followed by the background that has led to present events. Generally, as the book goes on, I’m delving further and further into the past with the latter, but I am mixing it up a bit by putting in past events where they are relevant to the present ones. The timeline is all over the place. It’s interesting and tangled, and I hope you find it interesting too. I was a bit unsure about doing this and considered straightening out the timeline, but remembering that one of my top ten favourite books is Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks, I’ll stick with it.
So there you have it – you’re up to date with stuff about my work . . . or rather, you’re not. Something I did three years ago will be seeing the light of day soon. I also have other stuff I have to keep my mouth shut about. And no, before you get excited, no one is making films of any of my books.