Regeneration! Fantasy in the Court! Nine Worlds!

6 August 2015. The day the ®Evolution ended.

Well, not quite. There’s a short story, Discordances, yet to be released; Regeneration won’t be out in North America until next year; and publication in various editions and territories will roll on for a few years yet.

But: Regeneration, the 3rd book in the ®Evolution trilogy, is out in the UK today. 

Four years ago I was about two-thirds done with the manuscript for what would become the first book. I didn’t know that anyone besides a handful of friends would ever read it, and I had no plans for any more. I didn’t have an agent, let alone a publisher. If you had told me in August of 2011 that this is where I’d be in August 2015, I’d have laughed and bought a lottery ticket.

So how am I celebrating? At Fantasy in the Court, which will entail a suitably epic trek across London town, seeing as there’s a Tube strike on. Given the troubled times the ®Evolution chronicles, hiking on a day of industrial dispute from the urban wilds of Hackney through traffic-choked streets into the literary heart of this ancient city seems entirely apt. Then it’s off to Nine Worlds, the annual tribal gathering of writers, readers and fan-folk of all descriptions, where there’ll be a launch at Friday night’s Jo Fletcher Books summer party, and discussions throughout the weekend of utopias and dystopias, representation and exclusion, and what it means to tell stories; what makes them meaningful, how we reflect and transform ourselves in their image, why they may be the most important cultural artefact we create.

The power of story is something I’m thinking about a great deal at the moment. It’s going to be the big theme of the next book. (It’s also a concern of The Future Fire, a magazine of social-political speculative fiction currently celebrating their 10th anniversary – look out for more on them next week.) It has, I realise, become the big theme of my own life.

I know what stories I’m going to write next. But which ones, I wonder, will I be written into? Four years from now, what tale will I tell?

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The week in review

I’ve just about caught up with myself.

If you’ve been keeping an eye on blog posts and tweets you’ll know how much was happening how quickly last week. Over Monday and Tuesday I was interviewed by the Free Word Centre, and on Wednesday by Cheryl Morgan on Ujima Radio, following which I got to go to Foyles and Blackwell’s in Bristol and sign books. Then on to London for publication day on Thursday, at which I got to sign even more books. I’ve already written a post for the Jo Fletcher Books blog about what it feels like to be published; in it I talk about one of the undisputed highlights of the day, seeing a signed copy of Gemsigns in the front window of Forbidden Planet on Shaftesbury Avenue. Hard on its heels came another. As I tweeted the moment a mention popped up on my phone – a recommendation from no less a luminary than the great SF writer Ian McDonald. Exit dewy-eyed author stage left, enter stunned fangirl stage right.

Then on to a meeting with Jo herself, and a review of what’s happening now and what happens next. There was some Very Big News that I cannot share on pain of being shot, but it’s got me properly excited. Celebratory drinks were had with Jo, newly (and deservedly) promoted Assistant Editor Nicola Budd, and my super-agent Ian Drury. Then we went to the Goldsboro Books Fantasy in the Court party and had even more drinks. I’m not blessed with a high alcohol tolerance, and there was a moment when I knew I had to slip out of there, sit down, drink about a gallon of water and have something to eat before things went from the sublime to the queasy.

Then on to Eastercon in Bradford. I was waiting to check in at my hotel on Friday morning when a video interview that I’d given to Anna Bialkowska in York 10 days earlier finally made it out of editing and online. I watched it in the cafe, amazed that I don’t seem to come across as the gibbering idiot I’d felt at the time; tweeted and hastily blogged; and then took myself off to the convention.

My first Eastercon. What can I say? It was great, it was mad, it was exhausting, it was wonderful. I met fantastic people – far too many to list, but they’re on my Twitter feed now and my world feels expanded. My three panels – Debut Authors, The Far Future and Why Is the Future Drawn So White? – were all lively and engaging and went very well (the last, about the exclusion of non-white characters in SFF, went so well it kept going for half an hour in the lobby after we got chucked out of the room). I did a surprisingly effective reading from Gemsigns and sold about three books on the back of it. I signed at the signing and I signed in the Dealer’s Room and I signed at the JFB party on Sunday night and I signed in the hotel restaurant the next morning. I signed until there were no books left. That’s right – Gemsigns sold out at Eastercon.

And then the reviews started coming in. There were two on Monday, and I read them on the train from Bradford to Bristol. Here they are.

Over the Effing Rainbow

And Then I Read A Book

What else is there to say? Not much. This week feels like a miracle. And yet, and yet … in light there is darkness. Rumours began to swirl over the weekend about the health of Iain M. Banks, masterful author of both SF and contemporary fiction (the latter under the clever pseudonym of Iain Banks). I hoped against hope they would prove untrue, but I knew there was little chance of that – the people who knew were people who would know. It’s since been confirmed that Iain is, as he puts it, Very Poorly and unlikely to grace us for much longer. It grieves me more than I can say. He’s one of the writers I’d hoped one day to meet; one of the ones who I count as inspirational, though the far future space opera of the Culture novels may bear little resemblance to the ®Evolution. But it was reading those books, along with works by Richard Morgan and others, that got me thinking about what kind of near-future decisions might lead to those far-future developments. What’s the starting point for a society, in order for it to eventually become the Culture? was one of the questions I asked myself. I wondered what the creator of the Culture might think of my answer. I doubt either of us will ever find out. It makes me sad, and it reminds me that our time is limited. You never know how long you’ve got left to check off all the things on your list, to get the work done.

And so it’s back to Binary for me, and then on to Gillung, and hopefully many more books and launches and wonderful weeks. There’s no time to lose.

UPDATE: MORE REVIEWS

I think I may put up a ‘Reviews’ tab in the menu, but for now I’ll link these here:

Cheryl Morgan’s review of Gemsigns

Gemsigns on Amazon UK

What a difference a year makes

As 2012 counts down its final minutes I find myself reflecting on what an extraordinary year it’s been; not just in terms of Queen and country (Jubilee, Olympics); not just for family (one brother’s film spent the year racking up awards, another launched his debut art exhibition and had a piece selected for the National Biennial, our late mother received a posthumous parenting award from the great and good of my birth nation); but for me personally.

When the year started I was an underemployed freelance consultant who had taken the uncharacteristically irresponsible step of bunking off for most of 2011 to, of all things, write a novel. It was an itch I needed to scratch, an intellectual and artistic exercise, a labour of love. In the hope that someone besides me and a few friends might want to read it, my first task of 2012 was sending it out to agents, in the sure and certain knowledge that interest (if there ever was any) would be long in coming and publication (if it ever happened) wouldn’t happen for a good long while. I popped the packages in the post and told myself sternly to forget about it for now and get back to doing some real, i.e. pay-the-bills, work.

I’m ending 2012 with that novel less than three months away from publication, it’s sequel two-thirds written, and a third book due after that.

I think that when I tell people this was unexpected they think I’m being modest. I’m not. This has been a gobsmackingly, flabbergastingly, never-in-my-wildest-dreams sort of year.

So I want to say thank you – to the first few friends and family who said I wasn’t crazy to skive off and write, and to the wider circle who later read and commented and encouraged; to Rachel Dench who made a particular point of recommending me to Ian Drury, and to Ian for listening to the new girl in the office, reading the manuscript and offering to represent me; to Jo Fletcher for buying not just the book I’d written but two I hadn’t – yet; to Nicola Budd and Lucy Ramsey and the rest of the Quercus/JFB team for all the work they’ve done and will do behind the scenes to polish and package and promote my books and help me learn the things I’ll need to know; to the truly lovely people I’ve met in the SFF community, who are friendly and welcoming and full of lore and wisdom; and finally to everyone I’ve met, or who has stopped by the blog or the Facebook page or the intermittent Twitter feed. Everyone who’s said, ‘Wow, that sounds cool. I’d like to read that.’ You have all made this my best year ever.

  • I love stories.
    My new novel, Sacred, is all about them. Publication info will be posted as soon as I have it.

    In the meantime check out Gemsigns, Binary and Regeneration, available wherever good books are sold.

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  • UK edition

    REGENERATION

    The 3rd Book of the ®Evolution

  • UK edition

    BINARY

    The 2nd Book of the ®Evolution

  • UK Edition

    GEMSIGNS

    The 1st Book of the ®Evolution

  • US Edition

    REGENERATION

    The 3rd Book of the ®Evolution

  • US Edition

    BINARY

    The 2nd Book of the ®Evolution

  • US Edition

    GEMSIGNS

    The 1st Book of the ®Evolution

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