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

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Gemsigns on the radio: podcast and other larks

I had a great time on Ujima Radio in Bristol yesterday. Cheryl Morgan invited me on to the Talking Books segment of the Women’s Outlook show to discuss Gemsigns. I haven’t yet been able to listen to the show, but I think it went well. Cheryl is a very good interviewer, and after a nervous first couple of minutes I relaxed into it. You can listen here, and tell me what you think in comments.

Then we went to Foyles and Blackwell’s, and I signed books, and a lovely lady who was looking for something to read got very excited and shook my hand, because I was the first real live author she’d met. Which made me feel like a real live author. We had coffee in a wonderfully eclectic cafe / vintage clothing store / performance space called the Birdcage, and I was taken on a walking tour of Bristol, which is a far more hip and cool and happening city than I had realised. Many thanks again to Cheryl, who is gracious and kind, and endlessly helpful.

Then on to London, where it feels like I am making a slow start this morning, though that can’t be true: I’ve been awake for ages. It’s publication day! I’m signing more books at Forbidden Planet later this morning, as well as at Jo Fletcher Books HQ. And it’s a Thursday so that means free books. Watch out for the next post …

All over Eastercon

This time next weekend I’ll be at the Cedar Court Hotel in Bradford, halfway through my first Eastercon; in its 64th incarnation this year and therefore dubbed EightSquaredCon. I’ve been sent my schedule, and am flattered to find myself on the programme more times than may be entirely seemly. (Of course I’m going to share it anyway.) Let me know in comments if you’re going to be there, and if you are please do say hello!

Friday 29th March, 6pm – Debut Authors Panel

New authors talk about starting out: how to get published, and what happens when you do.

Saturday 30th March, 1pm – The Far Future

Let’s not waste time: we should get on with solving the problems facing us in five or ten billion years (crashing galaxies, red giant Sun, possible gamma bursts …). If we make it that far, what will our civilisation have grown into? Will we be ready when the stars go out? Fran Dowd moderates Stephen Baxter, Stephanie Saulter, Ian Watson and Walter Jon Williams.

Saturday 30th March, 5pm – Author Readings – Gareth Powell and Stephanie Saulter

Gareth and I read from our latest work. Mine is likely to feature a hungry, headachey (super) heroine; his a foul-mouthed monkey fighter pilot. (Which makes our books sound far more similar than they are …)

Saturday 30th March, 7pm – Genre Get-Together – Science Fiction

Meet and chat to authors, and get your books signed!

Sunday 31st March, 11am – Why is the Future Drawn so White?

When the protagonist of Justine Larbalastier’s Liar was whitewashed in the cover art, both the author and the internet were outraged and the cover was eventually changed. Yet characters of colour are still all too often absent or elided. How can we work to challenge this and why does it happen? Caroline Hooton moderates Dev Agarwal, Aliette de Bodard, CE Murphy, Tajinder Singh Hayer and Stephanie Saulter.

Sunday 31st March, 7pm – Jo Fletcher Books/Quercus Party

Join the editors and authors of Jo Fletcher Books and Quercus for a drink and a chat. This year sees debut novels from Stephanie Saulter (Gemsigns), Naomi Foyle (Seoul Survivors), and David Towsey (Your Brother’s Blood). Come along to meet the writers and learn more about them and their books.

(And remember: no need to wait a whole week for a mega science fiction fix. I’m still giving away one of the best SF novels of the year to whoever comes up with the coolest alternate universe. Short – even tweetable – answers are perfectly acceptable.)

  • 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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