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The big NEW DEAL blog

So the secret’s finally out. If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll know I recently finished and delivered a book. You’ll possibly have realised it’s a time-travel story, and if you’ve really been paying attention you’ll have guessed it’s called Timebomb. It’s the first of a three-book deal I signed with Hodder & Stoughton. In March! I’ve been keeping this secret for MONTHS! It’s been driving me nuts! It’s a good job I’m teetotal these days, otherwise I would certainly have gone out for a quiet drink one Friday and ended up telling THE ENTIRE WORLD! Yes, this is a four-exclamation-mark kind of day. So how did it happen? At the end of last year I worked three books into pitches – that is the first ten thousand words and a synopsis. One was an alternate history war-story for adults, one was a fantasy mash-up which would probably have ended up YA, and the third was a YA time-travel romp called Timebomb. I decided I was going to spend the year writing one of them, and picked the war story. I was chugging along nicely when Anne Perry dropped me an email. I’ve known Anne for a while. She and her husband run the Pornokitsch website. I call them the ‘The Pornos’. This does not amuse them nearly as much as it amuses me. They were generous enough to shortlist my last book, Children’s Crusade for the 2010 Kitschies. The winner was Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. I’m not bitter (but what on earth happened to her, eh?) The Pornos also co-edit amazing short story collections...

Coming soon…

So the first draft of the next book is done! It currently clocks in at 91,437 words, which makes it longer than any of my Afterblight books. But as it goes through my editing process, then my agent’s, then my editor’s, that number will change many times. It’s been the most difficult book that I’ve written, and has gone through the most revisions during the writing process – I wrote one chapter four times until I had it right, which is something I never did during the Abaddon years. Why so difficult? Well, unlike my School’s  Out trilogy, the first two of which were written to be stand-alones that could spawn a sequel if one was requested, the new book is very definitely the first of a series – hopefully satisfying in its own right, but not by any means wrapping everything up in a bow by the end. It’s the added complexity that has slowed me down, as I had to keep stopping to work out the timelines of various characters – there are many colour-coded flowcharts – but that’s what you get when you decide to make your book insanely timey-wimey. The title, publisher, release date and all that jazz will be announced soon, and then I start gearing up for the launch, the publicity etc. After a year where I’ve kept a relatively low profile, I’ll be all over the internet like a rash soon. It’s been  a very interesting year, and next year’s looking even better – I can’t wait to tell you about it 🙂 If you can’t wait either, I may be persuaded...

Readers, Authors, Fans

Two great blogs about the relationship between author and reader floated across my screen today: The first by the always brilliant John Scalzi – How to Be a Good Fan The second by Brenna Clarke Gray over at BookRiot – Readers Don’t Owe Authors Sh*t For my part I’ve not been doing this long enough, and haven’t quite the volume of feedback to have a sense of my relationship with those fans I have. As an author, all I can say thus far is that I get a few nice comments and emails on this blog, Twitter and Facebook every now and then, and my interactions with those commenters always make my day that bit nicer. As a fan, of all sorts of stuff – I am basically fannish, I have the fan gene, I fan therefore I am – I just try not to be a dick. I mean, I went to watch them film Doctor Who the other day; didn’t vault the barrier, shout out to get the actors’ attention, or refuse to put away my camera when I was asked nicely. I don’t go up to famous people on the street if I recognise them, figuring that they’re on their own time – and working where I do, I regularly pass very famous folk on my wanderings, some of whom I really would like to get an autograph from. But at conventions I reckon they’re on duty, so to speak, and have been known to go and introduce myself and diffidently fawn a bit. Most regularly, though, I’ll tweet something nice at an author, musician or...

Rage fatigue and professionalism

So Margaret Thatcher died. For those who don’t know who she was, she was British Prime Minister during my youth and did a lot of things that were extremely controversial. And that’s all I’m saying about it. Why? Two reasons. First, I work for the Government in my 9-5 job at the moment, so I’m not really allowed to say anything overtly political – it could get me fired. I really can’t afford to get fired. But more importantly, I try very hard to use my online presence to only put out positivity. And engaging with Thatcher’s legacy in any way shape or form is going to offend at least half of my potential readership a whole heck of a lot. Not that I’m unwilling to offend. Sometimes I think it’s very necessary. But most of the time, what would be the point? Increasingly I tend towards the view that people only read articles that they expect will reflect their views. Very few people are willing – or able – to seek out viewpoints that differ from their basic kneejerk reactions, consider them carefully and thoughtfully, and decide to either reject them anew or, perhaps, to amend their views somewhat if they were persuaded. So those who hated her and everything she stood for have articles like Russell Brand’s piece on Thatcher to read. And those who loved what she stood for and cherish her memory can enjoy David Cameron’s eulogy. I have very strong opinions indeed about her. VERY strong. My close friends know what I think. But I don’t for one second flatter myself that anybody else is interested. And even if...

Doctor Who: The Anchorite’s Echo

In 2005 I was lucky enough to contribute a Doctor Who short story to a Christmas-themed anthology from Big Finish –  Short Trips: A History of Christmas , which was edited by Simon Guerrier.  It’s long out of print, and I certainly can’t charge for it, but I don’t think there’s any rule against me giving it away. So here is some free stuff – my first published short story, an adventure for the seventh Doctor and Ace. — I have measured out my penitence in Christmases. It was Christmas day when they bricked me up in my cell at the back of the church. The choir were making the most beautiful music. The congregation prayed for my good health and gave thanks for my sacrifice as the mason laid the bricks that sealed me in, leaving only a small window through which I could receive food and water. It was an honour to serve the people of this parish as their anchorite. I became part of the fabric of their church, fasting and praying for the safety of the community that had raised me. I was their talisman, their totem, their good luck charm. My offering served to insure the village from pestilence and famine and drought and war. As long as I remained in my cell, praising the Lord and begging his mercy, my charges in the world outside would remain safe. No calamity would befall them. Even now, so many years later, I still ask myself what it was about me that was not worthy…   ‘Thank you.’ ‘You are… welcome. Are you… are you an angel?’ ‘No....

Scott’s 2012 state of the union

So, 2012, we meet at last! Let’s recap… I started 2010 by finishing off my Highlander scripts, then spent four months writing Childrens’ Crusade. In the second half of 2010 I spent four months working VERY hard on a screenplay which I entered in the Red Planet Prize – when it didn’t even make it past the first round, I must admit I was pretty gutted and it took the wind out of my writing sails somewhat. I hadn’t expected to win, but to not even get past the first round really surprised me. Oh, hubris! I started 2011 in a bit of a slump without a book deal lined up – in fact, without any commissions at all in the bank. My plan was to write a book off my own bat and shop it around. I made a fair start but then life got in the way – job changes, an unexpected house move which was very stressful indeed, illness, a prolonged and pretty crippling bout of depression – it was all a bit of a jumble. Then the second writing-related gut punch came in 2011 when, despite absolutely rave reviews from all quarters, the Highlander box set failed to find enough of an audience to guarantee another series. Oh, I had SUCH plans! I began to think that maybe I wasn’t really a writer at all, merely ‘that guy who wrote some stuff once’, which is a very different thing. Sometime in July I decided to stop writing for a while and concentrate on getting my life in order and getting well. It was the right...