It’s been an eventful year.
It’ s only November, admittedly, so I guess it’s been an eventful 9 months, but seriously I feel as though I’ve burned the midnight oil twice as brightly at both ends this year.(1)
I have done a lot of conventions, for a start. This year and last year have been overly crazy in that regard. 2015 has seen Luxcon, Eastercon, Edge Lit, Nine Worlds, Octocon and Fantasycon, and last year I had the usual suspects plus Titancon and Celsius. 2016, I will probably be cutting back to Easter, NineW, Fantasycon and probably Edge Lit. Beyond that, I will happy go to any con that wants me enough to actively invite me, but otherwise it’s saving the pennies and getting on with writing stuff. (I will also be popping my head around the door at Thought Bubble next week in Leeds, but only as a punter. I’m actually very keen to break into comics writing, as I love the artform, but no serious progress yet.)
Looking back: it’s been a year heavy on long form and rather light on short stories. I’ve had ‘Children of Dagon’ out in the recent Lightspeed, which can be read for free here. I’ve also had a story, “Crossed Gates” out in the most recent Postscripts journal from PS Publishing which is a piece of weird fiction inspired by my regular commute, of all things.
Long-wise, of course, we’ve had Guns of the Dawn, my Regency-ish military fantasy romance thing, which will be out in paperback later this month, and we’ve had Children of Time (paperback in April 2016) which I think is the most ambitious thing I ever wrote. If you have enjoyed either or both of these, by the way, please do leave a review if you are able – Amazon reviews really do help, as when you pass certain thresholds you start to appear on “you might also like…” lists and so forth. Also, if you enjoyed the books and have voting rights for any genre awards…
Two very different novels in one year, neither of which is part of an ongoing series, has felt a bit like trying to cross a chasm by jumping between pillars, without a safety net. Of course both manuscripts were done and submitted long before 2015 dawned, and this year I’ve been exploding outwards in a variety of other directions, some of which should bear fruit next year.
There will, of course, be The Tiger and the Wolf out pretty soon in February 2016, which should be entirely satisfactory on its own but should also be the start of a series. I read a couple of pieces from it at Fantasycon and they seemed to go down pretty well. The two main inspirational pillars that led to the book were (1) what do you get when everyone in a culture is a shapechanger? (2) what do you get if you consciously try to avoid medieval Europe as an inspiration for your setting? I came away happy from final edits on the manuscript, so I hope that readers take to it.
I have some other projects that will hopefully become a reality next year as well. Along with old friends Keris McDonald and Adam Gauntlett I will be bringing out a collection of Lovecraftian stories called The Private Life of Elder Things, possibly to be launched at Fantasycon next year. The publisher is Alchemy Press, for whom I’ve written a fair old number of stories over the years. The chief idea is new spins on some HPL favourites as the everyday lives of people (mostly) like you and me connect with the races of the mythos.
I am also working with another longtime favourite press, Newcon, to bring some Shadows of the Apt story collections into being, including a fair number of stories never seen before that explore the murkier corners of the kinden’s world, or some early adventures of characters like Tisamon or Gaved. These will also collect the scatter of kinden stories that have appeared elsewhere in print, like ‘Bones’ and ‘Sword and Circle’.
Another project – something of a major one, which makes it all the more remarkable I missed it out from the original iteration of this post – is that my first ever US-first release should be coming out next year (possibly, still awaiting release date, but we’re talking cover designs so it shouldn’t be too long). This is my deconstructionist fantasy Spiderlight, which basically means all the fun of D&D-reminiscent heroic fantasy with an extra injection of post-modernism. Everyone likes post-modernism, right? Anyway, it’s fun, and it’s arguably the closest I get to writing something actually funny, although it’s also a bit grim (or dark, or both) in places. Humour, grimness, post-modernism! Something for everyone! Or I guess that should be humor. Anyway, I have had a fair number of frustrated chats with US readers having difficulties getting hold of the UK-release books, so this one is for you. Spiderlight is coming out of tor.com, and will be primarily e-book with, I believe, a paper copy available on demand.
Also next year, I believe, will be Abaddon’s interesting new project Monstrous Little Voices, a set of novellas by myself, Emma Newman, Foz Meadows, Jonathan Barnes and Kate Heartfield set in the nominal world Shakespeare’s plays occur in. My own is ‘Even in the Cannon’s Mouth’ (2), which takes various characters from Shakespeare’s comedies, slaps them in uniform and throws them into the middle of a war. Laugh your way out of that one, Benedick.
What comes next after all of that, I cannot say. Watch this space.
(1) Many metaphors died to bring us this information.
(2) Do you italicise for novells? I think you do for novels, but don’t for short stories. Perhaps I should italicise every other letter?