Tag Archives: blogging

What happens next.

A fitting enough title: the last line from The Sovereign Hand. What does happen next?

Just the asking begs a dozen more questions, a deeply personal interrogation that has kept the authorly part of my brain occupied with reflection, conjecture, and outright battle with a few heaving chunks of reality for several months. Even now I’m not sure of the full answer, but I’m more sure of what I want to say.  What to make explicit, implicit, ambiguous. Or totally leave out.

The easy part is, yes, I know what is next in the story. I wrote The Sovereign Hand to be coherent and complete in itself as a stand-alone novel… for myriad reasons. But any reader can see there is clearly a larger story, the transformations of Alexa and Tanner having passed through only one, naive, revolution, there having been much foreshadowing, and other characters still to be fully revealed.  As such there are two, and only two, more books in this wider arc,  much like Raymond E. Feist’s first novels (Magician/Silverthorn/Darkness at Sethanon) or even the original Star Wars Trilogy: the original, and then a duology.

So will I write them?

The trickier part. I really want to. My love of the story drove me through the writing and publishing of The Sovereign Hand, and would do so again. The difference being, I was younger, unmarried, childless, and cheerily sans career back then, not to mention full of “optimism” about how quality writing – plus a more mainstream enthusiasm for “fantasy” (LotR/GoT style) – could overcome the typical prejudice towards a story featuring the occasional goblin or scales and horns.

And so things are no longer so simple, and I know a few things better. Significantly that I can not expect an interested reception from the NZ “book scene” if it looks like fantasy. And to be fair, the only reason I thought that might happen is that Steam Press had already established itself as a quality publisher: we thought that bridge had been crossed. By 2014, though, the “scene” wasn’t so welcoming to Steam Press publications, whether for review or on shelves.  Large volume of a tight selection of works is now the prevailing business model, and it flows from publishers, to booksellers and into which texts are selected for review. All informed by data on who can actually afford to buy books from booksellers in our depressed political economy. The tastes of a older, conservative, wealthy demographic reins supreme.
So, no immediate hopes of springing from NZ to Australia to other international publishers and thereby funding my next novel – although Steam Press may well be front-and-centre at Frankfurt this year, where genre sell well.

To the internet, then, where the conventional theory it seems is your first novel is the peanuts-grade marketing for your second novel in a whole series of novels you can pump out featuring your world and characters which your readership has hooked into. Which I can appreciate, but ain’t what I’m doing (this time, at least) and it stings me like a fissure in my arse (H/T: Maury Ballstein, Zoolander) cos its kinda the inverse of how I was hoping it would work. I know. Boo hoo.

So with that dubious fucking incentive, will I write a follow-up to The Sovereign Hand?
Yes. You can never be read enough, but besides its inability to help me fund a second novel, I’m really happy with how the first one turned out.
Do I know when? No. It is even possible I will write other things first, maybe some short stories set in the same world. Family and work will keep time at a premium this year, and we have a nation-state falling to bits around us. Time to start putting the P back into participatory democracy.

And this site? I’ll always have something to say, including on The Sovereign Hand. Next time I’ll write a bit about the novel’s successes, and may indulge in what it’s “about”.

Mostly though, I think I’ll veer towards reviewing for a bit. Works of note, hidden gems. NZ books, yes, but not only, and especially those with something to say. Starting with an appraisal of the NZ Book Awards longlist for 2016. I was, of course, eligible (and not nominated) so reading the chosen works this year has been interesting… to say the least.

 

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Novel progress? Yes!

When you’ve been working on a project for ten years, probably written several million words, you get kinda casual about reporting that yes, you are working on another draft and it will soon be back in the hands of your publisher. It’s draining enough doing it, without writing about doing it. I don’t even really talk about it. It’s a grunt and a nod. It’ll get done. Little Train That Could, n’all.

But now, happily, we’re at the stage of “real” things happening. First, a cover.

The Sovereign Hand - coverIt took much back and forth to get this how Stephen and I wanted. For a long time it felt like nothing would please me – and it’s true, it’s almost impossible for any cover to properly reflect the many varied dimensions of the story – but this one does its job well. The title font evokes the foundation genre well, an impression modified by the font choices for my name and the tag line, the latter being most modern. Equally the eye is a significant image from the text and adds interest with its detail. In short, it speaks directly to those who identify with speculative fiction, while remains understated enough, with enough intrigue, to attract the wider readership it suits. We hope.

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TSH proof

And now the proof is in my hot little hand. Okay, this arrived three weeks ago – at this point it’s clear that I have been less than diligent about my updates, tis true – but excuses and explanations for that can wait till tomorrow. For now let’s say she is weighing in at a flattering 452 pages in what I find a very attractive typeface. Pretty damn pleased, and this is where things are at: me scrawling final changes before sending it back. If I motor, that will be by end of May.

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Of course, the arrival of a proof also means that people are reading it. Bernard Beckett is author of the award-winning Genesis (a personal favourite that I recommend to everyone) and writes elegantly and knowledgeably on a vast field of topics, while also managing to be a secondary school teacher on the side (and father, and husband – I know better than to leave those out). All his writing has that most critical quality: something to say.  So his praise is like gold to me. I’ll have to dart over to Neil Gaiman’s blog for tips on how to shamelessly integrate such comments to my site.

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But there’s more. Without blowing anything too early, there is a real prospect of some major international exposure for The Sovereign Hand, probably in July, online. Stay tuned.

Shortly after that, I hope to have Part One, the first quarter or so of the book ,up online as a free download. I’m a great believer in try-before-you-buy, where possible, and The Sovereign Hand has so much to offer, there’s no reason not to share.

Then the book launch is scheduled for Wellington in mid to late August. If you’re in town, I hope you can make it. For everyone elsewhere, I’m working on making something special available for you too. (A special trip back to Hamilton would be nice too.)

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Last, thanks for stopping by. Welcome to my new followers on Twitter – I don’t really use it , but will always tweet when I have news specifically about my book (such as this post). Additionally, if anyone has some other media they prefer to use to keep in touch, for instance a Facebook page for The Sovereign Hand,  just let me know in the comments or contact page. If there’s demand, I can add it. But the easiest way to catch every update is just to follow the blog.

Tomorrow, The Luminaries (finally), and a little more on what I’ve been up to.

Timely, and to the point.

It’s one of the ironies of the blogosphere that a lag between posts makes a blog owner look lazy and idle (“What, you’re not taking your dog for a walk? Again?“), when the truth can be entirely the reverse.

For anyone politically engaged, critically aware, or in any way oriented to the world around them by means other than the television, there has been some interesting shit going down, in NZ and abroad, and it has all been finding ground inside me, heart and mind.

So all the reading I’ve been doing over the internet about the NSA and America’s response, into the local GCSB Bill and the spying actions of the Prime Minister’s office, all the stories veering from authoritarianism to literary criticism that I pick off reliable Friends feeds – y’know, all that stuff that no one has had the incredible wisdom to actually pay me to do – that’s research. And that all intertwines with my increasingly grim reading of Listener articles (no, I do not pay for them – but it pays to know what is being read); and the books I have finished, such as Cypherpunks; and with the local culture – skirmish over the fluoridation of drinking water; and my real-life wrestling with the Inland Revenue Department and city council, and whatever, and whatever – and yes, that all qualifies as incredibly useful and as research, so long as the ideas that flow from these interconnections are recorded, filed and indexed in accurate and timely fashion. Which, you know, never actually happens.

Nevertheless! They are held in my head and will hang there, these future blog posts, fictions and miscellanea, like so many orphaned limbs until I get around to some assembling, or at least give them the dignity of text, even if it is in OneNote, which tends to be my perpetual purgatory of partially-constructed thoughts.

The upshot of which is I do intend to write a post on the implications of our growing surveillance society for the bureaucratic authoritarianism (way to link Assange to a $12 parking infringement), among a host of others; but barring the unlikelihood of someone emailing me to beg for a blog post, I thought I might whip something together for the Sunday Star Times non-fiction essay, the required theme being “family”, which I think has the potential to focus a lot of the things I’m interested – politics, culture, the hypocrisies in our public morality. Whether it catches the judge’s eye or not, I’ll post it here in November.

At the same time, I’ve got line edits from Stephen at Steam Press for Act 2 of The Sovereign Hand, plus the aforementioned purgatory to renovate. So if it seems still around here, assume that’s where I’ll be.

First Post…(of many?)

I know. Terribly imaginative title. But apt enough, because I’m a bit of a reluctant blogger. The throwing of a few words can become an avalanche, and suddenly a whole day lies buried. And I look back at that pile, however attractive and satisfying, and wonder ‘Did I mean to do that?’

Writing is an end in itself, of course; something is always accomplished. But in our modern monetarist culture, that simply isn’t justification enough. Writing, as a profession, is not flush with outside investment. For the vast majority, and for all those starting out, that capital comes from one source. Inside. The writer. And they have to account, either in minutes or cents, dollars or hours, or days, weeks, years of blank cheques signed alternately in pain, hubris or pure will and self-belief. We make up these little coupons permitting us to do what we do, no more audacious than what our banks do creating credit, yet with vastly less authority. The lucky writer though, has at least one person who just takes that cheque on faith. Knows its worth. Believes. Until the rest of the world catches up.

Ahh! You’re published.

(See what I said about avalanche?)

Even publishing, though, ascribes only a marginally higher status, with even less advance in wealth (power). Minutes are still precious. So any writing requires a little deliberation and clear intent. Especially for me. When I write my brain just keeps making connections. The final draft of The Sovereign Hand – which with an ensemble cast, multiple storylines, is no novella – is still 100,000 words less than the first full draft. Much of it whimsies and digressions, along with the expected first-novel first-draft chaff.

So what can a reader of anarko demokratus expect? Terse forays, I hope, rays expanding from a small cluster of interconnected points. Those loci are key. So, reading, writing, literature local and beyond. Anything stemming from the New Zealand discourse that must be said – from the world discourse that must be said. Anything I find must be said. Two writers I enjoy with admirable blogs are China Mieville and Bernard Beckett. A lofty goal, but maybe something in those realms or in-between.

Then, of course, there’s The Sovereign Hand. I will enjoy sharing tidbits of the novel’s past, present and future as publication looms. And extracts – the first of those, and another post, this weekend.