Tag Archives: The Sovereign Hand

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.


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.


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.


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.)


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.



New year. A lot of change here at the anarko demokratus homestead, one of which being I’m almost ready to become more regular and wide-ranging with my blog posts.

Most exciting, the final final draft of The Sovereign Hand is in Stephen’s hand at Steam Press, so I’m looking forward to discussing the novel more in coming months, including making the whole first act available for download, free. And of course the book’s launch, in August this year, during New Zealand Book Month 2014.

Other topics: I have read a number of books over the summer, including The Luminaries – I did preview the novel, definitely a few more things to say having now read it. And plenty still to say on reading and writing in general.

It is also election year here in New Zealand. I’m not really interested in political parties, but power. Power. Power, power, power – what it is, who has it, and how we relate to it – so I may find a few things to say about that.

In the meantime, here is a snapshot  to prove that I spent my summer in lands distant and wonderous. Well, Wellington Zoo – but what a prize! Not photoshopped, I swear.


End of Year dishabille

Finally I post my entry to the Sunday Star Times essay competition on “family”, as intended back in November. Naturally, it did not win (I do not know what the winning essay was, only the short story winner has been posted online), but it served its primary purpose: with a bit of thought, I turned a pretty decent piece of work around in a couple of days writing, a large part of that working out what to leave out (a wound to my drive to forge connections from a global point of view.) That it exists and says some things not said enough is all the justification it needs.

It has been a very chaotic few months though, which has resulted in the line edits for The Sovereign Hand taking longer than intended. I’m still sitting on the last 10,000 words, in the sense of entirely reimagining the possibilities in the text. I’m happy with that is there, it fits all my original intentions – but are there richer possibilities?

Usually. At least until four or five drafts, and the end of the book, so long in view, right from the start, is sometimes written as a destination – rather than another arrival to be experienced completely.

So, the launch date has been pushed back from March, a luxury we can afford, fortunately. I must say at this point that Steam Press publishes gorgeous books (I just procured a bunch for christmas presents (more on them after the event)), and Stephen has been a flying buttress of support in our shared quest for perfection. So instead of being harried by my publisher I get to enjoy the end of this hectic year as its own arrival and step fresh into whatever the next year brings.

Merry xmas.

Excerpt #2, House of Mirrors, now available; another trial cover

It has been another month of line-edits, insertions and deletions; all undoubted improvements, but I always find it unsettling. The text is such a well-traversed field, yet with each tiny change it feels increasingly unfamiliar territory so by the end I want nothing more than to go back and read it all through again.

Excerpt #2, like the first, came Runner-up in the Pikihuia Awards. With Rise and Shine I was pleased to get a literary award for a fantasy extract. With House of Mirrors, it was still fantasy, of course, but also a set-piece from almost the middle of the book: like a cold splash of water to the reader, given the unfamiliarity of the setting, lack of character intros, and general assumptions it makes of the reader’s knowledge. Far from a safe bet, so success at the Awards meant a lot, especially with the excellent Briar Grace-Smith as judge. I think it works well enough as an introduction for Tanner without spoiling too much.

Sovereign Hand temporary cover 2This excerpt includes the latest trial cover for the novel. It illustrates another aspect of the story, the political side. House of Mirrors takes a broad, inclusive brush to matters of political philosophy and sociology; the political motivations of the Crown and its actions are also significant in this part of the book. But the real political in the book, for me, is the personal, the choices and changes the characters make in dealing with power. So the pawn is an apt image and I’d be happy if it was what we finally decide upon.


Just a sprinkle on the page.

My essay entry (requisite topic: “family”) has flown off to the Sunday Star Times Short Story competition. At only 900 words, and non-fiction, it was exactly what I needed right now to wedge in between work, volunteering, and working on the line edits that have come back from Stephen at Steam Press (who certainly ain’t phoning it in – challenging queries, I tell you). It would have been nice to enter a short story, and I have a zillion ideas for them, but it’s a form I simply haven’t had time to get comfortable with, with most of my writing energy being directed towards The Sovereign Hand for the last 9 years. I see the stories that win and are lauded, and there appears to be a formula. My short fiction, however, always seems to be wrestling towards a novella, or at least something atypical for Short stories in NZ. I think my subject matter, which tends to be more about “The World” than “Life”, has something to do with that – a question I’ll revisit in a later post.

Regarding The Sovereign Hand, I will be posting a second excerpt, the latest version of  House of Mirrors, previously published in Huia Short Stories 8, some time next month.

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.