Tag Archives: Joe Wilson

Space: 1889 & Beyond – Series One Finale!

This is it, folks, after eight months in the aether, Nathanial and Annabelle are heading back to Earth. Only they have one more stop to make en route – the place from which their adventures began. Luna!

Series one of Untreed Reads’ best-selling steampunk series, Space: 1889 & Beyond, reaches its exciting conclusion this month with the release of Dark Side of Luna. The epic finale brings together Space: 1889 creator Frank Chadwick and relative newcomer JT Wilson (author of well-received novel Cemetery Drive).

Here we talk with JT about his interest in steampunk…

What interested you in Space: 1889 & Beyond in the first place?

Initially, the same thing that attracted Frank to developing the series in the first place: I saw the title and it made me smile. Immediately it creates an image in your head of what the series is going to read like, as all good titles should. I’m afraid I’m a sucker for a good title and for puns, hence the amount of Robert Rankin and Jasper Fforde I’ve picked up.

A title, though, will only get you so far: the intrigue of attempting a steampunk novel was one of the things that motivated me to pick up the project. Steampunk, for me, combines two things that I’m interested in: now-antiquated modes of etiquette and chivalry is one part; a quirkily retro take on futurism is the other. I have an odd relationship with futurism: for example, as a musician I like playing synthesizers but I think that the Moog or the VCS3 (which is basically a tuned oscilloscope) are more aesthetically attractive than the latest Roland or Yamaha. In attempting to envision the modern day from the point of view of the Victorians, steampunk has a similar, slightly ramshackle, take on technology, with the added benefit of hindsight. Faced with the choice of the beautiful flying ship of Space: 1889 & Beyond or the sterile rockets of NASA (in a hypothetical situation where they both work perfectly of course), who wouldn’t choose the former? Having said this, I’m not sure how an e-book would work in a steampunk universe. Perhaps one would wind a scroll around a pocket watch or a handmirror, akin to a pianola.

What difficulties did you face in converting a Role-playing Game scenario into a fully-fledged prose novella?

Converting an RPG into a prose novel is the equivalent, I think, of playing all the parts that would normally be covered in an RPG and rolling less dice. What was trickier, for me, was walking around someone else’s universe. In my previous writing, I’ve been largely sending my characters around slightly distorted versions of the world we live in (or at least, the world I live in, your mileage may vary) and/or universes I’ve made up. In S:1889 the ‘rules’- of physics, politics, whatever- already existed. Not being from a military, naval or scientific background, learning and operating within the rules of this universe served as more of (what my day job would call) ‘a development opportunity’ for me than the fact that the universe was created as an RPG. That’s why I was glad to have the co-writing skills of Frank Chadwick, who is hugely knowledgeable about the combat forces and, obviously, about the Space:1889 universe.

Who are your favourite characters?

I’m always a sucker for feisty, impulsive female characters so it goes without saying that Annabelle Somerset was a delight to write. Of the characters indigenous to ‘The Dark Side of Luna’, I’m fond of Howard Phillips, a scientist on Luna, and Ross McKittrick, who’s Nathanial’s warden at the start of the book. Although they’re not necessarily ‘a character’, I like both the Drobates and the Saltators, both new to the series here.

Your three favourite moments in Dark Side of Luna are…?

Difficult to simultaneously answer this question and avoid spoiling the book. In terms as vague as possible: Annabelle’s early discussion with Bedford; the entry by our heroes into the City of Light and Science; the late-night conversation between Nathanial and a long-lost ally.

What’s coming next from you?

I’m currently working on two novels, the former of which is the follow-up to my 2010 novel Cemetery Drive and which should, hopefully, be out this year. I’m working on a few things here and there in addition, although nothing concrete enough to confirm here. Plus I imagine that I’ll be booed out of community centres across the West Midlands in my capacity as pro-wrestling manager and diabolical evangelical preacher Reverend Lex.

And now an exclusive extract from Dark Side of Luna

A Drobate (The 'moon men' of myth.)Further down the River of Life, Folkard had identified a clue. Scattered on the bank of the river were a number of shavings from branches, together with uncoiled rope which lay discarded near a bush. A nearby small stand of tall, slender mushroom-like trees had been decreased in number by four, judging from the stumps and sign of their trunks dragged across the loose shale. The leathery branches and fronds had clearly been trimmed from them and by the shore the group found the charred remains of some papers apparently torn from a notebook. Those which could still be deciphered showed a few sketches against which were some hurried notes.

“This writing is scarcely legible,” said Folkard.

“Yet certainly it is Grant’s,” said Stone, contemplating the burnt documents. “During our work together he would often pause and scribble notes like this on the blackboard. These particular notes do not illuminate his destination, but his intentions are clear. He meant to build himself a raft, which I can only presume he succeeded in doing. He’s a resourceful fellow, it has to be said. This at least serves as confirmation that our navigation thus far is accurate. He must have attempted to cover his tracks by burning his papers.”

“Why burn them?” Folkard asked. “Why not just throw them in the river?”

“Possibly the party from which he desired to hide his intentions was down-river,” Stone said. “Perhaps there are more remains which might serve as a clue as to where he was heading.”

As he scouted around the group to search for further clues, Folkard halted abruptly. His early sensation of being watched now was backed by solid evidence: footprints differing from those of the group. They seemed fairly fresh and pointed unusually outwards from each other, which, it could be presumed, gave the walker a bent gait, clearly unlike that of anyone in the party. Someone else had been here, and recently.

“Bad things are coming,” muttered Seaman Henry in a pessimistic tone.

“I would have to agree, Captain,” said Stone, looking from Henry to Folkard. “Whoever these others are, Grant clearly considered them dangerous.”

Folkard nodded. “Still, there is little choice, men. Sooner or later we will have to confront these men―if they are men―and I would rather we meet them on our terms than theirs.”

“Can we really entertain even the possibility that they are men, Captain?” Stone asked. “I mean―God―those footprints!”

“Highly possible, Professor Stone. Who knows what sort of torturous exercises the Russkies subject their soldiers to? In any case, whether man or alien, they mean us no good or they would have shown themselves—if not to us, to the research station personnel. So everyone draw your weapons and when we move we will spread out, so if someone does fall upon us, some at least will be free of the melee and able to give supporting fire.”

“Permission to speak, sir?” asked Henry, somewhat surprisingly. When Folkard gave his consent, Henry continued. “Sir, permission to guard Miss Somerset if she stays behind? Likely to be conflict in other group. Can’t have a lady abducted.”

“Ah, and you’re suggesting that she may need someone to fight for her, Henry?”

Henry merely nodded in reply.

“Very chivalrous, Mister Henry,” said Miss Somerset.

“Yes, I do rather agree with you, Henry,” said Folkard. “Excellent thinking. I suspect the danger will be greatest for the forward party so I shall lead. McKittrick, Burroughs, you shall accompany me. Professor Stone, you as well, if you please.”

“Perhaps I might also be of assistance, Captain Folkard?” offered Phillips. “I am not yet too old for adventuring and I may have some insight that could be useful. That is, if you are amenable to the input of a civilian?”

“Very well and thank you. Miss Somerset, Seaman Henry, Doctor Staples, I would like you in the centre of the party. Chief Charles, you take Gibbs and O’Hara and form the rearguard.  You’re the senior petty officer here, so if something happens to me, you’re in command, and no backtalk from any of these civilians, no matter how many doctorates they hold. Understood?”

“Aye-aye, sir.”

“K’chuk,” Folkard continued, “I would be obliged if you and your men went in the centre, with Miss Somerset, to guard her and Doctor Staples in the event of an attack.”

The Selenites looked among themselves with an air of reluctance. They were communicating telepathically, as ever; it did seem, however, that K’chuk was displaying more of a desire for combat than his men. “Selenites fight if needed,” K’chuk eventually replied.

“Very well. Now let’s move out, but proceed with extreme caution.”

They walked for several hours along the river. It could not be said to be silent, as the sound of the water was always present, contained, amplified, and distorted by the narrow covered canyon through which it ran, now murmuring, now gurgling, now roaring as it dropped over a low falls or broke into foamy waves among the rocks of a rapids. But the river’s voice was so omnipresent that after a while it seemed almost to dwindle into half-heard background noise.

Something about the skeleton, the strange footprints, the burnt remnants of cryptic notes, and this seemingly-endless river combined to silence their tongues as well. None of them spoke until Stone raised his hand and cried out.

“Hallo! What’s that up ahead?”

Folkard held his hand up and the column halted. He studied the small, dark feature on the ground Stone had seen, perhaps a quarter of a mile on, studied it with eyes used to picking out the single flickering white light of a cutter from a background of a thousand stars.

“Bodies,” he said at last. “Two of them, I’d say, although we’ll have to get closer to be certain. Charles, you stay here with the rearguard and the main body. Find yourself some cover and stay put, no matter what happens, until I give you the all-clear and wave you forward. Clear?”

“Aye aye, Sir.”

“Good man. I’ll take the advanced party on ahead and see what’s what. Everyone on your toes.” Folkard cocked the hammer on his Enfield to emphasize the point.

As the captain and the four others of the advanced party drew near their objective, it became all too apparent whose bodies had been piled in such a way, and the sight—to say nothing of the stench—were enough that men with weaker constitutions would have run screaming for the surface.

“I knew those men. Captain, say it isn’t so!” McKittrick appealed to his captain, who was knelt by the bodies.

“I’m afraid it very much is so, gentlemen,” Folkard said grimly. “Ensign Challoner and Able Seaman Clements, late of Sovereign.”

“Surely this is impossible. Those men were taken months ago!” gasped Stone. “Yet these corpses are fresh. Why, they’re barely three hours dead!”

“But why keep a man alive for seven months, only to then kill him?” mused the young and nervous-looking Burroughs.

Folkard rose to his feet only to see the fresh horror that had materialised in a circle around them, seeming to rise from the sandy ground.

Ambushed!

“This is why,” Folkard murmured, raising his revolver, “you kill them to lay a trap.” He fired the weapon, and one of the creatures spun backwards, blood and grey fluid spurting from its head. Before he could get off a second shot they were on him and knocked the revolver from his hand.

Cover art by Andy Frankham-AllenIt’s been almost a month since Nathanial and Annabelle rejoined HMAS Sovereign. For Annabelle it’s been a journey of uncertainty; she had expected a happy reunion with George Bedford, first officer of the flagship of Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, but instead he’s been distant. She fears it has something to do with her newfound disability. For Nathanial, however, the journey has been uneventful since he’s spent the entire time locked in the brig under the cloud of treason.

Things change abruptly when Sovereign is ordered to return to Luna, and retrieve Doctor Cyrus Grant, who has been sending increasingly confusing heliograph messages back to Earth. There is an air of uncertainty in Otterbein Base, and concern over Grant’s wellbeing. Once again he’s gone missing, turning his back on the Selenites and the British research team stationed there – leaving with creatures who are neither human nor Selenite.

A search and rescue mission is soon underway, taking our heroes deeper inside Luna than ever before. There they will discover the mysteries of the Drobates, and their amazing City of Light and Science. Annabelle is concerned that her uncle will no longer accept her, and Bedford is concerned that being on Luna once again will have adverse effects on his captain, but these things are the least of their worries. Grant is close to uncovering the answers to an age-old secret, but he is not the only one who seeks this knowledge. A creature stalks the dark underworld of Luna, a creature once human, and quite insane.

Dark Side of Luna is available from all good e-book stockist, including direct from Untreed Reads.

Space: 1889 & Beyond will return later in the year, when the series editor, Andy Frankham-Allen, and property owner, Frank Chadwick, join forces for an explosive series two première… Conspiracy of Silence!

Dark Side of Luna © 2012 JT Wilson & Frank Chadwick and Untreed Reads Publishing.

Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2012 Frank Chadwick.

All Rights Reserved.

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The Indie Chart with J. T. Wilson

This will be the first guest spot in a while, so who better than fellow Hirst scribe and good friend, J.T. Wilson… I’ll allow him to introduce himself.

The Indie Chart

Hello, I’m JT Wilson, and in 2010 I had the novel ‘Cemetery Drive’ published by Hirst Publishing. It’s been twelve months since I proudly announced my first foray into published writing and in that time I’ve been on a journey where there’s been a lot of laughs, a lot of tears, a lot learned, and a lot of clichés written in the pre-ambles to pieces. So what have I learnt from my life on an indie publishing house? Here’s some of it. Please don’t take this as any sort of guidance or advice: I never said I was a role model.

1. Being published doesn’t immediately mean a one-way ticket to stardom

I held lofty dreams as I wrote ‘Cemetery Drive’ that I would march into my workplace one day with a huge advance contract and announce “So long, suckers! You’ll see me holding the Pulitzer!”or something. When the publishing deal was agreed, I dusted off my speech and wondered if my employers would even get the Pulitzer reference. Perhaps not. Of course, things don’t pan out like that. I realised that I would have to sell somewhere in the region of 10,000 copies to be able to indulge in writing as a career. At last count, I’d estimate sales to be about 150. Still, I’m not alone here: Robert Rankin was still working as an artist and carpenter when the Brentford Trilogy was published; Franz Kafka never did quit his job; and a friend of mine had a book published through Publish America only to receive a royalty cheque for $1.86.

2. Everyone is a writer

When I was publishing stories on LiveJournal and quietly hacking away at ‘Cemetery Drive’, the only other author I knew was the prodigiously talented Die Booth, whose artwork adorns the cover of my book. Suddenly, however, I announced the publication of ‘Cemetery Drive’ and everyone’s an author. Here’s a family member who has always wanted to write a novel (by the way: if you want to write a novel, just, y’know, do it). Here’s a work colleague who’s writing romantic comedy on the quiet. Here’s a professional wrestler who’s already had a cookery book published (I swear I am not making this up). Here’s a guy you wouldn’t think could string two sentences together who writes poetry. It’s bizarre how many fellow authors show up. And that’s before you get to the amount of authors who are with your publisher and doing amazing work.

3. People who have no interest in your book are apparently fascinated at the prospect of a sequel

It’s all very well being a writer and shutting yourself up in an ivory tower where you can write books about being a writer who shuts themselves up in a dark tower, but unless you’re Stephen King, this shit won’t wash and you have to engage with the public in the hope of hoodwinking them into buying a copy of your book. Book signings mostly involve talking bollocks with other authors under the guise of selling, then going to get pie-eyed with the authors/publisher/whoever to toast a successful day’s work, but there are parts of talking to the public too, of course: engaging with your audience and all that. Bear in mind, of course, that unless you’re Dan Brown or JK Rowling, the public in general won’t have a clue about the content of your book so be prepared to explain the plot many, many times over the course of the day. Other people will always be able to summarise your plot better than you will: feel free to steal their summaries for your own use.

The most interesting thing I’ve found from the signings I’ve done, though, is that people will always ask “is there a sequel in the pipeline?” or similar. This is shortly before wandering off, not buying your first one. As nobody who asks this question at signings has ever bought my book, I have no idea what the correct answer is to this question. In my case, the true answer is “I’m writing another book, but it’s not a sequel to this book” but the correct answer could easily be “No, I’m retiring from writing after this” or “Yes, this is the first in a 487-part series.”

4. Nobody will ever appreciate your art as much as you do

The funds for the publication of ‘Cemetery Drive’ were generated by people pre-ordering the novel, which is a massive risk for a debut novel, of course: people are buying the book on the expectation it’ll be good because they think you’re witty or incisive or smart or hot, one of those things anyway. And when they actually read it and like it, and can prove this by quoting segments or lines or plot parts, that’s a shock, although a shock that’s good for your ego.

But as much as people will love parts of your book, people won’t love or even understand all of it and your favourite character or segment might get totally passed over in reviews, brutally edited out of the audio version, and generally unloved. It’s the same as being in a band- you might enjoy playing a four-minute bass solo, but that doesn’t mean everyone else will.

A related point, although perhaps not enough to note separately, is that no matter how long you agonise over whether someone will notice the blatant reference to their characteristics or even their name, you’ll get away with it about 99% of the time. But then, I once played a song called ‘Sarah’ at a gig where the Sarah who the song was about was present, and she never raised it, so draw your own conclusions.

5. A bizarre combination of ego and shyness can occur in some situations

I used to go into Waterstones and look at where my book would conceivably be (next to Jeanette Winterson I’d hoped) on the shelves. Now it’s actually in Waterstones I can’t go in and look. I want to know what people think of my book and have reviews on the website and all that but I’m too shy to pry too much. People have pretty much only said nice things about it and that’s good and all but surely someone didn’t like it? Like who? And why? And yet I can’t bear to ask.

6. Anything is more exciting than work

Whenever I’m asked “what made you decide to write the book?” I don’t know how to answer the question and look away, mumbling awkwardly about compulsion. There isn’t a conscious decision to write. I wrote ‘Cemetery Drive’ because I felt that I had to, and that I had to before the idea withered and died. When I then expanded the story outside of the novel with additional parts, it took an entire week and I was convinced that I’d gone completely insane but I did it because once I’d thought of it, I had to do it. The second and third novels, which are in semi-complete stages, are being written because I feel that I have to write them. Of course, with no deal to write a second book and no clamouring demand for it, this necessity to write exists only within me. Still I am compelled because I am compelled to write.

But on the other hand, writing can be massively frustrating and tedious as soon as it feels like work. Whenever I had some free time, I’d work on the book, but if I didn’t feel inspired, I’d just end up reading Wikipedia. Tonight, I was supposed to be editing 20,000 words out of ‘Cemetery Drive’ for the audio version and yet here I am writing this. The comedian Dave Gorman, out of ideas for his novel, learnt about Googlewhacking and wasted his publisher’s advance on meeting Googlewhacks rather than ever writing one word of his novel. If writing seems hard, it won’t get done.

 

In the second of this series, which will be published no later than 2016, I’d expect, I’ll be reporting back on my life on the bestsellers’ list, having a £12million film script and fretting over which yacht to buy. Stay tuned, reader.

‘Cemetery Drive’ can be purchased directly from the publisher, or from any good book stockist. An eBook version is in the pipeline (really? Joe asks.Yes, says Andy, I know things you don’t. :p).

Death Run

Cemetery Drive by JT Wilson; a review.

This is the debut novel of JT Wilson, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a recent convention in Swansea. Joe is a very warm, and increasingly funny guy, full of great anecdotes and random facts, with his very own take on fashion. His novel is very like him; it’s warm and welcoming, with a level of humour that increases the deeper you get into it, and it’s full of great and random facts and anecdotes about life. It also follows its very own style.

Cemetery Drive follows the crazy road-trip towards death of Robbie Adams and Alexa Ribiera, two people with very different outlooks on Death. Robbie is intent on committing suicide, but not just any old slash-the-wrist kind of suicide, oh no, for he has to go out in a blaze of glory so that he will forever be remembered, since Robbie is convinced his seventeen plus years so far have been pretty much a waste, and he doesn’t see that changing any time soon. Alexa has somehow cheated Death, although she won’t say how initially, and is now, as a result, seemingly immortal. Only she doesn’t want to be. And so after a chance encounter Robbie and Alexa decide to go on a road trip in an attempt to escape Death, whom Alexa is sure will be after her. Or something like that!

It’s starts off in a very disjointed fashion, but after the first chapter which leaves the reader none-the-wiser, and possibly having second doubts, the story soon levels out. On the downside, I found that there was so much more to this book than we were shown. A much bigger story was going on, and of the months Robbie and Alexa spent on the road we see so little off, merely snapshots of that trip. This leaves the reader feeling as though he never got to see them really hook up, and certainly not fall in love – ‘cause by the end of the book it’s very clear they have fallen deeply in love, in their acerbic and sarcastic, sexually charged manner. What we do get to see of their journey, though, is certainly interesting. They are being pursued by Zan, who’s a soul that got stuck in Limbo and entered the employ of Death; it’s his mission to collect the souls of the lay person while Death takes care of more important cases. Zan gets increasingly frustrated in his search, and occasionally seeks the help of demons Beelzebub and Astoroth, a pair of wise-cracking goof balls. Quite possibly the most inept demons I have ever read about, and although they are, in some ways, a bit caricature, they still made me laugh each time they appeared. Fortunately Robbie, Alexa and Zan are well rounded characters, with plenty of hidden depth and full of potential. Robbie is a particularly good character; a bit odd ball, but he follows his own logic and that keeps him interesting.

Ultimately it was a fine debut, but I do feel the best is yet to come from Joe. That this book came from a short story puzzles me; I imagine many elements were added to the mix when Joe turned it into a novel, and as a result it left the book feeling like only half the story it ought to be (and at only 157 pages it is a relatively short novel). There was something very grand and epic going on in this novel, especially the stuff off Earth, and it’s a real shame we did not get to see Joe explore that more. I for one, look forward to his next tale, and wait for him to really unleash the story within!

Cemetery Drive is published by Hirst Publishing, at £7.99.  You can purchase a copy directly from Hirst, or any good book stockists, including Waterstones and Borders.

http://www.hirstpublishing.com/Cemetery_Drive_by_JT_Wilson/p384445_1157065.aspx