Tag Archives: Serere

Project Updates

So, what have I been up to in the past two months since post 100? Well, mostly I’ve been working, both on the day job and various writing projects. I’ve also been editing and selecting short stories for the South Wales Short Story Competition which is a bi-annual event run by Candy Jar Books.

forever_a_print_Front_ENFrom an editing point of view I’ve mostly been working on Space: 1889 & Beyond, going through all the books and re-editing them in preparation for the eventual print releases. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and like so many directors, the print releases give me a chance to clean up a few things I was less than happy with the first time around. In particular, due to the turbulent events of season two (behind the scenes, what with authors dropping out at the last minute, etc), I had to pass the final edits of Leviathans in the Clouds onto another editor so I could tackle head-on the problems facing the next book in the series. Despite the good job he did, it’s quite clear that the editor wasn’t too familiar with the series, and so a few continuity errors remained between the preceding book and Leviathans in the Clouds, not to mention several stylistic choices that do not fit with the rest of the series. The re-edits allowed me to clean this up. The biggest casualty of the behind the scenes chaos was The Forever Journey, and still remains the one book in the entire series I am very unhappy with. It’s not that its a bad book — there is much within the pages to recommend it, and the authors involved did the best they could with the little experience they had. But it is such an important part of the series, a turning point in so many ways, that I’ve always felt it should be bigger and never quite felt like the game-changing book it was designed to be. So that will be my next task, doing a major overhaul of that book. The trick will be not to remove anything from the story, and so change it to the point that it will overwrite the eBook, but to enhance the story, add things to it. I have in mind a whole new sequence set on Earth prior to the journey, which will likely be told in flashback so as not to ruin the present narrative of the book. It was that present narrative that was damaged greatly by the initial release, as the book was released out of sequence and a bookend scene needed to be written so it still made sense when released after A Fistful of Dust.

Work on the re-edits, however, are paused for a short while since I am, due to illness, behind on a few projects. Primarily among them is The Forgotten Son, book one of Project Hush-Hush. The first draft is due at the end of October, which is tomorrow, and I’m still five chapters away from the end. I have spent the last few days re-reading the entire book, as it’s been a couple of weeks since I looked at it in any meaningful way. Re-reading with the distance of a few weeks has revealed to me Bannersome problems in the narrative — not plot holes, or even plot development, but the kind of things only an author would spot. I may just be seeing issues that aren’t there, so I’m not going to tackle them until after my editor gets a chance to read the entire first draft. If they’re really there, I know he’ll spot them.  I think it may also be partly down to the responsibility that is inherent in this series; it’s always there in the back of mind. We’ve got the copyright of something that has been a huge part of peoples lives for so many years now, that we have an immense responsibility to get it right, to do it justice, and to honour the intent of the creator of the property. In some ways I felt the same responsibility when I developed Space: 1889 & Beyond, but this is multiplied by a factor of a hundred.

seeker-preview (2) copySo, that’s two writing projects. Finishing draft one of The Forgotten Son, and enhancing The Forever Journey. After these? Well, it seems the next few months will mostly see me editing — be it on Project Hush-Hush or Space: 1889 & Beyond or on a forthcoming novel for Candy Jar Books. All this seems like a great time to get back to work on Augury, book two of The Garden. This presents me with a few problems. The original plan was to only have a year gap between Seeker and Augury, but it’s been almost four years since Seeker was first released, and it wouldn’t really work to have the second book set in 2012. So I’ve been pondering ways around it — how to make a gap of three years work for the narrative. It’s tough as a lot of the narrative is period specific, and the original year-long gap served a very unique narrative purpose. Part of my solution is to write a short novel set between the first two books, which I’m probably going to call Tales of the Three, which will detail the lives of Celeste, Theodor and Erwyn (and those affected by these lives — including, of course, Frederick, Edward Lomax and Julius), covering the background stories that were hinted at during Seeker. These tales will be surrounded by a framework showing the fallout of the events of Seeker for these three characters. In so doing, I will be able to remove a lot of material originally intended for Augury, this in turn should allow me to advance the main narrative forward a few years and bring it more or less up to the present day once more. Or at least that’s the plan. Fingers crossed it will pan out. Still have several things to work out, but currently it seems the most likely way forward with the series.

So, a little treat for you all, here’s an exclusive scene from the extended version of Serere, the prelude to Seeker, which can now be purchased direct from Lulu.com (and will soon be available globally for order wherever books are sold)…

ψ

‘We’re not liking this, Aly,’ Detective Inspector Carbis said, ‘are we?’

Rowe recognized the look in his dark eyes, but they had been friends since she joined the force. He was responsible for her transfer to CID. He trusted her instincts as much as she did, and he knew that she’d walk down whatever path she had to in order to solve the mystery. She didn’t care how dark a path it turned out to be.

‘You haven’t heard the worst of it, yet, Gary,’ she replied. This was, at least for now, still informal and off the record. They were meeting in a quiet corner of a pub near Hirst Park, Carbis drinking a bottle of Smirnoff Ice while Rowe downed a pint of lager. ‘I managed to track down the identity of the old man. His name was Cliff Goleman, and he went missing in 1917! At the age of nineteen.’

‘The same age as Robin.’

Rowe nodded slowly. ‘You saw Goleman’s body; did it look 104 years old to you?’

‘I don’t think I’ve seen a body that old, Aly, living or dead.’

At this Rowe smiled. ‘Okay, fair point. But according to the autopsy, the heart, liver… all the internal organs are consistent with a man of no more than sixty years.’

‘Then it can’t be the same man. DNA records didn’t even exist in… when did you say? 1917? This is insane, Aly. Insane.’

‘I know.’ Rowe grinned, and finished the rest of her pint. ‘The DNA results led me to Goleman’s grandson. He’s fifty-eight, by the way, and the spit of Cliff.’

Carbis shook his head. ‘No, I’m not buying it. How could you even have found out about Goleman’s disappearance? Our own record keeping was bad enough thirty years ago, let alone eighty-five years ago.’

‘Harry Goleman is a lifer at the Scrubs, so his DNA is on the system. Seeing his picture was a bit of a shock, since for a moment I was sure I was looking at our corpse. A bit of research later and I’m reading about his grandfather going missing at nineteen, only three months after his marriage, leaving behind a wife who was, unknowingly at the time, two months pregnant. The gears shifted in my brain.’

Carbis narrowed his eyes. ‘Knowing how your brain works, I’m not surprised.’ For a moment he looked down at the bottle in his hand, while Rowe watched his rapidly thinning crown. ‘What do you propose we do?’

‘Let me continue to investigate this. A man presumed dead eight decades ago turns up, healthy as a sixty year old – well, other than the complete loss of blood – next to eight pints of blood that should, by rights, still be in Robin Turner’s body, which is now missing.’ She paused for a minute, before delivering her final card. ‘We’ve not seen the last of Robin Turner.’

‘This is quite a limb you’re out on.’

‘I know, but it’s my limb. And I know I am right,’ Rowe added with complete certainty.

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Getting it out there…

It’s been a week since Seeker was launched and I hear sales (both print and digital) are doing quite well. It’s quite an exciting time, really, with many comments coming my way like ‘it’s worth way more than £10’ and ‘an exceptional fantasy novel’, and my all-time favourite so far, ‘this pulls you into it, better than Twilight.’ A phrase I will never tire of hearing. My publisher and I are currently working on setting up a few signings across Wales and England, and I’ve been invited to a signing in Ireland, too. No dates as yet, we need to wait until the book is properly on the system (which takes a couple of weeks), and then we shall see. I’ll announce the dates as and when I get them, of course.

The launch itself went quite well, I thought, although it began for me the day before. Saturday 19th March; I was visiting my sister in Southend, England, one of the main locations of Seeker, and while there I figured I’d drop a few promotional posters off. One such place is a small coffee shop called Cafe Reviver, run by a friend of mine called Gary Willis. While there, Gary offered the use of his cafe as a place to do a signing – an offer I intend to take him up on later this year, most likely in the summer. So if you’re in Southend during the summer, look out for this bearded chap sitting outside a cafe on Queens Road surrounded by books. From there I popped into the Halfway House, a former place of employment and also a location used in the book, to drop off another poster and catch up with some friends. There I got into a conversation with a former-customer of mine, Linda Knights (all the time I worked there and I never knew her name), in which I discovered both she and her father, Charlie, love reading. They got quite excited about me releasing a book, and promised to pick up a copy as soon as it hit the shops. So, I consider the trip to Southend successful. After my brief visit to the Halfway I was picked up by my very good friends Ryan Hunter and Ben Theobald (who were travelling all the way to Wales just for the signing – that’s dedication!), and began the long journey back to Wales; a journey which proved to be rather amusing, especially when, by the time we reached the toll booth at the Severn Bridge, the three of us we bouncing and singing along with Christina Aguilera and ‘Fighter’. I looked at them, laughed, glanced around at all the other cars and said, ‘can you spot the gay car?’ Shame on us!

The actual launch took place on the Sunday, March 20th, and I have to admit that during the lead up to it the nerves were beginning to set in. Ryan, who was to do a reading (maybe!) thought he’d be nervous. Ha! He had the easy part. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, and after a bit of faffing around regarding parking meters, we met Tim, head honcho of Hirst Publishing, to help him carry boxes of books to the venue. Boxes of my book! What a strange feeling. As soon as we got to his car, Tim ripped open a box so I could finally see my book. And it was awesome! Everything up to this point (the short stories published in the official Doctor Who anthologies, the eBooks, even the proof beta-copies of Seeker) – everything! – paled in comparison. Finally, after many long years I was holding the fruit of my labours. Not only that, but the summation of the dream I’d had since I was sixteen. And yet, somehow, I managed to contain my excitement. I was intent on not being some excitable geek, but rather the seasoned author. Calm, collected, reserved, and maybe, just maybe, a little cool.

The venue was the King’s Cross Bar, and the staff there were incredibly helpful. Setting up the stage, complete with hanging chains, and allowing me to reorganise their tables (which we did put back when we were done!). Flyers were already on every table, just to inform those who came for breakfast. We arrived plenty early, which did mean a lot of waiting around, and an anxious publisher who wondered how many people would turn up, and when, and what time should we start and… yeah, you can imagine. Me, I just took it all in my step, after all we did have plenty of time and there was no immediate rush. Slowly, but surely (as the saying goes), people started to arrive. Primarily there were many I knew, friends and family invited, but there were plenty of others, too, just general visitors to the pub who were a little curious as to what was happening. Alas the first potential disaster struck near the time of the ‘event’, when I discovered that my cousin could not make it to do her reading. It bothered Ryan more than anyone, though, as he didn’t like the idea of doing one alone, so I managed to persuade Jolene Ferries to read the piece my cousin was due to read. Problem solved, disaster averted.

Tim took to the stage to do his introduction, only to find that the mic didn’t work anymore. Another potential disaster that was an easy fix; dislodged batteries, no problem.  In his introduction Tim pointed out that I was the first author he took onboard without even reading their book, simply because ‘Andy was recommended to me by Gary Russell, and if Gary Russell doesn’t know a good writer then who does’. As introductions go, that isn’t too shabby. Cut to Ryan, doing his reading. He said afterwards that his whole body was shaking with nerves, but despite an initial stumble over a few words, I think he acquitted himself very well indeed. This is the passage he read;

She leaned in closer and whispered his name in his ear. Sam reacted with a start, his movement so sudden that Lilly almost fell over, but she regained her balance in time for Sam to rip off his glasses and point at the mirror.

‘It’s you!’ he shouted, then staggered backwards.

Lilly moved quickly to steady him. He blinked a few times, and looked around wildly.

‘What… where… who…?’ His eyes came to rest on Lilly. ‘You. Where am I?’

‘Sam, it’s me, Lilly. Come back to me.’

For a moment he just looked at her, and the hatred written over his face made her heart ache. Whatever he was seeing, or whoever, had caused him so much pain. She placed her palm against his cheek.

‘Sam,’ she said, using her most calming voice, ‘come back to me. Wherever you are, you don’t need to be there anymore.’

Before she realised she was going to do so, Lilly tiptoed and placed her lips against his. At first there was no response, but slowly Sam’s mouth opened and their tongues met. For what seemed like an eternity they remained like that, their tongues gently probing the other’s mouths, but then pulled apart.

Sam smiled at her.

‘Lilly, what are you doing here? You should be at work.’

‘It’s almost seven,’ Lilly pointed out, nodding to the carriage clock on the mantle.

‘Seven?’ Sam walked up to the clock, examining it closely. ‘But it…’ He turned back at Lilly. ‘It was four o’clock when I put those shades on. I’ve been out of it for almost three hours.’

Lilly’s first thought was that she should be worried, but other than some dried blood on his ears Sam seemed okay. Still, three hours…

Ryan may think he was nervous, but it never showed, indeed Ryan received a round of applause for his reading. Then it was time for James Gent and me to take to the stage. James was also nervous and, although I shared those nerves initially, as soon as I stepped on the stage my nerves blinked away. In many ways I like to entertain, and so I sat down, relaxed, raised my mic and just got on with it. Intent on making sure people understood a little something of Seeker and keep them amused, too. Which I think we did a pretty good job of. James asked his questions, I answered them, talking about the themes of sexual identity, and how in many ways the two leads, Willem and Jake, are flip-sides of the same character. We also discussed the difficulties of re-inventing vampires, and promised there’ll be no sparkling in ‘The Garden’. By the end of the discussion I think it’s fair to say that we got across the point that Seeker ‘is good’.

The rest of the launch was taken up by people mingling, enjoying the sun, me sitting at the table signing books (we went through a box of twenty in total), and sending Ryan and Lisa out to blitz the streets with flyers to let people know that Seeker exists. They even nabbed one or two people outside Waterstone’s.  Just as I was about to wrap up for the day, a girl in yellow came over, and bought a copy for her nan, who apparently likes ‘books like this’. I’m hoping so, otherwise it’s a nan who’s in for a bit of a shock. The launch ended with some fun pics of the the remaining group, and my tipsy mother who managed to down a whole bottle of wine in an hour.

It wasn’t until much later that I realised somehow Jolene managed to get out of doing her reading. So, sorry, Ry – she hoodwinked ya! 😉

People keep on asking how many books we sold that day, and I keep pointing out that it wasn’t a sales drive, but a launch. It was all about getting the book out there, making people aware of its existence, and this we did. With the help of freebies from Rainbow eBooks, a prize in the shape of a Rubik’s Cube, and free wine, we managed this in style! So, big thanks to all that came along.

It’s been a week since, and already one shop is stocking the book; The Comic Guru in Wood Street, Cardiff. Sales are doing very well; I went through a box of twenty books myself in two days, and I know that Hirst have received a fair few orders since, not to mention a ‘bunch’ of sales for Seeker in the first two days at Untreed Reads.

If you’re looking for a decent read, then you could do a lot worse than checking it out directly from Hirst Publishing, or Untreed Reads Publishing (if you buy the eBook from UR, you can get the exclusive prelude, Serere, free). The digital edition is slowly appearing in the listings of most e-stores, and the print version will soon start appearing in all good book retailers.

Until I have signing dates and locations to announce, why not pop over the to blog, The Accidental Author, and read Jesse Greever’s interview with me, where I discuss the writing of Seeker and a little of what’s coming up.

New Exclusive eBook Release

Now out, my special eBook exclusive prelude to the forthcoming Garden series, ‘Serere, A Prelude’. The eBook is now available from The Untreed Reads Store, as well avarious other online retailers such as OmniLit and Amazon. However, if you go directly to the Untreed Store then you will also be able to get 40% off any of my previous releases when you purchase ‘Serere, A Prelude’. This offer is good throughout March…

 

Mr Busy Returns

Okay. So I’m back…

Followers of this blog will remember how I said right at the beginning that I am rubbish at keeping up with blog entries. I think it’s fair to say that a gap of three months is all the proof needed. Although, in my defence, I have been very busy in the interim. Thus, this entry will be a bit of an update, bringing all you lovely readers back up to speed on where things are with my various projects.

First of all, ‘The Garden’ saga begins very soon indeed. What is it? I hear you ask. Well, essentially it’s a four-book urban fantasy/horror series, and book one (‘Seeker’) is being published in print and electronic formats simultaneously by Hirst Publishing and Untreed Reads Publishing. It is a series I was ‘clearly meant to write’, according to my editor at Untreed. Here’s the blurb…

Meet Willem Townsend: London-based entrepreneur; loyal friend; loving uncle. He seems to have everything going for him, but deep down Will is trapped by work, family, and the sheer mundanity of daily routine. Stepping outside his comfort zone he begins an internet romance and, despite the reservations of his best friend Jake, Will arranges to meet his lover for a weekend getaway.

The weekend passes, and not a word is heard from Will. Jake organises a search for his friend, fearing the worst, and as Jake’s frenetic hunt progresses, he begins to realise that Will may have meant more to him than he was willing to believe.

In Southend, a naked man is found in a garden, suffering from a trauma that he cannot recall. And when the memories come flooding back, they are borne by blood. He holds the key to a secret world where the price of entry is death…

The book launches on March 20th at The King’s Cross bar in Cardiff, and will be on general release (both in print and eBook) from Monday March 21st. You can currently pre-order the book directly from the Hirst website. Those of you wishing to attend to launch, can find out more about it on this Facebook page. Everyone who attends the launch and gets a copy of the book signed automatically gets entered into the prize draw, the winners of which will be announce throughout the Vampire Themed Night bash at the King’s. One of the prizes will be a coupon for a free copy of the exclusive eBook prelude being published by Untreed Reads…

 

Which brings me to, ‘Serere, A Prelude’.

The novelette will be released at the beginning of March, and will only be available online (it will not be available in print – at least not in 2011, if ever), and serves as a introduction to ‘Seeker’ specifically, with a few hints of things to come in book two (the title of which will not be announced until near the end of 2011, for reasons which will become clear to those who read ‘Seeker’). And, as a taster, here’s a small excerpt from ‘Serere, A Prelude’…

Isobel Shelley waited, as she promised she would, but it was getting dark and the rain had started to fall. Not that either thing bothered her personally, but it was terribly inconvenient. She lifted her lantern, which she did not really need, of course, but appearances were important, and looked out to the northern carriage way. The Green was quiet, most people safely indoors, sheltered from the cold, but Isobel could not be sure she wasn’t being watched. Newington Green, home to the free-thinkers and dissidents, had history, and the people who tended to gravitate to this place knew better than to take things for granted. Probably one of the many reasons she loved living on the Green.

The sound of hoof beats crunching gravel drifted over to her, and she focused on the approaching shape. A gig pulled by a single horse, two people jostling about in the carriage as the wooden wheels managed to find every ditch and trough in the path. Both figures were dressed in the finest cloth, one looking down, his head bobbling about as if he were asleep, but the second, holding the reins in his hands, was looking firmly ahead, mindful of the mood of the horse. The gig slowed, and stopped right next to Isobel. She smiled, finally able to see the countenance of the young driver.

Young and as radiant as ever, Hareton Wesley smiled down at Isobel, and tipped his bicorn hat. “Miss Shelley, you are still a diamond of the first water, I see. A pleasure indeed.”

Isobel curtsied slightly, with a smile of her own. It had been some time since she had seen anything of Hareton, and was not displeased to see him once more. “Young Master Wesley, an’ you and the gentleman like to follow me?”

The gentleman in question looked up, clearly not asleep. An austere looking man of some fifty years (which certainly meant he was older), he raised an eyebrow at Isobel and edged his lip in the form of a very slight smile, which looked somewhat strange on such a Friday-faced man. Hareton looked at him, no doubt awaiting instruction, and the gentleman nodded. “As Miss Shelley says, so shall it be,” the gentleman said, in an accent that sounded almost German, although it had a cadence that Isobel could not quite place. She was not particularly well travelled, but accents did not usually stump her so. “Do lead on, dear lady.”

“As you wish,” Isobel said and tuned away, lantern still held aloft, and led the way across the Green.

 

Next up, although announced elsewhere, I can finally announce it to all those who read this blog; at the end of 2010, after much hard work and much discussion, Untreed Reads Publishing have secured a licence to produce original eBooks based on Frank Chadwick’s Space 1889. This steampunk series will consist of two novels which bookend four novellas, written by well-known genre authors. I am the series Commissioning Editor and Creative Consultant, which means I’m responsible for putting the whole thing together. Quite a task it’s proving to be at the moment, but amazingly good fun, too. Further information will be released over the forthcoming months, including a definite launch date.

Due to the busyness of me, this does have a knock-on effect on Legacy which was being released at one book a month. So far three volumes are available, and can be purchased here, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. Volume 2.2 will be delayed a little while, but as soon as I have time in my schedule I shall get on to it. Once again, I will keep you updated on developments there.