Tuesday, 27 September 2016

A 100% True and Factual Account of How We Entitled My Book.

So, titles, yes. Titles took a while. Age of Assassins[1] was submitted under the original title of 'The Uncrowned Heir'[2] which I kind of suspected might not survive as all my historian friends had pointed a certain thing out about the title and a few editor types too, picky people, basically, had also pointed out the same thing. So it didn't wash. Fortunately, I wasn't hugely married to the title so finding a new one wasn't a big deal.

A lot of titles were thrown about. I did like 'All Deaths Well Intention'd' but it didn't really say Epic Fantasy and just after I'd suggested this the final title came about. Would you like to know how?

Yes?

Then I shall begin.

It came to me, as things often do, in a dream. In this dream I was approached by the ghostly form of Grrr Martin[3].

'Grrr Martin!' I said.

'It's George,' he said.

'Sorry, I always read it as Grrr and it's sort of stuck in my head.'

'But it is George.'

'My dream, my rules,' I said. I'm not sure he liked that but he had important news to deliver so he humoured me.

'I have the title for your booooOOoooOOOooOOOk,' he said in a particularly ghostly manner.

'Oh, good, because I've...'

'Age of Assassins,' he said, cutting me off because, to be quite frank, I think he was a bit irritated by the whole Grrr thing.

'That, Grrr, is epic,' I said.

'Then all is decided, oooOOOOooOOOOooo,' went ghostly Grrr.

'To be honest, Grrr, I'm not sure I am that epic. I'm just me, you know, sat here, typing away.'

'You must believe in yourself, RJ,' he said, and then he vanished leaving behind an echoing 'believe, believe, believe' behind. Well, I thought, no wonder his book's not finished if he's spending his time in other people's dreams giving them titles for as yet unpublished books. I can't agree with his suggestion now, as this would only encourage this sort of behaviour [4]

'I won't do it, Grrr,' I shouted into a dreamscape not unlike a misty sequence from a 70's Dr Who episode.

Anyway, the next day my editor, Jenni, got in contact and said, 'what about Age of Assassins, RJ?' and now I was no longer in a spooky and entirely made up dream sequence I thought it sounded pretty good and was actually surprised something so epic hadn't been taken so I said, 'let's do this!' and my themetune played and I slid straight into a writing montage.

*INTENT WRITING FACE*





  1. Which I have taken to saying in the voice of the Space Ghost narrator.
  2. But aren't all Heirs technically uncrown... SHUT UP. Shut up or I will cut you.
  3. Dressed as Santa Claus, which he really made work and it was also an obvious and useful metaphor.
  4. Yes, I am the parent of a small child. How did you guess?



Friday, 26 February 2016

Wordplay

What I are is forever. Some say fairy but aren't that, word is an ache. I am placement. A there-ing that exists local. Time is ebb and flow and I am here and now. Sometimes local is green and others stoney, sometimes wet sometimes yellow-dry. Now it is grey of broken boxes filled by quick ones.

The smallyoung see so real, past the thither and into hither. Find me perched above a dead squirrel – my adversary for a day and ever. I win. It touched me and life ran out and into me.

'Fairy!' made of flesh and waves.

No!

Realing teeth, twisting air into sharps made to snap and bite small fingers but.

No.

Such life used to real. Less gained in attack.

'Fairy,' airtwist into words. The quick one smiles.

'Touch you?' Flesh waves air.

'Yes.'

I win.

So easy.

Quick ones are no squirrels.

I are is forever.

.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A Brush of Grief

Little girl in the Boy's class, she's fun: smiley and mischievous and we often walk home the same way. She laughs a lot and sometimes I pretend to be a bear – which she finds hysterically funny and her, slightly older, sister finds funny in an eye-rolling oh-my-I-am-nearly-eight-way. Usually their mum or Grandma picks them up but sometimes it's her Daddy, he always looks a bit fierce, a bit hassled.

He died at the weekend.

I don't know what from.

Something they don't tell you when you become a parent is how you will feel about other kids. I have never particularly liked children but every kid in the boy's class feels like family, I wouldn't hesitate to go to one of them if I saw them upset or lost and I'm pretty sure any of the other parents would do the same for my kid. And I'm glad, it's a happy class.

'Now it's just their mum and her sister who live in her house,' is how the boy put it. He said it three times when he told us. As if he was trying on this concept and moving the intonation about until it felt right (it never will).

I never spoke to their Dad, he didn't really invite conversation, seemed in a hurry and I'd like to tell some story about how he always smiled when he saw his girls. But I never saw that, cos when he picked up his girls it was them you noticed, the sudden grin – 'Daddy!' A flurry of bags and coats and fluttering, brightly coloured, paper.

That's gone now.

In the mornings when I drop the boy off this girl always has a smile for me, most of the kids do - in that way kids have I've been put into the 'safe and fun' bracket - she smiled at me as if nothing had happened. As if this weekend wasn't a fracture point in her life, a crack that will run through the rest of her existence. I sort of wanted to sweep her up, tell her everything would be alright. 

Of course, I didn't. It would be hugely inappropriate for a start, and it would be a lie, it won't be alright, it may fade but it will not – ever – be “alright” 

More than that though, this little girl has had a huge part of her life come tumbling down and until you have a kid you don't realise how important stability is to children. The more upset a kid has in one part of their life the more important it is that the rest is rock solid. So I will pretend I am not heartsick for her and continue to smile when I see her. I will hug my boy, hard.

And sometimes I will pretend to be a bear.  


Monday, 20 July 2015

Favourite Things.

Do you want some movie deaths set to 'Favourite Things' from 'The Sound of Music'?

Who wouldn't? (Now updated with contributions from friends.)

Favourite Deaths.

Tears in the Raindrops as Rutger's switched off,
Nommed by a shark, bring up blood with a cough,
Poor Gwyneth Paltrow is only a head,
these are a few of my favourite deaths.

Hans Gruber falling from Nakatomi's Top,
Chestbursting John Hurt and out the airlock.
Freddy gets poor Johnny Depp in his bed.
these are a few of my favourite deaths.

Bambi's mum bleeds out Mufasa stampeeded,
Charlie don't surf but napalm's still needed
An overweight metaphor, Kurtz takes his last breath,
these are a few of my favourite deaths.

When the knife cuts, when the gun shoots,
when I'm feeling sad,
I simply remember Scanner's exploding head,
and then I don't feel so bad.

Lynchian pimp tries to headbutt a table,
Church spire aims to make body more stable,
Fire extinguisher makes such a mess,
these are a few of my favourite deaths (Plushy)

Fall on a handgrenade, go out a hero
Execute vampires in death by stereo
Howie in Wicker Man, pour on the meths
These are a few of my favourite deaths (Sarah)

Trapped under ice whilst playing ice hockey
Bisected on a bridge by a headless jockey
Pushed off a raft, Leo takes his last breaths
These are a few of my favourite deaths. (Richard Buffet)

Sliced like an egg by a criss cross red laser.
That guy in the omen in need of a glazer
William Foster’s passing left me bereft
but these are a few of my favourite deaths. (Richard Buffet)

Quadruple amputee knight won't stop fighting
Opera Ghost sabotages the lighting
Victims name murderers with their last breaths
Just a few more of my favourite deaths (Sarah)

Monday, 20 April 2015

The Traitor.



The chimneys of Leeds were cold for the first time in decades. The air were cleaner to breathe than I'd ever known though it were thick with the threat of violence.

We'd rejoiced when Vickery's had won the contract to build an Empress class dirigible for Montezuma, god-king of the Incas. Germany had fallen behind on airship manufacture, they had the skill all right but what use that when you need exotic woods from the India, cotton from Jamaica and metal from the African mines? Not much when good Queen Vic controls them all. So now if you wanted an airship you came to England, and if you wanted the best airship you came to Leeds.

Me, I couldn't even say the name of the airship we built without choking, we called her 'the Popcat'. They'd named her for some dark Inca god and it seemed he'd brought all his ill will to our city. Montezuma wanted her in white, see, and the government – self important, ill informed lugs that they are – promised him just that. Two weeks before the skinning of the Popcat started all industry in the city was shut down. Not so bad for those who run it and can sit back and have themselves a holiday in Scarborough or Brighton but a disaster for the families depending on the wages that wouldn't be paid.

I think it was about the time of the first riots that the kiddies started vanishing.

One of the Lords, some high fancypants adventurer named Lachlan Quellor, brought up a regiment of steam tanks to guard the houses of the rich. Denied a target the hungry masses had started giving dark looks to Dridgers like myself -- even though I was already a known agitator and if I was not such a skilled man Vickery's would have ditched me long ago.

We couldn't stand and watch our brothers starve. When the men decided to strike it was natural they would ask me to lead them.

So I broke me fast on black bread smeared with a thin skin of lard. I would have had nothing but Mary insisted, said I needed my strength to go find Barnaby, our son. He had joined the ranks of the missing four days ago. That was one a week for the last five months. Even before he were gone I were consumed by the need to find our missing childer. When Barnaby went my fervour became a madness that ate me up and sucked the life from me. I had not eaten, slept nor paused to comfort my wife in her worry. Fear makes a man selfish.

We did not speak during breakfast, Mary and I. I had a half remembered vision of being carried back to our damp little terrace the night before by friends who had found me collapsed in the gutter. Mary crying as I were laid out insensible on the bed.

As I ate a voice surfaced, as if it were a ghost. A memory of a soft hand and a whisper into the ear of an exhausted man.

'Mary,' I said, 'one moment.' she stared at me with eyes raw from weeping.

'Do what you must, Husband,' she said. There was no love in her words. There had not been for many years.

My Dridgers coat was a heavy thing, waxed against the weather and with many pockets for the tools of my trade. As a skilled skinner it was mostly filled with the long, sharp bodkins and heavy caulking tools that I carried – Leeds had become an even more violent place recently and they made good weapons. In the lower left pocket, the one in which I usually kept my canvas thread, was a piece of paper folded once with a sharp crease. I took it out and rubbed it between my fingers. Good quality, not the rag parchment most of us used. The words within stole my breath away and forced me back to sitting on the rickety chair I ate my breakfast from.



Dear Sir,

I believe your son, Barnaby Finlay, has joined the ranks of those missing. I am in no place to act on the information I have but believe it may be of some use to you. I write to say only this, it is possible that your child, and the others who are missing from your community, are within the Vickery factory. Indeed, I believe them to be in the disused undercroft. You will find the key with this letter.


Yours Sincerely,


a Friend.



I turned the paper, as if somehow a key could be hidden there without me knowing before feeling foolish.

'Woman,' I coughed out, 'get me my coat.'

'Your coat,' she gave me a look would have withered fruit on the bough, 'I'll not...'

'Do it,' I barked. Harsher than I meant to be and held up the letter, 'it is about the boy.' My voice softened as the tears returned to her eyes, 'may lead me to him, Mary. Him and the others.'

She nodded, kneading her pinafore with hands twisted by arthritis, damp and cold then quickly passed me my coat. Within the same pocket I had found the letter in was a key, an old rusted and ugly thing.

'I must go, Mary. Hope I bring Barnaby back with me.'

'God go with you, Barnabas.'

I nodded but could not reply. I had long given up on a God who seemed to only care for the rich.

Hurrying through the streets to the Vickery factory were heart breaking. A morning mist had slunk up out of the river and the smell of baking, usually so strong in the city, was absent. No one had money for bread. A Steam Dragon coughed in the mist ahead of me and I pressed myself into the walls of the terraces as a column of the beasts steamed past – guns high in the air, engines coughing and hissing. Soldiers little better than bandits rode their iron shells, staring at me with eyes as cold as the wife's. I could smell the liquor coming off the soldiers even above the bitter and cloying stink of machine oil. They could well do with some of my Mary's temperance.

Outside Vickery's factory the picket was already in place. I'd missed the morning jeering at the workers brought in from London who lived in a fenced and guarded campsite up on Roundhay park but heavy stones littered the ground. Hector, one of the union stewards ran up to me. He sported a black eye and held his left arm close, cradled against him to protect it.

'How do, 'Ector,' I said, 'rough night?'

'Aye, some Soldiers decided to 'ave a drink in the Cross Keys,' he smiled, showing a missing tooth. 'We gave as good as we got, Barnabas.'

'Glad to hear it,' I tried to smile but I could tell he weren't convinced.

'Barnabas,' he said, 'I know you feel a debt to us but there's no need for you to picket. Go find your lad.'

'That's why I'm here, 'Ector, he's in there,' I pointed at the massive red-brick building with the only chimney in the city still belching out dark smoke. 'I need to get in there.'

He nodded, chewed his lip.

'Right,' he said, 'there's a back way, pickets thinned a little as people get hungrier. We couldn't guard them all. No one'll see.'

'No,' I said, 'and thank ee, but if I sneak in they'll arrest me as a luddite the moment they see me. I need them to think I'm real. I need them to think I've broken.'

He leaned in close, wincing with pain as he moved.

'Barnabas,' he said, 'if our men think you're a scab they'll rip you apart.'

He was worried for me but I saw no other way. I had to get into the factory and I had to make it look real or before I walked through the factory doors I'd be dragged away to prison.

'Please Hector,' I said. 'He's my son,' and I had to swallow the tears back. Hector nodded.

'Walk with me to the gate,' he said. 'You can be over the gate before they realise. I'll make it look like you let me down.'

'Thank you,' I shook his hand.

It was hard, walking amongst men I had worked with, befriended, talked around to my way of seeing things. Some I had bullied into solidarity with their comrades in the mills and the foundries. They clapped me on the back, asked after Barnaby. Made offers of help, told me they had food secreted away and I was welcome to it. The black iron gates of the Vickery factory grew with every step I took. As cold and unwelcome as the moment coming where I would betray these men and the principles I had held dear for years.

Beyond the gates stood a row of soldiers. Bright red smears in the fog, Martini-Henry rifles on their shoulders, bayonets on. I hoped they wouldn't fire when I leapt the gates. If the men behind me mis-understood and followed me thinking I was storming the place the Martini-Henry's would make short shrift of us all. One bullet from them could pass through three men. A steam Dragon roared behind as it brought round its turret mounted maxim gun.

One deep breath. One jump.

I was up.

There was a moment when nothing happened. The crowd behind me, so lively a moment ago, became silent. The soldiers stared and I brought my foot up onto a crossrail and with a great push forced myself upwards so I was out of reach of the crowd.

'Scab!' I heard Hector's shout and his call was swiftly taken up by the crowd. My heart cracked along the lines scored by the loss of my son. But it was too late now to stop. The soldiers brought their rifles up to aim forward as I went over the top of the gate. A stone bounced off my shoulder and the pain barely registered through the shame. I let myself drop to the floor and raised my arms. The crowd behind me went silent once more. As if waiting for me to speak. To say something that would justify the faith they had had in me.

'I..' the words would not come. I had to concentrate, force them out. 'I need to work.'

I tried to close my ears to the noise, the hate. As the sergeant came forward to march me into the factory I silently thanked him for ignoring the tears streaming from my eyes.

I could not clock in. I'd torn up my clocking card on the first day of the strike. Instead Mr Vickery himself, thin, sonorous, welcomed me back to 'the family' with a clammy handshake and told me how he believed now I had caved the rest would soon follow. He was almost chummy with me. I could not speak but he seemed to think I was being suitably deferential and sent me on my way.

To get to the undercraft I had to pass through the hanger in which housed the Popcat. She'd been a skeleton when I had seen her last and now she was fully clothed – a pure white skin stretched across her ribs, the gondola below carved with the vicious gods of the Aztecs. Her cannon weren't mounted yet but there was already something fearsome about her, something I had not seen in a dirigible before. It was as if all the fear and hate in the city was held within the beast before me. The professional within me wanted to inspect the skinning of the airship as I walked past the gantries and scaffolds to get to the undercroft. But my skin crawled at the thought of touching her and I stayed well away.

The key slid into the undercroft door, it was a place I had only been in once before and it were mostly filled with dirt where the back had collapsed. Then the door had been difficult to open, screeching in complaint as it were forced backwards. But now the door swung open easily and the light intruding showed the debris inside had been cleared away. I made my way further into the place, whispering a silent prayer to a God I no longer believed in as I moved slowly towards a flickering, dismal light.

I found a hell.

Had I believed in God I would have thought Satan had arisen and made this place his home. It hollowed me. Stole the ability to cry out or move. Here were our children, or what was left of them. One look showed the cruel gods of the Aztecs had made a home here. Snarling wooden statues held rotting meat in their jaws. A small hand. A small foot.

Oh my Barnaby.

My lad!

A sobbing shuddered up from deep within me, bending me over, forcing me down onto a floor dirty with old blood and gobbets of jellified meat. I reached into my coat for a bodkin, I do not know what I meant to do with it, to take my own life or run amok in the factory. I had not thought that far ahead. Before I could do owt a firm hand twisted my wrist and made me drop the heavy needle. Then I was gripped around the neck and the barrel of a gun pushed into my temple immobilised me.

'Get a grip on yourself, Man,' said a voice, well spoken, educated. 'Your boy is safe,' he sounded irritated. 'Boy, speak.'

'Father?' he sounded unsure of himself, but what child would not if he were seeing his father cry. Relief,rushed through me, like water to the thirsty, like faith to the faithless.

'Barny? Barny you are well?'

'Yes Father.'

'Enough,' said the voice, 'Gilroy, take the boy away, the less time he spends in this charnal house the better. Get him a bun or something.'

'What do you want?' I asked and the man chuckled.

'I want for every man to do his duty for England,' the gun dug into my temple, 'not that you are a man given to duty.'

'My duty is to my fellow man, not the rich,' I told him.

'What about your son?'

'You wouldn't hurt a child.'

He laughed.

'Oh I would, though I would rather not. Now listen well. Montezuma himself intends to fly in the Tezcatlipōca back to Texpoco, after a brief stop off to quell the Catalan rebels in Spain.'

'Brave men, we should be standing with them not building machines to stamp them down.'

'Well,' hissed the voice in my ear, 'on that one thing at least we are in concordance my friend. Kill Montezuma and there will be instant civil war in Azteca. This will give the Catalans and Spanish a chance to make their rebellion against Aztec rule work. That is where you come in.'

'Me?' What did he mean? 'I'm no soldier nor a pawn of the ruling classes.'

I tried to struggle to free myself from the grasp of the man who held me, He felt like, like nothing, a skinny thing and yet he did something that caused me such pain I could barely breath.

'Look around you, fool,' he spat into my ear. 'What you see is the everyday life of the Spaniard, their children are food for Aztec Gods and their men and women chewed up in the armouries to supply the jaguar soldiers.'

'I don't understand what you want?'

'It's simple,' he said, 'you're going to blow up the airship when it's over the channel.'

'Me? You kidnapped my son to get me hear? But why me?'

I could hear the smile in his voice. 'Becasue you;re perfect. What a story, a known agitator sneaks aboard the ship and blows it up?' The Aztecs will suspect we had a hand in it but be unable to prove anything. The Empire cannot afford a war with the powers of Mezo-America yet.'

'They will destroy the trade union movement if I do this,' I whispered, more to myself than the man holding me.

'A useful side effect, I admit,' he did not sound concerned, 'and one that will please my paymasters but it is not my intention. I'd rather use a timer but we need a scapegoat. Now, what say you? Your life for that of your child and a generous stipend for your widow?'

'How do I know you tell the truth.'

'You don't,' he was laughing. It was a cynical sound, 'but I've not blown your brains out and I am not completely inhuman. Now, England expects every man to do his duty, what say you, Mr Finlay?'

'Very well,' I said, and then added. 'Which lackey are you? Lachlan Quellor.'

He sniffed, as though he smelt something worse than the rotting flesh around us..

'Oh no,' he said, 'I'm one of the men who actually gets things done. I'm not the sort of man you would read about in the papers.' he leaned in close and whispered in my ear. 'For what it's worth, I'm not unsympathetic to your cause.'

I think I hated him a little more for those words. Rather a man who fights for what he believes than a man who betrays what he knows is right.

They sat me in a packing case, the bomb is below me and the gentle vibrations of the airship run through me. The ticking of the expensive fob watch in my hands seems terribly loud, louder than the voices of the Aztecs I hear occasionally walking past. The watch is engraved with the initials S.W.

In ten minutes I will be dead.

I hope it will not hurt.

There has been too much pain.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Ongoingness

So, number three in a very occasional set of blogposts about the exciting life of an author hovering at the edges of professionalism. We've done The Rejection (boo!) we've done the 'New Start' (huzzah!) now we are on to writing the new thing (ambivalence!) [1]

Writing about this is hard cos I don't want to give much away about The Uncrowned Heir in case you get to read it one day. So I'm going to try and talk about process rather than content which could be really dull.[2] I don't really read many posts about 'how to write X' because then I think 'well, I don't do that' and then I start reading more posts about 'how to write X' and I don't do that either and then I sit here thinking I am doing everything wrong and really if you think about the odds of having any sort of success at all you realise you are quite likely wasting your time and what's the point?[3] Which means I have been entirely derailed from why I am doing this - I'm doing it because I love doing it[4]. So I'm going to stick with what is the best piece of writing advice I have ever been given and it was given to me by the rather wonderful Chaz Brenchley – 'What works for you is the right way of doing it.'

Follows, is what works for me [4a].

Once I knew what I wanted to do I decided to write it and nothing else. That sounds like nothing but it's not because that's the moment I stop being distracted and commit to finishing what I'm on with.

Then for the next week or so I will annoy my wife by being generally distracted and not paying attention to what she's saying[4b] while I daydream through the entire book. I make occasional notes if I REALLY like something but the aim is just to know what I am doing and where it is going. In this case I knew I wanted to write a crime book in a fantasy world, rather than a fantasy book with crime elements. I also focused a bit on my principal characters and how they would interact and what their relationship is but I knew most of this as it's them that excites me and they are the starting point. I'm a people person and people are what it's about.

Then I made a table that had room for thirty chapters, a brief description of what I intended in that chapter, room for notes if I needed to backfill and a final column for whatever it is I had forgotten to make a column for.[5] I also did some sketches of the castle so I had an idea of the geography as it plays an important part in the story[6].

I fill in what I can in my chapterguide thing, this mostly consists of: the end, the beginning and a few milestone moments that need to happen, it'll be maybe half full by the time I start. I don't bother with sub plots or world or other characters as I like to feel that comes organically[7] from the story. I'm still undecided on whether this bit is procrastination or not.

Then I ignore all the notes and guides and maps and stuff and write. I set myself a target of 2000 words a day, Monday to Friday, and nothing at weekends as family and stuff. I don't sit and write solidly I sort of dither about through the day, coming and going and talking to myself like I have 'problems'.[7a] As I said, It took about six weeks in real writing time as I had a break for Christmas and to be really ill in the middle but I ended up at 85'000 words so I outstripped my target by a fair bit and ended up with a first draft that had plenty of good stuff in it.

Once done. I left it for a couple of weeks and wrote some comedy stuff with my friend Chris[8]

And now we are at the bit I struggle the most with. The rewrite to get something that works. The second guessing, the wondering, the not knowing. It's not quite as bad this time as it has been with other stuff and, as I'm reading, I definitely feel what I've done has a real emotional punch to it and I have a hugely likeable main character. But there are problems and the good thing is that I am seeing them[9].

 I think. 

 Or maybe I'm not.

 Or possibly it was right first time and now I'm making it wrongerer.

 I still love doing this.



1. I'm not actually ambivalent about it I am excited but that wouldn't work as a joke.

2. Eh? What? Sorry, I fell asleep thinking about process.

3. ...which inevitably ends at entropy and the heat death of the universe. SO JOLLY.

4. I may have mentioned this before. Not sure.

4a Or doesn't, judging by my success so far.

4b She is watching Celebrity Big Brother at the moment so I kind of wish I'd timed that bit of the process for now.

5. Ascii pictures of badgers that only look like badgers to me.

6. The sketches also serve to make my wife, who is an artist, laugh hysterically. Of course, if she REALLY loved me she'd do it for me but apparently earning money so we can eat is more important than me. Terrible state of affairs.

7. Organically. Really? Organically?

7a This is why I don't sit and write in a café. *Telephone rings* 'Hi, MrsRJ? It's me. No, now...listen...no, I don't care what Keith Chegwin said in the house last night. Listen, I've been committed. Yes, again.'

8. Chris really likes process, and order and planning and things like that and will probably murder me at some point in us working together.

9. Ha! Some of them anyway.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

New Beginnings.


Anyway.

Last blog post was about not selling the book[1]. This blog post is about starting again from scratch. Starting again is like a beautiful flower of possibility opening after a long winter of cold, grey and uncertain weather that rains rewrites, snows line edits then melts away leaving you with a manuscript no one wants[2].

After A Darkness Against the Stars[3] not selling I had a chat with Rob, my agent, about what to do next. He had some suggestions[4] and a couple of editors had some suggestions[4] and my friends had some suggestions too[4]. So I wrote a bit, I outlined five ideas I thought had legs and wrote a bit of a couple of them. I also wrote about ten thousand words on something an editor had suggested might be a good fit for me. Showed it to Rob who though I'd missed what they meant and then wrote another ten thousand words which were nearer the mark. Rob also looked through what I've suggested and told me what he liked and what he didn't[4]. In all I wrote about 50'000 words of experiments and what-do-I-enjoys.

But, picture me at this point. I am in a quantum[5] state. I have four more books roughly outlined that occur within the same universe as 'A Darkness'[4] and a few short stories. I LIKE that universe. I also have five ideas, most of which my agent thinks have legs, and I have quite a bit written on a thing that an editor has suggested I have a go at. I am the proverbial pig in mud. Lack of ideas is not and never has been a problem[6].

So, what do I do?

Can you guess?

The answer is...

NONE OF THE ABOVE![7]

Go me.

Let's be honest. I mentioned in my last post about the reason for doing this and the reason is I love it. Although I would no doubt enjoy doing what was suggested by an editor if it didn't sell then I'd probably be a bit gutted. I'd much rather be hung for a wolf than a sheep. If I get turned down again then at least I've spent -indeterminate amount of time- on something I really want to do. I took a couple of elements from things Rob liked and rolled them up with something else and ended up with a thing.

Here's an aside. If my agent had suggested any of the following:-

A coming of age.

A teenage 'hero'.

Introducing romance elements.

I would have flounced off in a huff. Well, I wouldn't. I would have said, 'yeah, I'll think about that.' Which is my version of flouncing off in a huff cos I'm not really a huff type of person. The jury is out on flouncing[8]

However, what I am doing has all the above elements because I am contrary like that. And they are needed for the plot.
 
At first the new thing was called 'The Jester's Twist' which I really liked but Rob wasn't as keen [4]. As I wrote it though that title made less and less sense - the book proved to be about a something else. So now it has a more definite title, which is 'The Uncrowned Heir'. Its first draft is finished, at 85'000 words. I wrote it in six weeks which is pretty quick. It's either going to be really good as it works, or awful. TUH is a fantasy whodunnit which doesn't seem to be a very popular thing[4] but I think it has really likeable central characters that will pull you along. It's written to be one of three and because I know what I want to do I can pre-seed it with stuff that carries forward to other books.
 
I let a couple of people read the beginning few chapters and the feedback was that they were pretty excited by it.
 
Now I've just started my first edit of it so no doubt my next blogpost will be about how much I hate it and what a fool I have been to write such rubbish.



1. Woe, poor me, etc. Feel free to make cash donations if it will salve your conscience.
2. See 1.
3. That title is so dramatic. It really is a pity.
4. Write fantasy. Everyone wants to read fantasy. Don't be too weird.
5. Picture my physicist friends tutting and pointing out this is a very bad usage of 'quantum'. At least I know that. I hope that gives them a Quantum of Solace. Ha ha. Oh my. So angry.
6. Can you say Hubris?
7. I picture my agent shaking his head while saying 4.
8. It isn't. I am practically built of flounce. In imperial measurement I weigh ten stone eleven flounces.