Here’s a little bit o’ devil may care speculation on which actors I like in the movie of my book. And, yknow, who can tell what’s gonna happen?
Here we are, from left to right – Lt Samantha Brock (Zoe Saldana), Captain Brannan Pyke (Colin O’Donoghue) and Dervla (Mallory Jansen)
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Yes, indeedy, yr humble scribe shall be hosting an AMA (ask me anything) on the all-encompassing Reddit website/hub/core/fountofallcomment – at 5pm GMT! The actual url for this happening is -
Although you`ll probably need to have a reddit account in order to post questions to me. I`m looking forward to it, and to the legions flocking to pore over my every word with eagle eyes….possibly.
(NB note updated URL for the AMA)
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I was asked by Marshal Zeringue if I`d like to contribute to his ‘The Page 69 Test’ with regard to Ancestral Machines, where the idea is to open the book at page 69 and see how it relates to the rest of the book, whether its a reliable guide to the rest of the story. That particular page was part of a brief chapter involving a couple of characters who play something of an observer role in the early part of the story, thus this was one of those exposition moments in drag, so to speak.
Here’s the link -
And as you might know, Ancestral Machines is due for publication as ebook on January 12th and as hard and paperback on January 14th. And I`ll be hosting a Reddit AMA on the Monday evening, GMT-time, yes, yer actual Ask Me Anything, so my life in an open book. Apart from the bits that aren’t
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Anyone who’s read my facebook page will have noticed that I tend to rant on about politics – a lot. Well, I counter, we live in an age where what used to be called normal politics (where parties actually stood for different things rather than fine shades of the same thing) is becoming a distant memory. My irritation at the same old pro-market, pro-business policies fuses into a teeth-grinding rage at times, hence my facebook output. I’m thinking of renaming my FB page Rantbook.
But, let’s not forget – I am a writer of SF and fantasy as well, and the considerations intrinsic to the creative process have not, to be frank, garnered frequent mentions by yours truly. Which is why I thought I’d talk/ramble on a bit about my use of character.
Always a tricky thing for me, creating characters which are sufficiently distinct so that I know what role they play, and the reader can distinguish between them. My main failing in the Shadowkings books, I feel, was my inability to really define the characters; in retrospect they all seemed to be aspects of some common template, lacking the idiosyncracies and sharp flavours that make real characters leap off the page. Part of that problem was my fear of allowing the pace to drop, because my observations were that there is a trade-off between character explication and narrative pace, and the more text you devote to rounding out character, allowing them to breath, the less urgent and forward-driven the prose.
So when it came to writing the Humanity’s Fire trilogy I tried to think more deeply about character types, and about dialogue – and I found myself delving further into character motivations than I had previously. But still, there was that fear of boring the reader, of deadening expectations of excitement with navel-gazing and inner brooding. Again, in retrospect this anxiety led to having a few characters who were defined by their dialogue ticks rather than a genuine feel for their wholeness. Its not just ego that drives this worry, but also the admiration I experience when I read the writers I admire, Joe Abercrombie, Dave Wingrove, Lauren Beukes, George RR Martin, James Tiptree, from whose pages I come away both delighted in the ‘how did he/she do that?’ and gripped with envy and the resolve to reach for a similar benchmark.
And I cannot help but wonder if part of my discontents in this matter is the fact that I will never know if my characters DO work – I will never be able to read my work as if I were an innocent reader. It is really difficult to know if you have actually reached a benchmark worth reaching, because as the writer you can see the inside of the work. Anyone who’s seen any of those pictures taken from inside the Statue of Liberty will understand – the outer semblance of unity is underpinned by unseen frameworks and welded supports, which is how a final, pre-publication MS draft feels to me. I know where the joins are and where the surgery took place, so the launch, of a new book upon the raging seas of the readership really is a time of consternation, in a mild way.
And there’s the new book, Ancestral Machines, which is notable for the relatively limited number of characters compared to the previous two trilogies. This time out I have deliberately allowed the characters to speak, or brood inwardly, in order that definition of character becomes a stronger aspect. Does this mean that the pace is less frenetic than previously demonstrated? – possibly, but the setting and the background will I hope provide sufficient weirdness to keep the reader thinking, ‘what the heck happens next?’
Aye, well, another bit of a long hiatus, there. Here we are on the first day of March, and I can honestly say that I`m looking forward to the chance of an illness-free 2013 – I mean, there’s always a chance, isn’t there? I make this plea to the cosmos in the wake of 4 months of almost unbroken suffering from a variety of unpleasant coughs and colds, almost as if all the lurgies got together in late October and decided that I was Human Test Target Numero Uno.
Anyway, pushing on with the new book, Ancestral Machines, at full throttle now. Its turning out to have a somewhat different flavour from the Seeds trilogy – instead of a huge cast the main viewpoints are restricted to 2, with another couple supporting. It means letting the characters breathe and expand a bit so that they can carry the story, well, more of the story than the individual characters did in the trilogy. More on this as and when. Oh, just to let you know – I will be attending Eastercon at the end of March, in Bradford, and I will be moderating a panel dealing with the matter of a constitution for a Mars colony, assisted by the one, the only, Ian Sales. Should be interesting. We might even mention Mars in it.
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