Archive for February, 2012

Podcast interview with ThrillerCast, EMPIRE STATE iBook links and audiobook news

Last week I had the pleasure of being a guest on ThrillerCast, a thriller/crime/speculative fiction podcast hosted by Alan Baxter and David Wood. We talked about Empire State, superheroes and comic books, and had a fine time! You can listen to my episode here, or via iTunes.

Speaking of iTunes, Empire State is now available as an iBook. You can access the iBookstore via the iBook app on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, or you can find Empire State via iTunes (UK store, US store, Canadian store).

Finally, Empire State is coming as an audiobook in May this year, and both the MP3 CD and regular CD (both unabridged readings, of course!) are up for pre-order at Amazon.com. They haven’t appeared on Amazon.co.uk yet, but I’ll keep an eye on it and post links when they are up.

New interviews, and the Vertigo Comics 2012 sampler

Three new interviews with me have gone online over the last couple of days. These are at:

Enjoy!

I’ve been trying to get on top of my comic to-be-read pile recently, but when I heard that Vertigo Comics (DC’s mature imprint) had put out a sampler of forthcoming titles that includes Saucer Country by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly, The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard, and Fairest by Bill Willingham, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning and Adam Hughes (with a future story arc by Lauren Beukes), I just had to grab it from my local comic store.

And I’m glad I did. For some reason I’ve never really delved into the world of Vertigo (although I do have every issue of The Unwritten by Mike Carey to make a start on at some point), perhaps because superhero comics are my primary interest and it’s hard enough to keep up with them, without adding anything else to the pile. But this sampler is a knockout – I’m definitely going to pick up the above-mentioned titles when they hit, plus Dominique Laveau: Voodoo Child – the only one of the four new titles in the sampler that doesn’t have anyone I know involved (which is itself a cool and strange thing).

And it’s free, so check it out.

Making the transition from unpublished writer to published author

Readers of this blog will notice that I haven’t really talked about new or ongoing projects much recently, although January was Empire State‘s release month so there’s been a bit of a blitz on news, reviews, interviews, etc, related to that title. But I’ve actually come to realise that, perhaps a little to my own surprise, things have changed.

When I started this blog, I was an unpublished writer, and like many I wanted to basically chart my own progress – even if no one else was reading the blog, at least it would be a good tracker for my own benefit. So it made sense to talk about the work – short stories here and there, various novels I was working on. I used to put up little wordcount trackers, I revealed titles and one-line descriptions. In fact, for a few novels, I even wrote fake back cover blurbs, little mini-synopses.

For an unpublished writer, that all makes sense. You want to get noticed by people, but there’s more to it than that – you want to get people interested. So, free fiction here and there, and a blog about your projects and their progress. If you say you are a writer, it’s good to back that claim up with some evidence. And while novel blurbs and progress reports are perhaps a little academic if no one actually gets to read the books – because, unless you decide to self-publish, the ultimate goal is to hopefully get a publisher to pick them up – for any agents or editors out there who may be looking, it’s a nice way of showing that you are working your ass off.

At least, that’s what I think.

When you get a book deal, things change, and perhaps more than I realised at first. Apart from obvious things that are contracted and kept confidential until the appropriate time – for example, I sold Empire State to Angry Robot in February 2011, but it wasn’t announced until March – there are actually a lot of things that become important to keep private. This is a business, after all, and as with any business, information is shared only with those who need to know.

This includes future projects – but not just projects that may be contracted, pretty much anything else I’m doing. I actually realised this only relatively recently as something that has come up while doing promo work for Empire State. Interviewers love to ask what I’m working on at the moment or what is coming up next, and really it’s not something I can answer. Empire State is out, and Seven Wonders is coming in September, but beyond that I’ve had to default to the old standbys of “watch this space!” or “more information when I have it!”. To me that sounds a little pretentious, but really there isn’t anything to report. I’m working on stuff, for sure, but until projects are locked down and signed off, there just isn’t anything to say.

So gone are the days when I can list the next three or four novels I want to work on. I either want to sell them, or they might already be contracted but not announced, but either way it’s not public information anymore.

In a way this feels kinda weird, because it’s completely different to why I set this blog up in the first place! But, times and circumstances change. Wordcounts are gone. Book titles are gone. I mean sure, I can say I’m working on four things, and I’ve posted on both Facebook and Twitter than I’ve been doing a lot of synopses recently, but that’s it. It’s not that I’m being deliberately mysterious or vague, it’s just that there is nothing to say.

But when there is something to say, you can be sure I’ll say it. In the meantime, I’m… busy working on stuff!

And Seven Wonders is out in September, and you can put in your pre-orders at Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com now.

EMPIRE STATE reviewed in The Guardian

So while I was at the SFX Weekender (write-up here), Empire State was reviewed by Eric Brown in The Guardian, who said:

Christopher’s tightly plotted novel is a truly original debut that, while subtly referencing Orwell, Kafka, Marvel comics and Philip K Dick, manages to maintain its own distinctive tone – a genuine pathos and longing for something elusively *other*. Recommended.

Well… that’s… actually, I must admit to be slightly speechless over that review. The only reaction I can muster is: holy schnikes! The review appears online, and was on page 10 of the Review section in last Saturday’s print edition.

That and the review in The Financial Times and I’m one happy author! I think this calls for a celebratory tea and biscuits…

The SFX Weekender 2012

Ah, Pontins, by the sea, in winter. Perhaps not the most enticing destination, but despite the freezing cold and the less than ideal facilities, the SFX Weekender 2012 was a jolly good show.

Of course, this makes me wonder what the SFX Weekender would be like if the venue was actually good. I was one of the lucky ones, I think – I arrived on Friday morning when there was no queue to check-in. My chalet was warm, had hot water, electricity, a nice bathroom and a comfortable bed – okay, there were no mirrors, but considering what some other guests had to put up with, I think I got a good deal.

Pontins Prestatyn Sands may have been recently refurbished, but a Pontins is still, unfortunately, a Pontins. The food was unspeakable, and that’s no exaggeration – not only did you have to queue for an hour to get any, but when you did get was akin to eating warmed-up cardboard and/or carpet. Aside from the single cafeteria, there was nowhere to get tea and coffee unless you’d brought your own and could make it in your chalet. There were several bars, all of which were understaffed which meant a 20-30 minute wait to get a drink even when it was quiet.

But possibly the biggest issue was the total lack of anywhere quiet to sit – even if you did, on those rare occassions, manage to get a seat in the pub (with a surprisingly small number of tables and  chairs considering the size of it), there was usually something on which was Very Loud Indeed. It was the same in the Main Void, the dealer’s area (immediately adjacent to said Void), and the Screening Room.

So, Pontins is awful, I think we’re agreed. I suppose the SFX Weekender is held there because the organisers a] want a residential convention experience, and b] there is nowhere else big enough to cater for 6,000 attendees. It’s a huge shame, though, that Pontins really is quite so spectacularly awful. I should say that the refurbished Prestatyn camp is a whole lot better than the concentration camp-like surrounds of Camber Sands, where the Weekender was held in 2010 and 2011, but that’s not remotely any kind of positive endorsement.

But hey, I wasn’t there for a holiday. Venue aside, the SFX Weekender was, quite frankly, brill. It was my first event as a published author, which was very cool, and I spent most of the weekend rushing from one thing to another (oh, that’s the other problem with Pontins – the place was so huge that if you lost someone it was impossible to find them again for hours, and it was impossible to phone or text them due to the noise).

So, what did I do? Well, signing books at the Angry Robot stand with Dan Abnett was a blast – Dan is great company and it was a real pleasure to sign copies of Empire State for people. Empire State – and several other Angry Robot titles – sold out by the end of the weekend! The Using History panel was fun, although I was slightly spooked by the sight of about 400 people in the audience – one great thing about the SFX Weekender is that due to the sheer size of the thing, even the literary/book panels (which do still feel a little out of place, somehow) got large audiences. On the Friday night I drove Will Hill, Lou Morgan and Laura Lam down the narrowest country roads in all of Wales to find the fabled Tor party, but once there I had a fine time debating the Betty and Barney Hill UFO abduction case with Paul Cornell, watching Sarah Pinborough eat cake (don’t ask), drinking tonic water with Laura out of what I’m sure was a crystal candlestick holder, and being delivered pizza by Joe Abercrombie. Actually, that’s a useful tip – standing by the oven in the kitchen is a great way to ensure you get food.

The Orbit/Gollancz party on the Saturday night was no less fun, even if I spent most of it outside on the balcony given that a regular-sized chalet cannot really fit about 100 people. However, I met Ken MacCleod, chilled (quite literally) with Emma Newman and Pat Kelleher, as Jared from Pornokitsch (perhaps not deliberately) threw shot glasses of Kraken rum at people. The Kitchies awards on the Friday night were much fun, too, and I totally failed to predict any of the winners.

The event culminated in Craig Charles’s DJ set, and although he arrived fashionably late (half-past midnight, I think), it was fun to watch him from the sidelines while I tried to catch up with everybody I’d so far managed to miss (I refer the reader to my comment about the silly size of the place, above).

I brought home eight books, all of which I managed to get signed, along with a couple of things to add to be ever-growing project list. I took no pictures, although you can see me on the balcony outside the Orbit party on their blog here.

Will I go next year? I think I will – Prestatyn is only just over an hour’s drive from where I live, and things will be much more comfortable at the Beaches hotel I think. Despite the complaints – nearly all of which are Pontin’s related – the SFX Weekender is a lot of fun.