2nd May, 2011: Pre-trip to-do list

We’re off to New Zealand for three weeks tomorrow, but I understand they have the internet out there so I’ll still be online¬†occasionally. The blog may become a little sporadic, and there’s no way I’m organised enough to compose a month’s worth of posts and schedule them to auto-post. Besides, I’ll be wanting to post photos and stuff from the trip.

Yesterday I sent off a bunch of stuff to my agent – some revised chapters and a synopsis for a potential future project, and the revised full manuscript and synopsis for Ludmila, My Love. I pretty much met my timelines on those, which (as planned) just leaves me with one current task – finish the edit on Seven Wonders. While I don’t need to deliver this to Angry Robot until October, it still needs to go through a beta-reading period and I want to have plenty of time in hand to do the expected edits and rewrites, as well as handle anything unexpected that might crop up as I give the manuscript another pass.

I’m hoping to have that done by early June, and then once that goes off to my beta-readers I’ll be able to get onto the next projects. I’ve got two firmly in my calendar.

First is a top-to-bottom rewrite of my steampunk novel, Dark Heart. This was the first novel-length fiction I wrote, and apart from being, well, not that well written, I also made a whole heap of bad decisions regarding that book. The major problem is two-fold – not only is it first-person from the point of view of pseudo-Victorian characters, it’s epistolary in format.

First-person faux-Victorian means the whole thing is packed full of fluffery and baroque language. I remember this being very hard to write at the time, and certainly now it’s not a style I’m interested in. Having written four novels after Dark Heart, I think I’m starting to find my style and voice, and looking at Dark Heart now, it doesn’t sound right. It’s me putting on a voice and writing unnaturally – acting, almost. While some writers can do this very well – just think of the wonderful baroque style of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke – it’s not my bag. The book needs to be rewritten in third-person to my own style, although keeping in mind the period detail.

Epistolary is an interesting form, where the story is told via letters, diary entries, etc – Dracula is probably the best example of the style. However, it’s very much an acquired taste and while it made sense one hundred years ago, when communication was via letter, it is less relevant – and interesting – today. So that has to go as well. The story, plot and characters of Dark Heart are good (or “crazy-awesome”, as my agent said!), so rather than just trunk the thing forever, it’ll be good to rework it.

Although I haven’t done a project like this before, I’m hoping it won’t be too traumatic – after all, I’ve essentially got the most thorough and detailed outline you could imagine: an entire manuscript. So with that in mind, I’m going to be strict and stick to a maximum of two months on that project.

Because after Dark Heart is the next new book, and one that I’m dying to get stuck into: Night Pictures. This is a story of missing people, parallel universes, television hacking and the phenomenon of street light interference. I’ve got a feeling about this book – okay, that sounds kinda wishy-washy and pretentious, but hey, it’s true. I haven’t done the outline yet but I have a stack of notes that, from today onwards, I’m going to try to add to in some form every day.

All of that – plus edits on Empire State, which are due to arrive – will probably take me to the end of the year.

Busy is good!

  • Have a good time. Looking forward to your photos when you get back, seeing that NZ scenery helps me add to my savings so I can go there soon!