Exodus Sequence is published at last!

My new collection of short stories is published today!  Golly, it’s a thrilling feeling, no matter how many times you’ve done it before (not a lot, really….)  This is the first time all the Exodus Sequence stories have appeared together.  Until now, they could only be purchased individually, along with the occasional freebie.  I’m advertising it as sci-fi/fantasy/horror/romance but to be honest, it’s none of those things.  I feel that I’ve taken the genres and given them a good shaking (rather like a dusty carpet.)  I would love to know what you think – genre writing seems a bit fraught these days!

Link to Amazon:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Q6ZW7X6

This is what the blurb looks like on Amazon:

A COLLECTION OF CONNECTED SCIENCE FICTION NOVELETTES:
An alien disturbs war-vets in a wire prison.
A woman experiences aliens on Mars in a bizarre afterlife.
A war veteran can’t remember how she was crippled.
A disturbed young woman is approached by a secret agent to break a code.
A fighter experiences a revelation that goes beyond immortality.
Scientists try to break a field around Mars.
Nimue tempts a magician into his future.
The most powerful man in the solar system hides in a soulless world of white.
An autistic girl falls in love with an alien…
The nine apparently dissimilar stories in diverse styles and structures are connected by a single thread: the existence of Atlantis. The mystery of Atlantis, its disappearance and its people are gradually revealed in the stories, each a substantial novelette.

Thought I’d try my hand at giving it away…

I know I’m new at this but you’d think Amazon would tell you when they decide to give you the choice of offering your book free for a few days!  I had no idea until I happened to open my Bookshelf – and I wouldn’t have done if I hadn’t actually been doing something else.  I wonder what makes them decide that you should have the chance of selling your book for zero pence/cents/kopeks.  Do they feel sorry for you?  Is it reserved for books that are utterly crap?  Or is it a kindness?  Well, whatever, I didn’t sit around thinking about it – I went for it.

So for the next five days, I’m going to be doing nothing except promoting WIRED which is now free.  I feel exhausted already (and my hands are frozen – golly, it’s cold sitting at a computer for long periods) but I’ll keep going!

This is the Amazon link:

Brand New Year, Brand New Novel

Today for the first time in years, I sat down to start pre-writing a new novel.  I’ve been looking forward to this for an entire year.  I’ve been looking forward to it all Christmas.  When I did sit down at last, and pulled out my ancient, worn-out copy of “Teach Yourself Screenwriting,” it took me half an hour of internet time wasting before I could get going.

It was only when I finally got to the bit about choosing a title that I finally stopped for the day (also, I need some tea).  Finding a title has been excruciating.  After several false starts, I eventually settled down on a title that was basically pinched from a Marilyn Manson lyric.  This is NOT a good idea.  Having written before about plagiarism, I took myself in hand.  Anyway, the lyric kind of gave away the ending so really not a good idea, then.

It’s been three years since I first wrote up the original few pages of notes of this novel and in those three years, the novel has been through about ten titles.  The one I finally settled on today seems okay – but only okay.  It doesn’t have a WOW factor.  So I’ve bracketed it off as a Working Title and hope that something miraculous happens before I published, otherwise I’m going to end up with a lame, meaningless title like Ultra.  And look where that got me.

I can’t remember when last I sat down to write a new novel cold, as it were.  When I wrote Ultra several years ago, it had already been developed from a short story into a screenplay, with months and months of complex pre-writing.  So when I sat down to write the novel years later, it was easy.  I’d done all the preliminary work.  I just changed the names and places that felt more familiar to me and the story and characters literally flowed from my fingertips.

Since then, I’ve done a great deal of improving on my Fleet novels, but none of them needed rewriting from scratch.  Even when I rewrote Commences some six years ago, it was the third major attempt at getting the story out, so it wasn’t new.  Transference also became a novel developed from a short story into a screenplay.  Flesh for Sale started life as a novella.  V.Gomenzi, which needed a GREAT deal of work, had to be structured around the three other written Fleet novels, so it didn’t entirely feel new.  I was inside a universe that had already been created and V.Gomenzi bound that universe and made sense of it.

So, in fact, I have NEVER sat down to write a novel that wasn’t something else before.  This is my first truly NEW novel.  I self-published in order to get to this novel because I knew I couldn’t write it until I had the Fleet novels out the way.  I had to find some kind of closure on them and even though self-publishing has been a total utter failure, at least I feel it’s DONE.

I can begin again.

It’s been three years since I first had this idea.  What a relief it is to be finally working on.  Expect many reports on the gruelling writing process.

And as for that title, it’s top secret!!!

PS  Great date: 5 – 1 – 15

Drowning in the Sea of Deceit

Free to read on my website at the moment is a short story called Drowned, part of the Exodus Sequence.  It’ll be the last story in the collection when it is published next year on 25th February – (click the link to pre-order:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00Q6ZW7X6)

This is possibly the only story I’ve ever written with an origin that remains a mystery.  In other words, I have no idea where it came from.  I wrote it nearly twenty years ago at a time of intense crisis in my life (harrowing divorce, lack of identity, zero independence…) and while I can understand the erotic shades, the rest quite bewilders me.  I’ve never read anything about the sea or sailing or boats or ancient sailing boats, nor watched movies of this sort, nor been interested in the sea in this way.  When reshaping this to fit the Exodus Sequence, I had to check the ocean-going facts – and found them correct.  How did I know this stuff?  There was no internet when I wrote this and I’ve never been one for intense research.  How did I know about the compass?  And the other ship terms?

Nor have I ever written in this style, not before or since.  It’s quite unlike me, though it’s drama does seem to lend itself to the type of story (supernatural fantasy).  Someone who read it at the time commented that it was very Lovecraftian – and I had NO idea what he meant.  I hadn’t heard of H.P. Lovecraft and was amazed, years later, once I’d read a great deal of Lovecraft (and had forgotten my short story) to find, upon rereading, that it was indeed Lovecraftian (not half as good, though a lot sexier).

Another aspect that I’ve not used again is writing in the second person.  It’s actually written in the first person, narrated by the captain of the ship, but he directs his narration to a woman, a possible lover, and refers to her constantly throughout as “you.”  There are no names mentioned in the story at all.  While I’ve seen a lot of second person narration (it seems to be popular in the type of fan-fic my teenage daughter reads on-line), I’ve not seen first person-second person narrative.

The story is also decidedly odd.  Yes, well – blush – nearly everything I write is odd, but even I think this is very strange indeed.  I wrote this with full confidence, with no notes, apparently no forward planning, yet I knew exactly where it was going, exactly what the ending would be, exactly how it would twist and turn.  But did I understand what I was writing?  Because I’m not sure I get it now.

It feels as if I didn’t write this at all, though I have distinct memories of the first draft appearing in longhand.  I don’t believe in automatic writing and don’t think this is that.  It feels as if my own memory has unfolded here but one not of this life.

You can’t get odder than that.

CLICK HERE to read it on my website.

It’s original title, by the way, was The Sea of Deceit, but in keeping with the past tense verb titles for my Exodus stories, it turned into Drowned.

COLLECTION

Review: Pornography by The Cure

I can’t believe how good this still sounds after over three decades.  My memory of it was of something huge and dark and muddy….but the muddiness, it transpires, was due to the fact that – as a cash-strapped teenager – I had rented the album from the record library (do you remember RECORDS?) and taped it on a cheapie cassette tape (do you remember CASSETTE TAPES??)  So it’s not entirely surprising that I thought it was muddy, specially as I listened to it about ten thousand times and probably wore out the tape.

The power of these eight brief tracks is that I still know all the lyrics and – slightly worryingly – they are still appropriate in my life.  They still echo everything I feel…it seems you don’t ever really stop being a teenager;  you just get better at pretending.  Unlike the other Goth stuff I was listening to at the time, this one has held up the best.  I didn’t hear anything that tore my heart out quite as much until I discovered Marilyn Manson’s Antichrist Superstar about six years ago.

I’m not a huge Cure fan and never liked their pop singles much.  For me, this was what it was really all about – the darkest, darkest night of the soul, the dread of living, where every breath is death.  This is brilliant stuff.  It’s not just noise either – the drums are huge but so are the tunes.  Melody isn’t sacrificed and each track is exquisite with its own beauty.  Robert Smith’s vocals are chilling with despair and hatred and I find myself going around with various lyrics echoing inside my head, particularly The Figurehead, which was my favourite track and still is:  “….and someone will listen at least for a short while.”

I used to hope that someone did.

I haven’t received the CD yet but I downloaded the digital, remastered version, and haven’t stopped listening to it for four days on my newly installed Amazon Music player (which took all of a second to download.)  I’ve become as obsessional about it now as I was thirty years ago.  You know something is good if it lasts that long.

Review: Terror and Wonder ~ The Gothic Imagination (British Library Exhibition)

I love looking at old books – really, really OLD books – and original handwritten manuscripts covered with scribbles.  The British Library does this sort of exhibition well.  I’ve previously enjoyed the Sci-Fi exhibition (back in the days when entry was free) and while this one was less entertaining, it was still immensely interesting.

I was surprised to find how many of the books I’d already read, mostly without realising they were part of this genre.  By chance, I’m currently reading Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho, one of the grandmothers of Gothic fiction and much ridiculed by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey, so it was easy to immerse myself in the world of creepy castles, towering architecture, mountainous landscapes and terrifying forests.  I far preferred the earlier styles, the origins of the genre, rather than the sensationalist horror that it turned into in Victorian times, not helped by the lurid fascinations of Jack the Ripper.

The exhibition wound its way around glass cabinets (oh, look, a giant book full of tiny little books – no wonder they all went blind reading teeny tiny print) to the chilling sound of a woman screaming.  By the time we got to the film clip on an eternal loop, I wanted to throttle Frankenstein’s bride, the one with the zigzag hair.  It was also deeply evocative hearing Gillian Anderson as Lady Deadlock in Bleak House – you could practically feel the murk coming off the scary streets.

There was a lot to see, a lot to read, and far, far too many people (what happened to the timed entries?) which means I missed at least half of it and yet was still on my feet for an exhausting two hours.  Books, paintings, movies, a long white dress worn by virtually every screaming, fainting heroine/victim and even some post-punk gloom boom which took me back several decades to my preferably forgotten late teens.

Utterly worth seeing but avoid Sundays – it’s crowded and there’s nowhere to have lunch.

The link below will take you there….

http://www.bl.uk/events/terror-and-wonder–the-gothic-imagination