Tag Archives: science fiction

So I’m currently painfully close to breaking into the Amazon bestseller’s list

Granted the “Amazon Top 100″ of just about any genre isn’t exactly prestigious when it comes to the “real” bestsellers, but it would still be the biggest thing I’ve achieved to date. If I can sell just a few dozen copies more of the ebook in the next 12 hours, I might be in with a shot.

To that end, if you’re from the UK and you have a kindle, or you know someone with one, and you can spare £9.99, I’d ask you to consider Carcharodons: Red Tithe.

Also, a friendly reminder that you don’t need a kindle per-se – you can download the “kindle app” for free on almost any device, and read it from your laptop, PC, ect. If you’re not buying from Amazon UK or you can’t spare the money then liking or reblogging this post would still be a major help. The support I’ve received has really been phenomenal so far, so even if we don’t break into the 100, we’ve gotten further than I expected on release day.

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Four Days in March

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While the four days in March – specifically the 4th to the 7th – certainly don’t come close to the drama of those four days in June, on a personal level they’re undeniably significant. More so than any other time in the year, these four days give me a time to reflect on the differences that 365 days can make.

Today – March 4th – I am finishing the first draft of my second published novel. The first novel isn’t actually out yet, but that’s probably understandable considering I only put the finishing touches on it in mid January (publishing is at best a slow business, and at worst leads to all sorts of strange, warped release schedules). Tomorrow, March 5th, is going to be my 24th birthday. March 7th will be the first anniversary of the day I sent a cover letter to Games Workshop, hoping – yet scarcely believing – that they’d hire me as a tie-in fiction writer.

The latter half of 2015 and the early months of 2016 look to have been the breakthrough I’ve been working towards since 2011 kicked off with the horrifically cliched resolution, “I’m going to be a write.” Since April last year I’ve had four short stories, one audio drama and two novels published by Games Workshop’s publishing wing, Black Library. I should be getting the commissioning forms for a third novel in the next couple of weeks. Once the first two start hitting the shelves, at least one will be getting stocked in high street book stores like Waterstones – a personal dream come true. Breaking into the “pro” market has also meant that, for the first time in my life, I can say I’m self-sufficient. I can finally pay for food, rent and my University’s tuition fees without having to take out loans or lean on my parents for financial support.

March-to-March, it’s been a great year. Even more surprising is the realisation that all of the writing I’ve done for Black Library bar a single short story (so three shorts, the audio drama and the two novels) have all been written since November. Nor does the workload show any sign of slacking. For a budding freelance author, that’s a welcome realisation indeed.

These four days in March let me take stock and be thankful. I’m happy in the knowledge that, even if I haven’t written a single thing more when we eventually get to March 2017, I’ll still be able to say I’ve achieved things I’ve always wanted to do.

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The Big Reveal – Speculative Fiction and Getting the Shapeshifting Fairy Hippopotami Right

I couldn’t find any pics of shapeshifting fairy hippos. Sue me.

My first love will always be historical fiction. That doesn’t mean that I write lots of it. Contrary to what you may expect if you follow this blog, all of my published work to date has been speculative fiction, specifically five horrors, one fantasy and two science-fantasies. You might think that I’ve become accustomed to writing the “Big Reveal” – that moment when characters unaware of the abnormal horror/science/fantasy element discover the truth and then come to terms with it. 

I can assure you “accustomed” isn’t the word I’d use.

I find the Big Reveal to be consistently the most difficult writing hurdle I’ve ever had to overcome. It requires the balancing skills of a trapeze master. On the one hand, the characters must react in a way that is consistent with their own worldview, whilst at the same time being sufficiently shocked that the reader can still empathise them. This is made more difficult by the fact that the reader, having bought the book, is likely to be already well aware of whatever the Big Reveal is. You, as the author, have also known about it all along. Despite this the characters must act as though they were totally unaware up to that point, despite both their creator and the audience knowing.

And then, on the other hand you can’t afford to overegg the pudding. Readers will want to see a bit of realistic shock, but they won’t want page upon page detailing your character’s silent mental trauma as they come to terms with the existence of shapeshifting fairy hippopotami. Melodrama should be scoured from the manuscript – no swooning, fainting or spewing unless the characterisation absolutely demands it.

The biggest difficulty, mounted atop these problems, is how much I, the author struggle, to put myself in my creation’s shoes. To be honest I don’t really know how I would react if cyber-apes from space started landing in Edinburgh tonight. Perhaps the fact that we’ve been conditioned towards ETs for the past 30-40 years means I wouldn’t be all that amazed. Or perhaps I’d crap in my pants and spend the next month hiding in the bathtub, crying. The situation is just too abstract, too far-fetched for me to easily translate it into my character’s emotions.

All this has come to the forefront as I forge ahead with my current Urban Fantasy project. Does the heroine, when she discovers the truth, carry on kicking butt with nary a blink of an eye? How much time do I devote to her shock and horror? Where exactly is that line between believability and good reading?

Perhaps you, the reader, can tell me. Is the Big Reveal best handled piece by piece or all at once? How traumatized is too traumatized? Do people reacting with gaping mouths make you cringe? And what were the best Reveals you’ve ever read, and why? 

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