Monday, January 19, 2015

TDOTL Paperback Cover

Minions... BEHOLD, the genius of Mr Tom Percival... 

Friday, January 9, 2015

First Post of 2015

I have just seen Tom Percival's rough version of what the paperback cover for The Dying of the Light ... and all I can say is WOW.

This cover needs to be a poster. You'll be seeing it yourself in a matters of weeks, and then you can join me in demanding more posters. MORE!

Before the paperback of TDOTL comes out, of course, there'll be the paperback edition of Armageddon Outta Here. We'll be using a slightly altered version of the hardback cover for this because I didn't want anyone out there picking it up thinking it's one of the main books — I want it to be as obvious as possible that it's a collection of stories. There ARE going to be three new stories in it, though, about which I'll go into more detail closer to publication.

The Skulduggery series is, of course, now over, and I'm working on this mysterious new trilogy of mine. I had a third of it written by the time TDOTL was released, and then I went on a tour that took me to the other side of the world, and writing stopped.

When I got back, I had to write those three new short stories for AOH — so writing of the new series was postponed.

Then I needed a break. I just needed one or two weeks to just stop working and relax. So no writing got done.

Then it was December, and I sat down to write the remaining two thirds of the book. And I sat. And I sat. And nothing was happening. My absolute deadline for getting the first book finished was the end of January, and I had a LOT to do. But nothing was happening.

The writing had stalled.

This, as you can imagine, was not good. This was ever-so-slightly worrying. It had happened before, of course. It had happened with The Faceless Ones and again with Kingdom of the Wicked. Writer's block? Maybe. If such a thing exists, then I probably had it.

December carried on. I spoke to my agent and my editor just before the Christmas break, because the title I had been planning on using (or something similar) had been used by someone else a year earlier. We'd been having discussions about what it was going to be called now. None of my ideas were hitting in the way I needed.

But then, right before the Christmas break, the title came to me. No, I'm not going to tell you what it is — not yet. But it came to me and my eyes widened, and I sent off an email. A short email. Two words long. My title. My agent and my editor got back to me immediately — perfect.

We got on the phone, discussed it, said merry Christmas, and hung up.

Happy once again, I sat down at my desk and began to WRITE.

Except I didn't.

The book was still stalled.

The day before Christmas Eve I was sitting at my computer, staring at the screen. I remembered how I had been blocked when writing The Faceless Ones and Kingdom of the Wicked. When I was writing TFO, I was in the process of buying a house and I was about to move in. Something like this is incredibly distracting, and probably accounted for my inability to write. I broke through that block one day (on New Year's Eve, 2008) simply because enough time had passed. I didn't question it, I just wrote. When I was writing KOTW, I got halfway through and things slowed down.  I wasn't blocked, exactly, but I wasn't inspired. There was something missing. I looked at the title — Kingdom of the Wicked — and I asked myself what does this title say to me?

For some reason, it said 'alternate dimension'.

That's what was missing. Immediately I was writing about shunting and Mevolent and a world ruled by sorcerers, and slotting all that into what I'd already written about Argeddion and Kitana.

So, two days before Christmas, I looked at this title I'd just come up with, and I asked myself what does this title say to me?

And it told me. And suddenly everything changed.

The core idea is still the same — it's still about a 16 year old girl who is being chased across America by demons — but it has grown. It has expanded. It has evolved.

So I scrapped what I'd written. I managed to salvage maybe half of it, but that meant I was now even worse off than I had been. The thing is, though, I was now inspired. This was FUN again.

My deadline is still the end of this month. In the last week, I have written enough to that I have once again got a third of it written. I calculate that I will need to write twice as much as I usually do per day to get it done in time. Yesterday was my first attempt to do this. I wrote EXACTLY twice as much as I usually do. Yesterday was a good day. Today is going to be a good day too.

It has to be.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Writing Year in Review

What a year that was...

2014 saw the final part of my EPIC nine-book series reaching the shelves, and there was much rejoicing. It was a bit of a scramble to get it written in time, as it generally is, but this book achieved everything I wanted it to achieve, and so I remain immensely proud of it. The ninth book, and the events that transpire within it, had been a secret I'd been keeping for seven years, and it was such a relief to get it out there. Sure, I didn't tie up every last plot thread — in some cases I just ran out of time, in others I decided to be mean and simply not resolve stuff — but it was a fitting send-off, I think.

The publication saw another astonishing Tom Percival cover, plus a very limited black edition which, as it turned out, was an extraordinarily clever bit of marketing by yours truly. It meant that the excitement that first morning was ELECTRIC as everyone rushed to search through each shop. That wasn't my original intent — I just wanted a cool black book — but to follow the tweets that morning as each copy got snapped up... that was awesome.

The reaction to the book was exactly what I wanted, also. True, there was some confusion over the chapters that ended mid-sentence, but all in all, readers understood what I was doing. And then to catch you all out right at the end....

... glorious...

The Dying of the Light got me back touring, of course, and we fit in the Requiem Ball and the Theatre of Shadows, and I once again visited New Zealand and Australia and met loads of enthusiastic readers. If ever my ego was in need of a boost...

And then I got home, and got to work on the NEW book.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Magically Pleasant

Christmas is coming...

My Christmas tree is up, the Nightmare Before Christmas decorations hang happily beside the boys from South Park, there are presents... Every time you turn on the MTV Christmas channel you're treated to "All I Want For Christmas" by Mariah Carey...

Soon it will be time for "Love Actually" to appear on TV. I do love "Love Actually", actually.

And to help you, my Minions, prepare for this holiday season, we at Skulduggery Towers have made for you a Christmas card that you can send out into the digital world. Because we're nice like that.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

How To Write Books Good, Part 3

Beginning the book:

  • Sit down at desk.
  • Open Word document.
  • Look at blank page.
  • Become anxious.
  • Decide that the problem is the font.
  • Change font.
  • Be much happier.
  • Look at blank page.
  • Make cup of tea/coffee.
  • Drink tea/coffee while looking at blank page.
  • Do not check Twitter/email/Facebook/Tumblr.
  • Check them a little.
  • Take a break.
  • Sit back down.
  • Write something.
  • Change font.
  • Be much happier.
  • Take out phone in case someone wants to ring you. 
  • Do not play Angry Birds.
  • Do not play it.
  • Play it a little.
  • Put phone away.
  • Delete what you have written.
  • Write something else.
  • Read back over it.
  • Shrug. Decide to fix it in the rewrite. 
  • Congratulations! You've started the book!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to Write Books Good, Part 2

Thinking up the character:

  • Look at your idea.
  • Wonder what kind of character would best suit that idea.
  • Come up with character.
  • Give character a name.
  • Scribble out name. Think of a better name.
  • A better name than that.
  • Look at the name you've picked. Realise "Johnny Rockjaw" sounds made-up.
  • Decide on a name. Decide name is fine.
  • Write character. Character is fine.
  • Character does what character is supposed to do.
  • At halfway point, character rebels.
  • Character starts telling you stuff. History. Backstory. Opinions. Stuff not in the plot.
  • Panic.
  • Character derails plot.
  • Plot crashes and burns.
  • Character emerges from wreckage, continues on.
  • Struggle to catch up to character. Character walking too fast.
  • Character behaving like real person.
  • Panic.
  • Who is more real? The writer who writes the character, or the character who writes the writer?
  • Experience existential crisis.
  • Have lunch.
  • Get back to work.
  • Congratulations! You now have your character!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

May Be Unsuitable/Distressing for Younger Readers

I stopped describing myself as a feminist a long time ago.

I was a teenager, I reckon, or at the very most early twenties. This was, what, 1994? I looked around at the world and I said to myself "Yep, I'm not gonna call myself a feminist anymore. What I'm going to do instead is treat people how they should be treated. Treat everyone equally. I'm going to live as though equality has been achieved, because hey, that's what gonna happen. It's inevitable. In fact, it's almost here. We have six years left until the twenty-first century, for God's sake. Equality is a stone's throw away."

And that's what I thought.

We had come so far as a culture, as a world, and I could only see this continuing. I could only see gender equality in our future. I could only see a world where racism and homophobia had staggered off into the corner to die a quick, indifferent death. I could only see a world increasingly populated by young people with young ideas, with young attitudes. No more bigotry. No more extremism. The future was open and free, and it was a beautiful place to live.

In many ways, I was hopelessly naive. In other ways, I wasn't. I was practical. I was logical. This was the future.

But then the future changed.

I don't understand the world anymore. I don't understand why it is the way it is. So many countries and continents seem intent on going backwards. Anti-gay laws abound in Africa. America's red states are spreading, blissfully ignoring the achievements of one of their most successful presidents. Extremism is rampant throughout the world. People are scared. Nationalism is rising. Conservatism is taking over. Our politicians are actively lying to us and our police forces, who are meant to protect us, the people, have become an army of corporate thugs.

And gender equality? What the hell has happened there?

It's as if the tide has gone back out, and it's washed away all the promise and potential that I thought we had achieved. I think we had achieved it, mostly, but the problem was that it hadn't been secured, it hadn't been nailed down, and it didn't take much for that tide to take it all away from us.

There are words I never wanted to use in this blog. Chief amongst them is rape. So I do apologise to my younger readers here, I sincerely do. But rape culture is spreading. A girl goes out to a nightclub and she is practically guaranteed to be leered at and groped. This behaviour is seen as normal. It's seen as unexceptional. This is something girls steel themselves for because they know it's coming and there's nothing they can do about it.

It's everywhere. It's accepted. A football player imprisoned for rape is allowed to train back at his old club upon his release. He's allowed once again to take his place alongside a team of men that tens of thousands of young lads look up to. What does this say to those young lads who have yet to form their own opinions on what is and what is not acceptable when it comes to girls?

A so-called comedian bases his entire persona around rape culture. A "pick-up guru" tours the world teaching men how to score with women by overpowering them. GamerGate happens. Twitter abuse happens. #NotEveryMan happens. Understanding is shunted off to one side. Sensitivity and empathy are ejected in favour of instant offence and vitriolic reaction. But if they'd listen, if these offended men would just listen, they could maybe understand why women feel threatened. And next time they go to step into an elevator that just has one lone woman inside it, maybe they'll think again, and wait for the next one. Because is a little inconvenience really worth the risk of making another human being worry when you're alone together? Is your pride worth that?

When I was younger, I assumed the world would continue to improve. I was wrong. I assumed I could act as if everything was okay, because everything would eventually be okay. I was wrong there, too.

So, I am once again describing myself as a feminist. It's only a big deal to me, but then it only has to be a big deal to me. It's a personal acknowledgement that if I want to change the world, I have to fight for it.