Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Textbook eyeball kick

...is a phrase used recently by my friend Matt Farrer, along with ‘high octane idea catnip’. I feel both should be officially introduced into the language. The former refers to a passage in a work of fiction that delivers a stunning descriptive effect, the latter to anything that gets the creative juices flowing with concept overload.

Thanks, Matt - I hope you don’t mind if I use them freely.

BTW - here’s a question: does anyone know if the 1969 Hammer SF movie Moon Zero Two is available on DVD? I saw it when I was a kid, and remember it fondly, but I don’t seem to be able to track it down. Any clues, anyone?

Back to the Ghosts. OiD is almost finished...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Away with the ghosties

So take it as read, periods of blog-silence from me = furious work sessions. Only In Death is thundering to a close like a... thundering thing (sorry, my weekly simile ration got used up writing the last chapter). It’s demanding stuff, to be honest, creatively speaking: after ten books, you’d think it would get easier (a false assumption I made when I started work on it), but with ten books in the bag, it’s actually harder. I keep thinking “nope, I’ve done that before” or “I can do better than that, this has to be bigger” etc. What’s more, when you’ve been around a bunch of characters for this much time (almost a decade) and this quantity of material (over a million words on the Ghost books alone), a big, climactic, arc-punctuating book like OiD is a intense experience to write. And, no, that DOESN’T mean I’m going to kill everyone. (Or should that be... “and no, that doesn’t mean I’m going to kill EVERYONE”?)
I’ve set myself all sorts of (sometimes conflicting) challenges with OiD. It has to be a good story, naturally, with lots of crowd-pleasing shooty death kill AND character threads... that much applies to any Ghost book I take a swing at. But OiD is also the last book of the third arc, and the last Ghost book for a while. The series is going on hiatus for a few months while I work on other groovy things for BL (news on that soon). So, like Ravenor Rogue, OiD can’t just HAVE a good ending, it has to BE a good ending, a satisfying end-stop for a run of books that wraps up all manner of story lines and ongoing threads. I want to make sure that everyone gets a moment or two to shine, not just the main characters but the background boys too (big shout out for Corporal Chiria! Noa Vadim! Rerval and Derin! Haller! Jessi Banda! Jajjo! And, all the way from RIP duties.... Merrt!). I want to make sure that if anyone does actually, you know, die, said demise is appropriately appropriate (heroic, shocking, accidental, surprising, whatever).
I also, this time around, wanted to make it claustrophobic and creepy. This is siege warfare undertaken in a deeply unpleasant place. This is a last stand at the end of the world. This is the Ghosts fighting to the bitter end in a place full of ghosts.
Oh, Xhalax? Just to put your mind at rest Ban Daur gets a lot more than one line in this book.
Okay, I’d better get back to it. I’ll be at Forbidden Planet, London, on Saturday 19th of May (1.00 o’clock), signing Brothers of the Snake (and anything else you’d like me to) and then at GW Oxford Street Plaza at 3.00 the same day. Keep those posted comments coming. We’re getting a really lively chat going, and some of the stories are priceless. When OiD is put to bed, I’ll try to respond to a few more directly.

Right, where was I..?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

In other news


Yup, I think I’ve met the Lucky Break Fairy once or twice. She has a nice smile and sweet hips.

Thank you for the quote, Toy Machine.

Tip for beating writer’s block? Uh, keep fething writing til it breaks? (sorry to be blunt, but I try to stay honest).

Iron Snakes? Well, if you think Space Marines have bland personalities, try Brothers of the Snake. If you STILL think they do afterwards, I will take some kind of ritual penance (Graham might too, as he writes the finest space marines I know of).

Robert- best post EVER. I will absolutely check out the books you recommended. Ask me some specific questions about writing and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Riders of the Dead: II (This Time It’s Hussars)
I do have a plot, and I’d love to write it. Trouble is, it’s set twenty years on, and I'm not allowed to accelerate my timeline beyond the GW studio’s timeline of events. One day, maybe...

Matt- good Ravenor goose bumps. Kudos!

Adriana - I take your point. Science will explain everything, eventually. It won’t make it any LESS weird.

Cec - I’d hang onto him if I were you (wait a minute, this has somehow become an agony column). On the subject of a 'feeling behind you', I also refer you back to my infrasound comment (would readers like me to be more forthcoming on that subject?)

Yes, I use a MAC. I love my MAC. You got a problem with that, PC boy?

Jesse, you win (sorry, Robert). THAT was the best post ever. Tell ‘G’ I’m ever so sorry. “In hindsight I should have realised he was going to have nightmares when, after finishing "Guns of Tanith," he stomped into our room and threw the book at my head.” I wish could write lines like that. Are you still out in Iraq? Where are you now?

Toy Machine: Shoggy lives! Except, oops... (just kidding... or AM I?)

Well, what an interesting can of worms I seem to have opened up. Huge thanks to all who bared their souls and talked about the odd things that had intercepted their lives. Most interesting to me were the folks who wrote about explicable odd things that were still odd.

It’s a funny old world.

To keep you all in the loop... things have been getting a little bit odder here. My wife and I woke up on Tuesday morning with the worst mindsets. Totally depressed and forlorn, both of us, for no reason. And... get this... all the clocks in the house were suddenly telling the wrong time.

Seriously... not just my wind-up watch, or my wife’s, but our computer clocks, the electronic clock on the cooker, the digital display on our massive fuck-off fridge, and the brass clock on my workroom wall.

I was a little bit freaked. Then my wife said “you’ve heard the moaning, I suppose?”

Turns out, twice, she’s been upstairs and heard a voice moaning down the hall while she was busy editing. She’s called out, presuming it was me or one of the kids.

It wasn’t.

You know, it’s actually quite fun living in a place that’s haunted.

Hey? What was that?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Yes, I said haunted

Ta to all who posted their 'odd property' experiences here. Keep 'em coming, I love reading them. What seemed most interesting to me was the number of people who had the self-same responses I did:

1) It wasn't actually scary at all.
2) It didn't make them believe in that sort of thing.

I still don't. Having said that, 'he' was walking around again last night. Noisy bastard.

Moving on. The Xfire chat. That went well, from my POV. Felt a little like last Saturday in the Epsom store, but on line. Mob rule. But then, I'm a whiny, needy writer, and I have to get my kicks somehow. A few technical problems to begin with (technical problems include - What is this? What? What is it with this PC? It won't cut and paste!)

I'm a Mac person, and Xfire only works on PC. Luckily, my wife stepped in and typed for me (and called me a 'rubber fingered dick'). Still, it was hectic. The moderators seemed swamped. I guess that's a good thing.

Hauntings apart, let's talk about this. I went thirty years without seeing or feeling a 'ghost'. But all my life I have suffered from coincidences, to the point of madness. I have taken to referring to the 'angel of coincidences', presuming that such a being hangs over me. My wife says it's merely 'proof the universe is working the right way', but, then again, she recently told me I was a 'rubber fingered dick', so who knows?

John Inman died today. I have never watched Are You Being Served? Ever. But every clip that came on the BBC news showed Inman playing off Trevor Banister, an actor I met last weekend for the first time. I didn't know he'd been Mr Lucas in Are You Being Served? (sorry, Trevor), but everyone I spoke to afterwards said "ohhh, Mr Lucas? You met him?"

Coincidences? Anyone? Has the angel touched you? Post something and I'll tell you about the Tibetan royal family and the twin towers.

For starters.

The angel and me are like this (makes crossed fingers hand gesture, realises he is on line, stops.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Haunted as in haunted

It's Wednesday, so it must be blog day. I seem to have become a once every other day blogger. Oh well, I'm trying to keep them coming regularly, so let's see if a pattern develops.

Yes, anyway. Haunted. I've never especially believed in that sort of thing, though it's always interested me. In the last ten years, I've lived in three properties that have had, well, odd properties. I was in an old, rented place about ten years ago that was genuinely freaky (I'll write about that some other time).

I've lived at my current address for seven years. It's old - it was a NCO's quarters for the local barracks back in Napoleonic times. A cavalry officer's house. Since we moved in, we (ie me, my wife and my two kids) have all been aware at different times of a... well, a something that stands at the bottom of the third flight of stairs. You might call it a figure, I couldn't possibly comment. It's not scary, or alarming. It's just part of the house. I realised the other day that, rather than deciding we did believe in that sort of thing after all, it had just become a fact of life (or something). An unconscious acceptance. It's become quite matter of fact. "He was about again last night," my wife will mention at breakfast.

I'm sure there's a rational explanation. Ultrasound, they reckon, don't they? Or is it infrasound? An odd natural resonance?

I don't know. All I know is that in the last few weeks, it's become more active. I was lying in bed the other night - everyone else in the house was asleep - and the whatever it is was walking around on the landing. I could hear it quite clearly. It wasn't the neighbours, it wasn't the wind, it wasn't the pipes, it wasn't the cats, it wasn't one of the kids getting up in the night for a wee.

When it walked up to the door of our bedroom and stepped inside (the door was open), I thought about looking, but decided to roll over and ignore it instead. I wasn't quite ready to deal with the possibiities at that time of night.

So there you go. Do sleep well. Don't have nightmares.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Kick start the week

Let's start this Monday morning with a big thank you to all who turned out to Epsom on Saturday. From the size and volume of the gathering, I'm going to guess it was a runaway success for the store. I had a great time, anyway, and it was especially nice to meet a few of this blog's regular posters in person. Newly observed signing request quirks: mobile phones and trainers. Oooo-kay.

(Pauses to make cup of tea.)

Monday morning's Read It Now recommendation: The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. It's not that it's crammed full of amazingly cool ideas (it is), there's just something amazingly pleasing and involving about the way it's written. Read it.

Oh, and my house is definitely haunted.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Something for the weekend

Who's going to be in Epsom tomorrow between two and three? Apart from me, that is? Come along and we can celebrate the opening of Epsom's GW store.

Things That Occur To You Randomly On A Friday Afternon #47: considering that standing stones and dinosaurs are two subjects of which I am particularly fond, how odd is it that I live (and was born near) the only town I know of that a) is named after one of the former (the 'Maiden Stone') and b) has the latter on its civic crest? And how much odder is it that I've only recently noticed it?

Oh, and I'm pretty sure my house is haunted.

Anyway, how was your day?