A rather rambling blog-post over at SFF Chat, a very cool book blog, in which I talk about – well, who knows? Books and hot showers, islands and airships…
Meanwhile, I finished my second short story for the year (though it needs some more work first) and am trying to finish a short graphic novel that’s been sitting on the back-burner for a while.
Over at The Book Smugglers (what a cool name for a blog!) I have a guest-post on the inspiration and influences of The Bookman.
It’s hard to track the earliest seeds for The Bookman – my just-released-in-the-uk steampunk novel (the American edition comes out in August). In some ways they go back to my first published short story, The Ballerina in Nemonymous 3, and even earlier, to a never-written novella. What did prompt the actual writing of the book, though, is easier: it was that lost whale in the Thames… – read the rest of the post.
Adventuring means being cold – and hungry – and tired – and scared. I once climbed the volcano on the island of Gaua in the South Pacific – a semi-active volcano surrounded by the southern hemisphere’s largest volcanic lake, Lake Letes. Very few people ever get to go there – the Banks islands of Vanuatu, where I lived, are some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of the world. And the volcano was beautiful. Giant eels lived in the sulphuric lake, and giant prawns, and nothing else. There were no people there, no lights, nothing but the smoke rising from the volcano and the sun setting in the distance.
And we ate instant noodles mixed with tinned fish. I urge you to try it.
And it rained that night.
And trying to go and relieve myself, I instead fell in the mud.
Incidentally, if you were wondering what the banner image above is, it’s a Vanua Lava snake dance (or snek danis, in Bislama). Vanua Lava is the island I lived on.
This was supposed to be published a while back, but it’s up now: my survey on Optimism in Israeli SF, over at the Shine Anthology blog. And it’s illustrated!
Below are the three books in the Adventures of Captain Yuno series of YA SF from the 1950s. It might not be a total surprise to learn that I do, in fact, possess all three (incredibly rare these days). Aren’t they beautiful?
The Bookman is officially out tomorrow! And here’s a picture from my editor’s desk:
Meanwhile, on the whistle-stop blog tour, a couple of new posts that may be of interest (or otherwise!): What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Steampunk (SF Signal) and The Language of Science Fiction (The World SF News Blog).
For the next week or so I’m doing a “blog tour”, which is either a poor man’s book tour or just, like, so, 21st century, man… My brain is actually a bit mushy at the moment, which necessitated a visit to the aptly-name Sunset Bar tonight for, well, sunset.
My first stop on the blog tour is at the wonderful Book Chick City, where I talk a bit about the heroes and villains, or some of the secondary characters, in The Bookman (2 days to go, UK!).
Probably my favourite character from the Sherlock Holmes canon is Irene Adler. The woman, as she always was for Holmes. There are others, of course – Mycroft, the unforgettable brother who resides at the Diogenes Club, of whom we’re told that “occasionally he is the British government.” Or Dr. Grimseby Roylott, the murderous step-father appearing in the speckled band episode…Part of the fun of writing a steampunk novel – and it is a lot of fun – is visiting – or re-visiting – familiar characters not only from the fiction of the period but from the fiction that followed. No one does the sly cameo better than Kim Newman, of course – his Anno Dracula and sequels remains a venerable Who’s Who of Victorian literature, not to mention Italian horror movies and so much more besides – but in writing my own The Bookman I took great joy in introducing, sometimes in significant roles, sometimes only in passing, some of those loved characters that still draw us to read books long after their authors have died.
Over on the very cool The Steampunk Home blog I’ve got a short guest-post and an exclusive excerpt from The Bookman, about – and taking place in – the now-gone Egyptian Hall, which used to stand in Piccadilly.
Everyone has their own secret London. Mine includes Davenports’, the magic shop in the bowels of Charing Cross Station; Simpson’s on the Strand, the restaurant Sherlock Holmes used to dine in; the Red Lion Pub in Soho, where Karl Marx used to drink and above which he worked on Das Kapital; the ancient, hidden Nell Gwynne pub behind the Adelphi Theatre, and others. The Egyptian Hall, sadly, is no longer there. Built in 1812, it was a mock-Egyptian structure in Piccadilly that, over the Victorian era, played host to any number of strange exhibitions – including automatons, freak-shows and magic. The Mechanical Turk, that legendary chess-playing machine, exhibited at the Egyptian Hall. Some of the first moving pictures were shown there. And the British family of magicians, the Maskelynes, have taken it over, when it was known as England’s Home of Mystery.
What better place, then, to feature in my very own steampunk story? Indeed, how could I possibly resist? – Read the rest of the post and excerpt!
The truth is, I didn’t initially set out to write a steampunk novel. I set out to write an ambitious, secondary-world fantasy trilogy that was, like HebrewPunk, based on Jewish – rather then Western European, or Celtic, or Nordic – mythology. Like HebrewPunk, I thought it would have dybbuks in it – and golems – and kabbalists. It would also have chases, and adventures, and a quest of some sort. It would have been great…
Only, somewhat to my surprise, it sucked.
It wasn’t the Jewish element, of course. To a large extent, it was me. I was trying to take on too much – too soon – and to do it, moreover, without joy. I didn’t enjoy it. and if the writer doesn’t enjoy the book they are writing, why expect the readers to? – read the rest of the post.
While I tend to keep this site for more publications-related news, I’ve been doing some guest-blogging recently – and with a few more lined up for the next couple of months, at least. So I’ll try and post links when they’re up, the most recent being:
- At The Forefront of Madness – over at Jeff Vandermeer’s Ecstatic Days blog
- Editorial: Who Will you Invite to the World Fantasy Convention? – over at the World SF News Blog