Friday
Mar202015

A Cli-Fi Trilogy

It's taken over 6 years, around 220,000 words, endless re-writes, incredible generosity and patients from thousands of people who supported the books on Unbound but today, for the first time, I am in possession of all three books.
News from Gardenia
News from the Squares
News from the Clouds


Supporters of the latest book will be receiving their individually signed copies in a few weeks.

News from the Clouds is released in early May.

After the first two cliffhangers, book three has an ending. 
As my wonderful editor Rachael Kerr stated. 'it's an incredibly satisfying ending but with a twist that you really don't expect.'


All three books are set 200 years in the future, well, now it's 196 years because they are all set in 2211.
I wanted to write something that was the antithesis to the dystopian, post apocalyptic deluge we are drowning in, so the News from Trilogy is a little more optimistic, while hopefully not being too sickly sweet, everyone is lovely and all the birds sing in harmony.
It's not a perfect utopia, more a protopia, it's better than today but not in any way perfect.
Now I just have to wait until more people have read it.

Monday
Nov032014

The reason I’m now working on an Autobiography

I was shopping at a branch of Tesco the other day and while passing the very small book section I took this snap.

I stared at the display for a moment and realised that I had met all but one of the chaps depicted on the covers. I’ve never met Russell Brand, but they are all very amusing people who’ve lead fascinating lives.

However I’ve spent the last 5 plus years penning a protopian science fiction trilogy. That’s quite a mouthful for a start. (An explanation of the term protopian can be found on the post below this)

Anyway I’m not saying my books aren’t selling because they are, it’s been a great experience writing them and I’ve had amazing feedback from readers.

However News from Gardenia is not on display on Tesco’s shelves.

It’s too niche, it’s science fiction and it doesn’t have a picture of someone who’s been on the telly on the cover.

I have written a kind of autobiography already, The Man in the Rubber Mask, the definitive history of behind the scenes on Red Dwarf from 1988 to 2013. That's not in Tesco's either!

So I am now sketching out the beginnings of a book which will have my grey haired old mug on the cover, a kind of autobiography with a twist.

And that’s what hit me when I saw that Tesco book selection.

An autobiography with a twist is not what they want. I’m trying too hard, I’m trying to be different, foolish move!

Tesco book buyers want a big picture of big Jezza with a short catchy title and some writing between the covers.

I would not hesitate to say that all the books pictured would be good reads, big Jezza is a very funny writer, Stephen Fry is a wonderful writer, I don’t care what Terry Pratchett has written I know it will be brilliant, Paul Merton is damn clever and funny, lovely Graham Norton is witty, insightful and honest and even mad, bad and dangerous to listen to Mr Brand is anything but boring.

So I’m not slagging off their books, I’m only pointing out the very narrow band of writers that get the honour of being displayed in that fountainhead of literature, the Tesco book section.

Yes, they’re Christmas presents, an easy buy for that awkward uncle/dad/brother/son who doesn’t need socks.

So I’m now re-planning my not-quite-an-autobiography blockbuster, I’ve got it. It’s all about the cover.

Saturday
Dec212013

Protopia

I’ve struggled for 3 years to come up with a term that properly describes what I’m trying to do with the News from trilogy.

Although I was originally inspired by re-reading the utopian novel ‘News from Nowhere’ by William Morris, that was only a starting point.

I originally set out to describe a possible world 200 years in the future that was simply better than the one we live in now. A world where people had stopped burning things to make or do other things, a world where the human race lived with the planet, not from it.

Writing the books has made me appreciate long term thinking, how the technology we are wedded to is utterly outdated and short term and how our current actions are increasingly likely to affect the future.

So I never wanted to us the term ‘Utopian’ to describe the worlds I was creating, they were not intended to be ‘perfect worlds where all was in harmony’ (that last phrase to be read in the ‘High Kryten’ style as depicted in Red Dwarf V episode ‘Demons and Angels')

I simply used the description, ‘not dystopian’ to describe what I was attempting to do.

When explaining the books to an audience I would get a few cheap laughs by saying ‘there are no zombies, no earth shattering meteors, no post apocalyptic nightmare where one man, played in the movie by Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis or Denzel Washington has to walk across a burning world shooting people to save his daughter.’

But I didn’t have a word to describe what the stories were.

Until today.

I just heard an interview with a man called Kevin Kelly who, despite a beard that may say otherwise is not a member of the Amish community although he is an admirer of some of their attitudes.

Kevin Kelly was a founding editor of Wired Magazine, he worked on The Whole Earth Catalog and has recently published a book called Cool Tools.

In the interview I heard he used the term ‘Protopian.’

Thank you Mister Kelly, that’s the term I’ve been looking for.

A protopian novel is set in a future that is not set in aspic, it is better than today but still developing and changing. Protopia is Progress Utopia; as Mister Kelly states, ‘today is a little better than yesterday, not much, but it is a little better, and tomorrow will be a little better than today.’

History has shown us unequivically that this is the case, of course we are surrounded by examples of cruelty, brutal inequality and violence, horrific for the people directly affected, but overall, for most pople, things ahve got a tiny bit better over the last 200 years.

Over the next 200 years, if we drive an optimistic culture to the fore, if we avoid the ugly violence of longing for dystopian collapse and chaos so popular with right wing white men (yes, I had to get on my hobby horse for a moment) then tomorrow might just be a tiny bit better than today, and so on.

So, that’s it.

The News from Trilogy is Protopian science fiction.

 

News from Gardenia

News from the Squares

News from the Clouds

 

Wednesday
Dec112013

News from the Clouds

I was informed last night that I was the most prolific writer on the Unbound website.

I felt slightly ashamed, I mean I didn't plan it that way, it just sort of happened.

I released News from Gardenia on the Unbound website in 2011, this was originally panned to be a one off work of science fiction.

As I was working on it I was encouraged and bouyed up by feedback from people who were supporting the book, it struck me that I had a lot more to say than the original idea behind the book would support.

You see I'd heard this term trilogy being bandied about, a science fiction trilogy.

I decided I'd always wanted to write a sceince fiction trilogy, it sounded right, three books about the same central character. Easy peasy. Okay, incredibly difficult, absorbing, time consuming and stressful but it's all my fault.

So once News from Gardenia had been published and the few people who'd read it responded very positively, I launched News from the Squares on Unbound. This was in late 2012.

Once again it reached it's target and we published it in September of 2013. Once again the feedback was very positive, all except for the ending. People swore at me for ending it like that, cliffhanger... what happens next?

Now I have just launched News from the Clouds which has been planned as the third and final book in the News from trilogy.

I'm siupposed to be writing it now, I have been writing it and I will continue to do so. It's growing fast. I'm really enjoying it. Gavin Meckler is still struggling to get back home. Surely if it's a trilogy he has to get back home.

 

Monday
Nov112013

Carry Me Home

My 17 year old daughter has just published her 1st book titled Carry Me Home.

I'm obviously very proud of her although at time of writing I haven't read it. I've just bought it and stuck it on my Kindle.

In due time we will put it on Google Play and all the other outlets but we started with Kindle because 'it was easy.'

As you will see from the slightly wonky layout it's not that easy but the content is all there.

There is no question, Carry Me Home is teenage romantic fiction. I'm not suggesting it's ultra highbrow literature but she wrote it when she was 16, in between history homework and riding horses.

If you know someone between the ages of 16 and 21 who has a kindle, send them the link. It's only £1.93.