So today I got a package through from Pan, containing not only a laser-print of the completed cover, but also two bound proof-copies of the book itself, none of which I'd been expecting just yet - since I'd been given no warning they were coming. It's now I have to seriously think about upgrading my blogger account so I can post pictures as well as text.

Perhaps foolishly, I sort of half-assumed they'd let me know someone was working on the cover. Unfortunately, I don't even know who the artist is - but since Steve Stone's name was getting kicked about a lot, and the fact it looks like his style, I'll say I'm 90 per cent certain that's who it is. It took a while before it sank in, but the cover pretty accurately matches one of the suggestions I gave them when they asked me if I had any ideas for the cover art. It's not strictly representative of any one particular scene, but rather a blend of images from different parts of the story - all sort of multilayered, half-visible through each other, with Elias in the foreground.

Basically, it looks great. Really great. ALthough I would have to say Elias looks a little too young and fresh-faced to be a grizzled ex-soldier on the run from an inescapable destiny. Mind you, I'm more than happy to live with it as it is. It would just be nice if they made him look, I don't know, just a touch more weatherbeaten and tired ..

The next step is to email Pan back and sort out whether or not I can post the artwork yet. If that's the case, the next step is to set this blog up to take the picture.


So I'm playing around with ideas for what to do once Against Gravity is out of the way. Not that it's actually completed until the editor at Tor has decided what does or doesn't need to be changed: the edits on Angel Stations took a good few months last summer, and for all I know it could be just as much of a slog with AG. However, once I've finished AG as much as it can be finished before that process starts, I'll be thinking of other projects.

I may have said this before, but the most likely by far will be an extensive rewrite of my first, unpublished novel, Touched by an Angel. Except I'l be renaming it Leviathan's Fall. I've had some ideas floating around in my head, amongst many others. Here's a few:

a novel about the hunt for a fifth columnist in Hollywood just before America enters the Second World War, centring around the production of a certain famous movie, and also reflecting some of the issues raised in that movie.

Black Knight - sort of a rock and roll comedy based around a heavy metal band (called Black Knight) touring the UK in the early Eighties, but more about an obsessive fan who's determined to get to meet with the increasingly psychotic and delusional guitarist of same.

Real World Kills, which idea I detailed to some extent last year in this blog, playing around with virtual economies (but a lot more fun than that might sound)

And one or two other ideas, frankly too bizarre for me to be sure they'd even make sense if I tried to write them down here.

When you get a book contract, there's an understanding that whatever you're going to write is not too distant from whatever you sold to get that deal. That means I'm expected to write science fiction or, as my editor Peter Lavery said to me when I met him at Eastercon last year, 'now, you're not going to write any books about magic cats, are you?"

... and ever since, I've been trying to think of a way I can ... no, better not go there.

Which means if I want to go off writing non-genre books about fifth columnists or Hollywood or heavy metal bands, I'll (rather unsurprisingly) have to go somewhere else with them. I don't mind; I'm quite happy to write solidly sf genre books for a long time yet. But everyone looks for a chance to do other stuff as well.

Whether or not they actually get a chance to do that, the modern publishing market being what it is - that's probably another story.


If I haven't been blogging as much recently, it's due to various factors. I have to tile my bathroom, put shelves up in at least three locations, buy furniture, etc etc. Also, I still haven't sorted out where to put the computer, as a result of which the monitor is balanced on a kitchen chair while the main unit is sort of wedged between the tv unit and a couch. Not the most comfortable or best place from which to update a blog.

The current (fiifth) draft of Against Gravity is moving quickly. I have the shape of the book worked out now; now what I need to do is make sure that the explanations and clues for what is actually going on throughout various parts of the manuscript match up, since precisely why certain things were happening have changed, at least in terms of intent and purpose. Also, I've found since I started writing books that sometimes characters who seemed central have a habit of getting lost towards the end - primarily because their usefulness to the plot has ceased. It's a learning thing. This is why you get to kill characters off. Someone sort of hanging around, hoping for an invite to the slambang finale? Bang! And they're dead. Problem sorted.

Well, okay, maybe that is a slightly frivolous way of putting it. I swear I have a much more considered and careful approach to plot and character.

Other authors, of course, will know which is the true answer.

I'm starting to think about Eastercon. Should I stay, or should I go? It's in Blackpool, which I've never been to, which would give me something to explore during those parts of conventions which primarily consist of sitting around in a sterile hotel wondering where everyone you know has gone to. I should go, since I gather quite a few other Tor writers are going to be there whom I haven't met. I believe one or two are flying over from the States, including Jeff Vandermeer, who seems to be making something of a name for himself right now.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent Against Gravity off to my agent to see what she thought of it. The response I got back was good - better than I hoped. Not to say it's perfect; the points she picked on were ones I simply hadn't addressed yet. For instance, part of it's set in Edinburgh, a hundred years from now. I haven't particularly 'futurised' it, mainly because I've been more concerned with getting the story down, and I'm not always comfortable with the idea of just slinging in 'futuristic' furniture for the sake of fitting in with the genre. I know a lot has changed since a hundred years before now, but a lot hasn't.. A lot of us live in the same houses as the Victorians. The building I live in was built at the end of the 19th Century, and there's a very good chance indeed people in Edinburgh will still be living in some very old houses. I don't want to slap up gleaming skyscrapers and hovercars, because that would be bullshit.

However, social and environmental change are another matter. It's very likely I'm going to freeze the UK, by using the theory that changes in global temperatures could cause the Gulf Stream to switch off, dropping this country into an Arctic climate. That I find interesting, but that's for the sixth (and hopefully last) draft. Once the tree's up, then I can put on the decorations.

In the meantime, my editor at Tor UK is reading through the (rough) draft of Against Gravity. I'm hoping (naturally) that his feelings about the book will be as positive as my agent's. I should know by the next time I update this blog.