Okay. Here it is.

Cool, or what? I'm thinking of holding a competition or something, to try and figure out just who that is on the cover. I say this because there's a piece about Angel Stations at Trashotron which suggests that maybe its Kiefer Sutherland, but personally I'm thinking it's the loudmouthed blond guy from Hustle, currently running on BBC1.

Against Gravity is now more-or-less officially finished 'for now'. Either the manuscript gets posted, or it's sayonara brain. Though I'm going to leave it for maybe another couple of days before I print it off, since I'm pretty sure something urgent'll occur to me in the next couple of days.

One of the nice things about allowing myself some time off, even just for a couple of days, is that suddenly the floodgates open and neat ideas for new books come pouring through. Otherwise, I'm chillin' for the next couple of days. Which means two things I've promised myself: trip to the library to get out some random stuff on war, politics and history to see if it sparks any ideas, trip to Amazon to buy a shitload of books, and a trip to town for a game for the Xbox. Preferably one with lots of guns. Lots of guns.


Okay, I think I'm over the panic. I think the book - Against Gravity, that is - might actually be just about finished. Or as finished as I can get it before the editor gets his hands on it, anyway. I'm rediscovering that special kind of despair you get this close to finishing when you realise you can't ever, not ever, fix everything you know needs to be fixed, if only you can find it.

I read a piece on Cory Doctorow's Boing Boing the other day that he's just finished the first draft of his third book which is as long as his two previous books put together. Well, colour me flabbergasted when I found out Eastern Standard Tribe and Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom clock in at barely 70k each, if even that. How come I don't get to write books that short, huh? I'm lucky if I scrape in under 125k with anything.

Of course, lots of books came in at about 65k - 90k in the days before word processors. Now they're all gigantic, or at least it feels that way. I got word back from my agent a few days ago about several vague (very vague, really) ideas for future books I'd sent to her. I like two of them in particular, but she only really mentioned one of them. So ... if I can find it in me to write a book at less than, say, 80k, maybe I can write two of them! And ...

Nah. It'd just end up huge and epic, like all the other stuff. But there is a serious point here - you dont' get paid by the word, you get paid by the book. And that depends on the quality/saleability of the book. At the moment I'm clocking one book a year, more or less - while holding down a part-time job I don't take any holidays from. I don't see how I could possibly write two books a year of a length equal to the ones I've already sold under my current circumstances.

But, even though it's a nice idea, I know I don't really want to do that. I like the longer (and frankly more typical) book length because it allows so much more involvement with the story. And I need the space to extrapolate.

So what are the two ideas I'm thinking about going for? One is a space opera-ish coming-of-age story, the other is more .. fun, I guess, in the 'knockabout romp' sense of fun. We'll see. When it gets to the point where I'm waiting for the inevitable edits/comments to come back on Against Gravity, I can relax a little and start working out new stories in my head.


There's not much I can say about this, because it's so far beyond the pale I can barely summon up much more than a kind of horrified croak. It comes via furious spinner. It seems David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary, is charging the victims of miscarriages of justice 3,000 quid for every year they were wrongfully held in jail.
I think there's been exactly one time in my life I didn't vote Labour, and that was the one time I voted Green. It's becoming increasingly easy to say I won't vote Labour in the next election. The only choice left now appears to be the Liberal-Democrats, and I'm not above admitting I used to dismiss them as a kind of Tory-lite.
It's not a definite, though - I look forward to being persuaded one way or the other - but after this, I can't imagine voting for Labour as they currently are.


I've been messing about for the past couple of days with new layouts for this blog. The standard blogger template I use here is fine, but I want something a fraction more information-dense, so that I can have links, etc on one side of the journal, and details about the books on the other. It'll also have a (small, heavily photoshopped) picture of me in one corner, which MJ insists makes me look sinister. It's not sinister, it's cool and arty.

I got my first request for an interview, from a website called Falcata Times. Hopefully it won't be the last. I'm still working on the answers at the moment. I know some writers don't necessarily record details like this, but what interests me about writing this journal is the opportunity it represents to detail these things as they happen. When the interview is posted, I'll let you know.


Blogging will definitely be getting a bit less frequent over the next few weeks while I try and get finished with the current draft of Against Gravity - one of those drafts that involves less furious typing, more staring at a screen for half an hour before typing a line or two that, hopefully, makes things clearer.

In the meantime, the people at Locus Magazine Online (www.locusmag.com) have very kindly listed this blog in their links page, which should get me a few more hits If anybody wanders across this page from there and is wondering who I am, I'm a Scottish author with a two-book deal through Tor UK/Pan Macmillan. The first book - a space-opera called Angel Stations - is due out in early September in the UK. You'll find a link to the UK Amazon page in the bar on the right. Further information you can find at www.toruk.com


Things are starting to pick up pace a little. The publication date for Angel Stations has been moved back a couple of weeks to the beginning of September, which I've been assured is the best month of the year for having a book out by a variety of sources. Okay, two. Okay, one was my agent. But I believe her.

In the meantime, I've had a little feedback over my second novel, Against Gravity. To reiterate - a few months ago I sent a (very) rough draft of the book to my agent, who apparently really liked it

So why let them take a look at it before it's even really finished? Because its a second novel. You might think writing and selling a novel the first time round is hard; you might assume it gets easier the second time around You'd be wrong. Second books are a lot harder. Why? Because there are expectations. Money. Stuff like that. Suddenly you're under pressure - and on a deadline. Slightly brain-warping.

I'm in the final run-up to finishing the book, preferably by the end of March. I got to talking about it with my agent, which conversation sparked off some ideas I'll be subsequently incorporating into AG.

I also got a pan macmillan booksellers catalogue through the post, including a huge promo ad for Angel Stations (to put this in perspective, the catalogue consists entirely of nothing but huge promo ads for Pan's books under a variety of imprints). Strange, seeing my name that big ...


The cover for the book looks better every time I see it. I'm finding some mistakes I think need fixed in the bound proof copy of the book (that's what it's for, after all), but it could be worse. One or two - and there are only one or two - make wince.

But it could be worse. I recall reading an article about Philip Pullman, where he was asked why the animal form of someone's daemon changed completely about halfway through the first of the Lyra books (whatever it's called). And the reason is .... it was a cock-up. So, goes to show you. Happens to us all.

I'm trying to remember if it was Robert Holdstock who once said on a panel at a convention the publishers once forgot to include the last page of a book where the entire story is explained, and no-one noticed.

I did finally, by the way, find a way to put pictures into this blog without paying for it. When you have a paid account with Blogger, that gives you access to their servers, to which you canupload. The trick is simple enough - you just put a comment inside the html that points to an exterior link where the picture is stored separately. I knew there was a way to do it, I just never gotaround to it until now. But the nice thing about it is, once the cover is official I can have it up there in the blog.

While I was at it, I got round to tinkering with the personal site I'm intending to have up in the next couple of months. There won't be that much to it, simply because there isn't yet enough to put into it. But it's getting there. I'll also be screwing around with the Blogger code until I can customise it with some images, and so forth.

I've been thinking hard about getting a new computer - a laptop, this time. They're coming down in price fast, and since I bought an Xbox, I don't need one to play computer games on. So I figure I can get something pretty good for about six hundred pounds. It'll probably only have a Celeron chip (which are slower than higher-grade chips, but only noticeably so if you're intending to play the Half-Life sequel on it), but that'll be more than good enough for my needs - internet, mail, and writing most of all.

My old (very old) 133mhz IBM Thinkpad has been retired for the moment since I borrowed long-termish someone's Compaq 150mhz. You may laugh at the specs, but I can mail, internet, blog and write books, so what's the big deal? In fact, if it weren't for the excessively stick keypad, I might have second thoughts about a new laptop.

Writing ... I finally managed to finish the fifth draft last night, and so far I've successfully procrastinated over the sixth edit for most of today. Now I want to add in some 'flavour' - nothing necessarily intrinsic to the plot, but the kind of background detail that will (I hope) generate more of a sense of the future. Plus, there's a twist at the end that needs sorted out - someone turns out to be other than who we think, but their motivation disappeared during the current edit. I want to try very hard to keep this twist in, but I'm going to have to figure out another way for it to come about. If I haven't thought of anything by the time I've finished this next draft - in no more than the next two weeks, I hope - I'll have to think about excising that particular conflict altogether. It won't be hard, but I'll miss it if it comes to that.