Book finished! Keyboard down on Friday afternoon, followed by several hours of near-terminal collapse. Or finished enough to go to my agent and then hopefully straight on to Tor for editorial stuff.

Jamie, one of the Saturday night regulars, is hopefully going to get a chance to run it off at his work for me and then I can stick it in the post (yeah, yeah, I know, email, but my agent is a wee bit more old-fashioned than that).

I wound up in Nice n'Sleazy's in town, with Hal, Jamie, Chris and Andy and spent maybe half the time trying to blink myself awake, I was so wiped out after finishing SL. By some nefarious means, we wound up at a place called the Buff Club, which I've only ever been to once before, several months ago. It was actually better than I remembered, and it was pretty good the last time too.

I came across a mention of Stealing Light on the Pan Macmillan website, and saw they've already stuck up a blurb for it:
For half a million years an alien race has been hiding a vast and terrible secret.
In the 25th century, only the Schindleria possess the secret of faster-than-light travel (FTL), thus exerting an economic stranglehold on all interstellar travel. For a century and a half, mankind has operated within their influence, till now there are at least a dozen human colony worlds scattered along Schindlerian trade routes.

Sonja Merrick, while serving as a military pilot, has witnessed atrocities for which this alien race is responsible. Now piloting a civilian cargo ship, she is currently ferrying an exploration team to a star system containing a derelict starship. From its wreckage, her passengers hope to salvage a functioning FTL drive of mysteriously non-Schindlerian origin. But the Schindleria are not yet ready to relinquish their monopoly of a technology they acquired through ancient genocide.

Which is nice, except also terribly out of date. It should read (and I'll be emailing this off to Pan, now the book is finished):

For a quarter of a million years, an alien race has been hiding a vast and terrible secret

In the 25th century, only the Shoal possess the secret of faster-than-light travel (FTL), giving them absolute control over all trade and exploration throughout the galaxy. Mankind has operated within their influence for two centuries, establishing a dozen human colony worlds scattered along Shoal trade routes.

Dakota Merrick, while serving as a military pilot, has witnessed atrocities for which this alien race is responsible. Now piloting a civilian cargo ship, she is currently ferrying an exploration team to a star system containing a derelict starship. From its wreckage, her passengers hope to salvage a functioning FTL drive of mysteriously non-Shoal origin. But the Shoal are not yet ready to relinquish their monopoly over a technology they acquired through ancient genocide.


Doing a little background research while scanning through the near as buggery finished book, I stumbled across a nice little list of 'fictional applications of real materials' amongst which, at a glance, I discovered:

Cheddite (from) Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers (by Harry Harrison): Made by irradiating cheddar cheese, it enabled faster-than-light travel.

I always loved that book. And I always had the idea if I could have been a movie producer or director, one of the films I'd want to make would be of The Technicolor Time Machine.


Tuesday evening, finished a draft of Stealing Light in an all day marathon that lasted until about half one this morning. I've already started going over it again, though this time I'm hoping the checking process will be the last time I'll feel the need to do it. So far I think it's working reasonably well.

With any luck, I think I'm starting to get the hang of this novel writing malarkey. I'm thinking about this being maybe the first in a series of books (let's not use the 't' word just yet), particularly since right now I quite like the idea of spending time in a constructed universe like this one. Especially if it means I don't have to make up a new one every time I start on a new manuscript.

Other than that, quite a busy week, socially speaking. The aforementioned gig, a trip to a screenwriters group that proved to be highly informative and entertaining, plus dinner in Strav's with friends followed by a trip to a party at Mike G's. This week is quieter, but I don't mind since I've been buried, buried, buried in the SL revisions.


I was out last night to the first gig I've been to in several months - a Norwegian (I think) band called Opeth, whom I discovered by way of fellow Glasgow author Mike Cobley. Mike was there, along with Phil Raines, also of GSFWC. Very, very loud, and very, very good. If you like your music loud and brutal, I can only highly recommend their Ghost Reveries album. I listen to this album, frankly, constantly; and it's been a very, very long time since I listened to anything that constantly.

For someone who has several hundred vinyl albums and maybe a hundred cd's, plus most of the same packed onto a 20GB mp3 player, I don't actually listen to music that much. I don't like sitting around and just listening to music, because I get too fidgety. Or my mind gets occupied, and I'll be damned if I can tell you anything about what I just listened to, because I was too busy thinking. I sure as hell don't listen to music when I write: if I'm writing, I'm thinking about the writing. Anything else is an annoying distraction. These days pretty much the only time I do listen to music is on the hoof, on the portable mp3 player.

Anyway, it was good to be out and leading a more normal life. The back got a little dodgy towards the end of the night, but in the main I was fine. I find it a lot easier now to stand than to sit.

While we're on the back subject, I went for a job interview the other day; sort of a three-hour tryout for a publishers, except they decided they didn't want me - which was fortunate, because for the lousy money they were paying for what was after all ony a two-week temp gig, I really didn't think it was worth my time. Mainly it was an opportunity to find out how I managed in a working environment outside of my home. The conclusion is, better than I thought I would, but not well enough. I still got pain after being in one of their reasonably decent chairs for a couple of hours. That tells me I'm not quite ready for the wider world of day jobs.

One of the interesting things about the past several months is that I've been forced into the position of being a full time writer by default. I'd say, looking back, it's been hugely healthy for my writing. I'm feeling pretty positive about the new book - partly also because I've had some good feedback from early readers - and part of that, I'm very sure, comes down to me giving it my full and undivided attention since the start of June.


I got an email from Keith Brooke informing me a review of Against Gravity, written by John Toon, had just been posted up on the infinityplus website; it's a good review all in all, and one I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Thanks Keith (and John). From the review:
Against Gravity is a good futuristic action novel, but the tagline "Live long enough and this could be your future" on the front cover tells me Gibson intends this novel first and foremost as a comment on the world we live in today. You may already have spotted the subtle parallels. But apart from the obvious -- and it was worth Gibson restating it, mind you -- I'm not sure there's much political comment to be found here. Perhaps the main point, beyond the Bush-analogue and the WTC-analogue and the Guantanamo-analogue, is a religious one: that people can (and do) believe any number of things about the same phenomenon, but they could all be wrong. Question those beliefs, people.


cover for Stealing Light
And there it is: the cover for the new book. I actually got this through a while back, but with everything else that's been going on in my life - sciatica, trying to find a new day-job - the opportunity somehow got passed by. It's sort of weird seeing the cover of a book (at least it is, for me) when you've not actually finished it; previously the book itself was always a 'done deal' prior to the artwork.

The cover art is by Lee Gibbons, who also did a lot of covers for Ken MacLeod, amongst many others. It's not as abstract as previous cover designs, given that it does illustrate a specific scene in the story. Overall, I'm pretty pleased.
Along to Edinburgh Sunday evening, and a large pub called The Three Sisters for a Halloween performance of Writer's Bloc, which was extremely enjoyable, particularly Gavin Inglis' Fall of The House of Fraser. During the various breaks between readings I chatted with Alan Campbell, of Scar Night fame, who has an occasionally difficult relationship with deadlines. Alan's approach to deadlines is not entirely dissimilar to Douglas Adams' - for whom the best thing about deadlines was the whizzing sound they made as they went sailing by.

At one point, Alan - unshaven, haggard from long nights of furious writing - listened while I described the sometimes traumatic relationship I had with my own second book, Against Gravity.

Specifically, about two thirds of the way through writing that novel, I got so sick of it I opened a new word document and called it 'Why I Hate This Fucking Book'. After staring at the blank screen for half an hour, all I could think to type in it was 'Because I fucking hate it'.

I don't hate it now; in fact I really like it. But it's just one of those things that comes with the realisation you're no longer writing an unpublished book that might sell, you're working on one that's already been sold - but your publishers haven't seen yet.

So I told Alan about this, and he asked me, 'so do you find it hard dealing with deadlines?'

If I'd thought for more than half a second, I wouldn't have laughed and immediately replied 'fuck, no.' Just half a second more and the words wouldn't have come out.

Which is perhaps why in a recent blog entry, Alan says:
Gary is a fellow Tor author who, although he's a nice guy, is much better at meeting deadlines than I am and is therefore an utter bastard. For the record, Neil and Paul are not utter bastards.

Oh, how we laughed.