Marauder wraparound cover and some trailers

Tor UK just posted both the complete wraparound cover for the upcoming hardback edition of Marauder (released in September) and an interview with not only myself, but also Steve Stone, who's responsible for the new art for my first five books, just reissued.

Look at that full cover art. Just look at it (and click on each to get the full glory).

Steve mentions in passing in his own interview that he's just directed and produced his first film, Entity, due out in the UK in June. This is something of a recurring theme, because when I recently contacted Lee Gibbons - who did the art for the original editions of the Shoal Trilogy - he mentioned his foray into book trailers.

So here's the trailer for Steve's movie, Entity -

. and here's a trailer by Lee for Tin Moon, his book trailer project, which is rather fun.


First Drafts now and then

A year or two back I wrote an article for a manuscript agency's website on something I called 'the one third slump', by which I meant the way a novel, outlined or otherwise, tended to dribble off into confusion round about the thirty or forty thousand word mark. This used to really freak me out when it happened to me, in a OH GOD MY NOVEL DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE TOR WILL ASK FOR THEIR MONEY BACK I'LL END UP ON THE STREETS DRINKING GUTTER WATER kind of way. When it happened to my third novel, Stealing Light, instead of completely losing my shit, as they say, I took my six thousand word outline and revised it in order to try and figure out what was and what wasn't working in the novel. That's when I realised writing is a bit like planning an invasion or storming a building with hostages inside. However much you prepare, however much you train, all your preparations aren't worth shit about five minutes after you hit the beach and logistics meet cold hard reality. What I thought would work, didn't work, but that's always the case with initial outlines.

So I went back and re-planned for a month. At the end of that process I had a 22,000 word outline. The result was my most successful and bestselling book to date. It, along with four other of my earlier novels, just got re-released by Tor with brand new cover art and design, so as writing processes go, I guess intensive outlining works for me.

My writing habits, however, appear to be in flux once more. One of the drawbacks of my writing method in terms of actually getting words onto paper is that I sometimes become neurotically obsessed with getting the words just right even when I know there's a reasonable chance those words will need to get chopped later on. I think I've broken the habit, and for the first time in my life I've managed to write myself all the way up to 95,000 words of the current manuscript without yet feeling a creeping urge to stop dead, re-outline everything and only then write the end. Instead I'm ploughing through to the bitter end and ignoring all the structural faults that would previously have brought me to a screeching halt, saving that work instead for a later draft.

It feels to me a little like flying blind. But I've realised I like re-writing a first draft a whole lot better than writing it. This is a Good Thing, because I'm obsessing less with getting things 'just right' in the first draft. I'm happy just to bang down the main ideas and then go through it sentence by sentence and character motivation by character motivation in order to sort out what works and what...needs work. I figure I'll finish this extremely rough first draft in a week or two. Then I'll spend longer planning and re-structuring the story and, now I've had the opportunity to spend some time with them and see what makes them tick, work out my characters in much more detail. Whether or not this might produce a better/more successful book I can't begin to say, but hopefully it'll be a less stressful one. 


Future Thinking

Tor UK asked me to do an article for their website, in support of the current spate of re-issues of my backlist:

One of the things you often hear people say these days is that science fiction is in danger of being overtaken by the sheer pace of advancements in science and technology. It’s an understandable refrain, particularly when the news is filled with reports about downloadable blueprints for building guns with those same 3D printers. The feeling that you’re living in a world co-scripted by John Varley and John Brunner tends to grow when you take a quick scan through any number of online news sites and discover front-page features on exoplanets, life extension, and NASA research into Alcubierre drives. It might seem that in the face of such remarkable advances, science fiction might no longer be as relevant as it once was, reality having in many respects caught up with it. You might think that, but you would be wrong. 

Read the rest here.

You also have a chance to win some of my books over at Tor UK's facebook page.


Windows Hate

I had occasion to be reminded just why I switched to Mac this afternoon. I was in town with my brother and his girlfriend (both visiting from Malaysia) where we picked up a cheap but hopefully good quality laptop (a Packard Bell) for our mother, whose computer died a few days back. We headed across the road to get it started up, download some software, the usual kind of thing, and I mucked around with Metro for a while and figured out some things.

Now, I'm no dummy with computers, but 'intuitive' is not a word I'd use to describe Windows 8. I might even have preferred to have 7 on it, but of course you don't get a choice. Even after half an hour I still couldn't figure out how to close some of the Windows 'apps'.

It makes me even more determined that if I ever have occasion to buy a non-Mac computer - and it's entirely possible, if I want something ultra-light and portable with a decent keyboard - the first thing I'll do is install Ubuntu, which, frankly, seems to me the better operating system (it's installed on my wife's computer). 

Celebration Day

Today is the official release day for the entire repackaged and republished Shoal Trilogy, comprising Stealing Light, Nova War and Empire of Light, and to which my next book, Marauder, due out later this year, is a kinda-sorta sequel cum standalone.

Here's a picture of them spine-on, leached from the Tor website. Aren't they pretty?

(If you want to see them in their full resplendent glory, merely click on the 'my books' tab up there and they will be revealed.)

In the meantime, I've got a quick five-question interview posted up at the moment over at Tor UK, in which I answer questions like: who would play Dakota in the films? Did I have a 'space dust' problem in my pre-teens? And, you know, books and stuff. 


Deborah J Miller

Well, I just heard some horrible news, that fantasy author Deborah J Miller just passed away. I first knew Debbie when she was writing as Miller Lau, when she had some fantasy novels out at the turn of the century. We were stablemates at Tor Uk for a couple of years, and I first got introduced to her by fellow writer Mike Cobley. Debbie was one of the nicest people you could hope to meet.

I have a recollection of telling her how I thought she had looked terribly exotic in her author photos in her early novels, not realising the reason she was wearing a turban was because of a long battle with cancer. When I last saw her, at a convention a few years back shortly after (I think) my return from Taiwan, she was walking with a stick, and I believe her cancer had recurred. By then, she was putting a lot of her energy into running and promoting the David Gemmell Awards.

I'm not sure what else I can say beyond that really, except, perhaps, fuck cancer. There's some more details here.


New books

So the other day I found a snazzy little picture someone had posted on Twitter of the new editions of the Shoal Trilogy which they had, apparently, received for review. I hadn't realised Tor were sending out review copies, but if they are, and you're a reviewer and you want copies, you might want to drop an enquiring line their way.

I finally found copies in my local Waterstones the other day and my, they do look snazzy. I mean, they look seriously good with the wraparound Steve Stone art and the new 'b' format paperback size. I need to finish up a Q&A on the reissues today, and you can expect to see that up at the Tor site sometime later this week. 


New and updated site

As I said back in March, the site needed a bit of a spring-clean and it was starting to look a bit old-fashioned and cluttered. I thought about going for some paid services - and some of them, like squarespace.com, offer some very attractive packages indeed - but my steely cold Scottish heart just can't countenance the expenditure. Spending money. On a website?

So instead I got back inside the guts of my blogger account and created this new, updated version - which is also accessible, I should remind you, through the garygibson.net domain as well as through its blogger address. It's not a hundred per cent complete - I'd like to figure out how to include some drop down menus without having to essentially redo a bunch of stuff I've somehow managed to do without quite knowing how I did it, and for that reason I'll leave it for another day. But suffice to say the new site looks cleaner, and has several static pages instead of landing immediately on the blog itself. There's information about the books, and also various articles and so forth that have appeared around the net. In the future I'll incorporate various interviews and other bits and pieces. I also need to incorporate my Twitter and other social media accounts and contact details.

I did this at least partly, if not mainly, because it made sense to do so with the new books coming out, and I didn't want people googling me just to find a dusty, cluttered blog that might at times not be updated for weeks or even months.