Monthly Archives: February 2012

Lost in the Amazon

This will probably be the shortest blog post I’ve done since the days of space monkey, BUT, it’s important.

STORMDANCER is now available for pre-order on Amazon! Everyone who thought I’d gone pantsless hobo crazy and imagined the whole thing owes me bourbon-flavored apologies.

You can dance the dance of pre-order by clicking here.

UK folks can pre-order it on Book Depository here.

Yeah that all I’ve got…


A little piece of awesome

So when I finally got the cheque/check/however the hell you want to spell it for my STORMDANCER signing fee, most author folks I knew encouraged me to go out and buy myself something nice with some of the spondoolicks. This is reasonable logic given that:

1) These payments arrive with the same pace as everything else in the publishing industry, which as previously discussed, is fucking glacial quite slow. So when they do arrive, you should probably do something to mark the occasion.

2) You generally work like a Guchi wallet sweatshop child quite hard to finish your novel, find an agent, find a publisher, do your edits, dance the dance of social media, and all the other stuff authors have to do between hurling televisions out of hotel room windows and doing rails of Bolivian off booth babe boobies at San Diego Comic Con (I have my doubts anything remotely resembling this actually happens to famous author types, but I have to maintain some level of rockstar chic) so giving yourself a little reward after all that hard work might somehow make the months of lost sleep and peptic ulcers worthwhile.

3) What’s the point of having money if you never enjoy it? You can’t take it with you. Ask a fucking pharaoh.

So, long story short, I decided to commission a piece of artwork from an awesome illustrator whose work I’ve admired for a long time. For those of you who aren’t hopeless gorram nerds, Genzoman does a lot of work on trading card games and RPGs, and if you actually clicked on his gallery link above, you’d know he’s as awesome as discovering a crumpled $20 note in an old pair of jeans whilst cruising through the Jurassic rain forest in a time-travel hovercar with several scantily clad hotties of your preferred gender/orientation with the stereo cranked loud enough to cause an extinction level event.

So, without further ado, here’s Genzo’s illustration for STORMDANCER. Note, this isn’t a cover, and won’t actually be used anywhere in the book. It’s just a little gift from Jay to Jay to remind me “Hey, you’re really doing it, kid.”

Oh, and before I go practice my mad telly throwing skillz: All you UK folks, STORMDANCER is available for pre-order at the Book Depository!

Click to embiggen.

State of the World Address

The bride tells me it’s been a while since I did one of these, so here’s an update on where everything is at:

STORMDANCER – copy edits for the UK are done. Copy edits for the US aren’t (but tbh, there will be no differences other than spelling, you crazy yanquis with your missing ‘U’s and superfluous ‘I’s, eh?). Cover design is underway in the UK, I’ve seen roughs and I suspect this thing is going to stand out like the dog’s bollocks on shelves (Presuming said dog in question still has the requisite parts, of course. Sometimes I catch my dog staring all mournfully at the place where his bits used to be. Poor bastard…)

ANYWAYS, after wrangling in the dank stinky depths of stock photography for a while, it’s been decided we’re going to actually shoot ourselves a model (with a camera, not a gun, jesus…) to go on the background being assembled by our Mac master. The gal in question has been chosen, and her online portfolio is here. I think she’ll make a pretty goddamn awesome Yukiko. Wardrobe is currently being sourced, photoshoot is happening soon. I’ll be doing a big detailed post about the cover process a little later, and of course, I have a metric fuck-tonne of signed China Meiville books to give away when we launch our UK/Aus cover, courtesy of the awesome folks at Tor UK.

The US time lines are little more generous apparently, because I haven’t heard much in the way of covers from them. Such is life. If you aren’t good at waiting, don’t be a gorram author, is my advice.

I have a bunch of other stuff I want to reveal. A good buddy of mine created some awesome mons (we round-eyes call them logos) for the four clans of Shima and the Lotus Guild, but I think I’ll hold off on those until I have covers out in the big scary world.

I also have some cover blurbs from some very generous and awesome authors who are saying lots of cool things about the book. but I can’t show you those yet either 😛

Yeah, so much for telling you what happening…

If you wanna add STORMDANCER to your Goodreads lists and make me go all squirty in my gutty-wutts, click n’yah.

BOOK 2 – Book 2 has a title, but it’s not 100% official yet. Besides, I get the feeling that revealing its title should be some kind of… thing.  You know, with dancing girls and limos and ass-loads of blow or something.

I handed the manuscript into my editors at the end of January. It came in at 160k, which is 40k longer than STORMDANCER. There’s a lot more happening in this one, but I still get the feeling I’ll be asked to kill a few darlings. I don’t expect to hear anything back on it in terms of edits for months, so in the meantime…

(flawless segue)

Book 3 – Book 3 also has a title, but it’ll be a thing too. Probably next year. I’ve started writing it, and the first act is done. Much carnage. I feel like a kid who’s spent a day down at the beach building this enormous sand castle with spires and battlements and an elaborate, fully functional sewage system, and now the sun is setting and I’ve started to stomp up and down on it before the tide comes in.

I think I’ll be sad when I finish. Sad and terrified. Funny thing is, I’ll probably be finished writing the end of this story before most of you even start it.

It’s funny game, this.

Anyways, that’s where everything is at. Now stop saying I never tell you anything, mum.

On the punkery of steam

This was an article I was asked to write for a college mag recently, asking me for a writer’s perspective on the steampunk genre. It borrows a little from my spittle-flecked 6 Part History of Steampunk series, found here. I don’t know why I’m considered an expert when there are folks that have been doing it far longer than me. Maybe I just charge less than the famous folks.

Anyways, enjoy. 

Before I start dribbling about steampunk from an author’s perspective, I should probably define what I think steampunk is. This is more dangerous than it sounds.

The debate about what IS and IS NOT steampunk has kicked off many a flame war in various poorly-lit alleys of the internet, not to mention several drunken punch-ups at Conventions That Shall Not Be Named. When people try to explain steampunk, you’ll see lots of vague hand-waving, and hear odd, slightly masturbatory terms like – ‘retro-futurism’ and ‘neo-Victorianism’ and ‘techo-romanticism’ being splashed about like cheap hooch at an Irish wedding. (I’m Irish, before you get offended)

But yes. Lots of ‘isms’, basically.

Some people will tell you steampunk should be set in Victorian times. Some people will tell you in should be set in England, preferably London. Some people will tell you there should be an inexplicable amount of tea-drinking and corsetry. Everyone should be well mannered and everyone should be wearing goggles, even in the shower or making sweet, sweet love to the beautiful heiress on the floor of the aether-bot workshop, an artful smudge of grease arranged on her heaving… Yes, well…

As far as I’m concerned there are four mandatories:

  1. The book needs to be set in the past (otherwise you’re writing science-fiction).
  2. The setting needs to be industrialized (otherwise you’re writing fantasy).
  3. There needs to be some kind of advanced technology that you wouldn’t normally expect to find in the setting (otherwise you’re writing historical fiction).
  4. You should be having fun (otherwise, what’s the point)

SO, this is my definition of steampunk, in so far as writer-types and readers goes:

Steampunk (noun): A sub-genre of soft science fiction, typically set in an industrialized historical period, in which anachronistic technology is present.

The pre-conceptions with steampunk harken back to its roots – the ‘scientific romances’ of HG Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs and the man who would NEVER have to buy his own drinks at a Steampunk con, Mr Jules Verne. These authors took us on fantastic voyages to other worlds and other times, often with the aid of fantastical technologies beyond imagination, in settings that were almost exclusively British donchewnoe (hence the bias towards English settings in the genre).

Funny thing is, even though many folks look back at these writers as the fathers of the steampunk genre, they weren’t writing anything close to steampunk at all – in their day, they were writing contemporary fiction. It’s only because the works survived for close to 150 years in our collective consciousness that the label steampunk can be applied after the fact.

The real origins of steampunk fiction lie in the works of authors like KW Jeter, Tim Powers, James Blaylock and the father of cyberpunk, Mr William Gibson (all hail). Though Jeter coined the term ‘steampunk’, it was probably Gibson who gave it life, funnily enough whilst praying aloud that the label didn’t get applied to his book THE DIFFERENCE ENGINE:

“I’ll be happy just as long as they don’t label this one. There’s been some dire talk of ‘steampunk’ but I don’t think it’s going to stick.”

Ironically, Gibson’s statement probably did more to immortalize the term than anything before it. Such is his powah. Fear him.

Truth is, I think the attempt to codify and catalogue the IS and IS NOT of steampunk is the work of demon crack babies and Illuminati robots programmed to take all the fun out of life. The cool thing about the genre is that it’s still relatively unexplored and undefined. The most successful writers in the genre are those who’ve taken the few accepted tropes and turned them on their heads. Cherie Priest’s Clockwork Century series was set in the colonial west of America and threw in some zombie survival horror to boot. Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series was half traditional Steampunk, half OTT fantasy with flying whales and genetically engineered war bears. For my part (you didn’t think you’d make it through this without hearing a plug, did you?) I set my story in feudal Japan and combined some traditional fantasy with combustion-driven technology and it’s called STORMDANCER and it’s out on MacMillan in the US/UK and AUS in September 2012 and oh my god I need to pay my mortgage if you buy a copy it will really help me out and plug, plug, plugplugplugpluuuuuuuuug.

The good news for writers who feel like playing in the steampunk sandbox  is that it’s seen as a reasonably hawt commodity by major publishers right now. Westerfeld’s series hit the NYT bestseller list and everyone involved drove home in a limousine, but there hasn’t been a book that simply broke the genre and led to a market-saturating glut of clone works (like say, that book that shall not be named but starts with ‘T’ did for paranormal romance and vampires). So there’s still some fun to be had before the ship inevitably sails.

Which is, after all, what steampunk is really all about.