Category Archives: Writing Stuff

Drive

2015-09-07 15.47.18Inquiry: Who has two thumbs and two boxes full of ILLUMINAE author copies?

Conclusion: This little black duck. That’s who.

It’s a strange thing, to hold two and half years of your life in the palm of your hand. I look down at this thing with my name on the cover, next to the name of one of my dearest friends in the world, and it trips me out. I’ve done this four times now and the dissonance never goes away. Opening a box and finding a Thing you spent years of your life making. It’s like opening a time capsule, maybe. You can’t help but think about who you were when you started making it. How your life has changed.

No book I’ve ever written has changed my life the way ILLUMINAE has.

Amie and I started writing this book for fun. I’m not going to say we had no illusions about it actually getting published, because neither of us are the sort to spend months working on a project that has NO chance of flying. But we knew the odds were long. The ideas we were coming up with were too weird. The alt-format thing would be too scary for a publisher to pick up. But most of all, we kept getting told that “Editors don’t buy sci-fi“.

So we wrote it for fun. Because it was so much fun to write. Every draft we sent back and forth was titled with a pun on the word “ILL”. License to ILL. Scott ILLgrim vs the World. ILL your darlings. No idea was too outlandish. There was no budget, no brief, no constraints. Just pedal to the metal, headlights off, drive motherfucker, drive.

Let’s see where this road takes us.

We wrote it on our lunchbreaks and in stolen minutes on weekends and at 1 and 2am. We wrote it for ourselves, because we thought no house would buy it. We wrote it trying to break the idea of what a book could be. Destroying and creating. Because fuck it, no one will ever see it. And a part of my mind was whispering the whole time “Wouldn’t it be cool if it actually did get made? Because jesus, this feels like it could be awesome” but no, shut up Jay. It’s never gonna get made because “Editors don’t buy sci-fi“.

We sent 130 pages out on submission in late October, 2013. We had four major houses sniffing within a week. By the end of that week, the trilogy had been pre-empted by Random House in a major deal. They pulled their entire crew in over the weekend to get the ducks in a row. Fairy tale stuff. Like winning the lottery. My whole life changed that weekend. I think I slept about three hours total.

So many people worked so hard on this book. So many hours, so much faith and sweat invested in this thing we wrote in stolen minutes thinking no-one would ever read it, headlights off, drive, motherfucker, drive. We’ve been so incredibly lucky to land with an editor and house that believes in us so whole-heartedly. Hundreds, thousands of hours work. Everyone firing on all cylinders. Bringing their A-game, nose to the stone, balls to the wall. All of it just amazing fun. I remember working on artwork with our designer as my wife and I booted around Europe on our 10th wedding anniversary trip. Sitting on a boat watching the Mediterranean ocean float past, trying to figure out the best way to make our readers turn the book 360 degrees during a space dogfight sequence, or illustrating a nuclear explosion at an atomic level, all the while thinking “Fuck, how did this become my life?“.

How did this become my life?

Because this is two and half years of it, sitting here in the palm of my hand. This book my friend and I wrote, because we chose not to listen to the people who told us we shouldn’t. And I’m so fucking proud of it. It’s like no book I’ve ever read. We’ve done things in these pages nobody’s ever done. Because we wrote it like no one was watching. Because “Editors don’t buy sci-fi“.

Until they do.

This life is full of people who will tell you can’t. That you won’t. That you shouldn’t even try. Doubt it not, my friends, these people are your enemies. They are the death of your hope and creativity. They are walking misery, seeking your company. Don’t spare them a second, or a breath. Leave them to their “can’t'” and “won’t'” and “shouldn’t'”. Leave them choking in your dust. Standing still as you speed at your horizon.

Pedal to the metal.

Headlights off.

Just drive, motherfucker.

Drive.

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The Book of Faces

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So I’m not sure if you beautiful folks are aware of this, but I thought I’d share since Facebook isn’t all that great at spreading the word about its own functionality.

The facey lair of Lord Zuckerberg has been shrouded in dank shrouds of dank, shroudy mystery for a while now, and most authors I know don’t really bother with it as a social media platform anymore. Not only does the Tome of Face-ishness seem oh so very Naughties, but it’s just not all that great for getting the word out about your warez, as opposed to Twitter or Tumblr or Tinder (omg all these T words) or whatever it is the cool kids are using this week.

One of the reasons companies and content creators are fleeing like virginal 16 year old protagonists in the presence of hockey-mask-wearing mass-murderers is that the Grimoire of Facery actually doesn’t show you the output all of the pages you want to see in your feed. Meaning that, just because you’ve officially Liked a writer or artist or interpretive dance master, doesn’t mean you’ll actually see what they write (unless you go looking for it). See, if you did, Zuckerberg and Co wouldn’t be able to make that sweet, sweet moolah off people/companies who want to “boost” their posts. El oh el.

BUT HOLD THE PHONE BATMAN

ALL RIGHT ROBIN WHY ARE YOU YELLING

There’s now a shiny new option in your News Feed Preferences that allows you to declare undying allegiance to your fave Pages and People and ensure you see MOST of the crappola they put on the Codex of Faceypants. So if you enjoy my particular brand of crappola, you now have the option of guaranteeing you get a bowlful almost every day.

First of all, if you still do the Manual of Facerinos thing and haven’t Liked me (waaaaa, why you no like me) my Facebook page can be found here.

The option you need to check is SEE FIRST. It can be found in your News Feed Prefs, and looks like this:

11863406_893372370741135_125995704311136300_nAfter clicking this option for my page of 100% badassery and profanity, you should be confronted with my crappola (or whichever brand of crappola you prefer) in your feed almost daily. Won’t that be fun?

WELL WON’T IT?

QUICK ILLUMINAE NEWS – for those asking, that big news I promised a few weeks back is still coming. It’s just taking it’s time getting here. But it’ll be worth it when it does, I promise 🙂

That is all, as you were.


License to ILL

PW

I’ve got some more ILLUMINAE updates for you folks because this book has consumed my life lately in all the best ways, kinda like the vagina monster in Neil Gaiman’s AMERICAN GODS, and how the hell are they gonna work THAT into the HBO series is what I wanna know.

First, and most importantly, if you hustle your fine selves over to the ‘Zon right now, you’ll find pre-orders for the hardback edition of ILLUMINAE available for less than ten bucks. Doth thine eyes deceive thee? Am I stricken with some fresh breed of lunacy? I say thee nay, stout yeoman!

LESS.

THAN.

TEN.

BUCKS.

This is almost half price, chums. It’s ridiiiiculous value, and since the Zon moves in very mysterious ways, we honestly don’t know how long it will last. So, if you were ever thinking of pre-ordering this puppy, now’s the time. You may make with the clickies here and pre-order with our most sincere thanks.

While I’m on the topic, long, slightly uncomfortable hugs to everyone who has already pre-ordered. Our editor is very happy with us, and this means she remembers to change the newspaper in the bottom of our cages and give us fresh water occasionally. So thank you SO MUCH! 😀

Second bit of news, ILLUMINAE just got another starred review, this time from the awesome folks over at Publishers Weekly! You can click the link to read the full spiel, but the kill quote is as follows:

“A stylistically mesmerizing tale, where story and art are interchangeable, and words act as pictures.”

So, that’s kinda awesome. BTW, thanks to all you awesome bloggers and Goodreaders writing early ARC reviews and helping spread the word about the book. Our flint-black hearts are melting to piles of flint-black glue knowing you’re all digging it so much!

Damn, I’m using a lot of exclamation marks in this post . . .

Third! (look there I go again) It’s past the 20th of the month, so new updates are now available over at the ILLUMINAE website. This month, you’ll find a new video and all the specs on the spaceships in ILLUMINAE, from the warship Alexander, to the doomed freighter Copernicus. As always, there will be new content added to the site on the 20th of every month, so make sure you do the bookmark thing.

Fourth! We have some absolutely-fucking-awesome news about ILLUMINAE coming next week (hopefully) so make sure you’re on the Facebook and the Twitters. I’m not being a tease mentioning this, I promise. We’re super excited to tell you folks what’s up, but i’s are still being dotted and t’s are still being crossed. It’s worth the wait, I promise – you guys are gonna lose your minds 😀

BTW, at Amie’s insistence I’ve joined Instagram, so if following my blog wasn’t enough and you’d like to be inundated with pictures of my dog and street art and random book stuff, now you have an outlet. YESSSS.

In other ILL related news, Amie and I have started writing the third and final book in the series, which is pretty weird considering the first book isn’t out for three more months. We still don’t have ILL tour details yet, but we’ll get them to you as soon as they land in our sticky little hands. And if you happen to be a Melbournite, keep October the 23rd free, because that’s when we’ll be holding the ILLUMINAE launch party. Drinks will drunk! Speeches will be spoken! Books and body parts will be signed! Details to come.

Okay, I think that’s it . . .

I shall leave you with what may be the single greatest book blurb in the history of book blurbs, from the ever fabulous Laini Taylor, author of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. 😀

 

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The making of: ILLUMINAE ARCs

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Hello droogs,

Excitement afoot! My legion of flying monkeys has informed me the first ARCs of ILLUMINAE have made it out into the wild and were snatched up by a bunch of eager beavers at ALA Midwinter. Not sure what the hell beavers will do with ARCs or how they got past ALA security, but investigations are apparently underway. Hopefully some librarians and bloggers got copies, too.

Frackin’ beavers . . .

For those of you who don’t know, “ARC” stands for “Advanced Reader Copy”. They’re basically an early version of the final book, sent out to media, librarians, bloggers and nice author-type people who’ve said they’re willing to paw through the pages with the intent of giving it an endorsement (presuming they don’t open the book to discover the words are scrawled in pure suck). ARCs have usually only gone through early revisions prior to printing, which means there will be typos and formatting boo-boos inside, but for the mmmmost part, they’re 95% of the finished product.

The ILLUMINAE ARC is a little different (you’ll hear the words “is a little different” a lot when it comes to this book, my droogs). No word of jest do I speak thee when I say the production has been an undertaking of biblical proportions. See normally, putting a book together is basically a matter of cut and pasting from the manuscript, putting in page numbers and maybe some fancy chapter headers, and bang howdy, let’s all go to lunch. But ILLUMINAE?

Oh, my sweet summer child. What do you know of winter?

To give you some indication of the sheer level of whathefuckery involved in creating this beast: The InDesign documents publishing houses work with in producing book contain “tags” to identify various aspects of the manuscript file. Random House corporately works with less than a half dozen standard tags for the majority of its fiction—both adult and children’s books. Less than six. For the ENTIRETY of Random House and its imprints. For ILLUMINAE, the RH corporate pub ops team (pub ops, man they sound like badasses) created nearly 4 dozen custom tags. From scratch, just for this one book. Every single page needed to be hand crafted. All 600+ of them. We’ve had illustrators creating space ship schematics and comic strips and movie posters and all kinds of crazy stuff, a bunch of designers working on different page templates, logo designs, experimental typography, yadda yadda.

It. Is. Madness.

Amie and I send the design guys cupcakes every now and then to make up for it, but I’m sure they’re still plotting our gruesome deaths. Well . . . mine, at least. I mean, I’m the guy who used to be the Designer, so I’m the guy who is now the Pain In The Designer’s Ass. But anyway, the upshot of all this?

HOLY SHIT THE ARCS LOOK FUCKING AAAAWWWEESSOOOOOMMMMEEE.

I’ve been pawing through mine all day and grinning like a lunatic. I was so busy gawping at it, I burned dinner and set off the smoke alarm and gave my dog a heart attack. Poor little dude. 😦

Anyway. Making books is a strange gig. Amie and I began writing this one in Feb 2013. It started as a half-joking conversation over brunch one Sunday morning in a Fitzroy cafe. It’s been part of our lives almost every day for two years. And through a lot of luck and the support of an amazing editor and an amazing team and literally thousands of hours of work from dozens of people, we finally get to hold it in our hands. And soon you will too. I can’t even begin to tell you guys how excited we are about you guys reading this thing.

For those of you who can’t get an ARC, I leave you with the intro letter from our amazeballs editor.

 

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Ten good reasons to co-author a book

ASSEMBLE, BITCHES!

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I used to blog about writing, because that’s what you do when you’re an author but you don’t have a book out yet. Talking about what it’s like to query (repeatedly running facefirst into a brick wall, and thanking it afterwards), what it’s like to copyedit (exsanguination via papercut), that kind of stuff. But the internet is full of LOTS of writing advice—some excellent, some more dangerous than punching a sleeping axe-murderer in the love gun—and once you’ve written one “this is what copy-editing is like” post, you don’t really need to do another, because let’s be honest Jay, you’re not that interesting and neither is copyediting.

BUT, I’m now in the middle of a process that there’s surprisingly little info on the net about, junk-punchingly dangerous or no. As you know, Bob, I wrote a SciFi novel with a buddy of mine, which is actually going to be a real book with pages and everything. Thing is, I’d never actually written a novel with another person before, and didn’t really have any idea what I was getting into. So I figure I’ll talk about it for a little while in case any of you folks are contemplating undertaking the madness and awesome that is the co-authored novel.

But before we get into the “how do you do it?” (which turns out is so long I’m going to do another post on it), let’s talk about “why by Odin’s beard and Loki’s ridiculously well-sculpted cheekbones would you ever want to do it?” (I’ve been watching lots of Vikings lately, sue me).

The pros of co-authoring a book (and this is assuming you’ve chosen your co-author wisely, and not saddled yourself with a rampant egotist, precious artiste, unreliable prick, or any combination thereof—remember, you’re dealing with authors here, and we are a flighty breed) are as numerous as hookers on the Vegas strip. I’m told there’s a lot of them—hookers, I mean. Having never been to Vegas, I can neither confirm nor deny the amount of hookerage there. So the actual Good Things About Having a Co-Author to Hookers on the Vegas Strip ratio may vary somewhat. As with the hookers themselves, I suspect, YMMV. But anyways, away we go.

1. You’re never alone with a rubber duck.

Being a writer is a lonely gig. You spend the vast majority of your time by yourself, which is both entirely necessary and a sure fire recipe for a bout of Charlie Sheen-esque, underpants-on-head-wearing madness.

When you have a co-author, all the shit you’ll have to deal with on the road to publication (editor buys a Snuggie and runs off to join a doomsday cult, agent confesses he blew your advance on crippling tentacle hentai addiction, cover looks like it was designed by a committee of blind rhesus monkeys high on PCP, etc) is halved. You have someone to share the drunken commiserations with, and wipe the tears away when you fall down go boo boo.

Everyone falls down and goes boo boo at some point.

2. Immediate gratification, we needs it, Precious.

Being a writer is a lonely road, and you can sometimes find the road you’ve wandered down has become a dead end full of spooky meth-mouth hobos. Thing is, you need to bang out a decent chunk of your book solo before you can show it to anyone and discover this awful truth (because sending it to readers one chapter at a time and asking for feedback all along the way is a jerk move, and you don’t wanna be that guy/girl), and only then do you learn if you are indeed the unmitigated fucking genius Mother always insisted you were, or if you’ve written the literary equivalent of the herpes virus.

When you have a co-author, presuming you’re writing on a “you do a chapter, than I do a chapter” model (and you don’t have to, but this is the way Amie and I usually work), you get your feedback right away. And if you are writing the literary equivalent of herpes, someone will be on hand immediately to say “you might want to rub some cream on it before it spreads”, instead of you spending six months polishing the same cold sore solo.

Yyyyyeah, that’s a disgusting analogy and I’m going to stop it now.

3. Those Elves make some damn fine shoes, son.

So you know that fairy story about the shoemaker and the elves? Dude leaves out some leather overnight, gets drunk, wakes up, bam, new shoes where the leather used to be. Co-authoring is kinda like that. With less leather. Unless you’re into the kinky stuff, and hey, no judgements here.

You write your chapter and send it off, then you sit around prank-calling the local diocese or sculpting your facial hair, and a couple of days later, your book comes back to you and holy shit there’s more of it. You didn’t do anything and yet there are MORE FUCKING WORDS WHAT IS THIS WITCHERY.

4. The loop that feeds.

I used to work as a creative in advertising agencies, which actually turns out to be a really good grounding for being a co-author. Who knew. Anyway, “creatives” (yes, that’s the job title, zzzz) in ad agencies work in pairs—a writer and an art director, and they basically get paid lots of money to sit around all day in jeans and t-shirts, bouncing ideas off each other about how to sell this new toilet paper dispenser or whatever (yeah, wankerish job titles aside, it’s a pretty good job, tbh).

But, in the BEST partnerships I’ve had, you get a feedback loop happening, where one idea propels the next, and the enthusiasm from one person feeds the other, growing both exponentially by the sum of the square roots of the remaining sides and SCIENCE, BITCH.

If you’re lucky, your co-author and you will enter the same loop. They get excited, and you get excited because they’re excited. They think of a cool idea which you’d have never come up with alone, BUT, that sets you thinking on a different tangent, which gives rise to a bunch of other cool ideas and holy underwear on the outside, Batman, it’s a feedback loop and our shields can’t withstand awesome of this magnitude.

5. There are no stupid questions.

Well, there are, really. “What was Peter Jackson thinking when he decided to make a 200pg children’s book into a three-movie epic?” is a stupid question, for example (“I need a new yacht and I can count the shits I give about what you think on no hands, fanboy” is the very obvious answer). But hearkening back to #4, even a stupid idea can spark a cool train of thought in your partner, so asking them is actually a good thing. The human brain works in mysterious ways, and being bombarded by unfamiliar input is a great way to get your own brain processing in ways it wouldn’t have alone. And what might seem a pants-on-head stupid idea to you could actually become genius you wouldn’t have spotted if left to your own devices.

There’s a great story in Stephen King’s “On Writing” (which I know all you writer-types have already read, right?) from his early days. King has an idea for a scene, which he dutifully types up, reviews, and thinks “no, this is stupid”. So he throws it away. Later, his wife is cleaning out his trash. She finds the chapter and reads it. And she smooths it out and puts it on his desk with a note that says “I think you’re really on to something here.”

That chapter turned into the first scene in CARRIE.

So the lesson is: marry someone smarter than you.

Wait, no, that’s not the lesson.

. . . But it’s still excellent advice, goddammit.

6. Reality called. It wants you back, baby.

When I was 20, I had a girlfriend. I was truly, maaaaaadly in love with this girl. I was so madly in love, one night I got drunk and was all set to charge off to the tattoo parlour to get her name painted on my chest for life. A good friend of mine convinced me to hold off a while and see how it played out.

The girl I was maaaaadly in love with attacked me with a knife a few months later.

We broke up pretty soon after that.

The point is:

Sometimes, we have good ideas.

Sometimes we have really fucking bad ideas.

Sometimes we have really fucking bad ideas that we mistake for good ideas.

And sometimes, we just need someone there to say “Dude, that’s a really fucking bad idea.”

7. Soothing the wounded ego beast.

Aka, the “Wash, tell me I’m pretty.”

Sometimes it’s nice to hear someone tell you that you can write worth a damn. To say “I loooove that bit where you put in the comma, you are so good at the comma thing”. Even if you’ve got a book deal and pretty statues on your shelf and get nice letters from nicer people from countries you’ve never seen, some days your brain will still be full of the absolute and unswerving certainty of your own sucktiude, and that suckitude will leak onto the page.

In that situation, there’s very little that’ll help more than Alan Tudyk telling you he’d take you in a manly fashion were he unwed.

Or something.

8. You are not the Harry Potter of the writing world.

You are not independently wealthy beyond your wildest dreams. You do not have a secret destiny. The clutch position on the goddamn sports team will not just happen to be open when you, an untested eleven year old, wander onto the field. But most importantly, you are not 100% fucking awesome at everything you put your mind to. Welcome to real life, kid.

All writers have strengths. All writers have weaknesses. And while you can play to your strengths and work on your weaknesses, there are writers out there who just do some stuff better than you. That’s just the way reality works. I apologize if this is news, but better you learn it from me than some dude in a bar with a broken whiskey bottle.

I think I’m kinda decent at writing violence, for example. I’m less-than-suck at writing angst. Kissing scenes with dreamy boys? Nnnnnnot so much. So if you partner with a co-author that has different strengths to you, you’ll find you’re suddenly writing much stronger work. The novel will fill itself out, just like a piece of music when you add different instruments.

In other words, you play guitar? Bully for you. But get yourself a singer? You’ve got yourself a band, son.

9. “Honey, some guy named Steve Rogers is on the phone?”

So as all those terribly amusing novelty T-Shirts told us in the 90s, “shit happens”. Sometimes you can’t crack a scene, no matter how many times you fold it. Sometimes you move house, or someone in your family gets arrested for felony cocaine possession, or the Avengers call and say “Dude, Tony’s down with space AIDS again, we need someone to wear the suit when we go kick Thanos in the junk”.

When stuff like this happens and you’re an author with a deadline, there are one of two possible flow on effects:

a)    You lose a shit-ton of sleep/hair/stomach lining making up the lost ground

b)   You blow your deadline

However, the probability of both you AND your co-author being called up to wear the Iron Man suit on the same night are pretty remote, so chances are they’ll be able to lend a helping hand when Stark comes down with a screaming case of the space AIDS.

Help you to finish the book, I mean, not being Iron Man for you, FUCK THAT.

Oh, and maybe they can help you cracking that scene, or just write the thing for you if your brain is that bent on it. If your problems are of the more mundane variety, I mean.

10. Instant Scapegoat

Last but not least, when the reviews come in and the critics and readers of the world light your shit on fire all over the internet, you can both point at each other and utter the time honoured words:

“It was all their fault!”

I’ll talk about this some more next week, but for now I gotta split – Cap’s on the phone again.

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE


On Awards and validation

Lego Buruu approves this award.

Hello droogies!

It’s been an ice age since I posted, I know. I’m shit, I know. Shaddap.

Life’s been busier than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, as someone’s old granpappy used to no doubt say. In the last month, we’ve sold our old house, moved into a new house (moving blows serious goat), I’ve completed story edits on ENDSINGER, handed in my short for SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS and gotten about 90% of the way through story edits on ILLUMINAE.  So yeah, busy. But, my new study has an actual fireplace in it. All I need is one of those chesterfield lounges and a smoking jacket with patches on the elbows. And maybe some kind of pipe.

ANYWAY

I had some very good news last week which I should share: I am now officially an award-winning Sci-Fi/Fantasy author. Exclamation mark!

STORMDANCER got short-listed for a few cool awards, but never quite got past the finish line. However, I’m chuffed to report my novella THE LAST STORMDANCER won the 2013 Aurealis Award for best Fantasy Short Fiction. Which was very flattering and humbling and cool. Sadly, I wasn’t able to attend the show or the booze-up afterward because of the aforementioned moving house and goat blowing. Which kiiiinda sucks since I don’t get to wear a fancy suit all that often anymore, and my bride looks dynamite in evening wear. Alas.

Awards are a funny beast. It’s very nice to be nominated and even nicer to win them, but here’s the thing – I’m not sure you can let them occupy any space in your mind, or take them as any kind of validation of ability. And this is not to say I prefer the state of “not winning awards” to “winning awards”. I’m very flattered to have won. Given the choice, most artists would probably prefer the latter state of being – at least, people who rely on sales to pay their electricity bills. I am one of these, so chuffed to win, you may color me.

But you can lose or win on any given Sunday. A different jury almost certainly would’ve made a different decision. Talk to two different people, even people with common interests in genre fiction or marmoset death matches or hobo pit-fighting or whatever, chances are they’ll love and hate different elements of even the narrowest sphere. There are people out there who fucking HATE my books like poison. There are people out there who say I’m the greatest thing since time travel hover cars. Are either of them right? Both? Neither?

Dealing with a concept as nebulous as “making art”, how do you know you’re actually doing it well?

If you sell a lot of copies, does that mean you’re doing it well? Because Justin Beiber sells a lot of records and his music sounds like rhesus monkeys gargling jizz to me. 50 Shades of grey has sold more copies than any book in the history of the English language. Seriously, it’s sold more copies than the fucking bible. Lighting books on fire was a pretty popular pastime in certain parts of the world not so long ago. I’m not sure you can trust the opinions of the majority, is what I’m saying.

Awards? Again, lovely and flattering and wonderful to win them, but if awards were some kind of divining rod for quality, every show would be listing the same books, right? And one need only listen for a second to the latest shitstorm surrounding the Hugo shortlistings to get a glimpse of how far away from that sunny day we might be.

So again, very flattering to have won. It’s very nice, me ma and da were proud, and the trophy looks awesome next to my Stormdancer lego. Would like to continue winning them, if at all possible.

I guess I’m just saying this:

If you’re having fun making your art, you’re doing it well.

If it makes you feel better as a person, you’re doing it well.

If it gives you a reason to get up in the morning, you’re doing it well.

Everything else is just a bonus.

Thank you to all the judges, committee members and everyone involved with the Aurealis awards! And happy easter all!


After the Prom

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I’m still in the edit cave on Stormdancer 2 atm, but it’s been weeks since I posted anything bloggish, and up with this slackness I will not put.

So. I’m going to tell you a secret today, my friends, which for some reason is often spoken about in author circles but seldom mentioned publicly. Maybe because everyone who gets published feels lucky as this penguin to be here, and nobody wants to be seen talking about anything that could be perceived as less than awesome stuff. But fuck that noise. We (in the royal sense) are nothing if not Real® here. Gather ye ‘round and lend me thine ears.

Launching a book is a lot like getting high.

Sherlockians among you may deduce from this statement that I have, at some point in my life, been under the effects of consciousness-evolving substances. While I’ve not done anything as flaky as necking a bottle of cobra juice, yes, I did once spend nearly two hours in a 7-11 telepathically communing with the hot dog machine (he was a nice chap). Admitting this fact probably drastically limits my chances of ever being elected PM of my country, but when I take this joint, it’ll be at the controls of a 70 foot tall death-spewing robot dinosaur with flames painted up the sides, not a poll booth. Consider yourselves all on notice, bitches.

But yes, launching a book is kinda like being on drugs. It starts with an initial spike of excitement, a rush in that moment when you realize this is actually happening –  that this Book Thing you’ve been sweatshopping on like some pantsless organ grinder monkey for the past two years is actually going to hit shelves soon. It will be real. People will be able to pick it up and read it and love it and holy shiiiiiit that’s more exciting than being Kate Beckinsale’s thong.

Then, if you’ve done your PR right, or if you’re lucky enough to have a PR crew working for you, awesome will be raining from the sky like all the confetti I threw when I discovered JJ Abrams would not be fucking up the new Star Wars film. You’ll have about a thousand interviews to do – radio shows, and podcasts and blogs and vlogs and guest appearances at hoedowns and baptisms. Your days will filled to the tonsils with it – every waking minute will be spent in the company of people who want to know all about you and this Book Thing you did. You’ll take photos with babies and make ringing endorsements of battery operated marital aids. Your book launch will be this huge party with signings and all your friends and All The Booze and yes Damien, it’s all for youuuuu. The President of the United States will be photographed reading your book, people you haven’t heard from in years will call you up and be all like “duuuuuuuuuuude, you wrote a booooooook, I’ve got this awesome bottle of cobra juice, you wanna come over and drink some” and your parents will finally admit that yes, you are their favorite and your other siblings a mere shadows in the cornea-frying light of your awesome.

It’s exhausting and intoxicating and relentless.

And then? It all kinda… stops.

The awesome still happens, of course. It’s not like you’ve pulled a Carrie White, all glittery and prom-queeny for a brief shining moment of pure happy and then OH MY GOD THE PIG’S BLOOD. If you’re lucky, you get folks mailing you stuff and making you stuff. You get strangers from countries you’ve never visited taking the time to tell you your book made them cry or that it was their favorite read of the year and that’s all still 100% Kate Beckinsale Thong territory, no mistake. But the intensity – that all-consuming, hundred-mile-an-hour high of the month before your launch isn’t there anymore. The bloggers who wanted to know all about you are now finding all about the next author. Your PR crew are working with the next gal/guy. Your book is OUT, and folks can go buy it. Much of the attention that was focused on you is now elsewhere. Things are quieter. You need to sleep. Your skin is itchy. You wonder if you really did stand on a table at your launch and proclaim yourself The Second Coming of Christ, or if you just imagined it. And did you have a two hour conversation with a hot dog machine?

You know this feeling. You’ve felt it before.

You. Are. Coming. Down.

This happens to everyone – like a Tom Baker vs David Tennant debate when more than four geeks find themselves in close proximity (Tennant, lol), it’s unavoidable. I’ve noticed a lot of folks in my 2012 debut author group are talking about the comedown recently. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing, it simply is. With luck, you’ll have plenty to occupy yourself in the post launch hangover (recuperating from the bar-tab tally induced cardiac arrest, apologizing to all the religious groups you offended during your messianic fit, or hey… writing your next book). But at the very least, as I told a few of my author buddies, you have the following knowledge to stave off the post-high crash:

You wrote a book. Not only that, but in a post-Amazon world of Penguin Houses and Schuster-Collins you got it published. You took an idea and a blank page and you made something you can hold in your hand, something that people can read and absorb and love. No matter what else this ride might throw at you, you did that.

And THAT, my friend, is pretty fucking cool.

The Comedown is natural. The Comedown is necessary. But when the Comedown passes – as it inevitably will – the book you made will remain. So cheer up. Your life is kinda awesome.

Righto, that’s it. Back to the edit cave.