5 Authors On Their Short Story Inspirations

Pre-order the Kindle eBook.

Pre-order the Kindle eBook.

Next week, my story “The Adoption” will be published in an anthology of speculative fiction—Phantasma—edited by J.D. Horn and Roberta Trahan. I decided to celebrate the anthology’s upcoming release by reflecting on a piece of short fiction that inspired my fiction writing. And this led me to wonder if my co-contributors could pinpoint short stories that influenced their own work.

So I’m delighted to share in this blogpost a few reflections on short form by J.D. Horn, Roberta Trahan, Jason Kirk and Kate Maruyama.

You can pre-order Phantasma Stories, a Kindle eBook, and it will be delivered to your Kindle device or Kindle app on 22 September!

So here goes, in alphabetical order… Read more

Cover Release: Sleeping Embers Of An Ordinary Mind

Since I returned from my month’s research trip to China in May last year, I’ve worked flat-out to write my second novel, Sleeping Embers Of An Ordinary Mind. So this is a special week for me—to see the fabulous cover art, by designer MS Corley. I love the strong emphasis on typography.

Publication date: 1 December 2015, in Kindle eBook, paperback and audiobook editions.

It’s been immense fun to write this novel but a huge challenge, too, because of the complexity of the three-storyline structure. But I have the perfect editor in Jason Kirk at 47North. He gives me invaluable advice and has the knack of suggesting subtle changes that have a big impact.

And with two novels under my belt, I felt it opportune to redesign my website. Many thanks to my son, Adam, who guided me through the revamp!

So here’s the cover and the back cover blurb: Read more

A Conversation With Speculative Fiction Author E.J. Swift

ejswift_author photo_bw smallI met E.J. Swift last summer when we shared a panel at LonCon 3, with David Hebblethwaite and Adam Roberts, discussing writers who cross the boundary between mainstream fiction and science fiction. Since then, I’ve finished my second novel, Sleeping Embers Of An Ordinary Mind, and E.J. has completed her trilogy The Osiris Project. Not only that…E.J.’s short story “The Spiders of Stockholm” has been long-listed for The Sunday Times EFG Short Story Competition.

We felt it was time for a catch-up chat—about past writing and future plans. Read more

And The Title For My Novel Is…

SLEEPING EMBERS OF AN ORDINARY MIND

I’m absolutely thrilled with this title and I’m now excited about the next stage in the publishing process—cover concepts by 47North’s designers.

The publication date will be sometime this year and as soon as it’s firmly decided I’ll announce it here.

It was a tough challenge to find a title because this novel has three intertwining storylines set 600 years apart—in fifteenth century Italy, present-day China and twenty-second century London.

So when, and how, did I arrive at Sleeping Embers Of An Ordinary Mind? And how did I even choose a working title? Read more

Beyond The Cave: Meeting Readers at BSFA and SF Book Club

I’ve had a lovely start to 2015! I actually left my writing cave to meet readers.

Author and literary critic Adam Roberts interviewed me at the January meeting of the British Science Fiction Association. He pitched some challenging questions, which led to a lively and wide-ranging conversation. If you couldn’t make it to the meeting, this blogpost by Andrew Wallace gives a good impression of the subjects that Adam and I discussed. Thank you, Andrew, for this detailed commentary. Here’s a brief extract from his blogpost: Read more

Endings For Novels: Is The End Always In Sight?

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked over the past 12 months has been, ‘When you start writing a novel do you know how it’s going to end?’

For me, there isn’t a simple Yes or No answer because so much depends on the individual writing project. In effect, pinning down the ending is less important in some projects than others. It’s an aspect of the writing process that I, too, find fascinating.

So in this blogpost I’ll explain a little further using my own experience of writing (a) A Calculated Life and (b) my current work-in-progress, which has the working title, The Academy. Read more

One Year Since Release Day: My Bookiversary Progress Report

Philip K Dick Nominees

Finalists and their representatives for the Philip K Dick Award, Seattle, April 2014.

It’s my first Bookiversary today! I can’t believe it’s a year since the release of A Calculated Life by 47North. And, since release day, I’ve made a bunch of new friends within the SF community and enjoyed the continuing support of friends who read my novel when it was self-published.

So thanks to everyone! It’s been so exciting to find new readers and receive positive feedback from reviewers. Here’s a review by literary critic Adam Roberts on Sibilant Fricative, which I particularly appreciated. Full review here.

Charnock’s Manchester is quite unlike Blade Runner’s hyperreal city, and her prose creates a much more rounded sense of actual life than the deliberately flattened paranoidal patterns of Phil Dick’s writing. What she shares with Dick is the ability to write unease.

Extract from Sibilant Fricative review.

Read more

Hay Festival: Michael Cunningham on The Snow Queen

Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham reads the opening pages of The Snow Queen

I had not one but THREE brief chats with my author hero Michael Cunningham at Hay Festival—at his author event, at his book signing and, by sheer coincidence, at the bar of the Old Black Lion. No, I wasn’t stalking!

Unbelievably, in my opinion, this was Cunningham’s first appearance at Hay Festival. He told me he’d been waiting for an invite.

Cunningham won the Pulitzer Prize for his exquisite fourth novel The Hours, which happens to be my favourite novel of all time. The film version of the book was directed by Stephen Daldry and starred Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, Ed Harris and Clare Danes. In his Hay Festival conversation with Rosie Goldsmith he said, “I must be the only living author who’s happy with the film of their book.”

Incidentally, his fifth novel, Specimen Days, was written in three parts and included a science fiction element. I asked about this foray into SF because of my own writing inclinations and he said that science fiction was definitely part of the zeitgeist at the time he wrote the novel.

The Snow Queen is his latest novel and it opens thus: Read more

Norwescon Report — Near-Future Political Science Fiction

Social change is an important issue for me when I’m writing science fiction. When I look at emerging technologies and science research, I ask myself: What’s going to be the social fall-out from these technologies? How will they affect the way humans interact with one another?

So I was pleased to take part in a panel discussion at Norwescon 37 in Seattle on Near-Future Political Science Fiction. My first thoughts were: What counts as ‘near-future’? Does a story need to be overtly political? And, can I include a story in this particular niche if the setting is ambiguous? I reminded myself of the mantra from 60s feminism: ‘The personal is political.’ Read more