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

The Philip K Dick Award, His Legacy and His Surrealism

Philip K Dick Nominees

So here we have, from the left, Ann Leckie’s representative Ellen Brady Wright (Orbit), err…me, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Ben H Winters, Toh EnJoe (special citation), and EnJoe’s translator, Terry Gallagher.

What a thrill to be in this line-up. The lovely Ben H Winters won the Philip K Dick Award 2013 for Countdown City, sequel to The Last Policeman. Ben is a smart and witty writer so make a note of his two titles! This photo was taken at Norwescon in Seattle where the award ceremony takes place every year. Here’s a full list of the nominated works.

Award administrator Gordon Van Gelder (left) and T William Sadorus (right) ceremony coordinator.

Award administrator Gordon Van Gelder (left) and T William Sadorus (right) ceremony coordinator.

Each author read an extract before the award was announced and I have to admit I’m getting accustomed to reading in public, and I definitely enjoy the experience.  The award is administered by Gordon Van Gelder, award-winning editor of the New York based Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.

I was delighted to join Gordon on a panel discussion on Philip K Dick’s literary legacy, together with Toh EnJoe, Nick Mamatas (EnJoe’s editor), Jack Skillingstead and Cassandra Rose Clarke. We each talked about our connections with Philip K Dick’s writing. For me, Read more

Update: Norwescon, video trailer, Philip K Dick Award…

It’s been a hectic and fun time since I last posted so here’s a quick round-up. First, here’s a fabulous video trailer for A Calculated Life. Many thanks to Ian Koviak at theBookDesigners for producing this animated graphic. Video trailers are becoming more common for novels and it’s easy to see why when you watch this great animation.

If you happen to be attending the SF convention Norwescon in Seattle, I hope you’ll catch one or more events I’m involved with including a panel discussion on near-future political science fiction. In addition, I’ll be joining writers talking about the publishing industry and how to find a readership for your fiction.  Read more

J Lincoln Fenn: 6 Worst Ways to Get Your Novel Published

J Lincoln Fenn

J Lincoln Fenn

J Lincoln Fenn won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award in 2013 for her horror novel POE. I’m extremely chuffed to host Fenn today! With her wealth of experience she offers top tips to writers who are battling to land their first book deal. I especially like No.6. Read on!

Not many writers are happy, Emily Dickenson-like, to write copiously without anyone ever reading a word. And with the occasional writer breaking through to near rock star status, writing the right book could be like winning the lottery. So how do you achieve that kind of literary success?

I have no idea.

What I do know, from years of knocking my head uselessly against brick walls trying to get published, is what not to do. Here’re some pointers. Read more

Spain: A New Playground for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror

Author and SF blogger, Cristina JuradoI am delighted to host author Cristina Jurado on my blog today to describe the current boom in Science Fiction in Spain and the assimilation of Fantasy into mainstream publishing. Cristina brings together the views of leading figures in Spain’s SFF community to discuss the future of science fiction, fantasy and horror publishing.

If Spain were the title of a recent fantasy movie, it would be “The desolation of Smaug”. The country has been in such economical stress over the last few years – rampaging unemployment, numerous banking and political scandals, and popular discontent over the Government decisions – that it looks as if it has been ravaged by powerful predators. No more Spanish miracle due to the booming of the construction market.

Spaniards are having a hard time getting back on their feet, and the cultural landscape has been greatly affected by high taxes (21% in cultural related products like e-books, movies, etc.) and cuts in public funding. Although the Conservative party in power has recently announced it is planning to lower taxes, people remain highly skeptical.

Fewer books but more science fiction titles Read more

Guest Post: Laurel Saville on Her Writing Process

As part of the Writing Process Blog Tour, which I took part in recently, I’m delighted to host Laurel Saville who talks here today about her own approach to writing. So here goes:

What am I working on?

I am currently writing a novel set in the Adirondack mountains of Upstate NY, near where I used to live and spent plenty of hours hiking. Like Henry and Rachel, it involves the clashes of family, class and culture, but this book is contemporary, not historical. It also explores some of the different ways people have of relating to our natural world, and involves a commune and a kidnapped child.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Read more