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Launch Week! Bustle Best Books Review and Guest Posts

It’s been a hectic week with the full release of Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, and I know some of you have followed events in my little book bubble via Twitter and Facebook. Thanks so much for chiming in with comments and replies—very exciting to get feedback!

I thought I’d summarize the media coverage so far. I’ve been busy writing original copy for several websites, which I’ve really enjoyed doing. So, here goes:

BUSTLE

This is a big surprise: I’m totally chuffed that Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind is reviewed by Bustle, and included in Melissa Ragsdale’s 13 of December 2015’s Best Books to Go With Your Holiday Cheer. This is a US website with, I believe, 10 million monthly visitors. Crikey O’Reilly! According to the website, Bustle is written “for and by women who are moving forward as fast as you are.” Melissa has compiled a lovely list of books, some in translation, and I’m adding them all to my reading pile. Read more

UPDATE: Novels with Fictional Art — Why I Don’t Count Words — Speculiction Review

Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 11.39.43It’s one week to the official release day for Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind, and I’d like to thank Tor.com for inviting me to talk about novels with fictitious works of art at the heart of their plots. This is part of Tor.com’s popular ‘5 Novels About’ series. Take a look at my book selection here!

Despite all the distractions of my book release, I’ve taken part in November’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’ve written an article on Medium: NaNoWriMo: Why I Don’t Count Words, in which I lament our transition from the analogue Screen Shot 2015-11-25 at 11.55.01world of manual typewriters to the digital world of laptops and precise word counts. 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

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

My Writing Process: A Blog Tour!

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Steampunker Richard Ellis Preston Jr

I am taking part in The Writing Process Blog Tour, which is a fun way to introduce you to writers from far afield. Each author will offer brief insights into their writing processes and, in turn, they will introduce you to three more authors. I was invited to participate by Richard Ellis Preston Jr, steampunk author of the Romulus Buckle adventures. (In an earlier post, I persuaded Richard that my home city of Manchester is the steampunk capital of the world). Read more

Manchester: the perfect setting for Science Fiction

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Baby at Manchester University

So why did I chose Manchester and the North West of England as the main setting for A Calculated Life? It’s not simply because I know this city and region (I could have chosen London, which I know well enough).

The fact is that Manchester shouted out as being totally appropriate. I couldn’t resist. You see, A Calculated Life is set later in the 21st Century. It’s Science Fiction or, as others might classify the novel, Speculative Fiction. It presents a dystopian view of the future – one in which humans have adopted many advances in neural implant technology and genetic engineering. As Ray Kurzweil argues in The Age of Spiritual Machines, once we discovered computation we reset our future evolutionary path.

So where better to locate this futuristic novel, than the city where the first commercial computer was developed. Read more

Why did I even begin to write this novel?

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It all began . . . at the turn of the millennium when, after I’d recovered from the celebrations, I read a long review in The Guardian‘s New Year edition of Ray Kurzweil’s book The Age of Spiritual Machines. His predictions were a wake-up call. He imagined a future when humans start to merge with technology, that is, when wealthier humans boost their brainpower by way of neural implants (welI, I can see the upside, who wouldn’t? Imagine being fluent in seven languages…).

Kurzweil argues that it’s absolutely inevitable that the next step in our evolution will involve cognitive implants. By the year 2099, he says humans with neural implants will be unable to hold a meaningful conversation with humans who do not have them; the divide will be too great.

This was seriously scary stuff, or I thought so at least. I was already looking at the dividing line between humans and machines in my art practice, but Kurzweil’s predictions really unnerved me. Read more