Ste Pickford and I have spoken three times in the past 20 years. We saw each other once in 1998 for a Wetrix press event, once in an airport just before travelling to Los Angeles (this was in 1999, I think), and then spoke once via Skype to make this podcast last week. You can’t rush artistic relationships.
Ste illustrated Deg, and I had no input in his work other than providing the base material. He read the text, we exchanged some emails, and he produced the beautiful images you’ll find on the cover and at the beginning of every chapter.
A very nice lady named Sonya interviewed me about Deg for her blog, A Lover of Books, allowing me a little room to explain how, and why, my first novel came to be.
Here’s a snippet:
Deg is screen culture paranoia, anarchic politics and drug exploration written in an automatic, surrealist style. I wrote it in a fit of desperation I doubt I could ever replicate. The diary element to its method set the form of my further books, but it now seems that opinion and inspiration based on imaginary input will always be subservient to reportage for me. Deg was likely a once in a lifetime event.
Head through the link for the full thing.
Deg wouldn’t be complete without Ste Pickford’s art, of course. Ste’s currently publishing blog posts explaining his thinking behind his illustrations’ creation, which include previously unseen work-in-progress images and a fascinating insight into his process. You should absolutely check this out.
Deg launched last week. I wrote about it briefly on VG247, explaining gaming’s role in its creation, and went to the annual Urbane author party in London that evening. My day was relatively bookish.
You can buy it now on Amazon. Hardback copies have all been sold, I’m afraid, but more are on the way. There’s a Kindle version, too, but you may want to wait for the paper edition (and its physical copies of Ste’s illustrations).
I’ll get back to the writing, then.
Sorry if you’d pre-ordered and were counting the days, but Urbane’s delayed Deg. It’s now releasing on November 10, and not the previously expected October 6.
Why? A few reasons. Firstly, my publisher, Matthew, needs more time to sell-in the ideas he’s had for Deg’s launch (which we haven’t talked about publicly yet). Secondly, books released too early in the year can’t be entered for certain prizes, so it needs to be pushed back a little to ensure it has the best chance of gong-glory.
I’m glad of the delay, in truth. Had we launched as planned it would have felt rushed (I know it’s hardly the entertainment world’s most anticipated event, mais quand même), and this’ll mean it’ll get the best send-off possible. All told, it’s good news for both myself and Ste, Deg’s illustrator.
So that’s that. As for the rest of my writing, I’m in the middle of a new first draft. There’s still a great deal of work to do before I complete, although, should Grandnanny Cosmos be lenient, I’ll be done before the end of the year. This project has been deliberately longer and more considered than the previous two. The subject itself is more complex and I was committed to experimentation both in process and immediacy this time, to slowing the flow somewhat to see if I could row through clearer waters rather tearing at the riverbed with my oars.
I can’t tell anything about the result yet, but it’s been a valuable exercise. I’ve taken to writing on paper then transferring to digital, adding an enforced, cleansing pass before the words settle into the initial manuscript, which this time feels more like a living document to which I’m adding from all directions. This method is slower, but the structure demands more consideration. I have no idea if this is good. It’s more ponderous, and literally less productive, so while it’s a broadening exercise it’s tinged with uncertainty. I guess you can tell me if it’s worthwhile if you ever get to read it.
Once this draft is complete I intend to focus on edits for the sort-of-completed book which I’m sort-of-pitching-but-not-really, and then I’ll get back to the current project. Hopefully, I’ll have two books completed in 2017, leaving me free to start writing another in the middle of next year. I’m greatly looking forward to a fresh start.
Deg, though. If you haven’t pre-ordered yet but were of the opinion that you might, then please do. Every sale massively helps everyone involved, not just me. I’ll have more news on the launch soon.
Doing that thing by which it solidifies from apparently nothing, reality informed me this week that Deg will be published on October 6. The paper version’s available for pre-order on Amazon now.
My publisher, Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications, is being super-supportive throughout this process, and seeing Ste work so hard on illustrating Deg is fantastically empowering. All positive. Can’t wait for people to see the finished book.
Please check out Ste’s Instagram feed for some panel details.
Deg, my first novel, is to be illustrated by BAFTA-nominated artist Ste Pickford, a developer with a huge history in games art. Ste’s drawn the title image and will create separate plates for each chapter. Urbane revealed the cover last night on social media.
Collaborating with Ste is proving to be a brilliant experience. I have great respect for his talent, and his work is granting Deg’s text a level of maturity I feel it would fail to achieve alone. Ste’s take on the content, on its imagery and routines, is fascinating to me. Seeing the words visualised is as bizarre as it is thrilling.
Deg will release this autumn.
While Deg’s path to publication winds ever on, I’ve finished my next book. A fifth draft went quickly since I decided to bring some proper attention back to my fiction – VG247’s growth was a priority for me in 2015 – and I completed a final general pass last week. Securing an agent is an urgent goal for me now, so hopefully this next round of subbing will work out.
With this latest book in the bag I’ve been able to start writing something completely new, with good progress made on a first draft made since the Christmas holiday. While the previous two projects have been largely built on the past, it seems this will focus on France and the Vosges, my current home.
If you want to read something of mine while you wait for Deg, my latest story appeared in Dark Tales from the Secret War late last December. There are many reasons to buy this book. David J Rodger (this was David’s final publication; horribly, he died last November), Martin Korda and Richard Dansky all contributed under John Houlihan’s editorship, and the print version is a beautiful thing to hold. It’s only £9.99 (€14.99) in print, PDF included. There’s a PDF-only version, if that works better for you.
Modiphius today released Dark Tales from the Secret War, a short story collection based on tabletop RPG Achtung! Cthulhu.
My story, Bloodborn in Sarandë, is included alongside the work of David J Rodger, Destiny and Fable writer Martin Korda and Splinter Cell’s Richard Dansky. Editor John Houlihan’s done a fantastic job getting this book to market, and it contains a line-up well worthy of your money.
In a somewhat bewildering turn of events, I’ve signed an actual contract. My first novel is to be released by amazing indie publisher Urbane.
Title, release date, cover, and details of a very special art collaboration of which I’m completely thrilled will all be announced later, but just writing these words is forming a reality I can barely believe exists. I will have my novel. On paper. In my hands. In your hands, hopefully.
I can’t tell you have pleased I am to have found a publisher willing to take a risk on my book. It’s a difficult project, but the conversations I’ve had in the run-up to this announcement have shown a perfect understanding of what I was trying to achieve. As the trillions of “perseverance” sound-bites have it, it only took one person to say yes.
I don’t really have anything else to say. Braindead happy.
Another of my short stories has been published in the last few days. BABY SHOES: 100 STORIES BY 100 AUTHORS is now available on Amazon in both the UK (£3.19) and US ($4.99). I think there’s a discount on the American Kindle edition at the moment. The paper versions cost £16.08 and $24.99.
The story, CALL THEM, centres on the stresses of financial difficulty. Let me know (in the comments below or on Twitter) if you pick it up. I’ll touch you on the virtual bottom in thanks.
I had a story long-listed for the 2015 Short Fiction Award last month. The short list has, unfortunately, erased proof of my heroism as I didn’t make it to the final six, but I’m so happy to have been chosen from the initial round of more than 650 entries. Baby steps. Frankly, getting any kind of result from this year’s output is fine. I feel safe in chalking it up as a win.
Motivation isn’t a problem for me at the moment. Getting stuff done feels light. The need to strengthen some basic skills has been nagging for a while, so I’ve committed to some long-term college training, and I’m working on another short story, potentially the last of the year, to sub to various lit mags later this month. I’ve started preliminary work on my next novel (the reason for holding back on too much more short fiction in 2015), and I may finally have a lead on a professional mentor. Nothing’s certain yet, but I’m crossing everything. This could be amazing for me.
I’m also involved in another writing project I can’t talk about right now, but, from a personal perspective at least, it has the potential to be hugely exciting. More on that soon.
Everything’s up! It’s brilliant how even the slightest element of acceptance can buoy a writer, and equally unbrilliant how endless rejection can flatten one. The solution’s simple: write more. Write more write more write more. The more you write, the better your chances of success. Have to run. Writing.