Friday, 25 January 2008

"Lucid", The Ineffable Madness of Rewriting, and Kenya-Sweet-Kenya

So. Crazy hectic insanity is about to reign. Find below an update on the progress of my second novel, and a general grumble about the sheer bloodyminded awkwardness of the world.


Shortly after the publication of Contract, I began work on the second of the two novels I'd been signed to write. Working on the understanding that the idiosyncratic style of Contract is what made it stand out in the first place, I was busy cultivating the same snappy vibe to dominate the sequel. Alas, after several months of drafting and a depressing reality-check or two, it became clear I was working At Odds with myself.

See, I'd elected to write a murder mystery with a very traditional Agatha Christie type of plot (group of eccentrics cooped-up together, one dies, whodunnit?), albeit with a typically weird twist. I was trying to lace it with a similar "train of thought" style voice to that which had fuelled Contract (described affectionately by one pal as "Literary Tourettes' Syndrome"), and it just wasn't working. 'Whodunnit' fiction relies so heavily on intricate plotting, feasible characterisation and a deliberate lack of access to your sleuth's thoughts; all of which are fucking tricky to pull-off when you're busy being snappy and observational, and getting right inside your main character's head.

SO. The decision was made that I'd deliberately shift my mental goalposts; discarding the idea of a quirky genre-defying style and instead playing (at least mostly) by the rules of the Thriller genre. Rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. The idea is to ignore all conscious idiosyncracy, relying upon a trace of my own "voice" trickling through naturally. I've been wading through reams and reams of thrillers ever since; trying to discover some unifying facet that I can get really excited about. A lot of them are pretty terrible... writing-by-numbers of the worst kind. But at some point, halfway through Frederick Forsythe's seminal Day of the Jackal, I realised that I was no longer revolted by the idea of writing a Mainstream Thriller. They can be good, they should be good, and if they happen to be a genre with extraordinary access to vast readerships then I'm not about to complain.

This may all sound hideously mercenary, but I'm not about to apologise for that. Writers write for the love of writing, but they stay alive for the love of readers. Contract has received nothing but positive reviews (google it), but that doesn't help its lack of "Bestseller" appeal. It's sold pretty well since its release, but - as my editor put it - "it's not a supermarket book." It's too unique, too odd, too difficult-to-define. If I'm going to justify the faith my publishers have placed in me, that's got to change.

So here's the plan: Write another unique book - another odd book, even - but disguise it. Dress it up as a gold-embossed crime thriller and plant twisted little seeds of pervy corruption in the heads of all the Richard & Judy clones and beach-reader beigeanauts. Bwah-ha-ha! If you can play by the rules of a genre, you can also bend the fuckers with no one noticing.

...all of which is an explanation for why the novel which was going to be called Lucid - but which may now have a different title, though the subject matter will be broadly the same - won't be with us until later in the year.


Everything happens all at once.

I was under the impression that the contract on my flat expires halfway through March. I can't afford to renew, sadly: West Hampstead may be beautiful and quiet and blah blah blah, but it's also more expensive than a platinum prostitute. Plus, when you're broke, being surrounded by wealthy people just makes you bitter. Even moreso, I mean.

I'm supposed to be off on a two-week holiday overseas until the 3rd of March, so it was always going to be a mad rush to find a new place after I'd got back. Except it now transpires the contract ends on the 29th of Feb. Whilst I'm away. Shit.

To make matters more laughable, the holiday - which has been planned for months - is meant to be in Kenya. Not the most peaceful place in the world right now.

So a break which was meant to be all about relaxation and getting my head together (in preparation for writing the second novel, arf arf), has turned into a rampage of stress, potential violence, looming homelessness and high blood pressure.

Raaaay for reality.

Friday, 4 January 2008

New Year Updates

Wow. Busy end to 2007: apologies for the dearth of bloggage. I'd make promises to do better this year, but they'd sound troublingly like beige blog-filler Resolutions and I'm staying well clear of those.

First order of business is to wish everyone a happy New Year. There's a weird sort of vacuum-effect in the publishing/comics worlds, whereby New Year's Eve exerts a curious "pull" upon working jobs, industrial momentum and personal motivation. It's as if everything after about mid-November is liable to get sucked into the inky darkness, and mentally set aside "for the New Year".

Consequently 2008 feels like it's been a loooong time coming, and now that it's here everyone finds themselves swamped with all those set-aside projects. Raaaay.

At any rate, there's a bunch of updates to be scattered out:


Readers will know that this title has been beset by horrendous delays. The artist and I can only apologise, and assure folks that we're doing everything in our power to overcome a host of unforseen Real World buggerations, and get things back on track. There's an explanation for the delays - along with a SNEAK PEEK AT THE NEXT ISSUE - right HERE.


Part 3 of the cosmic craziness is out today (January 4th). Check out the dazzling wonderfulness of the cover by Comicky Superstar Paul Pope. Gorgeosity.

There's a SNEAK PEEK of this one too - this time aim your browser HERE, and wait for the puritans to start chucking toys out of the pram when they see page 3.


For the true Spursphere obsessive, let it be known that an Author Profile of yours truly is cluttering-up this month's SFX MAGAZINE (complete with a photo that makes me look like the bastard offspring of Wayne Rooney and a wichity grub), and that I've contributed a thoughtful little opinion-piece on GUNS GUNS GUNS to Issue 9 of DEATHRAY MAGAZINE, which should also be out today.

Let it also be known that, thanks entirely to the generosity of someone very special to me, I'm going to make it out to the New York Comic Convention this April. My yankee drinking buddies can hereby consider themselves adequately forewarned.

More soon!