What I’m up to - November 2021
Here’s everything new with me as we tumble towards midwinter.
This is a cross-post from my current Now page.
I have singularly failed to write these more regularly. But now, I’ve got a repeating todo in my task manager. So it’ll definitely happen. I’ll aim for monthly and see what happens.
- In keeping with trying to describe myself with a straight face as a writer, I’m splitting my writing activities out into their own section.
- Over the summer, I edited a novel called The Burning Line and started submitting it to agents. It has been a really amazing experience, although at times it can be very repetitive. But also kind of high stakes and fun! It’s weird. More on my writing page.
- I attended Cymera 2021 virtually back in June and had an absolute whale of a time. Can recommend.
- I also met and joined up with Edinburgh SFF, which has an incredibly friendly Discord server and all kinds of different writers. It’s been an amazing experience. Since joining I’ve organised a couple of in-person meetups and those have also been excellent.
- Later in the year, I turned my hand to a bit of short story writing, after not trying any for absolutely years. And I’m very pleased to say, one of them has sold, and to a pretty big SF magazine - not quite sure when I can post about it, but I’ve made my first professional short story sale and I’m so delighted. I’ll be writing a blog post about that experience once I’m sure I can be public about it.
- I’m going to finish out the year writing and submitting more short stories, then start on a new novel in January. This one is tentatively titled Braid and (might) be set in the same universe as The Burning Line. But it’s just an outline currently.
- Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer - I’ve had this in eBook for a while and really liked the sound of what I’d heard about it, but I kept bouncing off the opening chapters when I tried to read it late in the evening, both because Palmer writes a deep, incredibly intricate world and because the first chapter is very strange indeed. Now that I am reading in paperback, I’ve got over that initial hump and I’m really enjoying it. It’s the first part of a four part series that has just concluded and based on this first entry I will definitely be reading the rest. My thumbnail pitch for it would be ‘solarpunk Second Enlightenment political thriller but also miracles?’ which kind of fails as a pitch because it tells you nothing. Anyway it’s great so far.
- Notes from the Burning Age by Claire North - This is a gorgeous spy thriller in a post-climate-apocalypse-rebuilt world several hundred years in the future. At times it has real Le Carré vibes in the slow, meticulous spycraft and sinister masterminds at odds with each other, but it’s all wrapped up in this incredibly imaginative and spellbinding, somewhat dreamlike future. I’m listening to this one on audiobook and Peter Kenny (who also narrates most of the Culture novels by Iain M. Banks) does a fantastic job.
- The Koli Trilogy by M.R. Carey - I read the first one of these (The Book of Koli) earlier this year and just finished the second one. They are really great, tightly plotted post-apocalyptic novels. The narrators have a very clear voice, which I’ve been thinking of as an accessible version of the far-future speech in Russell Hoban’s novel Riddley Walker, which I love but which can be a tough read before you get used to the phonetic spellings. The story is great too, following one young man (Koli) and his childhood friend Spinner as they each work to find out what really happened to the world in the ‘Unfinished War’. This series is a fantastic read.
- I’m settling into my second winter mostly working from home and I’m actually really enjoying it. My day job involves chatting with people in Lisbon, Bucharest, Ottawa and North Carolina in a typical day, (sometimes New Zealand as well), so it has worked well to have a comfy home office to work from.
- The ‘new’ house is no longer new, since we’ve been here over a year now. In September, we had an air-source heat pump installed as part of a government pilot scheme to assess how different types of properties did with different heating sources. The whole experience was fantastic and we’re now enjoying a much warmer house. However, our energy supplier went bust three days before the work started, so I’ve not yet actually had the chance to find out the impact on our bills. We shall see.
- We also had a new gutter downpipe installed, which means we no longer have random leaks from gutters with standing water in them. Isn’t this just the riveting content you come here to read? I recommend the team from Bert’s Gutters for this - nice clear quotes, good quality work and excellent communication.
- Not a lot, to be honest - taking some time off over Christmas of course, lots of reading and writing.
- I will be going along to Cymera’s Roxy Takeover on the 28th of November and will be there along with many of the other ESFF crew. If you’re interested in joining ESFF or want to meet likeminded nerds, you should totally do the same!