Friday, 22 April 2011

Three of a Kind: Sci-Fi for Easter

I know, science fiction and Easter aren't exactly a usual combination, but I've been thinking about it recently because of rediscovering Colleen McCullough's extraordinary novel, A Creed for the Third Millenium.  Colleen McCullough is better known for writing The Thorn Birds, but she's an extraordinarily varied writer and Creed is a kind of futuristic retelling of the Easter Story, centring around psychotherapist Joshua Christian (the symbolism of the name is obviously intentional).  Joshua accidentally hits upon the cure for a condition he calls 'Millenial Neurosis', and in his quest to bring the cure to the world, he finds himself thrust into a prophetic role which sits uncomfortably with him and his family. 

Two other science fiction stories which loosely retell the story of Jesus' life are Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, and Behold the Man, by Michael Moorcock.  Stranger was one of my favourite books for a long time, and I'm still fascinated by the idea of the Man from Mars, whose upbringing among Martians has given him almost god-like powers.  Behold the Man is an altogether darker story, but equally intriguing, as it tells the story of a man from the future who time-travels back to the year zero and discovers that the story of Jesus is not all it seems.

Three very strange books, but all with some intriguing points to make and of course a powerful story to tell (or retell).  They're all good reads at any time of year, but especially thought-provoking at this time, when the message of Easter is so relevant.

So, sorry, this post isn't exactly all fluffy bunnies and chocolate eggs... but Happy Easter anyway!
(Easter card by Simon Howden)

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Editing with Barnsley Writers

Another thing that's happened during the past few weeks is that I ran a workshop on editing and rewriting for Barnsley Writers Group.  There were some great questions ranging from the very philosophical - 'What is a book?' - to the much more practical - 'How do you manage the pace of scenes?'  They're clearly a very dedicated and talented group of writers, and I always enjoy meeting other people who share my fascination with stories.  The handouts (available from the Barnsley Writers blog) only scratch the surface of what we covered, but one of them lists useful resources to follow up, so if you want to find out more, grab that one and pick out the books that interest you.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Some Great Events at Hull: Kate Mosse

Now that I'm back online (I hate BT, did I mention that?), I thought I'd let you know about some of the great things that happened during my forced absence from the computer.  Thanks to a suggestion from a new friend from the RNA, I went to hear Kate Mosse (the author, not to be confused with Kate Moss, the fashion model) talk about her bestselling first novel.  The book is called Labyrinth (not to be confused with the film Labyrinth, which is one of my favourites, or the film Pan's Labyrinth, which I've never seen).  I wanted to ask her whether sharing her name with a fashion model, and having a book which shared its title with a popular film, helped or hindered her marketing, but I didn't quite dare!

Kate Mosse was speaking at Hull University as part of a series of events, and was great to listen to, despite some problems with the sound system, which meant that the interview went something like this:

Interviewer: hmmmm mmm fmmmm bmmmm gaaaa?
Kate: It's very interesting you should ask that, because...
Me, under my breath to my neighbour: What did he just ask her?
Neighbour: *shrug*

Despite having no idea what the questions were, I found her answers fascinating.  She talked with self-effacing humour about the journey from researching her local area of France, to writing a book about it, to finding the book an unexpected bestseller.  One thing I found really interesting was that she felt writing 'Labyrinth' was a very private experience.  At the end, the audience had a chance to ask questions, and although I didn't have the nerve to ask my silly question about naming, I was able to satisfy my curiosity about whether becoming a published, bestselling author made a difference to her experience of writing the later books.  Apparently, it hasn't changed the writing process, but she's had to become more conscious of marketing and her audiences in addition to the writing.  (Or something like that - I'm paraphrasing horribly!).  She also talked very interestingly about how she uses her website to connect with her readers. 

Next month, as part of the same series of events, there is a talk from David Almond, the author of Skellig, who's also a fantastic speaker (he came to speak to the Creative Writing Students at Bath Spa University when I was there).  If you're in the area, do try and get along - I'm sure he'll be well worth it.  I might even make it over to Hull again myself.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Why I love my publisher.

I've been away from my blog for a few weeks, for a few reasons, both technical and otherwise.  What better to return with than a celebration of my wonderful publishers?  The Wild Rose Press is about to turn five years old - a ripe old age in the still-fresh world of e-publishing.

There are e-publishers and e-publishers, and The Wild Rose Press is definitely an e-publisher to be proud of.

Not only do the folks at The Wild Rose Press publish great stories (and no, I'm not only saying that because they published my e-book, Desperate Bid and made it available on Amazon too - they publish loads of great romances, including some by the wonderful Rachel Brimble and Rae Summers). They also make a point of giving lots of help and feedback to new writers. 

Their blog Behind the Garden Gate is a must-read if you write romance, or are curious about what goes on behind the scenes at a publisher. 

Oh, and they're really nice people too.  This post about Agonising Over Rejections shows how seriously Wild Rose editors take their work and their responsibility to writers, as well as readers.  This personal touch is so valuable in a world of push-button menus and form letters.   Thank you, Wild Rose!