Pendragon Proofs Now In

The road to publication follows familiar landmarks – finishing the first draft, the various edits, through the delivery of the first box of books to publication day and the subsequent round of publicity and signings.  One of the key moments is the arrival of the uncorrected proofs – softbound copies of the novel, usually replete with the odd error, that go out to reviewers and booksellers.

The proofs for Pendragon, by the ‘other me’, James Wilde, are now in.  If you fall into one of those two groups, get in touch with Penguin Random House UK publicity to order your copy.

“Before King Arthur…before Camelot…before Excalibur…the Legend begins…”

You can pre-order this reimagining of the beginnings of the Arthurian myth here, or from your favourite book store.

Look For Me On Apple News

I’ve been approved as a publisher on Apple News, the new news-aggregating app that will soon be launching on all Apple devices.  It’ll bring together material from major mainstream sources – the New York Times, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Vice – and material from independents and bloggers.  The latter sets it apart from what Flipboard does, which is a great news aggregator that I’ve used for a while.

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At the very basic level, you’ll be able to follow updates on this site.  But I’ll be doing other things too.

Before I became a full-time writer – books and screen – I used to be a journalist.  You could find my work in The Guardian, The (London) Times, The Telegraph and some of the leading magazines, in the UK and in the US.  Once you’ve worked in that sphere, you never lose the addiction to things happening out in the real world.  And now that they’re happening faster than ever, reportage has never been more exciting.  I plan to be writing a lot more comment and reporting on things that interest me.  If you like the books, if you like the TV and film stuff, you’ll probably like this.

I already publish occasionally on Medium, which is a great platform and brings in lots of readers.

Most people these days don’t go to one source.  The future isn’t the BBC or The Guardian or the Washington Post, because one source can’t be comprehensive in the 21C.  It’s Apple News or Facebook News or Snapchat, which bring together the news that you want.  A personalised service.  I’m interested in being a part of that.

Some people have complained about the terms and conditions.  Not a deal breaker for me, but we’ll see how this pans out in the long run.  More soon.

The 21st Century Writer

(Or: I am not a lazy git.)

It’s probably fair to say that about 80% of a writer’s labours are hidden from public view.  They’re the projects that never quite come together, or never get picked up, for a whole variety of reasons.  The pitches that seem to be going somewhere, and then die at the last – and this is particularly true of the TV world, where only a tiny fraction of what is written actually makes it to the screen.  The articles that get bumped from magazines, or websites, or newspapers, because something more newsworthy has just surfaced.

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I work at my writing constantly.  Five days a week, sometimes more.  It’s my job, it’s my life.  A book with my name on it may crop up once a year, sometimes with even longer breaks, so it’s easy to think I while away my hours drinking in the local pub or wandering the world, watching the clouds pass by.  (I do both, just not all the time.)  What you don’t get to hear about are all the pieces of work that never break surface, because: what’s the point?  But here’s what I have been doing:

No ‘Mark Chadbourn’ book recently?  That’s because I’ve been writing a series of books under the pseudonym I’ve reserved for historical fiction (to avoid confusion among readers, booksellers and marketing people) – James Wilde.  These books have made The Times best-seller list, so as people are keen to keep reading them, I feel an obligation to keep writing them.  I’ve just signed a three-book deal with Penguin Random House for a new series which will be of interest to James Wilde readers *and* Mark Chadbourn readers (particularly if you liked Age of Misrule).

I also work extensively as a screenwriter – 26 hours of produced work for the BBC under my belt to date.  I’m currently developing several new series for broadcasters around the world, and working on a film script.  My near-future SF series, Shadow State, is in the hands of a US network.  My book, Testimony, an investigation into a British Amityville, is being developed for UK and international TV.  I have a political thriller and a crime series also in development.  It’s a long road from here to any of these projects appearing on a screen near you, and they all might fall at any one of the numerous obstacles.  But, you know: paid work.

One of my favourite TV writers is Nigel Kneale, the creator of Quatermass, and I’m writing an extended piece about him for We Are The Martians: The Legacy of Nigel Kneale, a new book looking at his life and work in TV and film.  This will be a great book with some fantastic contributors, so definitely check it out if you have any interest in F/SF/H, TV, film, or just the work of a quality writer.

And on top of all the writing and the endless, endless meetings, I do various talks, lectures, and signings here and there.  The next one is a screenwriting workshop at the Derby Book Festival Writers’ Day.

All of which makes an interesting point about what it takes to be a full-time writer in the 21st century.  Only a very,very few writers make a good living from novels.  A publishing industry on the ropes has slashed advances, and the black arts of publishing accounting means royalties sometimes take a while to surface in your bank (most authors don’t even make any royalties).  The choice for many is to hold down a full-time job and scribble away in the evenings.

But I like my freedom.  It’s been a long time since I was a wage-slave, working as a journalist on the national papers in London.  I’m pretty much unemployable now.  But I also like to eat.  And, you know, have an amazing time travelling the world and being louche in new locales.  So the wise thing is to cast my net wide and put my writing to work in different media.  Eggs/baskets etc.

But then, if you’re a writer, why wouldn’t you?  Story telling is the same all over.  Once you’ve mastered the new skill-set for a new medium, you’re drawing on the same natural ability wherever you’re employed: your ideas.

A film script is a palate-cleanser after a novel, and vice versa.  Journalism and comics and TV all have their particular joys, and they all complement each other.  In the multi-media, cross-platform, constantly mutating 21st century, why would any writer want to limit their storytelling to only one area?

 

New Ebooks On The Way

Ebook versions of my out-of-print titles will be published in the coming weeks. These will be enhanced versions, with corrected copy and in some cases additions to text. They will also include detailed commentaries – background to the story, how the book came to be written and how it reached publication. The information, tips and knowledge here will be of particular interest to aspiring writers.

In the pipeline are Lord of Silence, Scissorman, The Eternal, Nocturne, The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke, and a collection of rare short stories and novellas, as well as a look-back at the ‘lost’ and possibly cursed non-fiction book Testimony.

If you have any preferences for publication order, let me know.

Get A Green Man For Your Wall

Love the cover of the US edition of World’s End by John Picacio?  Put your hand in your pocket…

John is launching a Kickstarter campaign to produce a 2013 calendar featuring some of his breathtaking art – including this cover.  It’s going to be a truly lovely work, and there will be signed prints and other incentives for those who fancy stumping up a little bit of cash.  The target is $12,000 and you can be a part of it here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1143812835/the-2013-john-picacio-calendar

Yes, I *know* the world is coming to an end in December.  But just in case we all somehow make it through to New Year, you will surely need a 2013 calendar…with a page dedicated to World’s End…

Books That Travel The World (And Books That Don’t)

As I was finishing up the last draft of The Devil’s Looking Glass, I received news of the publication of the French version of Lord of Silence (see below). It got me thinking about how, although we live in a globalised world/economy, fiction is one area where the separations of the past are still quite evident.

The massed ranks of the internet love to pretend only one yardstick is necessary for books. Press this button for good, and this one for bad. Except, as the music industry has found out, the 21st century is all about nuance and complexity and mini-tribes. The mainstream is dead.

Some books just don’t travel well. That doesn’t mean they’re bad books, just that they’re not necessarily universal. Some novels work best when they’re communicating with a very narrow readership. Subtle, deeply-themed, with a great deal of unspoken communication because so much knowledge is already shared.

This is a long tradition of British fiction, and one reason why many UK writers have struggled across the Atlantic, but you can also find it throughout Europe.

Americans are much better at universal communication (unless the fiction is religion or sport-based when it hardly ever breaks out of their shores). I don’t know why that is, although I have a few ideas. The nation and its history is based upon the principle of Big Mythologies, and myth is a universal communicator with its symbols and archetypes. And film as an American art-form (okay, arguable, I know, but it has been embraced by the people as such) has infused the culture with its universal communication techniques.

I love the big books with the ubiquitous themes, but I’d certainly miss those fusty, quirky little stories about forgotten parts of a country’s culture if they came under threat in the current publishing climate.

Writing What You Want Or Writing For Living?

At Fantasycon 2010 this past weekend, I moderated a panel discussing the tightrope authors have to walk between writing what they want and maintaining a commercial career in the current tough publishing environment. For anyone aspiring to be an author, it’s essential listening:

(The sound quality may not be great in parts due to microphone malfunction, but it does improve if you persevere. Many thanks to Adele at Un:Bound for getting it all down.)

The panel guests are Saran Pinborough, Mark Morris, Conrad Williams and Tim Lebbon, all horror authors now working in other areas. We touched on why horror is commercially dead as a genre (as opposed to individual novels) and the difficult issues facing writers of SF and fantasy in an industry going through a period of rapid change.

It’s worth another blogpost on the challenges facing all the speculative genres in the coming years, I think. Whatever you’re used to on the genre front, the landscape is going to look very different.