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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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genrefiction

Interview: EJ Newman

EJ Newman

I was faffing about on the Twitter back in January when SF author Ken MacLeod retweeted a message about 20 Years Later, the debut novel from EJ Newman. I hadn’t come across her work previously, but a quick look at her website told me I had to get in touch to find out more, as her creative output puts mine to shame!  She found time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions about her debut novel (a mystery set in post-apocalyptic London), current projects (Split Worlds, which involves producing a new story every week for a year and a day) and supporting local bookshops.

“I’m often asked what it is about dystopian novels that grabs the YA reader’s imagination, and I always like to point out this is nothing new – every generation post-apocalyptic and dystopian novels have a surge in popularity. When I was growing up it was The Tripods and Empty World (that was the first post-apocalyptic novel I read) and there’s the perennial appeal of the books 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for example. The only different today is that the “YA market” has been explicitly defined in a way it wasn’t the last time this sub-genre was popular.

That aside, the reason it keeps being popular is quite simple I think; dystopian fiction explores problems and threats that already exist all around us, but writ large. In most dystopian fiction the reader is given a hero who resists the system, who wants to fight despite how dangerous it is – thereby enabling us to live out our own fantasies vicariously. When I was a teen, I was constantly furious at adults who were simply ignoring terrible things going on in the world. In dystopian fiction, the heroes actually do something about it.

Continue reading “Interview: EJ Newman”

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Should You Choose a Pseudonym?

Occasionally, the fact I sign my name as the fairly androgynous ‘Ali’ leads people to assume I am a man.  This belies the fact that however peppered with links to my online endeavours my email signature may be, most recipients of my missives can’t be arsed clicking them.

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Opportunities for Writers

Now that I’ve written the bare bones of twelve books, every publisher and their granny have announced their intention to accept manuscript submissions from un-agented newbies.  Well, maybe not all of them.  But a few. 

image via http://www.spencergreengds.com

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August Thanks

Today is the last day of August and therefore it feels like time for a progress report.

I have just over 15,000 words of book 8 written in a delightful stream of consciousness that makes no sense whatsoever; a situation unlikely to be improved by the fact I have a full day of work ahead of me and guests staying in the flat for a few days who it would be churlish to ignore. 

I’ve been writing in first person from the point of view of several characters, and accidentally switching tenses all over the shop.  This will almost certainly make for a narrative that feels immediate and tense and worthy of all manner of high praise…  That or when I go back to it I’ll be so confused and irritated I’ll consign the whole lot to the recycle bin and try to forget it ever happened.  I considered posting an extract by way of example, but to give you a proper sense of the nonsense it’d need to be 1k +, which seems inappropriately long for a blog post.

I have mostly been writing on my laptop, which has been the case with the bulk of the project, although I did actually scribble quite a few notes by hand this month (how retro) and I also typed out a few sections on my phone in queues at the Book Festival.  To the untrained eye, I was the only loser who was playing on my phone instead of reading a book.  Little did the general public know that in a couple of years they’ll be picking up the very book I was writing on my phone from the festival book shop!  Muahahaha, etc.  Except they really won’t.  I can’t see book eight being my debut – not unless there is some kind of drastic book shortage that necessitates the publication of things that need so much re-writing it makes your eyes water. 

By way of research (it’s scifi this month, by the by) I have read half of The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross and the first chapter of Neuromancer by William Gibson.  Oh yes, I am that prolific a reader these days.  It turns out having a vast pile of recommended books did not translate into having time to look at them all – who saw that coming, after my amazing track record?!  The only book I’ve finished this month is The Moth Diaries by Rachel Klein, which is a good story but doesn’t have much bearing on genre fiction.  Not this genre, anyway.

Naturally I am disinclined to take responsibility for my own actions and therefore lay the blame for this appalling lack of reading squarely at the feet of festival season.  To be fair the festival has been very distracting, although it has also been amazing in terms of making blog posts more diverse.  In fact I would like to thank Andrew BlairEmily Dodd, Ruth Dawkins, Harry Giles, Bethany Anderson and Mara from Toto Tales for their excellent guest posts; Amanda Palmer, Rod Jones and Andy Stanton for letting me interview them; and the Edinburgh International Book Festival for having me along to an amazing range of literary events over the past couple of weeks.  All of you have made things a lot more colourful around here, and generally helped to set a blogging precedent I am unlikely to maintain.

Which is nice.

Leith FM Interview

As promised, here is a link to my interview with Simon Fielding on Leith FM from last Friday.  It’s about 40 minutes long and is completely fascinating, so I urge you to make the time.  Unfortunately the last part (FAQs) is missing, but you’ll get the gist.

http://soundcloud.com/periwinklewine/leithfm

In other news, I’m still looking for stories from hacks, so if you want to help me out with book 6 leave a comment here or on facebook, or email ali.george85@yahoo.com.

#WIP: Chapter Three

It’s pretty rare that a human has the courage to face a monster as fearsome as a dragon.  Bearing that in mind, it’s almost unthinkable that a mere sheep might be brave enough to do it.  In actual fact, this was very probably the first time in the history of everything.  So naturally there had to be a meeting.

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