Monday, 24 November 2014

Reviver Book 2... finished! (ish)

I put the finishing touches to Book 2 last week, you may be glad to hear. All done!

Well. Um. Not quite, let's be honest, but it's off to the copyeditor now, meaning it'll come back with a few queries, lots of small fixes, and probably a humungous plot hole or two being flagged up.

So it's finished except for one more very precise edit and then the page proofs, meaning I only have to go through the entire novel with a fine tooth comb at least twice more.

There has to be a writing adage that if you don't think your book is among the worst ever written, then you should probably do a few more drafts, because by the time it's printed a writer (a conscientious one, anyway) will have read it a dozen times. At least. (Much of which is rereading variations of the same paragraph as you tweak and rewrite and cut and...)

I can think of only one novel I've ever read twice, and I really can't imagine reading something twelve times through choice, let alone in such a short space of time. It's a painful part of the process, believe me, but the ultimate reward gets closer at every stage.

Now that I've been a full-time writer for a year, my daughter (who has similar aspirations) asked me how I felt about it.

Being a writer, I told her, is somewhere between 'dreaming awake' and 'stabbing yourself in the eye'.

I'm sure she thought I was being my usual tongue-in-cheek self, but in the final stages of a book it feels pretty damn true.



The working title for the book was Acolyte; the actual actual title has now been chosen, but I'll hold off telling you that until there's also a cover. Publication will be late Spring or early Summer next year.

You want to know a little about it, eh? Be patient!

Right now, I have to get started on Book 3. Also, The Returned book 2 will kick off when I get the super-secret scripts for season 2 in the new year. I may not sleep much...

Friday, 31 October 2014

I Scry With My Little Eye


A fun experiment for all to try!

You’re bored, right? How about a dare? How about you look into a mirror on Halloween night and say something creepy? Maybe the Lord’s Prayer backwards? Or just say 'Bloody Mary' five times?

No? What, you think you're going to see something scary? Go on. I double dare you.

See, the thing is… It works. It really does.

I tried it.


First: the science bit

Your senses can be a terrible way to judge truth. It’s hardly news, but here are some of my favourite visual illusions to illustrate just how bizarre yet compelling these illusions can be...

In this one here, keep your eye on the cross and watch as the lilac circles vanish, and all that is left is a moving green circle that IS NOT REALLY THERE.

Next one! Stare at the centre of the image and move your head closer to the screen and further away, and remind yourself that it is a static image, not an animation.

Finally, watch the middle of the spiral for 30 seconds or so, and then look at something else. Your own hand, maybe. Do not freak out. Your hand is fine.

I’m guessing someone has made Halloween-themed versions of these. (And if not WHY NOT?? Slackers!) Clearly anyone of a ridiculously credulous and superstitious nature would be exposed to some severe heebie-jeebies as a result.

But hold on! Don’t think yourself immune just because you don’t consider yourself ridiculously credulous and superstitious - after all, nobody thinks of themselves that way. Ten minutes of being locked in the dark with some unknown thing, and most of us would crumble.



Fun for all the family

So, we come to the meat of our meal: Bloody Mary, the traditional ‘game’ of looking into a mirror in a dark room and scaring the bejeezus out of yourself. In some tellings, it’s no less than the devil who will appear behind you, ready to take your soul.

How old the Bloody Mary tradition is I don’t know, but there does seem to be a clear link with mirror-divination and scrying.

The set-up is simple enough. Sit in a dimly-lit room facing a mirror. You need to be able to see the detail of your face clearly. (Candle light is traditional, and the placement of the candle behind you is suggested, but I found that I could see bugger all that way. I had it in front of me, just to one side.)

Next, look at your own face. After a reasonably short time, you will see things. And they may be terrifying. Look long enough, and hideous gargoyles and demons await you.


Sounds great! Where do I sign?

Here is the Wikipedia link for the ‘game’.

Note that one of the explanations given for the effect is Troxler’s fading, which is exactly the same mechanism as in the lilac-circles illusion (the first one linked to above). But now we're not just talking about little lilac circles - we're talking about parts of a face vanishing, and our finely-tuned facial recognition systems scream at us that we’re seeing something that is just plain wrong.

If Troxler’s fading is the best explanation (I reasoned) then the most important thing would be to fix the eyes on one spot and try not to blink. The tradition isn’t very specific about technique, but when looking at a face it's more natural for your gaze to shift from eye to eye and around the features, rather than lock onto some fixed point, making the effect unlikely to occur.

The longer you can manage to fix on one spot, though, the stronger the effect could be. Those gargoyles and demons might be within reach. So I gave it a shot…


What happened to me

No doubt about it, I came away impressed. Troxler’s fading was, I think, the key mechanism. I was very aware of parts of my vision ‘dropping out’, and of how that effect lead directly to the more unnerving aspects of the experience. Small movements of the eye away from the fixed point could break the effect at once, while rigidly fixing the gaze meant the effect came on very quickly.

But what did I see? I'll list the notable results of various attempts...

The first thing that happened was that my eyes, and the region around them, seemed to brighten. The eyes were staring, and angry.

Next came a clear aging effect, which is commonly reported; my face looked haggard. Yes, more than normal.

My nose lengthened into a hook, and the staring eyes started to scowl.

The eyes darkened, malice within them. My right eye became an empty socket. Everything else disappeared, then: a blank face, staring back, leaving just the angry eyes.

My mouth widened, stretching out as my nose hooked again.

One of the most impressive moments: both eyes became empty holes, and I beheld an eyeless corpse. And not my corpse, mind. Someone else.

The experience was rounded off by an ancient malign face staring back at me, twisted and deformed.

(Oh, and then I thought I saw a spider on the wall behind me, just as the candle went out, but ignore that.)

Overall, it was a fascinating thirty minutes. I suspect I won't do it again.



As for my soul?


Well, it was perfectly safe, and I promise I wasn’t possessed. But then, I would say that, wouldn’t I?

I did record my session if anyone is interested. Forgive the poor quality (low lighting is a key part of the process) and the rough-and-ready editing to remove the lengthy pauses and chop 30 minutes down to 6.






Anyway, I have to get going - things to do! The Guardian of the Abyss awaits! Hail Choronzon!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Returned first review


The first review of my adaptation of The Returned has arrived.


"...an addictive read. It’s one of the most compelling novels I’ve read in a long time."

"I read it in just 24 hours, resenting any attempt to take me from it, such as work, food and sleep."

"...written by a hugely talented author who has real flare for spinning a supernatural tale. I cannot wait for Acolyte, the provisional title of the superb Reviver sequel."

"[a] truly unputdownable, jawdropping novel."


I'll take that!

So, you were wanting something to read at Halloween? Go on, buy a copy...

And don't forget, the Kindle version of The Reviver is just £1.19 at the moment, complete your Halloween experience!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Returned

My second book has just been published: the novelisation of French hit TV show The Returned.


I really enjoyed writing this - a whole new experience, to take somebody else's baby and turn it into a novel. I worked damn hard on it, and as always I hope it's a compelling read.

I'd love to hear from those fans of the show who read it. It's a faithful adaptation, but not slavishly so, and I'll be interested to know if readers like the differences.


Now, people keep asking me when the Reviver sequel will hit the shelves, and currently it's set for this June. That's only a year later than originally planned!

But, yeah. I feel an apology is in order. OK, I did write a whole other book in the meantime, but the major rewriting on Reviver #2 took far longer than I'd expected.

I think that's a general rule of writing. I can just picture my editor's expression every time I sent her another earnest email saying 'it'll just be another two weeks! Promise!'

Sure it will. Ahem.

It's coming, though... The original title Acolyte may change, so watch this space.

Meantime: buy a copy of The Returned! If you don't, they'll put me back in the cage again.

On Sunday night I'll be in London to present an award at the London Horror Festival. I'll report back afterwards and let you know how I get on with that dreaded 'public speaking' thing.

Oh yeah, almost forgot - the Kindle price of The Reviver is £1.19 at time of writing, so now's a great time to buy a copy of that, too, if you haven't already. Cage, see? Remember the cage.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Off to Loncon3...

I'm off to London on Thursday for Loncon3, which is hosting the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention. Plenty of interesting panels and gatherings going on over the five days of the Con, and I think I'm looking forward to it. Or I might be dreading it.

Not sure.

Confession: I'm not a social person. Indeed, since going full time as a writer last September my inner hermit has gone from strength to strength, and what limited conversational abilities I possessed have almost completely atrophied. Managing to string five words together coherently is now a *win*, but my special skill is that if I do somehow stumble onto a promising thread, I'll go with it however tedious or inappropriate it turns out to be, and ramble on about stuff until I realise I don't even agree with what I'm saying and finally drift into awkward silence.

Compounding this is the way I struggle to remember names, faces, or indeed any important information. Also, my powers of concentration fail me. You know that bit in Spaced where Daisy's having the job interview and all she can think about is the theme from Magic Roundabout? That.

So, Loncon3 is an opportunity to "sharpen" (salvage) my social nous. Wish me luck!

My wife has extracted a promise from me that I don't just stay in my hotel room every day and pretend to be finishing my next book. I'll do my best. I'll be in the Autographing area on Thursday from 1.30pm, so if you're around do pop along and say hello!

Meanwhile, I just spotted this:


which, given that there's this:


makes me wonder just how often this kind of thing happens in the world of publishing. You know that awful Charlie and the Chocolate Factory cover that bagged so much press last week? If that reappears as the German cover of Lord of the Rings, do not be surprised.

 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

And the winner is...


 
 
This year Reviver had the honour of winning the Audie Audiobook award in the Paranormal category, and it struck me how it was very much a shared honour – author, narrator, production team.

Look behind the Audie in the picture above and you’ll see a BAFTA, one that I was lucky enough to be presented with at the 2012 Video Game BAFTAs for Shogun 2: Total War. This is a more extreme case of shared honour – the development team had about 150 people. Only three get to accept the award on the night, and I was one of the few who got to shake the mighty hand of Dara O’Briain. (You can catch it on YouTube. Spot the moment where my wife (at home) was yelling at the TV for me to take my hands out of my pockets…)

But there’s an important point to be made here. With the BAFTA, I was part of a large team; with the Audie, I was part of a small team. The thing is, with Reviver the novel, I was also part of a team.

My ‘shared honour’ description in the first paragraph above is missing some people. Whenever you see the word ‘author’, don’t think of it as one person. Really, the creation of the text is a team effort. Agent, editor, copy editor, early readers – they all make a huge contribution to the final text, and without the help of a great editor a book is never going to shine.

Even once the text is locked down, the rest of the team comes into play: publicist, sales, design, and more.
Everyone who has a hand in the creation of a book deserves credit. I’m the jammy bugger who gets to take the award home...

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

You've gotta love Google Translate...


The paperback of the Spanish edition of Reviver is coming out in June:



The tagline 'la muerte no los hara callar' is based on 'Death won't silence them', which the original UK hardback used.

Google Translate renders this into something that makes me smile:


Death does not make you shut up


Now we know what to put on the cover of Book 2!


No such luck with the German edition, which is out in August; the subtitle is translated simply as 'Whispers of the Dead'.