Blush Response

The end is closer. I’m actually getting within sight of finishing the rewrites, and I’m basically in the end stages of ploughing through the book and doing what needs to be done. What’s been particularly scary is that I’ve made a couple of fairly major character ‘enhancements’ on this pass – basically beefing up background, smoothing over motivation and trying to get it so that the characterisation works – and it’s rather like flying blind through a rainstorm and hoping beyond hope that the runway is actually there. I know that the stuff I’m doing is making the book much, much better, though, which is something of a relief. And I’m also having faith in the book as it stands – I’m never going to get it perfect, it is what it is, and it’s the kind of thing that isn’t going to go down spectacularly well with everyone. But it’s all me, and the version that will be the new ‘2009’ draft is going to be significantly better than the last version that was out with publishers. I’ve done my best. Can’t really ask for more.

But wow, I am definitely taking a little bit of a break once this is done. This has been a terrifying amount of work – possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done, ever. And of course, if this does pay off, my reward will be to do it all again – and faster…

And you know what? I’m rather looking forward to the idea…

Black Tambourine

A rather action packed weekend – a family visit to Devon and Cornwall which, for the first time, had to be compressed into a weekend thanks to time restrictions. Everything went fine, thankfully, a good time was had by all, and we even managed some decent weather after a somewhat shaky start. We drove back last night – and while five hours of solid driving is always going to be an unwelcome proposition, it all went well, and it was a relief to do it at a point when the traffic was pretty light. I’m now at the cusp of another week, with a book to read and review by Thursday, and a screening of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to see tomorrow (which I was undecided on – but the initial reviews seem to suggest it’s at least up to the standards of Last Crusade, which makes me feel better…), plus more work to do on the follow-up to The Hypernova Gambit. I got another turn-down from a publisher last week – the waiting is a little difficult at times, what with the mollases-speed that publishing tends to go at, and it’s sometimes hard to keep the faith and enthusiasm going when it seems to take a very long time for something to happen (and so far when it has happenned, it’s been people saying they don’t like it…). I’m not going to give up, though- and I’ve got a whole selection of really, really odd ideas for the later books – I just want the opportunity to actually do them…

I get sales talk from sales assistants, when all I want to do girl is lower your resistance…

It’s probably best if I update now. George and I are off to Canada on Monday for ten days, to stay with my Aunt (she lives a couple of hours outside of Toronto) and while I may get the chance to blog while I’m there, I’ll either end up doing loads of entries, or you won’t hear from me for ten days. So, it’s update time.

It has, to be honest, been a funny old week.

First of all, thank you to everyone who left congratulations messages on the last post. Each one of them was appreciated- I just spent most of the last week boggling in astonishment, and couldn’t think of any reply other than “Thanks!” and “Gosh!” over and again. So, thanks very much.

I’ve got an agent. It still doesn’t feel quite real.

One of the main reasons for this is that I was preparing myself for a long road to getting an agent – a friend of mine, who’s been a gigantic help with the novel and given me plenty of advice that’s been utterly indispensible, is also an author, and has been looking for an agent for the past two and a half years. She’s finally found one who is interested in her second book- but has asked for a major rewrite before they’ll take it on, and she’s currently waiting to hear back whether the rewrite she did as a result of that was successful. I know how these things work and how painful the process can be. I was ready to buckle down, do serious mail outs, and win through in the end after a long battle.

Instead, I sent my book out on Monday– and I had an agent by lunchtime Wednesday. I feel like I blinked, and the world changed, and it’s still taking me a while to get used to it. All the way through writing the book, I had a bizarre, unshakeable (and possibly slightly psychotic) conviction that if I got it right, something would happen. I didn’t know what, and I knew it was likely it wouldn’t be something I expected, but I felt that something would be sparked off by doing this. I just wasn’t expecting it to actually happen. Certain sections of the last week have given me the overwhelming desire to hide, and I’m also telling myself that it doesn’t matter if the next phase takes ages to actually happen– but the possibilities have expanded massively. And, to be honest, the fact that someone not only enjoyed the book, but enjoyed the book this much, is making me very happy. It’s reassuring me that maybe I wasn’t totally insane for rewriting and rewriting it until my forehead bled (metaphorically speaking, of course)…

The situation is that I spent most of today doing some tidying up and queries that John had on the book- nothing major, and some of which have ended up being genuine improvements that I’m happy are there. I’ll be sending the final ‘approved’ version of the manuscript tomorrow morning– and then, fairly soon after that, it’s going to start going out to publishers. At the least, I’ve got heaps of work between now and then to occupy me over the weekend, and then I’ll be in the snowy wilds of Canada for ten days, which is probably the best thing for me.

Life is feeling good. Odd, but good…

Fact x Importance = News

The ultra-secret news didn’t actually have to be secret for very long, as it turned out.

I’ve got an agent. And it’s all happenned rather quickly.

From the press release that’s just been sent out:

The latest client of the John Jarrold Literary Agency is journalist Saxon Bullock.

Saxon Bullock has been working as a freelance writer since 2000, and has written for a variety of magazines and websites including SFX, DVD Review, Channel4.Com and Hotdog magazine.

He has just completed his first novel – an epic science fiction tour-de-force entitled THE HYPERNOVA GAMBIT.

‘Once in a while I see a novel that grabs me from the first page,’ said John Jarrold. ‘That was the case here, as it was when I read Ken MacLeod’s debut, THE STAR FRACTION, when I worked with Random House in the mid-90s. I knew within the first six pages that I wanted to publish Ken, and I was equally certain within six pages of starting Saxon’s novel that I wanted to represent him. I got that pricking of my thumbs that every editor and agent loves, and sees all too seldom! THE HYPERNOVA GAMBIT is a novel for which the phrase “wide-screen SF” might have been invented. Its characters, colour, pace and plotlines are truly wonderful, and Saxon’s prose sparkles with invention and wit. This is really special, and stands with any of the SF authors who have risen to the top of the genre in the last ten years.’

At some point, this is actually going to feel real- but right now, all my mind seems to be able to manage is ‘wibble’…

Incoming Futurity Homesick Blues

I’m feeling oddly melancholic at the moment. Certain subjects are stressing me out more than they should, and while work is progressing well on the book, and I’m rewriting more and more, I can’t help feeling I’ve created something that some anonymous reader is going to look at and go “Hmmph. Well, it was fun, but it could have been alot better…” The chapters are taking shape– I’m in the middle of what I call the Godforsaken Desert of Exposition, where the characters learn all the necessary stuff they need before the next phase of the story can begin, but I got to a certain point in the rewrite last night, and I felt like I just couldn’t push myself any further. I desperately want to improve at this process and understand it better, but the only way I’m going to do that is by writing another one. With a certain degree of preperation, I think I’m capable of burning through a massive level of wordcount in a very short amount of time (my only writing method at the moment is to start with throwing lots of words at the page and seeing what sticks), but then it’s changing that into something good. I guess I’m just finding it a little hard to have faith in myself. It’s a very long road, and while I’m coming to the end of it, I’m getting nervous that the destination might not be exactly where I wanted to end up.

Anyhow, I’ve got the Clarke Awards in London tonight– I’m going to go, talk to lots of people, drink plenty, and hopefully have a good time…

Holding Out For A Hero (Paranoimia Mix…): A Novel Request

I’m getting a bit paranoid about getting to the end of the rewrite of the novel, finally acheiving my goal- and discovering I’ve crafted something nobody wants to read. So, in an attempt to dip my toe in the water, here’s a preliminary blurb for the book, behind the cut. Have a look, let me know if it sounds like something you’d like to read. If you’d actually like to read some of it, let me know. At the moment, I’m desperately in need of feedback. Every little helps.

(This is repeated material from an earlier post, by the way- if you read the previous “Novel Request” post, you won’t be missing anything…)


Wednesday Breaks All The Rules (And Steals Your Wallet)

My first drive on a motorway today. Somewhat intense at times, but most of it came together in the end. Bournemouth was at the end, and a meet-up with my friend Paul that went wonderfully well. Just the chance to wander aimlessly and chat about Doctor Who with him is a treat– I haven’t seen him since my Wedding, almost three years ago, but hopefully we’ll be able to sort it so that it won’t be too long before it happens again.

Also had some good, promising thoughts about my book- and I’m looking again at the novel I started on the Novel In 90 community. There may be something there, all I’ve got to do is work out what…

Underground, Overground, Wombling Free

Today’s the day George and I voyage to Bournemouth, to meet up with my long-time friend Paul, who I’ve been hanging out with (on and off) for more years than I care to remember. It’s part of my ‘rehearsal’ for the big drive down to Cornwall when we head down that way on May 6th. It’ll be great to see him, and to show George around some of my University-era haunts– particularly Bournemouth Beach, which was the location for many moonlit strolls and lengthy musings, with only the waves and the sand for company.

Work-wise, things have been pretty busy– I’ve got a couple of reviews left to do, but nothing major at the moment, which is a bit of a relief. What I’m also trying to do is make it all the way through rewriting The Hypernova Gambit again, and it’s a very hard slog– keeping my confidence in the book going at this stage is a challenge, to put it mildly. Having gone through an “It’ll be published, and people will love it!!” phase, I’m now in the slightly more fatalistic phase where all I can see are the bits I’ve gotten wrong, or how my physical descriptions of locations and scenes are a little on the sketchy side (and this, in a 150,000 word book…). I just need a little bit of a lift relating to the book– and I guess I might have to be the one doing the lifting if necessary. I’m up to chapter 4, and we’ll see how things progress.

Finally, after a week-long delay, my copy of Twin Peaks: The Second Season has been despatched, and I’m deeply excited. Am regularly leaping around like a loon going “Season Two! Season Two!” and don’t forsee stopping anytime soon.