Some more stuff is up, so excuse me while I indulge in some more of my favourite activity, blatant self-promotion. There are several pieces up at infinityplus, including: an excerpt from Against Gravity, and an interview with myself, Hal Duncan and Michael Cobley. They're all housed under a general profile of scottish writers at next week's Worldcon.


The first review for Against Gravity is up on the net, and it's a good one (phrases that stick are 'pretty damn good' and 'superb ending'), which is heartening considering there were times while writing it when I felt like getting a bit Misery on its ass with a sledgehammer and a block of wood. But it all came out all right in the end.

Of course, this is all nothing more than standard second book syndrome. If that doesn't make sense to you, trust me, you have to be there to know what it feels like. First books are always easier because usually you're writing it without a contract, so really there's no serious pressure involved. It's after you've sold it and have to write a second that the pressure really starts to kick in.

Worldcon is barely more than a week away, and I've taken two weeks off work in order to a)prepare b)be there and c)recover. Unfortunately, Cheryl's review might be the only one for a couple of weeks, since it turns out there was a delay down at the publishers, and they've only just managed to send out the review copies ... more than a week after it's appeared in the shops and on Amazon.

So if you're a reviewer and were expecting it (like Rick Kleffel over at trashotron.com, who mailed me to let me know he hadn't received anything), this is why it isn't there yet.

Fortunately, they've moved the official release date of AG back by about a month (apparently this makes sure it gets reviewed by the usual media and fiction magazines): so in fact, it's not out until August.

Even though you can buy it.

Right now.

In your local bookshop.

And online.



Against Gravity finally hit the shops yesterday (Friday), along with the mass market paperback of Angel Stations. I'm not enough of an expert to judge (ie I can see the online ranking but don't know how to interpret it in terms of actual numbers of copies sold), but they both seem to have been doing pretty well on Amazon in pre-orders.

If I haven't (again) been posting that much recently, it's because I'm not really up to writing 'what I had for breakfast' blog entries. So it does get harder to come up with interesting entries. Nonetheless, there are a few things over the past few weeks that do bear addressing.

1: Jim's post bag. In the tradition of many highly-regarded writers, artists, alcoholics and mass murderers, GSFWC writer Jim Steel is a postman. He also has to stick about five hundred copies of the new Harry Potter book through your door, except the letterbox on all of them is too small. Poor Jim. Bad Harry.

2: I had this brief moment of happy hope the other day when I found out that, yes, someone had made a 'period' version of War of the Worlds. I skipped to the official site and watched the trailer (finally viewable since I upgraded to broadband a couple of weeks ago).

I started getting seriously worried when a bloke in a very obviously stuck-on moustache ran towards the camera crying, 'unhand that woman, you brutes!' Then my happy little heart went on a long, long holiday, and my hopes went south bigtime. It is, apparently, uniquely and appallingly unwatchable on a level that challenges even Ed Wood for laughably bad filmmaking. There's a quite hilarious review here.

3: I've been along to a scriptwriting workshop at the BBC a couple of times recently, along with one or two other GSFWC'ers. Scriptwriting is something that always kind of appealed to me, primarily for financial reasons. It's 'relatively' little work for potentially much greater amounts of moolah than that available through novel writing. I used to have a terrible time trying to write scripts since it didn't feel, on some level, like I was really writing a story: more a description of events that felt, somehow, emotionally distanced from whatever made me want to write the story in the first place.

I got past that at last, primarily because every time I start writing a new book, I end up outlining it and planning it out more and more: so it starts feeling not so far from what a scriptwriter comes up with. I dug up an unfinished short story, turned it into a completed script, and felt actually really happy about it. So I'm going to submit it to something called Tartan Shorts and, who knows, if I'm very lucky I might even get somewhere with it.

So let's talk numbers: to get my head around writing a tv script, I downloaded the freely available script for Aliens. Total word count, thirty thousand words: one quarter of one of my novels. Amount of carefully annotated research concerning plausible planetary environments: zero, I rather imagine. But a lot of work in terms of plot structure and character development, I have no doubt. But even if I (or you, or anyone) manages to write an hour-long script for, say, an existing tv show, what you get paid on acceptance is equivalent to a pretty decent payment for a novel: and given a page of a script matches a minute of screen time, you're talking between forty-five and sixty pages.

Yes, there's more to it than that. Yes, it's not quite so simple. But here's the kicker: you get paid that same amount of money again on the day of transmission.

And again, if it gets repeated.

And you wonder why I'm suddenly interested in scriptwriting? I could finance the novel writing for years off of the back of something like that.

Before I sign off, I'm going to make a movie recommendation: I recently signed up to an online dvd rental service, and first through the post was Charlie Kaufman's 'Adaptation', which is about Charlie Kaufman trying and failing to write a script adaptation of a book. Kaufman is already far and away one of the finest screenwriters in Hollywood, responsible for Eternal Sunshine, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Being John Malkovich, and this. If you want to be a writer of any kind, go rent this. And feel the fear.