Essential Me

This is nice. The Scottish Book Trust put together a list of 'essential' sf by Scottish authors, including my own Final Days. I'm keeping company here with Grant Morrison, Iain Banks and Alasdair Grey - by the looks of it, the works are the same ones put on display by the National Library of Scotland last year, as part of their SF in Scotland exhibit.

What else is happening? Apart from the joy of preparing for a house move early next year, the next book is more or less plotted out. It's going to be a sequel to Extinction Game, which is due to be published September/October next year. The working title for the sequel is Extinction Road, and you're not likely to see it before autumn 2015. 



This week I had the rare pleasure of being invited to talk to the members of IO, Glasgow University's science fiction society that's been running on and off since the early Eighties. I read a bit from Marauder, then spent quite some time answering questions and talking about the writing life. All in all, a nice change from being stuck behind a desk. Someone asked me how I'd feel if I sold a novel to Hollywood and they adapted it into an unforgivably terrible movie. I told them I'd cry, but at least I'd be crying on a big bed made of money. That got a big laugh. I also left a big pile of freebies exhumed from the cupboard whence all my complimentary copies have been residing lo! these many years, and they descended on them like wolves on a wounded caribou.

Mike Cobley's doing his own spiel for them in a couple of weeks, and in fact I ran into him at a gig the next day - the gig in question being Hawkwind. It's the first gig I've been to in three years, and the last one I was at was...also Hawkwind. It was glorious, but the stage set, dancers and animated backdrops remind me that Hawkwind have always been a kind of live-action cartoon, who seem at times more like they should be a fictional outfit somewhere in the background of a Richard Curtis movie, with Rhys Hughes playing a former member. However, their sound is entirely unique. If you have Spotify nearby and fancy a recommendation, try Hall of the Mountain Grill, particularly Psychedelic Warlords.

It is impossible not to love a band that write songs with titles like Psychedelic Warlords.

In other news, I note with passing interest that Scotland has gained yet another pro novelist. I haven't met Libby McGugan, but other members of my former writing group have, and her novel The Eidolon looks like my kind of thing. You can read about it here, and she had a launch for her debut novel at Waterstones last night.

I don't talk often enough about what I have or haven't been reading. I just re-read Kage Baker's Garden of Iden as preparation for (finally) reading the follow-up Sky Coyote, and it's exactly as brilliant as I remember it. You should all read it. I'd also recommend Nick Mamatas' Love is the Law, with its mix of nihilism, politics, punk, Thelemic philosophy and good-old-fashioned murder, which I thoroughly enjoyed. 


Early sales

I've been scanning various old documents I thought worth preserving, along with various legal documents I might need to refer to while abroad. During the process I came across this, which I figured (naturally) was worth preserving. It's the acceptance letter for my first ever professional sale as a writer, to a long, long-defunct horror magazine called Skeleton Crew waaaay back in early 1990.

Here's what it says, in case you can't read the handwriting (I've adjusted it a bit to try and make it stand out):

Many thanks for sending 'Mother Love' to the magazine. I'd really like to use it but, sadly, have a very tight budget. I could only offer you £30 for it. Is that okay?
   Ps - is there any chance of supplying the story on a disk? It would be a great help. 

I re-read it now and think you total chancer. In fairness, the official rate would have got me £40, so I was only losing a tenner (the story was just two thousand words long).* And it was a pro sale, my first, so whoopee! And then he has the cheek to ask me to post it on a disk, those being the pre-internet days. I can't remember if I did or not.

Interesting side note - this editor was, I think, the second the magazine had during its short run, after the original apparently published a long editorial in the first or second issue lambasting the publishing company who had taken his magazine on, and was promptly out on his ear. A bit of an own goal, that.

*I do recall speaking once to Keith Brooke, who also had a story in that issue, who informed me that he never got paid at all, so perhaps I can count myself as lucky.