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Showing posts from May, 2012

Dinosaurs ate my ebook

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Yay, the digital revolution is here. The era of paper and cardboard books is over and soon everyone will be reading stories on their portable screens. Bookshops will go the same way as record shops and everyone will be carrying 150 novels in their hip pocket along with a month's worth of music listening and a couple of blockbuster movies. We'll also be wearing silver suits, eating three-course meals in a pill and flying around in cars.

The future's a bugger to predict and most predictions are driven by novelty. Once the novelty wears off the future turns out to look only a little different from the past. So it may well be with the advent of ebooks and self-publishing.

Ebooks might be revolutionary, but then so was television and cinema. Accessing a visual story on the big screen is much easier than ploughing through a book and when the medium first appeared there were undoubtedly some who decried the loss of a more thoughtful way of accessing a narrative - and in fact man…

Writing killed my reading

I read a book for fun the other day. I mean, not for research or analysis or anything like that. Just fun.

It's been a while since I've been able to do that.

You see, being a writer does strange things to your reading. As a writer I've had to learn about how to structure a plot, how to create characters, how to lay out scenes. I wrestle daily with how to insert this or that factor into the narrative without losing the flow; with crafting each chapter so as to encourage the reader to keep reading. With basically toying with the reader's emotions and perceptions to achieve particular effects.

It's an imperfect art, and there's always more to learn but the fact is, once you start doing it, you get curious about how other writers do it. So you pick up a book, open the first page and think, 'that's an effective opening, must try that one.' Reading a novel and spotting all the author's methods is like walking around a movie set during filming. You se…

Shakespeare Cruz

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Shakespeare Cruz is the lead character in my novel Even the dead dance to live. A brutal ex-cop with facial scars and tattoos, he's the archetypal hard man. Does he look like Danny Trejo above? I don't know, but it was Trejo I was imaging when I dreamed him up. When the director Robert Rodriguez was giving a lecture on digital movie making, he presented Danny's face as the kind of detail best picked up by the digital format. "Look at that face," he said. "isn't it beautiful?"

Not the kind of beautiful that most people were thinking of, but when I saw it I thought: yes, that's my man. Danny Trejo of course had a reputation for playing bad guys and anti-heroes, and Shakespeare Cruz, as it happens, is both.

Why did I make Cruz so brutal? Well, it was a strange journey, and I'll include it here as an answer to the perennial where-do-you-get-your-ideas question so familiar to writers.

Cruz first appeared in a fantasy novel I was writing about a …

Who's afraid of Science Fiction?

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Margaret Atwood claimed that she wrote speculative fiction, not science fiction. Because science fiction was about spaceships and monsters.


She got a lot of flak for saying that. And of course, she was completely wrong. On the other hand, she was also completely right. Or rather - she had a valid, if unpalatable, point.


You see, from the day it was born, science fiction has been trying desperately to get away from the sordid, squalid image of the 1920's pulps.


The roots of science fiction lie in the nineteenth century when the wonders of science became all the rage among Victorians, thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the optimism of Empire. Writers like Jules Verne and, later, H.G. Wells and Mary Shelley explored science in their writings. They were not however considered science fiction authors since, as a genre, it didn't actually exist. They simply partook of science as a theme whenever they felt like it. Most of their other writing was not science fiction at all and, li…