|The writer Guy T. Martland in action - Eastercon 2017.
After neglecting this blog for a while, I’m back - mostly in response to those who have been asking me questions like: what have you been up to? how's the writing going? where's the sequel to The Scion? where can I buy your books from? Well, I'll attempt to answer a few of these questions in this post. Here you go:
December to March: Putting the finishing touches to the sequel to The Scion.
I took the first 12K words or so of 'the sequel' to the Milford SF conference last year. At this stage the novel was pretty much complete. But this process helped me align various thoughts about the plot, which wound themselves together over the following few months. And I had to add a few massive space battles.
Being a regular at Milford I was ready for what the collected writers would throw at me, but it went down pretty well, all things considered. If you are about to get a bad crit, people present chocolate or beer – I wasn’t one of the receivers this time. Although in previous years, I remember Bob Neilson (Albedo One) handing over a bottle of ale, before proclaiming that he couldn’t stand my piece and that it was ‘Like bloody Harry Potter in space.’ I forgave him when he published ‘The New Galvanism’.
After The Scion was pulled from publication due to the small press going the sad way of many small presses, I thought about consigning its sequel to the dustbin. But I kept being asked about what happened next... In any case, I couldn’t have written 'the sequel' - in fact I might not have even got started - without the encouragement and help of many people. Of note, Carol Kean from Perihelion SF, who was so enamoured with a particular species in The Scion that she begged to see more of them: having annihilated their planet in The Scion, this wasn’t without problems, but I found a way. I’d like also to thank Liam Orchard-Webb for his infectious enthusiasm and kind words about The Scion, which inspired me to get back on the sequel’s horse.
So 'the sequel' is now complete. Despite it being a standalone (i.e. you don't have to have read The Scion), it is still a sequel. And with The Scion is still floundering in limbo without a publisher, will it ever make it out there into the big wide world? Who knows… To paraphrase GRRM, I may not ever get another book published, but I sure as hell am going to write one.
Following on from this, the process of editing and re-editing this book did spark something in me. I had been planning to finish this up and move onto pastures new, but ideas kept coming and before I knew it, I’d been bitten. I am now embarking on the third installment of Mr Septimus Esterhazy, complete with shapeshifting aliens, hideous alien creatures, warts and all. Basically, I couldn’t resist – I was having too much fun.
Oh, and by the way 'the sequel' now also has a title: LINE OF THE DEAD.
|March Monday Midday Murakami.
More from March:
While procrastinating about LOTD, mostly reading rather than writing, I'd started going through some old stories and was beginning to put them together as a collection. I’d been meaning to do this for ages, and with a week off work, my wife away, this seemed like a perfect time to take stock of my short story history. Gordon the cat didn’t seem to object much either – he is always busy writing another bestseller, putting my efforts to shame.
The collection pulls together stories from 1996 to the present. I went for a chronological order, followed by author’s notes or epigrams, whatever you want to call them (hopefully not epitaphs). Some of the stories intersect with The Scion, some don’t. A number have been published over the years, a number haven’t. The early ones seem to have stood the test of time, although a spring clean was necessary in a few cases: tricky, that, trying to add a lick of paint but maintain the original feel of the piece. But I’m pretty happy with the way it all turned out.
|From L to R: David L. Clements, Arthur Chapell, Aliette de Bodard, Arthur Chappell, Guy T. Martland, Donna Scott
I’ve been to Eastercon, the British Science Fiction Association’s big annual bash, for the past few years, but have mostly been content to prop up the bar, chat to the Milford writers and let the whole thing wash over me. But with a sense that I should be doing something a bit more constructive, perhaps getting involved somehow.
So when I was asked to read for the Shoreline of Infinity event this year, I leapt at the opportunity. My story ‘Approaching 43,000 Candles’ had appeared in the inaugural issue of Shoreline. For those of you who haven’t read it, it is about a bunch of lighthouses going to a conference in Birmingham, having partly been inspired by a visit there. Kismet had decided that this year’s Eastercon was also in Birmingham, so it seemed appropriate that I should read some of it.
|The Doctor: last seen in Bos Vegas
Not having done any readings since back in Bristol when I used to do poetry open mic nights, this meant practising: my wife grew weary of hearing the first part of this during the preceding week. On the day, it turned out we weren’t on until about 9pm, having been knocked back by Doctor Who, the first episode of the new series being shown at the conference. Not that I mind Doctor Who being my support act, but… it did mean I had to forgo the vast selection or real ales on offer until after the gig. (I rarely do well on Dutch Courage, just turns me into a slurring mess.)
Anyway, despite a few nerves, it all went well. It was a pleasure to feature alongside such luminaries as David Clements, Arthur Chappell, Aliette de Bodard, Andrew Wilson and Donna Scott. And on the plus side, according to Noel from Shoreline, we managed to shift a few copies of issue 1.
|Editor (Noel Chidwick of Shoreline) and Author catch up in the bar.
May: Speeches and Disclaimers
I’d been a best man before, but not for many years. Having to write a speech for one of your best friends, whom you’ve known for 30 years is a tough ask. And very different from writing science fiction. Nothing like a prompt to start you writing though…
The groom warned the guests beforehand that because I was a science fiction writer, nothing I said was necessarily to be believed. However, with 30 years of stories, it wasn’t necessary to veer too far from Earth, or indeed into other dimensions. Although I had used the venue for a short story a few years back. I was pleased when someone came up to me afterwards and slurred: ‘You can tell you are a writer. I’ve never heard the word ‘nuanced’ used in a best man speech before.’ I told the drunken guest that I'd actually said spaceship and they'd misheard.
|Balconic Solent Vista. And a nice day for a wedding. Pier and gardens as featured in my story 'The Leather Bracelet'.
On the same day as the wedding, just after the speech, sat somewhere on right of the photo above, I got an email through to inform me that my story ‘Update 13.0’ had been published by Disclaimer Magazine. I’m intending to blog more about this over the weekend, but for the time being, you can find it here:
And that is it, November to the end of May in just over a thousand words.
Consider yourself Updated.