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Saturday, February 27, 2010

On book signings and such

The thing about book signings is that you never know how many books will be sold, if any. You can only hope. And if you're with other writers and nobody buys your book, but buys the others, how depressing is that! But you have to give it a go.

Last night, I went to the opening night of Continuum 6 on the request of my publisher, Paul Collins. The new Ford Street novel, Solace And Grief (soon to be reviewed here!) was being launched and Paul had hoped that some of his other writers might also be able to sign some books. And Paul has been very good to me over the years, so I went, though normally Friday nights are family-only for me.

The con organisers kindly agreed to let us do this. For once I wasn't going to the con; I just don't have the energy right now, though I am going to Aussiecon 4 later this year. Not after Dad's passing.

After the Chronos Awards had been handed out, Paul got up to speak briefly before heading out into the foyer to set up the book stall. Sean McMullen, who had to go elsewhere afterwards, spoke briefly about his Ford Street novel, Before The Storm, a thoroughly entertaining novel centred around time travel and a fanciful attempt to blow up the first Australian Parliament in 1901. I went up after him to talk about my own Crime Time: Australians behaving badly. It wasn't like my launch last year, when I had a fair amount of time to talk (they sold just about all the books on the stall that time), and in all fairness, it was the evening of someone else's launch, so I did my best with a minute or two, and did manage to get some chuckles when talking about the idiocy of crooks, especially those in my book.

Then Foz Meadows, the author of the book being launched, got up to speak. Lucy Sussex was supposed to launch her book, but was a little late - due, it turns out, to public transport delays. The author spoke about her attempts to sell, her writing at work because the boss was less likely to catch her than if she was on the Internet and read the opening chapter. Finally, Lucy got there and did a good launch.

After that, we went out into the foyer. George Ivanoff, Foz Meadows and I sat down to sign. Sean hung around for a little while, but had family commitments. He did sign some books, but not sitting down.

I told him about my good news, because I have known Sean since before he became a bestselling writer - actually, since before he sold anything at all! - and he was very pleased for me. It was because Sean persuaded me to join the SCA that I learned to write fight scenes convincingly.

i made sure Lucy knew too, because as commissioning editor at Hodder, she had tried to help me get the novel through, and I felt I owed it to her to know that it finally HAD got through.

The thing about non-fiction, even though kids prefer reading it, is that it's harder to sell - especially children's non-fiction. Crime Time has had some fabulous reviews and sold well enough to school libraries, but try finding it in the bookshops! Even when it has been there, I mean. It gets put into the adult true crime section. And naturally, adults who pick it up and realise it's a children's book put it down. And if you put it in the kids' section, it disappears, because bookshops simply don't know how to display children's non-fiction.

The sad fact is that nobody takes you seriously unless you've written a novel. Maybe after my new novel is out, more people will ask for Crime Time.

Meanwhile, Paul did manage to sell two copies while I was there and asked me to sign a third before I left, just in case. One jolly gentleman was happy enough to chat with me about the book, but didn't buy it. Another gent did buy it and I was happy to chat with him! And Bruce Barnes, an old fannish comrade, also bought a copy.

Maybe the third went after I left, eh?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

At last!

I've finally sold my first novel. Eleven books, but only one novel as such. I wrote it some years ago and nearly - nearly! - sold it several time. And each time, I got comments and re-wrote on the basis of those comments and sent it somewhere else and almost sold it.

This time it has happened. Leonie Tyle, who used to work for UQP, knows me because I actually sent her the first three chapters some years ago and she rang me - rang Melbourne from Queensland! - to say that she liked it a lot, but they didn't publish this genre and did I have anything else? I wrote something else, but it didn't work out.

Now, I got a totally unexpected email from her saying she had heard I had a novel and could she look at it? Is the Pope Catholic?!? ;-) She heard because of an as-yet unpublished interview in Magpies magazine, by Edwina Harvey, meant to promote Crime Time: Australians behaving badly, which Magpies had reviewed favourably in 2009. Apparently, she had a hole in her schedule due to a novel that had had to be put back to 2011.

Only a few days after that interview, the thing has gone through the acquisitions committee and it will be out later this year. It does need re-writes, but hell, I'd stand on my head to get this one out! I cared about it when I was writing it and had planned to get it out and re-work yet again and see if I could sell it this time.

Who would have thought the publisher would approach ME?

And just for the record, after all I have said about fantasy novels, this one is a fantasy novel, a YA werewolf tale. But it's not fat and it's not part of a trilogy! And it's inspired by a mediaeval romance. Yay!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Specusphere interview

Astrid Cooper has just done an interview with me on that fabulous spec fic web site Specusphere - go take a look and then have a browse around the rest of the site. I have put a link to this on the side bar. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Discovering Charles Stross

Recently, I walked into my favourite SF bookshop, Of Science And Swords, and asked for something science fictional, as opposed to fantasy. "You're in the mood for SF today ... as always," said the proprietor. He knows me. It's not that I don't like fantasy at all - hey, I write the stuff! - but that I'm picky. Any Tolkien wannabe is right off my list, as is anyone who writes about long-lost heirs to kingdoms that have been usurped, anything with a Dark Lord (see above, Tolkien wannabe), any Mary Sue about an ordinary girl who suddenly discovers she is the princess of wherever (well, I'll make an exception for teen fiction, kids love more of the same) - you know the routine. But when I buy a new book, I want something with a little hard science in it.

I had heard of Charles Stross in Nova Mob meetings, but never read any of his books. So I picked up The Atrocity Archives which is a cross between spy fiction and Cthulhu horror, in which things worked a little differently back in the past and there's an entire branch of the public service dedicated to keeping the Lovecraftian monsters out, when they're not having to attend committee meetings and account for spending on paper clips.

And it gives very good scientific arguments for the magic in the book.

It's a hoot and I am about to read The Jennifer Morgue, the next book about Bob Howard (Bob as in Robert Howard ... geddit?) the monster-fighting computer geek.

If you live in/visit Melbourne, drop into Of Science And Swords - it's well worth the visit and the folk there love spec fic, unlike some bigger shops.

By the way, I have just started teaching this year's 8A and have discovered one of the boys is madly into the subject of alchemy. Who'd have thought it of a 13-year-old?