Signed copy of Bound for Xmas, anywhere in the world

Bound - Alex Caine #1
Bound – Alex Caine #1

Giving books as presents is actually a kind of magic. You’re giving someone a deep, emotional experience. You’re giving them a world, a life, that they wouldn’t otherwise have. It was George R R Martin who wrote in A Dance With Dragons, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.” And I’m sure he wasn’t the first or will be the last to make that point. Also, whenever you give someone a book as a gift, a fairy gets laid.

That last bit may not be true, but do you want to risk the happiness of fairies? So with Xmas coming around again, it’s time to start thinking about buying gifts for people. You know the other great thing about buying people books? You’re actually giving two gifts at once. The obvious is the one mentioned above, where a person gets to live another life. The other gift you’re giving is to the author of whatever book you buy. It’s another little stitch in that person’s career, because only by selling books do they get to keep writing and publishing more books. You instantly become some kind of benevolent saint the moment you buy a book as a gift. Okay, maybe I’m overselling this, but it is fundamentally true.

And here’ my offer to you. If you want to buy someone a signed copy of Bound for Xmas, thereby giving both them and me a gift and becoming a saint in the process, it couldn’t be easier. Send me an email to alan[@]warriorscribe.com (without the square brackets, of course) and tell me who you want it dedicated to and their address. I’ll sign a copy, gift wrap it for you and send it off as soon as I get PayPal confirmation of your payment – I’ll give you PayPal details in a return email. All it will cost you is AU$25 anywhere in Australia (which is the same as the RRP should you go to a bookstore) or AU$35 to be sent anywhere else in the world.

I can’t say fairer than that! So hit me up via email and we’ll get it organised. But do it soon, because we’re running out of time for post to arrive before Xmas.

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The right to disappointment in the face of success

This post might seem a bit outrageous to many and I’d like to state right off the bat that of course I recognise how many people would love to have my problems! But it’s something that’s come up a lot for me recently, and I’ve seen it often enough among my peers, that I thought it was worth writing about. I’m not talking about anything actually controversial here, just the right for someone to be disappointed. Let me explain myself.

Several times over recent months I’ve mentioned something on social media in relation to a less than perfect result in terms of writing and publishing. For example, “Godsdammit! Got rejected today from an anthology I really hoped to get into!” or “Ellen Datlow released her Year’s Best list and I didn’t get a shout out. Must work harder!” And any number of other things. These are the regular laments and complaints of the jobbing writer. We want to be recognised in every endeavour we make. Now I don’t expect to be successful in any of these things but I try my damnedest to make the best work I can in the hope I am successful. I will continue to put in my best effort in an attempt at success. So naturally, I’m always disappointed when something doesn’t land where I want it to. All of that is pretty normal, right?

Here’s the thing, though. Pretty much every time I’ve mentioned anything like this over recent months, someone somewhere has replied with, “Yeah, dude, but you have a three book deal with HarperVoyager!”

And they’re right, I do. And yes, it is awesome. I still pinch myself when I think about it. I still giggle like a fool when I’m in a book shop and I see my name right there on the shelf next to people like Clive Barker or Joe Abercrombie (Baxter has some fine alphabetical company!) I am absolutely blown away by the fact that I’ve attained this level of success in my career.

Also, I get reminded that I sold a short story to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Absolutely, another high point – that publication is the absolute holy grail of short fiction markets for me and I’m stunned my work will be in those pages. (The story is called The Chart of the Vagrant Mariner, by the way, and it’ll be out in the Jan/Feb 2015 issue as far as I know.)

“But, dude! You sold a trilogy to Harper Collins!”

“But, dude! You sold a story to F&SF!”

Yes. Yes, I did. I’m happy dancing like a fucking lunatic over here, don’t think I’m not. Those things are incredible and I’m solidly grateful and very proud of myself. But that doesn’t reduce the sting of rejection. Every rejection hurts like the first time, at least for me. It’s something I don’t think I’ll ever get used to. And you know what? It’s okay for me to be sad when something doesn’t come through. Sure, I can console myself with the knowledge of other tremendous successes, and I do. But I don’t want to ever lose that desire for success, or the disappointment with failure. I’m going to constantly strive for better results and I will always be disappointed when they don’t come through.

The HarperVoyager deal is amazing, but I still desperately want a US/UK deal for The Alex Caine Series.

Selling a story to F&SF is fantastic, but I still want to sell into other markets. And I want to sell to F&SF again. I’ve done it once, so now the challenge is to do it again, and I’m going to be gutted every time I try only to be rejected. Same with my sale to Beneath Ceaseless Skies. I’m hella proud of that story and that sale, but I’ve since had a couple of stories rejected by them and it burns. I want to be in there again!

I’ve had award shortlistings, but I want award WINS, godsdammit! And when I get award wins (when, not if, because I’m not giving up!) I’ll be striving for more and bigger award wins.

When I get a US and/or UK deal for The Alex Caine Series, I’m going to be striving for foreign language sales, and I’m going to be trying to sell new novels and new series.

And with all of the above, no matter how much of it I manage to make happen, no matter how much success I see, I’m still going to be disappointed every time I get a knockback. Because I have a hunger for a career. I want to make good money writing, I want to win awards, I want signing queues out the fucking door and down the street.

And I want all that not because I want to bask in fame – I could well do without any actual fame! – but because I have stories to tell and I want them to be read. And I want to make a living from people reading my stories so I get to continue writing more. Is that essentially narcissistic? Of course it is! There’s narcissism in every writer, there has to be. Why the holy shit should we expect people to read our stuff? But that, for me, translates into a desire to share stories and entertain and create dialogue and debate about interesting subjects. I want to encourage readers and writers to do more reading and writing even as I do so.

So if I do complain about a knockback, please don’t respond with, “Yeah but you have this amazing success!” It may be true, but at that moment, I’m hurting. I’ve achieved a lot, but I want more. We all want more. Like I said at the start, I’m sure loads of people would kill for my success as a writer, but I’d kill for Clive Barker’s or Neil Gaiman’s. Every writer I know, no matter how successful they are, wants more. That’s what drives us because it’s a hell of a hard road we’re walking.

So please indulge my disappointments. Say, “Sucks, dude!” or “That’s shit, but keep going, mate!” or anything like that. A bit of solidarity, a bit of a shoulder slap and a push on, that’s all I need. That’s all any of us need when we’re smarting from the spiky paddle of rejection across the arse cheeks. Trust me, rejection doesn’t diminish my successes at all, or make me forget them, so don’t think I need reminding. I just need to feel that sting for a while, then it just drives me to work harder.

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Kiama Library Q&A on Tuesday 18th November

The ongoing Bound train continues to roll and next week I’ve got a hometown appearance. I’ll be at Kiama Library talking about writing, the Alex Caine Series and answering questions and all that stuff. Here are the relevant details:

6pm Tuesday 18th November

Bookings essential – call (02) 4233 1133

7 Railway Parade,
Kiama NSW 2533

Email: library@kiama.nsw.gov.au

Copies of Bound will be available for purchase and signing, or if you already have a copy, bring it along if you’d like it signed.

So if you’re a local like me, or near enough to get to the lovely harbour town of Kiama, do come along. Might I suggest you arrive early and have some fantastic fish and chips for dinner down at the harbour, before walking around the library for 6pm. You know, I might even do it that way myself. Look forward to seeing you there.

Click the image below for a bigger version:

Caine-flyer-small

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Apocalyptic Australia – Guest post from Justin Woolley

Today I have a guest post from Justin Woolley, whose new book, A Town Called Dust, is out today. It’s described thus: “Stranded in the desert, the last of mankind is kept safe by a large border fence… Until the fence falls.” Sounds good, right? Here Justin talks about his apocalyptic Australian setting.

A Town Called Dust CoverThe Australian desert – a vast landscape that stretches flat and empty all the way to the horizon. When you’re standing out there it’s a place that seems to fill up the entire world, as if the whole planet is nothing but red dirt that feels like it sits mere metres from the burning sun. Out there it’s easy to think that maybe the world really has ended and you’re among the last people living on a scorched earth.

Alan invited me to write a blog post about why I chose such a distinctly Australian setting for my novel, A Town Called Dust, and what the pros and cons of this choice were. While as with all aspects of a story the setting is usually the coalescing of a number of smaller ideas but broadly speaking there are two reasons I chose the Australian desert as the place my young adult post-apocalyptic dystopian story would unfold.

The first reason, and probably the most important to the atmosphere of the book, is because of the imagery I’ve described above. As I mentioned, A Town Called Dust is a post-apocalyptic story and the Australian desert provides a rich landscape that invokes a feeling of vast emptiness, even lawlessness. In many ways it already feels post-apocalyptic – just think of Mad Max – the imagery of the Australian outback perfectly captures the feel of a post-apocalyptic wasteland and it’s one that already exists, not requiring me to drop nuclear weapons controlled by runaway artificial intelligences or punch an asteroid into the earth due to Bruce Willis’ failure to save us. Although that said, I have populated the world with undead zombie-like ghouls so there is that I suppose. Without giving away too many spoilers the outback desert provides an area that can be defended allowing us to keep the ghouls out but it’s a place that also makes it easy to keep people in, and keep them under control.

The second reason I chose the Australian setting was that the inspiration for this book came while I was working as a teacher. This experience made me reflect on the books I had read in high school. I wanted to write a book for young adults set right here in Australia. I remember reading the Tomorrow When the War Began series as a teenager and feeling a real buzz about this incredible story happening in a familiar setting, my own country. Not only that but in that series the Australian bush almost became a character in its own right. Most other books and movies I was into, particularly those in the science fiction, fantasy and dystopian genres, even if they were set on earth were set in places I’d never been. While I think the book has universal appeal I’m really hoping the setting helps it strike something of a special chord with Australians.

In terms of the advantages and disadvantages of using this setting I suppose I’ve already discussed the advantage and that was that the Australian desert, even as it is now, provides the exact desolate atmosphere I was after in the setting. The main disadvantage also ties into my reasons above, the second one in particular. I needed to find a balance between appealing to a global audience while providing that sense of belonging I was going for with local readers. That meant being careful about how much Australiana I loaded the pages up with from language and slang, to place names and the names of certain aspects of society. Basically I had to go easy on the ‘strewth you flaming galah’ – not that I’d ever want to use that sentence in a book but you get the idea. A good example is the military in the Territory (the area the characters live) are known as Diggers, this has immediate connotations with Australian readers that others, say a reader from the United States, may not have the cultural basis for. With most things this doesn’t matter, but there’s a few little easter eggs waiting in there.

So that’s it really, hopefully people enjoy the world I’ve built using the Australian desert as the backdrop. Having written this book now might I suggest that if the zombie apocalypse does hit us here in Australia let’s not all move inland to the red centre, things may not work out that well.

*****

Author Photo - Justin WoolleyJustin Woolley has been writing stories since he could first scrawl with a crayon. When he was six years old he wrote his first book, a 300-word pirate epic in unreadable handwriting called “The Ghost Ship”. He promptly declared that he was now an author and didn’t need to go to school. Despite being informed that this was, in fact, not the case, he continued to make things up and write them down.

Today he is the author of several published short stories and has a number of graphic novels in development. A Town Called Dust is Justin’s debut novel and will be published by November 13th, 2014 by Momentum Books.

In his other life Justin has been an engineer, a teacher, and at one stage even a magician. His handwriting has not improved.

You can find Justin’s website at www.justinwoolley.net or follow him on Twitter: @Woollz.

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Horizon — Consciousness Explorers: Inside a Transhuman

Today I have a guest post from author and editor extraordinaire, Keith Stevenson. His new novel, Horizon, is out now. Take it away Keith.

Keith Stevenson
Keith Stevenson

I’d like to thank Alan for giving over some space on his blog for the Horizon Blog Tour.

Horizon is my debut science fiction novel published by Voyager Impulse. It’s an SF thriller centred on a deep space exploration mission that goes very wrong, with repercussions for the future of all life on Earth.

One of the most interesting themes in science fiction, and one of the most exciting advances happening in medical research today, is how humans will become augmented through interfacing with technology.

In the real world, there are amazing advances that enable paraplegics to control the environment around them. In 2012 in the UK, a woman had an aspirin-sized array of electrodes implanted in her brain which picked up signals from neurons in her motor cortex enabling her to control a robotic arm. In sci-fi movies, humans interfacing with technology has brought about a variety of dystopian scenarios from (the now somewhat laughable) Saturn 3, to (the now very laughable) Lawnmower Man, as well as the Matrix movies and the more recent Transcendance.

One of the best books about the future development of humanity is Damien Broderick’s The Last Mortal Generation. It explores not only how the life of our physical body can be extended, but also how technology might free the mind from its time-limited physical form. The mind is the key to so much — our emotions and sense of self. What would it be like to transplant your mind outside of its fleshy architecture into the elegant symmetry of a computer? Would you feel any different if your brain was replaced neuron by neuron by ‘silicon brain cells’? Would you lose your humanity? What about extending the reach of your mind resting within its physical confines by hooking it up to a wider cognitive network that’s faster, richer, and electronic?

eCOV_Horizon_C2D2In Horizon, Systems Specialist Bren Thurgood is among the first couple of generations of transhumans: people who accept an implant that allows them to interface with computerised and artificial intelligence systems. It makes her very good at what she does, and she’s an indispensable member of the crew. However even though I’m an optimist, I find it hard to imagine a future where humanity doesn’t attack what’s different in society. And given the current controversy about metadata and government snooping, I think the reasons behind a widespread mistrust of transhumans are compounded. They are ‘creatures of the internet’, able to breach firewalls and hack sensitive systems as easily as breathing. As a result, ‘chipheads’ are the target of racist — or maybe that should be ‘specist’ — intolerance from the ‘norms’.

I think the most interesting aspect of interfacing directly with the electronic world, the world of data and numbers, is how our minds would interpret and present that augmented reality to us. We’re not digital, we’re analogue, which means — perhaps — we’ll take a figurative rather than literal approach to the datastream. Bren explains it best:

Lex pressed the patches to her temples and flicked the monitor into life. He picked up a metallic wand. ‘You shouldn’t feel any discomfort. I’m just going to send a range of harmonics through the soft tissue and see what the sensors pick up.’ He touched her chin and turned her head to the left. The wand hummed in his hand. ‘What’s it like anyway, the link?’

Bren snorted and a smile spread across her face. ‘You don’t know how many times I’ve been asked that.’

‘Then you should have a good answer.’

She turned towards him and he gently turned her head back into position. ‘A lot of people can’t get used to it. There’s the increased cognitive capacity, of course. You’re totally aware — of everything. When you’re linked, you can instantly understand concepts, complex equations, programming, the works. You access information, formulate solutions, in the blink of an eye. But the perception change can really get to you. Some things you encounter are actual representations, like when I saw Phillips in the ring. Some things you can template and construct yourself. But every now and then something will come at you that’s totally figurative. Like the interface has tapped into your subconscious imagery and selected something that embodies completely what you’re experiencing intellectually, emotionally, and even spiritually. It can freak you out if you’re not used to it.’

‘Like that package ticking?’

‘Yeah, but that’s a simple example.’

‘Look to the right, please,’ Lex said and swapped the wand to his other hand.

‘Anyway, it’s helped me become more than I ever could be. But Harris and people like him will never understand. And they’ll never trust what they don’t understand.’

No matter how augmented they become, I believe transhumans will retain their own human and individual ways of looking at the world. It may have to work that way to prevent their brains from overloading. It’s a fascinating concept to think about, and it almost makes me wish all this was a reality right now.

*****

Follow the Horizon Blog Tour

3 November — Extract of Horizon — Voyager blog http://www.voyageronline.com.au/

4 November — Character Building: Meet the Crew — Trent Jamieson’s blog http://www.trentjamieson.com/

5 November — Welcome to Magellan: Inside the Ship — Darkmatter http://www.darkmatterzine.com/

6 November — Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow — Lee Battersby’s blog http://battersblog.blogspot.com.au/

7 November — Engage: Tinkering With a Quantum Drive — Joanne Anderton’s blog http://joanneanderton.com/wordpress/

10 November — Stormy Weather: Facing Down Climate Change — Ben Peek’s blog http://benpeek.livejournal.com/

11 November — Time Travel: Relatively Speaking — Rjurik Davidson’s blog http://rjurik.com/

12 November — Consciousness Explorers: Inside a Transhuman — Alan Baxter’s blog http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/

13 November — From the Ground Up: Building a Planet — Sean Wright’s blog http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/

14 November — Life Persists: Finding the Extremophile — Greig Beck’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Greig-Beck-Author/101428386583764

17 November — Interview — Marianne De Pierres’ blog http://www.mariannedepierres.com/

Keith Stevenson is a science fiction author, editor, publisher and reviewer. His debut novel Horizon is available as an ebook via http://www.harpercollins.com.au/books/Horizon-Keith-Stevenson/?isbn=9781460704653

 His blog is at http://keithstevensonwriter.blogspot.com.

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