31 May 2006


Yesterday I sent off the final(ish) drafts of the short stories for Big Finish anthologies which have been keeeping me occupied me of late (and keeeping me so scandalously from you, dear reader).

Between them they come to well over 20,000 words, which explains why they've seemed such a marathon effort. That's over half the length of Peculiar Lives, which took me six months to write, and more than a sixth that of Of the City of the Saved..., which took me well over a year.

Of course there's still a certain amount of faffing to be done with both of them, as the editors get back to me with comments and suggestions as to how they might be improved, or made to fit better into their respective anthologies. In addition, one piece is actually a co-write with that volume's editor, so in that case there'll almost certainly be more toing-and-froing between us before we're satisfied with the result.

Still, at present I'm very happy with how both pieces have turned out. One's a straightforward short story -- albeit rather longer than usual at 8,600 words -- written to some fairly stringent (if largely self-imposed) restrictions which I'll talk about some more once it's been published. It shouldn't be too long before this one's announced, so I'll update you on that once the information's been released. I don't think it's giving too much away, though, to say that this one's the reason I've been watching quite so much early Doctor Who recently.

The other piece is actually five interludes to be scattered throughout a (different) anthology, together with the aforementioned co-written short story which forms its finale. This one's been particularly interesting to work on, as I've been developing an ongoing plotline which has repercussions in the other contributors' stories, and hopefully takes some cues from them as well. The plan is that this will result in a well-integrated and coherent collection which will read as a whole rather than a series of unrelated pieces. We'll see how well that comes off, but from everything I've seen so far the Ed in question is managing it most impressively.

It's also the first time I've co-written a piece of prose, which adds to the novelty value (at least for me -- probably not so much for you). Again, more information on this once the book's been announced (though I'm not sure at present quite when that will be), and once it's published I'll also update the website with some details of the unusual writing process.

Meanwhile, The Albino's Dancer, the Time Hunter novella which follows next-but-one in the series after Peculiar Lives, is due out imminently (the Telos website suggests 15 June). To celebrate the fact, its author Paul Dale Smith has updated his website with various bits and pieces, including a rather lovely imaginary Foreword to the novella. This makes excellent use of the various metafictional references in the Time Hunter sequence, and pleasingly references my own book and its narrator, Erik Clevedon. (There are also at least two pieces of fiction hidden as "easter eggs" on PDS's Albino's Dancer pages, which I'll leave you to find by yourselves.)

I read The Albino's Dancer a little while ago, and it's highly recommended -- certainly the best Time Hunter novella since Kitsune, (leaving aside Peculiar Lives, which I'm not really qualified to comment on). It's a witty, complex book that treats both the characters and the reader with respect, and has a plot like intricate origami. It comes highly recommended from me, and you can preorder it here.

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