BUSY LEE IS BUSILY

Okay, let’s catch up:

It’s been a mad period for both appearances and writing recently. Having parted company with my previous agent over concerns regards a lack of communication, I’ve spent the last couple of week editing Father Muerte & the Divine in order to send it to an agent who caught me on the hop by requesting to see the full manuscript earlier than expected: a good sign, I hope, but let’s never line-edit and input 200+ pages of a manuscript in such short order again….

Working so hard on that project threw my timing out for September, which meant that I’ve spent this weekend blasting my way through The Daughters of John Anglicus, a 5000 word short story I need to deliver by the end of the month. I’ve always enjoyed writing short stories in compressed time frame: there’s something about an impending deadline that’s good for stoking the crucible of creation, but it’s no damn good for family time: I own Luscious and the kids some serious attention over the coming weekends to repay their indulgence. This week will be taken up with editing and getting it to the market, and then I’ll finally have a chance to draw breath and look at what to do next: with Nanowrimo looming in November I may consider revisiting the 15 000 words I’ve completed on Cirque and pushing that towards the 50K I think it’ll take to visit that YA project.

I’ve also been oot and aboot doing the talking-head-type thing: in August I revisited my old stomping grounds at Curtin University to deliver my annual guest lecture, and Book Week saw me taking to the stage at Churchlands Senior High School to talk about my work, idea generation and the art of entering short story competitions. And when I say ‘take to the stage’ I wasn’t kidding: have a gander at the theatre the school boasts.

No pressure, right? It was a great day, to be honest: I spoke to three groups of incredibly engaged, fun kids, and discovered that one group had been using Luscious’ story The Hanging Tree as part of their studies, so I was able to tickle her sense of history when I got home. 
And I’ve not been the only one: Master 9 has been King of the Kids in the last fortnight, hanging out with famous author types and generally being windswept and interesting. Back on the 9th he was an invited guest at a public talk by his literary hero, Andy Griffiths, after cool frood and AHWA buddy Mark Smith-Briggs organised a personal invitation in the wake of a bad bout of Rumination Syndrome. Master 9 had been one place in line from hearing Griffiths speak at last year’s Perth Writers Festival, only for a couple of kids to cut in and leave him at the head of the queue when the door closed. To make it up to him we bought a copy of Griffiths’ The 39 Story Treehouse, which he devoured in double quick time, then went out and bought for himself The 13 Story Treehouse and The 26 Story Treehouse, reading all three to the point of destruction. Until that point, he’d enjoyed reading (more on this in a moment) but hadn’t been a reader. Those novels changed him. A five minute meeting alone with Griffiths, as well as a signed gift of the new The 52 Story Treehouse just about counts as the gift of the century: it hasn’t left his bedside since, and has been read, as of today, no less than 5 times.
How is that grin?

A signed copy. Boy Geek Heaven!

A boy and his hero. A wonderful moment to witness.
Now, Griffiths’ ever expanding Treehouse may be the series that gave Master 9 his obsessive love of reading, but the book that taught him how to read was Norman Jorgensen and James Foley’s The Last Viking. Indeed, the reason he was at last year’s Writers Festival at all was to meet James as he launched his book In the Lion. So imagine his insane delight when the day after meeting Griffiths, we took him to the State Library for the launch of Jorgensen and Foley’s newest, The Last Viking Returns, and he got to meet Norman in person for the first time, as well as catch up with James again, both of whom treated him like an old friend. Norman and James are just about the nicest guys in the West, and the way they both took time out of their being-famous duties to catch up with him was absolutely heart-warming to see. And was my boy bouncing like a crazy thing? What do you reckon? The paper Viking helmet he coloured and cut out on the night is up on his wall, and the book itself hasn’t left his bedside table since he got home: he averages one session every two days of lying back on his bed, thumbing through it at his leisure. 
Viking Boyz!

Master 9 meets the lovely Norman Jorgensen. 
That is the smile of a very content and happy young man.
His three literary heroes, in 24 hours. Not a bad two days’ work 🙂
And then there’s Crimescene WA, the crime writing convention Luscious and I will be attending in three weeks’ time. I’ll be presenting a workshop on writing settings, and assisting Lyn deliver a presentation on strong women in crime fiction, which has required watching a metric fuckload of Inspector Lynley Mysteries, Girl With Dragon Tattoos in Fiery Ants Nest, and, in the coming weeks, Number One Ladies Detective Agency episodes, as well as trying to plough through the accompanying novels as best we can. Enjoyable, time-consuming, work, but frankly, it beats what I do during the working week. 
So that’s where I’ve been: racing around, desperately trying to keep myself immersed in the writing world that means an increasing amount to me as my work life becomes less and less satisfying, and Real Life ™ presents an unending series of complications. There’s been a family funeral in there, and money worries, and yet more issue with maintaining my crumbling house, but the truth is, it’s the writing life that keeps my psyche above water these days (apart from my relationship with Luscious, who is the only person I can turn to at any moment, sure in the knowledge of pure and instant understanding). Keeping in touch with the writing world is a constant struggle, but it’s the one I want to make.
Who’d have a peaceful life?

WRITING, SPELLED WITH A SILENT ‘RE’

Sorry about the lack of action round here, folks. I’m bang up against an editorial deadline for Magit and BugratMagwitch and Bugrat with editorial feedback regards naming conventions applied– and haven’t much time in my off hours for anything else. After an edit-heavy weekend, in which the entire structure of the novel was revamped, and chapter one was disassembled, scattered throughout the rest of the novel and reassembled, I’ve completed the first round of edits and inputs and am now just smoothing out the seams and bumps that such a major edit usually leaves. It’ll be back in the hands of the editors by the end of the week and then you and I can sit and chat.

Except that I’ve got to get Father Muerte & the Divine to Agent Rich. But I’m just about done with those edits and I reckon I’ll have them to him by, what, mid next-week. Then we can sit and chat.

Except I have to rewrite Cirque and add the 35 000 words it needs to get it finished and sent to Agent Rich because it’s on my goals list for this year and I don;t want to spend the entire goddamn year just editing: I actually want to write some new words if it’s all right with everyone. But after that….

After that, we can chat.

Unless I start work on something else.

THE NEXT BIG NEXT BIG THING COMING UP NEXT. AND IT’S BIG. AND NEXT. AND A THING…

So, having been tagged for the last Next Big Thing and duly completing ten questions about Marching Dead, I was tagged by the deeply sexy Jason Nahrung, and declined him, because I had nothing else to talk about. Then I finished Father Muerte & The Divine, just before I was tagged by the equally sexy Rowena Cory Daniells.

So here I am, talking about that book, too:

What is the working title of your next book?

Father Muerte and the Divine.

Where did the idea of your book come from?

I’ve explored the character of Father Muerte in four previous short stories: Father Muerte & The Theft (Aurealis 29); Father Muerte & The Rain (Aurealis 33/34/35 triple issue); Father Muerte & the Flesh (Aurealis 36) and Father Muerte & The Joy of Warfare (Aurealis 37). I’ve received a lot of feedback from readers wanting to know more about the character’s background, and wanting to see him interact with a larger story, so it was a good chance to go back into his past and expand upon the scope of his mystery, especially as I had a couple of breaks in my writing calendar where I could spend a goodly amount of time working on the story.

What genre does your book fall under?

Definitely fantasy, but more towards the Urban end of the spectrum rather than the epic. Except it takes place in a seaside town that may or may not exist. Is there such a thing as Holiday Village Fantasy?

If you found yourself in a lift with a movie director you admire and you had the chance to pitch your book to them, what would you say?

Now you’ve finished the Corpse-Rat King movie, Mister Gilliam, do you fancy a read of this one?

Every writer dreams of their book being turned into a movie or TV series like Game of Thrones: if this happened to your work, which actors would you choose to play your characters?

Like Game of Thrones? Do I have to? Sorry fans, but I couldn’t get past episode three. I don’t care how much you gussy it up, I can spot a soap opera when I see one.

However, when it comes to characters, I rarely picture a known face upon them. Occasionally, if I want a characters to continue to act in a certain way I’ll try it out– Captain Bomthe from the Corpse-Rat King was lightly modelled on Bill Nighy’s ‘uptight’ character. But not with these charatcers: I’ve been working with them, on and off, for a decade now. They have their own faces.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Love. I love Muerte, Henri and Benito. There’s a small core of readers who love the stories and keep nagging me for another one. And I loved the idea of doing something really spectacular with what had come before: this is the fifth instalment of the narrative, so I had some history to play with.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It was written in two bursts of about a month each, a year apart. the first half was written whilst I was waiting for the Angry Robot Open Submission period was grinding its way to a conclusion, and then I had to drop it when they picked up CRK. Once I’d delivered Marching Dead it was just about time to start this year’s nanowrimo, and there I was with a novel needing roughly 50 000 words to finish it…

What other books would you compare this book to within your genre?

I’m not sure. If anything, it probably sits– in my mental image of it, at least– closest to those convoluted Grant Morrison ‘everything’s an illusion and a conspiracy and all your paranoias are just silly. And correct.’ comic book series, with a faint hint of Gaiman’s ‘Seasons of Mist’. But that’s not really it, either.

It’s just, I dunno, weird. And cool. And there’s sort of a Keith Laumer oddness to it, and a China Meiville Gothic urban-ness, and a rollicking Bester tongue-in-cheekness, and half the documentaries I’ve watched in the last six years contributed, and then there’s some stuff that’s probably just me having a mental seizure…. maybe I’m not the best person to answer this question.

When will your book be available?

I expect to deliver the synopses and 5 chapter package to SuperAgent Rich in the next couple of weeks, and then the rest is up to him.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Time-travelling Benito Mussolinis, a colony of hyper-intelligent dinosaur ghosts, live human skinning, the fall of Satan, Maxwell’s Demon, the Red Baron’s fetish for post-World War I biplanes, coelacanths, pareidolia, bit-culling souls, molybdomancy… what’s not to love?

Keen-eyed readers will note that I haven’t tagged five authors to continue the meme onwards. That’s because every author I know has done the damn thing and it’s all getting rather circular and incestuous. Consider me your cul-de-sac for the day.

OH, YEAH.

And I should probably gloat slightly:

95 676 words later, Father Muerte & The Divine is finished.

December will be spent editing, polishing, writing the synopsis and sending the sales package to SuperAgent Rich. But it is, in all intents and purposes, finished.

Two novels written this year. That’s what I’d call a decent start.

N-OVER-EMBER

Agh, finally.

Yes, today is officially the second day of the following month, but for us, with the last of Erin’s friends having just left from her birthday sleepover, November is finally, finally over.

November means:

Nanowrimo. I acted as ML for my region for the third year, as well as working on Father Muerte & the Divine, for which I wrote a shade over 43 000 words, and completed. I topped up the other 6 000 and a bit words by beginning The Sin-Eater’s Lonely Children, working on the Muerte synopses, and various associated fiction tasks.

The Day Job’s Literary Month, involving organising and running a five hour writing marathon on a Saturday night complete with guest speakers and a metric fuckload of giveways; the awards presentation for the City’s short story competition on a Tuesday night; and a two hour seminar by Dr Helen Merrick on the following evening. All within a week of each other.

Three birthdays: mine, Connor’s, and Erin’s. Connor and Erin had a birthday party each. On the same day. At two different locations. Never. Bloody. Again.

Nnovvember. My first attempt at contributing to this mass Lego community initiative, to build a Vic Viper model to help commemorate the passing of popular builder and AFOL Nate ‘nnenn’ Neilson.

All this on top of the usual writing work, day job work, family commitments, swimming lessons, preparing the house for sale, blah blah etcetera and so forth.

I’m buggered.

BUT: I have a completed novel, two happy kids, new Lego for myself, no more work events for the rest of the year, and the first Lego MOC I’ve built that I think matches up to the rest of the Flickr stream, so we’ll call it a draw and now I’m going back to bed.

And because I promised, here are the pictures of the finished Viper.

From the top

Facing

From the rear, showing greebles and biplane wings

Side view, showing twin forward pods, and the connection between hull and engine, which…

…rotates.

And the underside, with all the transparent goodness and weapony-looking bits.

Comin’ atcha!

HAVE A BIG SLICE OF DIVINE

I’m feeling generous. Have a little taste of Father Muerte & the Divine first-drafty goodness:

It is easy to disarm a philosopher’s stone. The stone transmutes elements. Lead can become gold, wood can become steam, bread and wine can become flesh and blood. All it takes is for the stone’s wielder to focus his will upon the subject long enough for the chemical reaction to occur. The stone itself is merely a catalyst: the trigger that initiates chemical change without engaging in, or being changed by, the reaction. It is Maxwell’s Demon, bringing the wielder and the will ever closer whilst remaining aloof, unchanged; providing balance as both sides of the equation continue to eat themselves like chemical ouroboros. To destroy one, it is only necessary to turn its power back upon itself. Complete the loop of chemical change so that it is the stone, not the wielder, that becomes both agent and the reagent. Command the stone to turn itself to shale, to soap, to water, and the monster was destroyed. 
The difficulty is never in the act, it is in persuading the stone’s owner that it must be done.


NANO NANO NANO NANO BATMAAAAN!!!!!

It’s November, that time of the year which should be all about my birthday but is instead all about everybody else’s birthday, Americans playing spin-the-bottle-win-a-fuckwit, my day job providing umpty millions of opportunities for all the other writers in the region to get their wordfreak on, and me running around trying to please everybody and getting fuck all done on the personal front.

Except, of course, that I got me two weeks holidays, so suck on that, hidden Overlords of the Universe. Coz I get to stay home all day and do Nanowrimo, at least until next Wednesday.

Angry Robot duties are in abeyance for the moment– Marching Dead has been delivered and I’m quietly waiting for the edits to come back and ruin my Christmas– so I’ve turned my attention back to Father Muerte & The Divine, with a self-imposed brief to have the bastard finished by the end of the month and a synopsis package in the hands of my agent in time to ruin his Christmas by making him sell the damned thing for me.

6 days in, I’ve managed 15 000 words. Helps to have time off and a project you’re already 50 000 words into, no?

Right now it’s my usual melange of weird, unrelated shit, pummelled together without rhyme nor reason in the hope that not too many bits fall off once the editing starts: time travelling Benito Mussolinis; intelligent dinosaur ghosts; the Fall of Lucifer; the Red Baron’s previously unknown fetish for post World War I biplanes; rain cycles; pareidolia; the stone of Scone; the hive mind of children; philosopher’s stones; live human skinning; and 4 dimensional Maxwell’s Demons abound, there’s still another 30 or 40 000 word to go.

As Cupid Stunt would say, it’s all done in the best POSSible taste!

Anyway, for those who’d like to play word count progress bingo, some cute little widgets, courtesy of nano: