IF LIFE BEGINS AT 40, WHY AM I 43 AND HAVE NO LIFE?

So, I’m 43 now, and it’s weird, but I don’t feel any wiser then I did when I was 42.

Actually, it was a good turning, this year. For a start, the day of my birthday fell on my RDO, so, you know, free day off. I was gifted up the wazoo– a massive Lego set from Luscious and the kids and the 4-DVD box set of Sealab 2021 from Aiden, which pretty much covers my geekdom from front to back so I was a happy fat man. And I was the victim of a surprise birthday lunch attended by several friends, so I ended the weekend feeling like a suitably pampered and satisfied birthday boy: my thanks to Kris & Kim McMinn, Stephen Dedman and Lily Chrywenstrom for coming down to the Batthaim and making my afternoon such an enjoyable one. And thanks to my darling wife and beautiful children for reminding me that they’re sneaky bald-faced liars who can’t be trusted…. but lovely ones, who are good to me. 🙂

Multiply 9 by 14, divide by 9.14, add 9, subtract 14, multiply by some other number and take away some stuff, and it’s suitable for age 43!

Professionally, I don’t know what to make of my life. I’m at the best day job I’ve ever had, but, well, it’s still a day job, and when it comes down to it, I begrudge anything that takes me away from Luscious and the kids, and equally begrudge anything that takes me away from the one thing I want to do with my life, which is to build this writing career I thought I’d have by now. I resent work when I’m writing because it takes me away from that writing, and when I’m not writing I resent it because it’s the block that stands between me and the writing I should be doing.

And right now, I’m doing a bunch of writing. Having signed up for Nanowrimo again this year I’ve managed just under 8000 words on Canals of Anguilar, my latest novel, which isn’t Nano speed but it’s 8000 more words than I managed in October, so it’s doing what it needs to do. And while I can’t reveal details until contracts are finalised and formal announcements are formally announced, I’ve been invited to present a workshop at a pretty damned decent writer’s festival in 2014 and I’ve sold Magwitch and Bugrat, so you can officially add “children’s author” to my list of crimes against humanity. All in all, despite feeling like I’m betwixt and between in my writing career, I’m making some advances which– I’d like to think– are going to take me further afield than the small genre pond in which I’ve been swimming so far.

All in all, 43 is not a bad place to be so far.

So, for the moment, work will continue apace. Between now and 44, I’ll complete Father Muerte & the Divine and Canals of Anguilar and send them off to Agent Rich, and I’m itching to get my teeth into a crime novel, so I’d like to be well into the wordage on one by this time next year. And if I’m going to be a children’s author I’d better do that properly, too, so let’s say I’ll have another kid’s novel under my belt as well. The artists who fascinate me– and who I’ve most wanted to emulate– are polymaths, and while adult novels/children’s novels is hardly the spread of talent to match the ‘trumpeter/actor/poet/comedy God’ skill set of Spike Milligan or David Bowie’s ‘musician/actor’ oeuvre, it’s what I’ve managed to score so far so I’d best make the most of it.

That’s an awful lot of writing, especially as we continue to deal with master 8’s illness and the range of issues that come with cramming a family of 5 into a ginormous house on a single wage, but what am I going to do? I’m two years away from the goal I set myself when I got into this game– writing full-time by the age of 45– and while I’m prepared to adjust that goal I’m not resigned to doing so. All I can do is get on with it.

And while I’m wishing, I’d like a unicorn…

MELD LIKE TEAM SPINACH

My appearances on this blog have been brief and irregular lately: my day job eats my life, and leaves me little time to do more than throw the occasional shout out at my Facebook page at the moment. It’ll be a bit like this for a couple of months yet: bear with me. My day job/ home life balance should sort itself out soon, and I might find some more time to come here and post long, interesting, witty lines of banter to fulfil my dancing monkey obligations.

In the meantime, I’ve popped up and made an appearance as part of an SF Signal Mind Meld on the subject of heroes v protagonists, alongside a raft of other authors including Angry Robot stablemates Jo Anderton, Maurice Broaddus and Chris Holm. Which was nice.
And with nanowrimo rapidly approaching, I’ve signed on again to act as ML for my third consecutive year, and will be devoting my time to completing the back half of Father Muerte & the Divine now that I’ve delivered Marching Dead to the Robot Overlords. I’ll try and post some word count updates along the way, as well as a snippet or two to pique your interest. As a sop to blatant currying of public opinion, here’s a first draft extract to get you started:
Understand that, just as there are men who stand apart from the general populace, whose greatness of deed and nobility of stature ensure their names echo throughout history, so there is Benito’s special cafe bombon. It is the Odysseus of coffees, the Muhammad Ali, the Kal-el of Krypton. Coffee black as tar, as thick as a demon’s blood, crouched upon a base of condensed milk sweet enough to cause diabetes amongst innocent bystanders. Drinking it is like hosting a championship wrestling bout in your mouth. Bitterness and sweetness pummel each other for the singular honour of being the one to give you a heart attack.

Most mornings I have three.
I have little time or inclination for luxuries. Hard, bitter, highly caffeinated coffee, milk supersaturated in glucose, both contain high levels of energy. And what I do requires superb amounts of energy. I live in Costa Satanas, a village on a coast you can only visit when the need arises, at the edge of a sea that has changed names so many times over the century that you can only see us if you use the right map to travel, and even then, only if the sky matches the day on which it was drawn. The village exists because I do. Were I to lose my concentration, even for a moment, it would go back to its natural state, and be lost. I would survive, but I would be alone.
There, now. Wasn’t that worth hanging around for?

STOAT OF THE NOTION

It’s been almost a month since I blew the dust off this baby and made with the updatery, and there’s a very good reason for that: I’ve been off enjoying life.

Response to The Corpse-Rat King has been positive, and if you haven’t got your copy yet then there’s really no excuse– it’s in all the good book stores and most of the rotten ones, and if you haven’t picked it up then I can only assume it’s because you hate me and you’ve never really liked me and you’ll be sorry when I’m dead and all this guilt will be on your head, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing…. wait a minute.

Marching Dead is finished, and has been delivered to Angry Robot for their consideration. All being well, it will appear on shelves next April.

And right now, I’m giving myself some down time before I turn my attention to the next project on the block: either a return to Father Muerte & The Divine or if the Angry Robot overlords activate the clause in my contract, the third Marius dos Hellespont novel which I’m nominally calling Fall To Heaven. We shall see, we shall see.

But for the moment, I’m clearing my mental palette, watching a buttload of documentaries, playing with the kids, and getting the house ready to put on the market before the end of the year so we can downsize. Give me a week or so, and I’ll be back on the bloggery treadmill, but for the moment, no signal is a sign of contentment.