Now Zero – August 2022

Your art is as big, as powerful, as beautiful and dangerous as you yourself are able to conceive of it as being.

– Alan Moore

The Writing

I got a second round of feedback on SYTI and thankfully it lined up with the first. I was waiting on a third, but doesn’t look like that’s coming, so I’ll get started on the next draft shortly. Current plan is to write the prequel story and roll right into rewriting the first couple of chapters of the novella (or, writing whole new opening chapters, really).

In the meantime I’ve been planning a YA novel, to be called TD here for the time being. I don’t love the name, but it’s still the best I’ve been able to come up with so far. I’m not sure if dystopian YA is “in” anymore after the Hunger Games-inspired flood of it a few years back, but the focus of this book is dystopian cli-fi – a look at the world teens today might be inheriting and reasons/ways to push back against the fossil capitalist hegemony.

I hope to have an initial outline for the book by the end of this week, then work on SYTI until it’s ready to go out on sub, and then back to TD to rework the outline after I’ve had a break from it. Wish me luck.

Also, I mentioned yesterday that the TOC for Interzone #295 has been announced, including a new short story from me titled Hollywood Animals.

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And All the Rest…

Some good news, from my twitter:

After almost 18 months of treatment, this little old lady is in remission. One of the vets did a little happy dance when we picked her up.  And that’s despite the fact that Ella would try and murder them all if she wasn’t so sedated. Here she is, very stoned.

Near the start of the year when we started on a new chemotherapy program (new type of chemo, different schedule, more blood tests, etc etc) we were told that remission was extremely unlikely. The vet and oncologist made it sound like we only had a few months with her. But either medicine is complicated (nah) and/or she responded extremely well to the new program, and her recent ultrasound showed no sign of the cancer in her bowels.

It’s hard to celebrate it as much as I probably should because it’s not a cure, only a respite. But it’s enough just knowing that we have more time with her, and will hopefully be able to wind-down the treatment and related vet visits (as mentioned above, she hates the vet) so that her quality of life is improved.

I dedicated Killing Gravity to Ella because Seven was based on her. Seven is functionally (kind of) immortal because I can’t properly comprehend Ella dying. Thankfully it’s something I won’t have to comprehend for a while yet.

(But, goddamn, it took a lot of money to get to this point. Buy my books.)

Now Zero – July, 2022


I think the sirens in The Odyssey sang The Odyssey,
for there is nothing more seductive, more terrible,
than the story of our own life, the one we do not
want to hear and will do anything to listen to.

– Mary Ruefle

The Writing

I got my first bit of feedback on SYTI this past month, and it was very encouraging. This friend isn’t necessarily a reader of sci-fi books, but will read my work because she’s a great friend and super reliable (I think she’s maybe consistently been the first person to get back to me with feedback on every big project I send out). She was, however, a big fan of Anne Rice’s books when she was younger, and she seemed genuinely excited about my SF vampire novella, which is great, and helped me feel a little more excited again as I gear up for the next draft. Just waiting on further feedback from one or two more people – that way I can see if they have the same issues, or entirely different ones.

She wasn’t sure about the opening couple of chapters, and neither was I to be honest. Overhauling those could be a big job, but it’ll be worth it.

I mentioned Peter Watts’ Freeze-Frame Revolution last month and one thing Watts does is write additional stories in the universe of his novels and publish them on his website (sometimes directly, sometimes after they’ve been published in a magazine). I’d already planned to write a direct prequel story to SYTI, but this month I scratched out some notes on some other potential stories I could write in the world. There are always multiple projects I want to be working on, but I’m considering planning out the rest of the series SYTI belongs to…

Another thing I did this month was spend a few days collating all of my loose story and writing notes into Obsidian. There are countless notes programs out there, but I went with Obsidian mainly because it’s not cloud-based, subscription-based, or proprietary – it just sits on a bunch of text files that are formatted in Markdown and ties everything together neatly for you.

I’ve got a few projects where I have so many notes that I didn’t think it was worthwhile moving them into Obsidian – they’ll go into their own Word/Scrivener docs when I’m ready to start work.

Generally my way of making notes in the first place is to email them to myself – which is handy because you can do it from any device you’ve currently got your hands on, and if you’re trying to do it in bed, you can turn your phone brightness way down, instead of needing to turn on a light so you can write in a notepad. Having a folder in your email client for a project is a pretty good way to keep track of everything, but when it comes to loose ideas and random snippets, I needed something a bit more organised.

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And all the rest

I found out the other day that Gareth Jelley is taking over Interzone Magazine. I’m keen to see the magazine continue to grow and evolve, and I’m certain it’s in good hands because Gareth is a super knowledgeable, hard-working, and passionate sort. The interviews with SF authors he conducted for Intermultiversal were some of the best I’d read (and experienced, as I was one of his early test subjects), and the only downside I can see to Gareth running Interzone is that he won’t have time for the podcast too.

Alright, it’s been a big week, and I’m tired, so I’ll leave it here. Look after yourself, look out for those closest to you, and be prepared to throw bricks at cops for the sake of civil rights, human rights, and queer rights. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.