Author Interview – Dan Harris : Part 1

Last week I was interviewed by Tim Flanagan, a fellow SF author and an indie publishing enthusiast. Tim likes to share the stories of other indie authors on his very popular blog, and I was delighted to be featured. Check out this installment for my thoughts on the writing process. Parts two and three will be out later this week.

TIM FLANAGAN

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.

All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with fellow author, Dan Harris, an inspirational Sci-Fi writer. Have a look at his profile and books here.

Part 1 : Dan’s Writing Process

What inspired you to become an author? I’m honestly not sure. I’ve been devouring books since I was about four years old, and writing stories on and off since I was twelve. But it was another fifteen years before I said to myself ‘look, you’ve got no excuse for just talking about writing a novel, instead of actually writing one’. Which did the trick, as I sat myself down and, over the course of a year, banged out Ascension Point. If I wasn’t an author I…

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Indie, Trad, Hybrid: An Impartial Look from Chuck Wendig

There’s been a lot of noise in the internet’s publishing circles over the last few weeks, with the always spirited ‘indie vs. trad’ debate reaching even higher than normal levels of shrieking and hair-pulling on both sides of the aisle. I’ve been pondering a post on the topic, the thrust of which would be this:

Neither indie nor traditional publishing is necessarily right for every author, so every author needs to weigh the options objectively before deciding which way to go.

Happily, the always entertaining and informative Chuck Wendig has gone and written it for me. In this post, he breaks down, item by item, the pros and cons of both traditional and self-publishing, with the calm objectivity of a writer who has done both successfully, and typifies the new breed of ‘hybrid’ author.

Any writer who wants to publish fiction at any point in the future, whether you’re a first-timer or have already published, whether you think you’ve already decided which way to go or not: this is worth reading.

Neil Gaiman: “It’s Time To Be Dandelions”

I’ve already lauded the speechifying of Amanda Palmer on this site. Her husband, the wildly talented Neil Gaiman, gave the keynote address at the London Book Fair/Digital Minds Conference. It was something special.

“I worry that too many of us, like the man in my calendar anecdote at the beginning, are certain that if only we can get 1993 to come back again, we’ll clean up; if we hold our breath and close our eyes and guard the gates with bigger and more dangerous weapons that time will turn backwards and it will be yesterday once again–and we all knew what the rules were yesterday. The rules of publishing were simple: authors, agents, books. Incredibly long lunches. That was publishing. It’s not any more. These days the gates being guarded are gates where there are fewer and fewer actual walls.”

SF Writers + Science Researchers = Getting Big Stuff Done

My mum pointed me in the direction of a fantastic project that Arizona State University are running with legendary sci-fi/historical fiction author Neal Stephenson: Hieroglyph.

Full article here:

The project teams up writers and other creative thinkers with scientists and engineers to write science fiction stories that envision a near future radically changed by technological innovation. Hieroglyph aims to break out of the gloomy, dystopian rut that dominates so many of our visions of the future by inspiring people to think critically and creatively about science, technology and society.

It’s a fascinating and wonderfully ambitious idea; using the wild and speculative imagination of SF writers to generate actionable ideas that could turn out to be the Next Big Thing. And ASU professor Ed Finn supplied a great quote that really encapsulates everything that’s great about SF:

“What science fiction can do better than almost anything else is to provide not just an idea for some specific technical innovation, but also to supply a coherent picture of that innovation being integrated into a society, into an economy, and into people’s lives. Often, this is the missing element needed to bring some new idea to life.”

Great stuff. I’ve signed up to contribute, and I can’t wait to see where this leads.

On To The Next One

With Venus Rising successfully wrapped up and shipped out, I’ve turned my attention to the next book in The Unity Sequence. It’s actually been outlined for a couple of months, but on hold while I finished the edits to Venus Rising. Today I… I want to say ‘broke ground’ on the first draft, but that only applies to buildings. (Note to self: Coin a phrase for starting first drafts. Spread it around. Become famous…. Profit?) Anyway, I had a few hours free while Mrs. Dan was out, so I banged out the first 2,800 words of what’s eventually going to be Causal Nexus. 

In structure it’s going to be a little bit different to the other two books. Ascension Point and Venus Rising are both made up of chapters four to five thousand words long, each with four to six scenes. This works well for a fast-paced story, with quick POV shifts between scenes and lots of action. But Causal Nexus is going to be a slower-paced, more character driven book, so those 2,800 words are just the first scene… and also the first chapter.

There’s still going to be a lot of action, but the story takes place over just one day, and shows how the lives of seven characters–most of whom don’t know each other–can interact in shocking and dramatic ways. I really want to dig into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and bring across how different they are and how each of their lives touch the others’.

It’s going to be interesting to write, and a bit of a change in style for me. I really enjoyed writing this first chunk, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

New Release: Venus Rising is Out Now!

It’s been edited, re-edited, and polished until shiny, and now Venus Rising–the second book in The Unity Sequence, and the follow up to the occasionally critically acclaimed Ascension Point–is available from all good online bookstores. Here’s the blurb:

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A year has passed since the events of ASCENSION POINT, and the galaxy shifts uncomfortably as the opposing forces of progress and tradition threaten the new and fragile peace. Titan society teeters on the brink of civil war, the Commonwealth bristles with hostility towards the returning Seryn, while the Collective remains silent in the spaces between the stars, watching. And waiting.

VR-smallAgainst this backdrop of turmoil and unrest, the Peacetrooper brother of Commonwealth Senator Neela Kane has gone missing. Intelligence places him on Karak, an Independent desert world, and Operative Dante Zo is dispatched to bring him home—or confirm his demise. Quinn, employee of the shadowy Seryn Agency, is also headed to Karak, where rumours abound of a fierce and sudden tribal war centred on a mysterious woman with uncanny power: Venus, the Seryn’s most dangerous rogue agent.

Meanwhile, on Karak itself, other forces bring their pieces into play. Tasha, a young but mercurial assassin, is unleashed to kill the foreign witch and bring peace back to her home. But with a renegade Titan mercenary at her side, Venus will let nothing stand in the way of her plan—and the conquest of Karak is just the beginning. With a world in the firing line, and the fate of the entire galaxy at stake, only one question remains:

In the name of duty, is there anything that can’t be sacrificed?

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I’m also delighted to be able to say that, like its predecessor, Venus Rising has been awarded ‘Outstanding in Genre’ status by Red Adept Select.

It’s available from Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback, and from Amazon.co.uk (Kindlepaperback). Those of you with other e-readers or iDevices can grab it from KoboBarnes and Noble or iTunes.

Thanks to all who’ve followed me on another journey from vague idea to publication–and happy reading!

Les meilleures ventes en Space Operas

Ascension Point has stormed into the top ten of the Amazon.fr English-language Space Opera bestsellers’ list, and is rubbing shoulders with Iain M. Banks’ Hydrogen Sonata and Orson Scott Card’s Enders’ Game!

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(And a novel called WARPAINT, which I’ve not heard of before, but find oddly compelling for some reason.)

And what glut of sales do I have to thank for this new-found popularity, I hear you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

I sold one copy.

In five months.

So… I guess they’re not reading a lot of English space opera in France.

Terrible News: Iain M. Banks Diagnosed with Cancer

It was announced yesterday that Iain M. Banks–or just Iain Banks to readers of his non-SF works–has been diagnosed with gall bladder cancer. The prognosis is bad, and gives him less than a year to live.

He released a public statement that’s as blunt, honest and wry as I expected, being familiar with his writing; “I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow” is exactly the sort of dark humour that runs through all of his books.

I don’t know Banks personally, of course. The sadness this news has triggered is purely the selfish kind–that his upcoming novel, The Quarry, will be his last, and particularly that all of the Culture novels there will ever be have already been written.

(I want to write something bigger and deeper about the Culture some time soon, but I need to gather my thoughts first. And possibly re-read Use of Weapons in another probably vain attempt to get that story straight in my head.)

Banks is also one of the few writers to whom I feel a deep gratitude, for the way their books have inspired me: to start writing, to keep writing, and to strive to get even close to being as good as they are. (China Miéville, Steven Erikson, and Neil Gaiman are the others, for the record.)

It’s strange to feel a connection to a person whom you’ve never met, and who doesn’t know you exist, but there it is. We should appreciate him while he’s here. And I’ll miss him when he’s gone.