The Edit, Or Being Humbled

I’ve received the first chunk of the edit of Nights of Villjamur from Peter Lavery. It came with a slip saying “Hope it’s not too much of a shock”. I looked at the manuscript. I laughed.

Time to lose the ego.

It’s funny, because I’ve seen interviews where Neal Asher talks about Peter’s scary pencil. I sent a brief message to another Macmillan author, Alan Campbell, whose first response was “I hope Peter hasn’t been too ruthless with his pencil”. So when it came through, what else could I do but chuckle?

This is a bit of an ode to editorial work. When someone reads a book, they might catch a typo or two, and say, ‘Who the hell edited this?’ That’s just the copy-editing (a tough job also, but that’s the next stage). What Peter has done is quite amazing, on a sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph level, making dull areas shine with his sleight of hand. You can think you have a perfect sentence, and he’ll change one word for another and it’s hugely improved. I’ve laughed countless times already at how he’s made something work better, some dialogue sharper. Editors as good as Peter can make the book work much, much with a few suggestions. And he’s worked on other SF and Fantasy greats, including China Miéville and Hal Duncan, so with such a pedigree, who am I to argue?

Books are never completed by just one person. A team is involved, and they rarely get the credit that they deserve. I’m only a short way into working through the edits and comments, and I can already see I’ll be owing much thanks to him.


ISBN Graffiti

Okay, so this is totally a geek thing, but how cool is it? (Linked to from Bookninja.)

For those of you who don’t know, ISBNs are the International Standard Book Numbers you get near the barcode. Every title has a unique ISBN. And to see them as graffiti is simply awesome enough to make me want to live in Toronto. I shall expect minions to be doing this with my tome when it hits the shelf, in order to perpetuate the myth that I am in fact a totally funky hipster. Or whatever.

I’m about to hit Nottingham with some Great Gatsby action. Or—sweet irony!—a little of DeLillo’s Underworld. Fuck it, I’ll just quote whole paragraphs across railway bridges. That should culture up the yoof.


Broken Social Scene

Canadian indie funksters who were always much better than Arcade Fire.




Alt Fiction

A good convention, Alt Fiction, based in the Assembly Rooms in Derby. Cheers to Alex for such dedication to organise it.

Far too many folks there for me to catch up with in the four hours we hung around. But I like this con. It’s all about the fiction. All about the writing, the craft of it, the ins and outs of the industry. No crap panels. It’s wonderful for people who want to get into writing, or those who are just fans of certain authors. It opens up this mysterious industry, something I’m very keen on supporting. Met up with a few Solaris authors present and future, and various bloggers, reviewers etc. Watched my agent John Jarrold lecture on the frightening realities of getting published.

I only wish it ran for two days, but then it might lose the magic of being an intense, one-day affair. Anyway, apologies to anyone who I didn’t get a chance to say hello to. There’ll be a stack of other cons that I’ll be at this year, I’m sure…



It’s always interesting, when I see writer blogs, to say publicly who your influences are, I find. Plus it’s a shortcut to the ‘Oh, dude, so, like, whose books are cool?’ answer.

Main ones:
Don DeLillo
M John Harrison
China Miéville
Conrad Williams
Ernest Hemingway

Lesser, but still significant:
Steven Erikson
Jonathan Lethem
Christopher Priest
David Peace
Henning Mankell
Lawrence Durrell
J.G. Ballard

A mixed bag of genres, but I like reading around. The main ones are authors who I’ve read, become amazed, and whose books have just unlocked something within me, even if I’m not sure what.


DeLillo Fronts The Onion

One of my favourite writers, Don DeLillo, makes the front cover of The Onion.

Awesome. I love that magazine. DeLillo is by far the best prose stylist I’ve ever come across. Underworld is perhaps the greatest novel. Sometimes, when some of his paragraphs are flying with cool structure and word selection, there is nothing better. Nothing. He’s an old dog, too, which makes me think that it’s the sum of a vast career, the peak. Something to look forward to about getting older.


Beirut—In The Mausoleum

I’m away for a few days, heading to the coast, plotting books, seeing old friends, drinking wine in the sunshine, or watching storms roll in, treading slowly through nostalgia. In the meantime, here’s by far the best band of the last couple of years, Beirut.

My questions are to the girl on the sofa: are you married, my dear, and if not, are you willing to be taken out for cocktails?



Nitin Sawhney—Street Guru



They’ve Incorporated Their Culture And Their Values
Into The City And They’ve Enriched The City
Both Like, From Uh, You Know Work Ethic
And You Know The Restaurants
And The Music
And It’s Really A Diverse City.

I Mean You Walk Through The Vany Avenue,
You Know You Go Through Korean Neighborhoods,
Old Jewish Neighborhoods, Arabic Neighborhoods,
Uh, Pakistani-Indian Neighborhoods.

It’s Incredible.
The Intensity… I Think Yeah,
Development Has Pushed Us Away From Other People.

You Know A Lot Of Times People Are Rude
Because They Want Like Immediate Access
Or Immediate Information.

You Know Some Things In Life Can’t Be Immediate,
Sometimes You Gotta Wait And Let Things Happen…

People Are Like, Are Increasingly Rude.
Like I’ll Say Somebody Will Get In A Cab, We’ll Say
“I’ll Get Em There In 5 Minutes.”
And They’ll Say,
“Well, It Should Only Take 3.”
Now Who Gives A Shit If It Takes 5 Minutes Or 3 Minutes,
Who Cares?

At The End Of Your Life
Nobody’s Gonna Put At Your Tomb Stone
“Shit I Got In A Cab In 5, In 7 Minutes Instead Of 3”.

You Know, It Doesn’t Matter,
And Technology Has Made Us Slaves To Time.
Naw, A Lot Of People That Are Really Have Technical Jobs,
They’re Slaves To Time.
And Time Is The Essence Of Life It Seems Like.
And They’re Basically Like Losing It

They’re Losing The Essence Of Their Life Because,
You Know, Their Life Is Like Just Going Away And,
They’re Not Enjoying It Because Their So Engrossed
In Efficiency And Productivity And Shit Like That.

That It’s Almost Sad.
They All Come Here From Somewhere Else
Like Seeking Their Fame And Fortune Or,
The Top Jobs And They’re And Career-You Know,
In Their, In Their Industries.

They Get Very Engrossed,
And They Into These
You Know These Cell Phones And Computers And…

I Think The Real Important Things In Life Are You Know,
People And Your Family.
I Think You Don’t Realize That,
A Lot Of People Don’t Realize That Until They’re Older.
I Think There’s Going To Be
A Backlash Against Technology


Telegraph Article On Fantasy

Not content with a mention in today’s Guardian newspaper, I’m quoted in this article on fantasy fiction in the Daily Telegraph no less, by genre author Mark Chadbourn. This appears to indicate even more that the establishment is wanting more genre. And that is fine by me. It’s a cracking article aimed at those who aren’t all that familiar with all things fantastical. This is great. There’s certainly a willingness for fantasy to find a wider audience in the last year or two, especially with the BBC series.