October 29th 2013
It’s not a secret that I’m a Christian – those two essays on Christian fiction and my ongoing relationship with the Greenbelt festival are a bit of a giveaway – and I can’t deny my faith (here, loosely defined as what I believe my religion is telling me about the world we live in and how I ought to live my life within it) has an effect on what I write and how I write. Neither would I want to deny it. I have a PhD in geophysics: that also affects what I write and how I write. I have a political stance, which etc… Writers are people, and people are complicated.
And if anything, being a “Christian writer” should have an effect – it’d be a weird-ass religion (or I a very poor adherent) if it didn’t. It means that I should keep to deadlines, or explain early enough why I’m not so that alternative plans can be made. It means that I should honour contracts, not try and wriggle out of them if a better offer comes along, and generally behave like a professional in a professional business. It means that I should keep appointments and engagements, or give people timely enough warning that I can’t make it – and not just because I can’t be bothered. It means that my interaction with fans, reviewers, other writers, publishers, agents and such like should be polite, calm and reasonable. (Because there’s more than enough drama in real life without putting it on the internet… oh, wait…)
If you’ve read any of my stuff, you’ll have probably noticed a couple of things. Firstly, what I write isn’t exactly “Christian fiction”. This is deliberate, for all the reasons I set out in the essays. It could be said that the Petrovitch books are almost the antithesis of Christian fiction: everything that shouldn’t be in there, is, and everything that should be, isn’t. I’m more than content with that – they are the stories I want to tell. Secondly, I do write about religion. I have characters who are religious. I have plots and sub-plots involving religious practice and belief. I do it a lot.
What provokes this post is a comment left on Mike Duran’s excellent blog, deCOMPOSE, by someone attached to Lion books in the UK – Lion are a Christian publisher, now owned (I think) by Baker publishing, a big US Christian publisher. This is the quote I picked up on:
“Lion Hudson (Oxford, England) represents the Baker Publishing Group in the UK, where there is considerable resistance to ANY religious element in a novel in the ABA (general) sector”
Okay. At face value, this is a fairly sweeping statement to make. I don’t have enough time or energy to compile a statistical analysis of all the fiction published by the Big 5/6 and rank them for their inclusiveness of religion – I’m busy writing books, which takes up most of my time. What you’re going to get instead is a data point.
I have never, ever, been asked by any UK publisher to tone down, diminish or otherwise remove any single religious element in any of my books.
“Ah, but what if you had?” you ask. Well, I haven’t, but if I had, I’d consider it along with any of the other editorial suggestions that make up the give and take of the editorial process. Because I’m not perfect, and the thing about editing a book is to make it better, not worse – kill your darlings and all that. I refuse (see above for behaving professionally) to throw a wobbly because a trusted reader is telling me “Simon, this bit just doesn’t work.”
And the reason that I’m provoked by a comment that there’s “considerable resistance” to ANY (note the caps, comrades) religious element in a mainstream novel is that I’ve, if anything, made that strand more, not less, significant in Arcanum. The differences in the religions of the main characters is a significant part of the plot. It’s in the backstory, it’s a driver for the action, it’s central to the motivations of some of the protagonists, and no one remains unaffected by the interplay of those beliefs. Furthermore, the two religions I describe aren’t simply made-up fantasy-book religions (quiet there in the stalls), but attempts at actual Germanic paganism and actual Judaism.
So why do I it? Why do I describe lives that have religion front-and-centre? Simply this reason: people sometimes do. By ignoring or downplaying the importance of faith in their beliefs, their practices and their interactions – good and ill, warts and all – they’re not fully rounded characters and less believable. That’s it. That’s why. Because it’s better writing.
I’m going to finish with this thought: if publishers are resistant to the religious element in your book, it’s not the ‘religious’ they’re objecting to. They’re objecting to the fact that the way you’ve done it makes your book suck. Marilynne Robinson’s Pulitzer-prizewinning Gilead is currently published in the UK by Virago. A more “religious element” novel is hard to imagine, yet … well: it does rather undermine the assertion.
April 10th 2013
It’s all fairly self-explanatory: a Freezone logo is something I’ve been toying with for a while, and finally came up with a design I was both happy with and thought reflected the ethos of the Freezone. It’s on a Creative Commons licence, so you’re free to put it pretty much anywhere you like – it has a permanent page here, and a link to the 640×640 image.
April 7th 2013
“The Curve of the Earth successfully opens a whole new chapter for Petrovitch in the best possible way by exploring whole host of new avenues, hopefully leading to many more adventures.”
“Morden peppers the swiftly moving story with high energy action scenes, some of which are impressively original. To the extent that The Curve of the Earth feels like an extended set-up for the next novel in the series, it at least whets my appetite for whatever might be coming next.”
“Great dialogue, great characters, great settings – this takes post-apocalyptic worlds to a new height, with sensational results. Absolutely riveting!”
“I just slammed through it, and it’s a blast.”
April 5th 2013
(now with added hyperlinks!)
There are very good reasons why I didn’t do a day-by-day blog of Eastercon. The first reason is because the convention hotel and the one I was staying at were separated by a bus journey, and nipping back to my room to file a report would have taken a significant chunk of time out of every day. The second reason is allied to the first, in that I didn’t want to lug my steam-powered laptop around with me (and in the event, the con hotel wifi was taking a beating without me adding to the bandwidth). The third reason is probably the most important, however: I was having too good a time to stop. Click to read the rest of this item…
March 19th 2013
Posted by: Simon Morden in: From the Author, Metrozone, News and Updates
Tags: Degrees of Freedom | Equations of Life | Metrozone | Orbit | Philip K Dick award | Samuil Petrovitch | The Curve of the Earth | Theories of Flight | Thy Kingdom Come
Or, as my editor said on the phone yesterday, “It’s really difficult to embargo a book these days…” The Curve of the Earth has been spotted up and down the land, and other lands, previous to this day, and The Evil Tax-dodging Corporation Which Must Not Be Named (no, not the one that sells coffee, or mobile phones. The other one) seems to have been shipping copies since the weekend. But today is the Official Launch, so I should really post about it.
It’s a funny old business really. Here I am, in the middle of the final edits for Arcanum, and a book I wrote a year ago is coming out now. There’s a slight feeling of “is this happening to me?” about it, an air of bemused detachment, because while I lived and breathed this story during its creation, and then all over again for the edits, it’s now in my past, while for many of you, it’s in your present or even your future. This launch is certainly less nerve-wracking than the bang-bang-bang release of the first three books. I’m older, and a lot more sanguine, for one thing. More confident even (thanks again, Philip K Dick award!). What I’m looking forward to most is hearing what you think of it: Petrovitch is all grown up. He’s been at more-or-less peace for ten years. Then … this happens. And dear Lord, he’s angry. Not incandescent angry, but coldly calculating angry. Which makes him far more dangerous to both his enemies and his friends.
Do you need to have read Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom to enjoy The Curve of the Earth? Actually, no. The story will probably be richer if you have, but I’ve written it in such a way (avoiding the as-you-know-Bob infodumps) that it’s not necessary. Orbit have kindly released an ebook omnibus if you need to catch up, but you can reasonably do that afterwards if you want, just in the same way it’s not necessary to have read Thy Kingdom Come before starting on Equations. Someone told me they’d read the original trilogy in reverse order. Okay, not recommended, but hey.
However you choose to read about Petrovitch, his world is now four books and a short-story collection long. Enjoy responsibly. You can, of course, hear from the man himself in this exclusive interview posted at the Orbit website. It’s a bit sweary (as you’d expect) but it’s quite enlightening. It was recorded just before the events of The Curve of the Earth, so it should give you some idea to his state of mind at page 1…
March 19th 2013
As you can probably guess from the title, the French language rights to Equations of Life (or “Les équations de la vie” as we’ll be calling it from now on) have been bought – by Panini France. Ce qui est agréable.
Also, where was Google Translate when I was struggling with both French and German at school? Kids today, eh?
February 19th 2013
Posted by: Simon Morden in: From the Author, Metrozone, News and Updates
Tags: Degrees of Freedom | Equations of Life | Metrozone | Orbit | Samuil Petrovitch | The Curve of the Earth | Theories of Flight
Do you have an ereader – any variety? Do you think that you’d like all three original Petrovitch books for little more than the price of one?
Excellent news: because Equations of Life, Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom have been packaged under one sparkling new cover, giving new readers just enough time to experience the Thrill-Ride(tm) that is the Philip K Dick award-winning Petrovitch trilogy, before diving headlong into the New Cold War shenanigans of The Curve of the Earth.
It’s available for pre-order now, and will descend like an avenging angel onto your device at the stroke of midnight on the 1st March.
December 23rd 2012
Ah, the crashing sound of silence. I’ve been ill – not catastrophically, life-threateningly ill, but for three weeks I’ve been, well not exactly ‘fighting off’ as ‘surrendering at the first whiff of grapeshot’, to every virus that came my way. And I’m still, with two days before Christmas, exhausted and having to pace the few jobs I absolutely have to do by doing a lot of sitting down and drinking tea and having naps. And I’m never – for values of a decade – this ill. At least I was well (the last day I was well, in fact) for the Thy Kingdom Come launch, which was brilliant. More on that shortly.
Firstly, it’s not long now until the fourth book in the Petrovitch trilogy is released – March 2013. The Curve of the Earth has a simply stunning cover, and the first chapter is up here to read now. To celebrate, Orbit are repackaging the original trilogy (can this sound any more like Star Wars?) into one mahoosive ebook. Depending on how things go, there may also be a dead tree version of the compendium at a later date. There’s a new cover to go with that too. In case you were wondering whether Petrovitch still has it, Lauren Panepinto (the original cover artist) has given Curve 5 stars on Goodreads. You can trust her judgement.
Secondly, to go with that, I’ll be at the (what used to be called and as everyone still calls it) SFX weekender, courtesy of Orbit, 1st-3rd March 2013. There’ll probably be a signing down at Forbidden Planet in London, and if I can pull my finger out, one up in Newcastle.
Thirdly, Ignite is go. Orbit don’t hate it, or the fact that it’s 300,000 words long. Publication date is nominally November (just in time for next Christmas!), but I’ve got some work to do on it first, which because I’ve been ill, is slightly behind schedule. Rereading something I haven’t even looked at for eighteen months – the first quarter of the book – I was gratified to realise that it didn’t suck, and was actually quite good. Ignite will have its own page in the new year, which I’ll add to as things progress.
Fourthly, other publishing news. I’ve written a short story. And I’m going to write another one. The first story was, almost inevitably, for a Pandemonium anthology: The Lowest Heaven is a collaboration with the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, and just look at that list of contributors. I’m in really very good company. I managed to snag Mars as my astronomical body of choice, which I was delighted about. My story ‘WWBD’ will hopefully be up to scratch. Later on in the year, I’m in another collaborative anthology (with an equally impressive list of contributors) edited by Gary Dalkin about plants. But not as you know them. Really looking forward to this one. And finally for this bit, the Thy Kingdom Come story (and Jared’s favourite) ‘Never, never, three times never’ is being reprinted in a Prime Books anthology (available June) called ‘After the End: recent apocalypses‘. With a contributor list that includes Bruce Sterling (I’m in an anthology with Bruce Sterling! Does the happy dance).
It remains for me to say, whether you believe in it or not, have a very merry Christmas. There will be some festive Petrovitch under people’s trees, so I’m led to believe, so I’ll leave you all with this.
November 26th 2012
Two whole days before I descend on that London for the launch of Thy Kingdom Come – the book!
There will be copies for sale, as Jared pulled the pre-order when two-thirds of the print run had gone – but I’ll sign pretty much anything (not other author’s books – I’m given to believe that’s bad form…), and there will be readings and questions and general milling: it’s at Blackwells, Charing Cross, it’s on Wednesday 28th November, and the fun starts at 6pm. Tickets are free, but the store have asked if you could reserve a place by emailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org
October 24th 2012
Dear Sir or Madam,
You are cordially invited to Blackwell’s, Charing Cross Road, on the evening of Wednesday 28th November, 2012 to celebrate of 10 years of Thy Kingdom Come, and the launch of Pandemonium’s hardback version of the stories*.
Time to be confirmed 6.30- 8.00pm 6.00pm-7.30pm, dress is optional**.
Author and publisher will be in attendance, and there will be readings! signings! awkward questions from the floor! cake***!
*actual book may be in short supply. Over a third of the available copies went in the first two days.
**it’s London in November. Thick jumpers and sensible shoes might be better.
***the cake is a lie.
(edited twice to add correct time!)
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