Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Book Launch News!

I'm delighted to announce that, largely thanks to the efforts of my indefatigable publicist Sophie, the date for my book launch has been finalised.

Waterstones Chichester presents

An Interview with Tim Stretton by Greg Mosse

to mark the launch of The Dog of the North

To be followed by a reading and book-signing

Date: 15 July 2008, 7-30pm
Tickets: £3, redeemable against the price of the book

Now, of course, I am starting to worry whether people will pay £3 to come and hear me witter. Luckily Greg is an excellent interviewer and between us we may pull off a creditable showing. I'm now preparing myself for the strange experience of walking past Waterstones, which I do every day, and seeing my name in the window...

* * *
I am, of course, focusing my attention on The Last Free City to the exlcusion of everything else at the moment, so it seems odd to be drawn back into The Dog of the North. It's also unsettling: The Dog of the North is a polished and finished piece of fiction, while TLFC is 65,000 words of a ratty first draft: the gulf in quality at this stage is alarming. I tell myself--every day, in fact--that I'm still "finding the story", but it's still an unnerving experience to look back at a complete piece of work that I'm very pleased with (having forgotten all the little errors which are still there) and compare it to what I'm writing now.

The Last Free City will be taking a break for a week or so. I hate stopping in mid-draft, but I am away on holiday for a week, in what will be a strictly no-writing environment. I've reached a good break-point: a second climax, which finds the protagonist in dire straits. He has his life, and not much else. How can he recover? (Err...I'll come back to you on that one...).

The next section of the novel will have a different location, so I can spend the next week mulling that over. I also have a wider narrative question to address. The story is told exclusively through one character's perceptions, and I will need at some point to decide whether to add a second voice, both to relieve any monotony, and to convey information that the protagonist does not have. I have two potential secondary viewpoint characters, and once I've finished the main story I'll decide whether it's worth interleaving their perspectives on the action.

* * *
Last week I touched on the highly-regarded British fantasist Joe Abercrombie, who on paper looked to be the kind of writer I would enjoy. I picked up his first novel The Blade Itself on Sunday (like I don't have enough to read...), even paying full price in Waterstones for the book. (And I never pay full price, except for MNW books).

The stage is set for crushing anti-climax. A hyped new writer, who ticks all the right boxes, has all the right influences, and the right attitude to epic fantasy. Everyone here understands narrative structures - the only one that fits here is that the book will stink, probably so badly that Environmental Health will be called and my house fumigated.

But no! I've read seventy pages, and it's absolutely brilliant... fresh, vigorous characterisation and a cruel black humour. This is going to be great. Abercrombie has the grimness of GRR Martin with a touch of the mordant Vance wit. His viewpoint characters are so clearly realised that it makes me want to burn The Last Free City, until I remember that it's backed up in a million places and can't be destroyed...

Abercrombie is a real talent. I can't remember enjoying a debut novel so much for years. He understands the tropes of the fantasy genre and is able to subvert them in a way which is both invigorating and respectful of the genre. There isn't--yet--a great deal of plot, but the characters are so compelling that it doesn't matter.

He also has a highly entertaining blog which mixes pleasingly ironic self-aggrandisement (at least I assume it's ironic...) with some perceptive observations on writing in the fantasy genre. Joe, if you're reading this: 4.995 stars for The Blade Itself so far...

* * *
::Acquired Taste will return in a week or so.

11 comments:

neil said...

Hi, Tim.

That sounds good. I doubt I'll get along, as I'll have a very wee bairn then. Good luck with it though.

On the more positive front, I have finally despatched Apex and Gratia Placenti.

David Isaak said...

Wow, paid admission to listen to an author? I thought that stopped with Charles Dickens and Oscar Wilde! Good for you!

Matt Curran said...

Excellent news, Tim. Getting nervous yet? For me the build-up to publication was like waiting for Christmas as a kid - funnily enough to the point I forgot about the real Christmas completely, something that will no doubt happen again this December when I wait for the 2nd January to come around.

Are you coming down to London when David hits the Big Smoke? If so I'll take my copy of The Dog of the North with me... and Shock and Awe (need to keep up that MNW collection of signed first editions, you know.)

Tim Stretton said...

Thanks for the good wishes, chaps!

David, I remain to be convinced about the wisdom of paid admission: Waterstones' primary argument seems to be that it helps them plan how many sandwiches to make...

Matt, now that it's getting close, I'm bloody terrified (about the launch rather than the book itself). Having people pay to turn up creates a certain expectation among the punters. I'm certainly intending to be in London when David comes over, diary permitting.

And Neil, I haven't opened my post yet since coming back from hols--but there's something very parcelly sitting on the worktop and it's got my name on it...

Matt Curran said...

Hi, Tim

Way back in May - on Neil and Aliya's blog - you asked about the BFS, and I didn't reply (so firstly, my apologies).

“Have been thinking about joining the BFS myself -do you chaps recommend it?”

I personally think it is worth signing up to the BFS – after all its virtually the only official UK society that covers what we write, and is supported by the good and the great working in fantasy, horror and even science fiction (though strictly speaking it only covers the first two genres) and for what you get (regular newsletters and publications) it’s value for money.

However, don’t expect the BFS to dramatically boost your writing. There are a few problems with the BFS which are recognised by those who run it, namely the lack of new blood and the slightly cliquey atmosphere. Most of the members have known each other for a long time, and while they are welcoming, it feels like you’re a guest at a function rather than a member (if that makes sense). Also the BFS is more about writers, artists and publishers. If the Fantasy Cons are anything to go by, the ratio of fans to writers is weighted in the writers favour, so don’t expect to boost your fan-base either.
This might sound like I’m being negative, but these are very small points for a worthwhile organisation. Membership of the BFS might also reward you more if you take the time to get involved in the open nights and other society events (sadly, I don’t have that time). So yeah, my advice would be to join.

Cheers

Matt

Tim Stretton said...

Thanks Matt - I probably will join (hey, it must be tax-deductible!) although like you I doubt that I will have much time to get involved in the workings of the Society.

Chuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck said...

Well, on your recommendation I ordered a couple Abercrombie books. So they'd better be good!

Tim Stretton said...

Chuck, you're a man of good literary taste. There are no guarantees in life - but you're gonna love this stuff!

If you've bought a couple, make sure you read them in order: the First Law trilogy is essentially a single book.

Chuck said...

Hopefully, around the time I finish the first two, the third one will be available.

Tim Stretton said...

Chuck,

The US trade paperback of "Last Argument of Kings" is out in September, so depending on how you pace yourself...(I read the first two in a week, so I'm not best placed to give advice here...)

My UK trade paperback came yesterday, although I'm saving it while I read some other stuff...