2020 In Summary
Well, it’s been a strange writing year…
I started 2020 half way through a two year writing break, which I decided to have because of a backlog of publishable novels. Then came Covid-19. In April, having been furloughed from the day job for two months, I thought I might as well use the time to write something new, so I set to work on a short novel called Uncanny, a near-future work set in the Far East with the theme of the Uncanny Valley. Mostly because of the weirdness of lockdown, I found the experience pretty unsatisfactory. I enjoyed some days; less so others. But the novel was completed, and when I read it back a few months later I discovered it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. In fact what I had done was recall the experience of writing rather than the writing itself.
Having been told that I’d be furloughed until the end of August, I had to reassess my strategy. By then, two of the unpublished novels, Monique Orphan and Monica Orvan, were at the forefront of my mind. I’d always known there was scope – and perhaps even a reason – for a third volume, though earlier I’d considered the work complete in two volumes. Yet the tantalising addition to the work tempted me, not least because of the Noölogical Gardens at Kew, where much of the story is set. As the entire third novel was planned and ready to write, I decided, in a better frame of mind, to write it – and I’m glad I did! This is Monica Hatherley, the third book of the Conjuror Girl trilogy. (I say trilogy, but actually, like the Factory Girl trilogy, this is one book in three volumes.) The writing experience for Monica Hatherley was far better than Uncanny, and when preparing all three volumes for delivery to Keith Brooke at Infinity Plus I realised writing the third volume was definitely the right thing to do. Keith has provisionally agreed to publish the work in autumn 2021.
My other main writing of the year was the three stories for the Future Care Capital charity’s ongoing one year thought experiment Fictions: Health & Care Re-imagined. Having been commissioned alongside Anne Charnock, Keith Brooke and Liz Williams, my goal was to write three short stories imagining future health and social care opportunities. This was at once a restricted brief and one with lots of potential, and writing for it has been fantastic. I’ve learned a lot. My three stories are all written, two of them, Goodbye and Genomancer, already published online by the FCC, the third, George, ready to appear next year.
What else lies ahead for 2021? Well, April 4th sees the 25th anniversary of the publication of my Orbit debut Memory Seed, so that is going to be republished in paperback form with a brand new cover. My plan is to design the cover so that it matches the Art Nouveau style of my Newcon Press anthology Tales From The Spired Inn. It’s amazing to think that twenty-five years have passed since Memory Seed came out. I can still vividly remember a lot of the events surrounding it. I was extraordinarily lucky to be published by Orbit; that single event changed my life, allowing me the pleasure of being a professionally published author in the years since, something for which I remain very grateful. But I could never have guessed in which direction my work would go (steampunk, fantasy, Hairy London…) though the ride has been great! So here’s to twenty-five more exciting, unexpected, creatively satisfying years…