David’s sent along another update. Big thanks to him as always!



The last few days have seen some purposeful activity going on in this household. This has mainly involved a lot of physical clearing up and reorganising. The place was getting cluttered, to that stage where it was getting hard, once more, to find things. Now that’s been sorted, and both Sue and I can get on with what we’re best at… writing.

Sue’s been working on the usual stuff she does – which mainly involves writing and rewriting whatever TV scripts she’s been assigned to. She’s extraordinarily good at it, especially when it comes to capturing the voices of the various characters, and I have to say that one of her most recent episodes – screened Last Friday, the 17th – was the best she’s done yet. I’ve seen it a few times now – Coronation Street send out early copies on DVD for their writers to see – and I’d not change a word. It really flows, it’s extremely thoughtful and it’s moving, and you’d think you were watching some high class drama and not a soap.

She’s also been working on a few of her own projects – in what little time Corrie leaves her – and they too have something of her distinct style about them, being both funny and poignant at the same time. As you might guess, I’m a real fan of hers.

And me? Well, I’ve some material to add to Chung Kuo, Book Sixteen (DAYS OF BITTER STRENGTH). Two new plot lines that need to be introduced and worked through. I’d estimate another 40,000 words to be added, which will develop aspects of the story that need to be ‘seeded’ in that book so that I can use them in the finale – which encompasses the whole of the last four novels in the sequence. I’m not going to say what they are, because that’d spoil it for you, only that they’re there to broaden the story and to help create a much stronger ending. What I’m aiming for, I guess, is something that’ll not only involve the reader emotionally, but make them finish each volume of those last four on the edge of their seat and wondering what in God’s name is going to happen next.

And I’ll be doing something that I haven’t done since the mid-1990s, when I was working on MYST as well as CHUNG KUO, and that’s working on two very different projects at the same time, as I’m intending to get Book Three of ROADS TO MOSCOW tied up and ready for editing by the end of 2014. Which is no easy task, because each of those ROADS volumes is about 170,000 words… let’s say 450 pages when finally printed up.

I’ve also been reading stuff for the creative writing course I do, on science fiction, and am seriously considering writing a book on the topic. But as that’ll involve adding a lot more material (at least another 50 or 60,000 words) that won’t be a high priority. But I’d really love to do that, a year or so from now, and I know from experience that you need to put in the effort up front (especially the sheer volume of reading involved) before even attempting to write such a work. Especially because I want the book to be the best I could possibly produce on the subject – one that will be a life-changer for those who read it. Ambitious, huh? Maybe… but deeply satisfying, too. I love sharing my enthusiasm about the SF field, and am proud of being part of the great science fiction community, so this – like TRILLION YEAR SPREE – will hopefully be something I can equally be proud of.

Today is also the last day of the football season, and my local team (whom we support), Arsenal, are playing for a place in next year’s Champions League, and the game is on live, so we’ll be watching that as a family this afternoon. It’s one of those things that, unless you’re hooked on it, you can’t imagine how important it is. Life or death stuff. It certainly feels like it.

Oh, and I’ve also started re-reading Patrick O’Brian’s MASTER AND COMMANDER series… all nineteen volumes of it. I’m currently two-thirds of the way through Book Two, POST CAPTAIN, which is exceptionally good. As good, I’d say (and I know my stuff) as some of the real classics of literary fiction. I have to ration myself to two chapters a night, before I go to sleep, but I have to say it reads better second time round. Even more wonderful. It’s a real shame they only made one movie of it. Russell Crowe was brilliant as Jack Aubrey.
Okay. I might add to this later, after the game. But for now, Tsai Chien!

2 thoughts on “Things”

  1. I’ve been re-reading the O’Brian books on my Kindle, now that they’re on ebook – I finished Post Captain last month. They’re much more enjoyable the second time around! First read, I was a little lost in the storm of details and events. It came across very real in the randomness of some of it. Second time, it’s a joy to see how measured each chapter is and focused on making a single point.

  2. David, PLEASE do write a book on creative writing/sci-fi. Also, please consider sprouting two more hands so we can get your works faster.
    So very much looking forward to Roads to Moscow.

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