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A Bunch of Stuff

Frosty Christmas Updates!

I’m over half way through The Iron Jackal and motoring. Still looking good for an August release, although it will require some heroics from the editorial team and production department behind the scenes.

Pandemonium has been given a very tentative publication date of early 2012 in the US, possibly as early as January. Which is pretty fast if we hit it, actually: 13 months from now to the bookshelf, and Cassandra Diaz, the artist, has only just started final drawings on a 158-page graphic novel. As to other countries, including the UK: don’t ask, cos I have no idea.

To the 80 blillion people asking about the Malice movie, when it’s gonna be out, who’s gonna be in it, etc, all I can say is: I’ll let you know when I do. If it gets made (and that’s an IF so big that if it actually existed its weight would knock the Earth off its axis and send us all howling into the sun) it might happen very fast, or it might not happen for years. Could be shooting by this time next year, could be ten years, might not be at all. Might take three drafts to get the script right, might take thirty (and I’m not even exaggerating on that score – you wouldn’t believe how much some movies get rewritten). Each draft, depending on the writer, might take a month, might take six. Additionally, I’m not exactly on the inside with this process: the producers keep me informed about the stuff I need to know, but not about the day-to-day, and just like writing, six months can pass without any major news because long projects are, um, long.

Speaking of long, readers of mine from back in the day will no doubt wryly remember the palaver about the movie of The Haunting Of Alaizabel Cray that we all got excited about for a couple of years until it fizzled and died (along with the Broken Sky TV series… *wistful sigh*). Those same readers may now want to turn off the Internet completely at the news that, after being dormant for about 5 or 6 years, Trademark Films have optioned the story for development into a movie 😉 So now we’re effectively at square one again, but at least we’re back on the board! See, I warned you back then that this could take ages! Them’s movies, folks!

Also, US Covers for Ret Falls and Black Lung:

Pretty! And if you want to know why they’re different to the UK versions, there’s a quick post about it from my US editor here.

Aaand, that’s your lot.

The Black Lung Captain makes Amazon UK’s list of the 10 Best SF/Fantasy Books of 2010

Well, it did!

In your face, Universe!

Pandemonium, Braided Path, Other Stuff

So! Rather unexpectedly, a few weeks ago the artist for Pandemonium turned in pencil sketches for the entire graphic novel, all panelled out and everything. And they are totally hyper awesome. I danced. And, because I’m tragic, I ROFLcoptored at my own jokes, although in my defence I had forgotten them all as it’s been, like, five years since I wrote the thing.

No idea how long it will take Cassandra to do the finals – probably six months to a year, to be honest – but Pandemonium is now definitely actually getting drawn. Which means it will definitely actually get published. To which I say: Yay.

In Braided Path news (bet you never thought you’d hear Braided Path news!), some of you may have noticed that this had recently become very hard to get on Amazon or wherever. This is because it’s been allowed to run out of print. But wait! Put down your scythes, angry mob! It’s out of print because it’s going to be re-released around April time, in a sparkly new uber slick deluxe mega edition with a new cover by Larry Rostant . I am excited for the pretty.

Have just delivered new draft of All Fall Down. Back on The Iron Jackal, which is rocking along now. The release date is still officially August next year, but we’re gonna re-evaluate in the New Year depending on how far I’ve got by that point and how quickly Production can turn it all around. Otherwise it’ll probably be knocked back to October-ish, as I mentioned before.

Oh yeah, happy Hallowe’en. I shall be camping by my door with a flamethrower waiting for witches.

Progress Report #3456A/7

Alright boys and girls, Chris has been busy.

So I’ve got seven chapters in the bag for the revamped version of The Iron Jackal. I’ve been faffing around with the title but I think I’m sticking with the one I’ve got now. The titular Iron Jackal wasn’t in the reworked version originally but I think I’m bringing he/she/it back in cos they’re frankly so damn badass. Anyway, am belting along with it now, so its looking good.

The option for the Malice movie has been renewed, which is great news as it means that the producers have bought themselves another eighteen months of development time. Progress has been slow but steady up till now, but the process of writing and reworking scripts can take an age. Updates as and when.

Speaking of Malice, I was very happy to learn that it won the Leeds Book Award in the 11-14 category this year. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to go and receive the award, and was duly punished by karma when the award turned up in the post smashed in a dozen pieces 🙁 Lesson learned…

I delivered the first draft of All Fall Down (God, I hate that name, it has to go…) which was naturally received with the kind of reverence usually reserved for sacred tablets and dried bits of saints. Currently in meetings with the producers for the first draft polish, which is movie language for ‘the second draft.’

And because I’m feeling musical, here’s the five songs currently dominating my iPod.

Bubbles by Biffy Clyro

American English by Idlewild

Liquid Confidence by You Me At Six

The King Is Dead by A Wilhelm Scream (with apologies for the rubbish makeshift YouTube video)

Makers by Rocky Votolato (ditto)

Them’s The Breaks


So anyway, I wrote the first quarter of The Iron Jackal and then threw it in the bin and started again.

Just goes to show, no matter how long you’re at this game, you can still get things wrong.  It’s terrifically hard to be objective about a novel that you’re writing; you’re just too close to it. So perhaps the time I took writing the first draft of All Fall Down was a blessing, because when I came back to The Iron Jackal I just thought, well, it’s just not as good as the last two. And after attempting to tweak it to get it right I decided to do the decent thing, which was to blast it to pieces with a cannon and start over.

As my longtime readers know, I binned an entire novel and rewrote it from scratch when I wrote The Weavers Of Saramyr. And I had a nightmare with The Fade which also involved binning half a novel. Now I’m only down to a quarter, which means next time it’ll only be one-eighth, and by the time I’m fifty I’ll be abandoning novels three sentences in. So things are looking up, but unfortunately the Quality Control Monster that looms over my shoulder as I write has rapped my knuckles good on this one.

The good news is that I’ve reworked a whole new plot and it’s much better than the original one. I’ve also salvaged some of the best bits of what I had (and other bits that may well make it into Book 4 of the Tales Of The Ketty Jay) which will cut down on the time it takes to write a new draft. The bad news is that publication will probably get knocked back by a few months, meaning it’s likely to arrive late next year instead of the planned release date of August. But I’m gonna do my damnedest to make sure it hits the shelves in 2011 and doesn’t slip into 2012, and barring any more mishaps that should be eminently doable. It will also probably undergo a title change, as the Iron Jackal in the original story isn’t, er, isn’t actually in it any more.

There’s a saying in the publishing world: Better a good book late than a bad book on time. Creativity is a slippery business, and sometimes you just gotta make the hard call. You’ll thank me in the end. Honest.

The Crooked Lanes Forum

So anyways, one day some forward-thinking people realised that discussions about my lovely books would be better facilitated by a forum. A lot of my newer readers won’t be aware of this, so I’m posting it up here until I can get round to doing a perma-link on the site. Therefore, for all your discussion needs, flamewars and the like, check out The Crooked Lanes.

Other news: tapping away at All Fall Down. Probably be on that for the rest of the month, after which I’m back on The Iron Jackal.

Kneel, Pestilent English Serfs!

A vast nothingness to report. Iron Jackal has not moved on ’cause I’ve been writing the first draft of All Fall Down. Don’t fret, though, it’s still well in hand for the end of the year (he said, with the kind of blithe confidence that makes editors sweat and makes Chris wish he had an Internet Delete button come Christmas time). Nar, seriously, since I’ve done all the planning on it beforehand, the rest ought to be relatively easy.

And, er, that’s it. Apart from the week I spent in a little town off Lake Maggiore in Italy, scarfing pasta and going all mahogany coloured. That was nice.

Also, apparently I’m related to William the Conqueror. So my Dad tells me, anyway, who’s been doing a bunch of genealogy research on our family tree. This was doubly interesting news, since my friend has long known that her family was descended from William the Conqueror’s servants. Much hilarity was had by all, until I gloated a bit too much and she roundhouse-kicked me over the horizon.

Retribution Falls and Black Lung Captain US Release Dates Moved Forward!

Good news for those who still think the Atlantic is an impenetrable magical barrier!

Spectra have moved forward their release dates for Retribution Falls and The Black Lung Captain for the US. New dates:

Ret Falls: 26th April 2011

BLC: 26th August 2011

Or for those who don’t want to wait, you can buy them here and here for $7 or $15 respectively, including shipping.

I Am A Sloth

So a month has passed and I’m not exactly sure how, since I seem to be in the same place as when I last blogged. Oh, wait, I know what I did: I edited the first quarter of the Iron Jackal, and now it’s slicker than a greased otter. And I also spent some time editing Pandemonium for Scholastic US, which was a really weird experience, as I haven’t read it for, like, 5 years. After I finished laughing at my own jokes (I know, I know, I’m a walking tragedy) I found that I’d laid in clues for things to happen later on in the series and I’d forgotten what I actually intended to happen. So that took a bit of clipping to get into shape.

Anyway, it is intended to be the first part of several, though whether it will be or not is up to Scholastic, due to the astronomical time and expense involved in producing graphic novels. But the first volume is pretty much standalone, so don’t fret, my pretties.

Still in prelim meetings for All Fall Down, but everything’s progressing well. I’m also throwing a bunch of really big-idea SF movie pitches at some producers I know, and I’ve got the taste for screenwriting back so I’m knocking around another kind-of-SF script idea that I think I’m gonna write just for the hell of it just cos it’s so mind-bendingly awesome (he trilled modestly). But no worries, The Iron Jackal is still well on schedule for an end of year delivery and it will be out around June/July 2011.

Right, it’s too sunny to be inside any more. This being Britain, it’s probably the only glimpse of summer we’re going to get all year, so I’d better go take advantage of it…

Update And Info On Release Dates

Sooo, it appears I have reverted to my lazy blog habits that I hoped to break by revamping this website. Tsk. Trouble is, things move so slowly in the world of writing that I’m lucky if I have one new interesting thing to tell you per month. Otherwise I’d be forced to subject you to my rambling opinions on politics, religion, life, the universe and everything. You don’t want that.

Where I’m at: I’m a quarter of the way through The Iron Jackal, but I’ve stopped it for a little bit. I went on holiday for a week, and when I came back I decided I wanted to revise the first quarter of the book and make sure it was all as good as I could get it before I moved on.

I find that the further you get through a series, the more the need for recapping becomes a problem. How much do you need to remind the reader of what happened before? How much do you need to tell new readers to prevent them being lost? The Ketty Jay books are intended to be standalones, but the characters have still changed a lot from book to book, due to the things that have happened to them (otherwise it’d be like a Thundercats episode where everything ends up exactly the same as it began, and we fade out on everyone laughing at Snarf: poor little thing, I bet he was crying inside). Anyway, it’s a tricky balance to strike, so I’m going to do some editorial work on it before I continue.

By the way, this is something I always advise aspiring writers not to do. It’s better to finish the book and then edit it afterwards. But hey, I’ve been writing professionally for 15 years now, and that makes me a cranky old hand at this game; I get to do what I like 😉

I’m in talks with Scholastic about doing another two books for them, which may or may not be a continuation of the Malice and Havoc stories. And speaking of Scholastic, I just got contacted by their US division who look to have resurrected the long-rumoured Pandemonium graphic novel project. We have an artist, Cassandra Diaz, who has a very dreamy, ethereal style that should suit the story nicely. I’ve seen some sample pages and they’re very cool. We also have a new editor with a background in graphic novels who’s working on it closely. So it looks like, after 5-odd years, it’s pushing forward, which I’m very excited about. Told you the writing game was slow!

I’ve had preliminary story meetings about All Fall Down, and we’re going to be getting on with that as soon as everyone gets their heads straight after the film festival in Cannes.

In other news, I bought an iMac and it’s the greatest thing in the world. I am now officially PC-free, which means I don’t have to spend every third Sunday reinstalling Windows. Awesome.


(I put that in bold capitals, see, ’cause I want you to pay attention)

I notice that about 50% of the posts I get on here are asking when a certain book is going to be released in a certain country. Several times I’ve replied, only to have more people ask me the same question again because they haven’t bothered reading the thread before they posted.

So here’s the thing. I’ll update you when I can, but if you want to know release dates, look on Amazon for your particular country.  If the release date is changed in any country but the UK, nobody tells me unless I specifically ask. Usually I find out about it from Amazon myself.

As a general rule, Canada and Australia (and maybe NZ) have the same release dates as the UK. If it’s released in the UK a long time before your country, go buy it from The Book Depository which, since it has free shipping internationally, is probably no more expensive than buying it at home.

Everyone in the US waiting for Havoc, (release date is currently October in the US) just order it from England instead. It’s out now. I’ll make it easy: Click here. It costs six quid, which is about nine dollars. If you don’t have a credit card, ask your parents super nicely if they can buy it for you. There. Done. And while you’re there, you might as well pick up Retribution Falls too 😉

Seriously, you don’t need to wait for publishers in your home country to put out a book these days. When I was a kid it required an Indiana Jones-esque quest to find a book that wasn’t published in my country, or one that was out of print. Nowadays it’s a doddle.

Right, that’s my sales thing done. I’m off to eat Animal Crackers.