Cover for Damage Time by Chris Moore

You can tell the authors at conventions. You just have to listen in.  While the fans are likely as not to be talking what brilliant book they’ve read, or what film they’ve seen; the writers will be talking about money.*

Because their incomes can be so precarious, and like any other profession information is like oxygen, writers obsess about their sales. Especially since the information is often up to three to six months late.  A publisher once said jokingly to me “Sometimes I think we shouldn’t let you lot have sales information; you only ask more questions.” (I think he was joking)

About nine months ago amazon made weekly sales information on print books available to authors. The data doesn’t include all sales, but it’s useful guidance, as long as one bears in mind that it can be anything from five to one hundred per cent of the total.

What it does is highlight trends. I have no idea what causes this one, but over the first three months of the year, amazon was selling anything between fifty and a hundred copies a week of my two Angry Robot novels.  And surprisingly, over the first three months, it was Damage Time that was the bigger seller, albeit only marginally – fifty-five per cent to Winter Song’s forty-five per cent. I say surprisingly because I had assumed that Winter Song would be the bigger seller.

But over the last three months the sales have fallen to about half of what they were in the first quarter. I have no idea what’s caused that, because I’m still blogging, which I think is the main influence on sales, but sometimes things just happen. And it’s Winter Song that’s held up better -as I originally thought it would- with the year to date sales for that title now running at fifty-five per cent.

As a friend once said at Unilever, “We know that half of all our advertising spend is wasted – we just don’t know which half.”

And if a company the size of Unilever doesn’t know, with all its power, what chance does a simple author have?

* That’s a wild generalization, of course. The fans are likely as not to be asking writers how they too can become writers, while the writers also talk about what brilliant book they’ve read, or what film they’ve seen..

• August 10th, 2011 • Posted in Books • Comments: 0

Displacement Reviewed at Innsmouth Free Press

In which our author celebrates an excellent review of a book that in internet terms has been out about a million years, and explains why.

About eighteen months ago Swimming Kangaroo Books published my debut collection Displacement. Unfortunately, despite several attempts to reshedule it, it ended up coming out less than two weeks after publication of Winter Song

It’s difficult -verging on impossible- to adequately promote two books simultaneously.  Anything less than a six month gap between them risks leaving one or both inadequately promoted. 

And because one was a break-out novel from a major house, versus a small press collection, unsurprisingly Displacement’s publication was lost in the blizzard of noise about Winter Song, and the subsequent shenanigans about the restructuring of Angry Robot.

By the time I got a chance to focus on Displacement, in the ephemeral nature of modern publishing, it was old news, and reviewers prepared to review small press collections are in any event, limited.

Which is why when it does get a nice review, I want to celebrate it.

Author, editor and critic Paula R Stiles has given Displacement a  thorough, considered, and generally favourable review over at Innsmouth Free Press. Which is not to say that she hasn’t pointed what she felt I could have done better, but when that happens the words of praise feel as if they’ve been rather more earned than a more gushing review.

I’m hoping to make a couple more posts about older books over the next couple of weeks, while continuing to look forward.

• June 8th, 2011 • Posted in Reviews • Comments: 0

On Holiday…Or Not

I realized yesterday as I posted the review of Interzone that it was my first post for a week. Given that I’ve been fairly quiet on other venues as well, a few of you might be forgiven for thinking that I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole.

You should be so lucky.

As I write this, at the same time last week I was on my way over to Gareth‘s place, to set off for Eastercon. Two days of long periods of relaxation, interspersed with frantic running around to get to and from signing sessions to promote Damage Time. Six of us ended up coming back from Birmingham Waterstone’s in a taxi to get back in time for the Illustrious signing.

That should have sounded a warning – the railway station was in chaos, which was only going to get worse by the evening. I duly found myself stranded by the chaos, although I eventually got home only an hour late by leaping in a taxi at Bristol Temple Meads.

So off on holiday on Sunday morning down to Poole. On the plus side, we were going on holiday. On the downside, I had a shedload of work to get through, and was suffering from tendonitis, preventing me from walking more than a few hundred yards without having to take painkillers.

In a way that injury was a blessing. Unable to go out, and with minimal distractions -since I couldn’t go for our usual long walks in the Purbecks or on the beaches, I had no option but to buckle down to editing Transtories. (More about that tomorrow) And since the weather was so good, I was able to read in the garden in the afternoon.

But it’s meant for a strange, claustrophobic existence that doesn’t really feel like a proper holiday at all. So I shall have no option but  to take another one, later this year…

• April 29th, 2011 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

New Interview with Gray Rinehart

As part of the Codex Blog Tour, American author and my fellow-Codexian Gray Rinehart has kindly interviewed me over at his website.  feel free to stop by, and while you’re there, take a look at his other work.

• March 12th, 2011 • Posted in Interviews • Comments: 1

BSFA Interview

Last Wednesday evening I travelled up to London for an interview with the BSFA.

Sloane Square looked stunning in the darkness with the Christmas lights on, and the Antelope is only a few minutes walk away. In fact, I had barely arrived and was about to buy a drink when Tony Keen joined me. Tony organized the event, and he and Dave Mansfield -who interviewed me- made me feel exceptionally welcome. I read a couple of chapters from Damage Time to a small but attentive audience who asked some intriguing questions, and finished up reading the first few pages from ‘Spindizzy,’ my contribution to Dark Spires. Actually, it was interesting to see how different the whole experience felt from ‘that’ side of the table. Afterwards we had a fine Thai meal at a restaurant a short(-ish) walk away.

The evening flew by, and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone next year, when it’ll be someone else’s turn in the hot seat. And the BSFA are keen to roll the format out to other areas.  If you’re an author looking to be interviewed, or a fan who wants to interview their favourite author, drop by the BSFA contact page and get in touch with them. Sadly, they didn’t have their recording equipment, so my secrets are (almost) safe for a while longer.

And on my return the next day, I found the curiously titled e-mail in my inbox – Is Scramble A Drug?

It was  lucky that it didn’t end up in the crushing maw of the spam filter, but it got through, and it turns out it was someone with an ‘edu’ e-mail (edu addresses always impress me, they hint at academia) asking whether the reference to Scramble in Damage Time refers to a drug.

It does, and the name’s sort of self-explanatory in that it jumbles the memory, but I must admit that I thought  someone else had used it before so if you’ve heard of it elsewhere, drop me a line.  

Enough for now. More tomorrow.


• November 27th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0


I started this blog post yesterday, but had very little time, so you’ll have to use your imagination and pretend that it’s Wednesday, and not Thursday. (Hey, why shouldn’t I demand a bit of reader contribution?) Anyway…

I had my first Genre session on SF yesterday. I wanted to approach it with the open eyes of a student with no previous knowledge of the genre, and have no preconceptions that might blinker me. But it was an odd feeling, because you can’t undo what you know.

The result was that I kept hearing things that I’d heard before in a slightly different  way, rather as if I was hearing echoes of voices. Delany on Heinlein and his dilating door, Adam Roberts and his definition of SF as “where the marvellous is framed within a materialist understanding of the universe,” and Darko Suvin and his Novum (the new).

The lecturer is Antony Nanson, who reviews for Vector among other places. He has a wealthof knowledge and understanding of genre in general, but of SF in particular. I haven’t volunteered that I’ve published work, and he hasn’t asked. But he must have some idea….

…especially as he put up four scenarios for people to use to create an SF-nal world. And scenario number 2 was Damage Time, to a tee.

I now have to write a short-story in collaboration, which will be a new experience.

Now it’s off to meet the BSFA in London.

• November 25th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Interviews and Reviews

Before I head off to uni, a reminder that I’m in London tomorrow night for the BSFA interview at the Antelope near Sloane Square. I’ll probably kick the proceedings off by reading from Damage Time. Details are here, so feel free to come along and say hi.

Meanwhile, there’s another nice review for Damage Time over at Warpcore SF, which has several interesting points to make – not all of them I agree with, but that’s what set’s merely nice reviews apart from interesting ones.

And SFX carried a fascinating interesting review. Not for what it said, but for the assumptions behind it, which in turn sparked off some thoughts on my part about what kind of writer I want to be. More on that another time….

• November 23rd, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Interview Week

They’re like buses, interviews; nothing seems to happen for weeks, and then along come a whole clutch of them.

Virtually the last thing I did before falling into bed on Monday evening was to record December’s Angry Robot podcast with fellow Robot-eer Matt Forbeck and the humungously talented Mur Lafferty. I came away not completely happy with the interview since (I think) I sounded like a croaking frog and my brain kept short-circuiting, but that’s the whole point of podcasts — they’re live and (relatively) un-edited; what you hear is what was said.

More comfortable was the e-mail interview with The World’s Biggest Bookstore in Montreal. I’m to be their Featured December author, and they’ll blog the interview on November 29th. I’ll post a link nearer the time.

And a couple of of weeks ago Salon Futura editor Cheryl Morgan was kind enough to trek over to the wilds of Keynsham -where I live- and interview me for the third issue of the magazine. It’s online now here

Cheryl also has some nice things to say about Damage Time and several other new titles in the feature ‘Better Living Through Software.’

Bear in mind that Salon Futura is funded by donations and a few low-key adverts, so if you like what you read there and want to keep it going, throw that odd quid that you found down behind the couch into the donations pot, via the donate page.

Yes, full disclaimer time: Salon Futura editor Cheryl is the publisher of Dark Spires, which shares Andy Bigwood’s cover with this month’s issue. But even if she wasn’t, I’d have banged the drum for it anyway; I think that as a grown-up magazine -I initially used adult, but didn’t like the implication, which is in itself an interesting comment on the way that word’s been hi-jacked- as a grown-up magazine aimed at discourse about literate, grown-up SF, Salon is an important development.

So there. 🙂

• November 12th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Damage Time Out In The US

Since it  is out today, I felt I ought to write a few words –unfortunately, I don’ have a bottle to crack against its bows– but yea, verily, I declare this novel Damage Time to be out as of about…5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Actually, it’s probably been out for hours or days. These distinctions are entirely artificial, like birthdays, and Christmas. What actually changes, because a clock ticks over? This is what distinguishes from the animal kingdom, of course…that we can consciously note the time. But at times it can get a little out of hand…I’m thinking of the Millenium for example, but yes, today probably applies as well….

Anyway, enough waffle. There are two more flash extracts up on the site with experimental artwork by moi, based on Chris Moore’s stunning cover.

And since it’s still Halloween Week over at suite101, I’ve posted a review — this time Gary MacMahon’s fine but harrowing The Harm.

(it’s amazing how many variations on that you can get by omitting one letter from that title — I variously typed ‘he harm’ and ‘the ham’ and ‘the arm’ before finally getting it right…)

• October 26th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Damage Time – 1 Week To US Release

And only after I’d posted this, and the links went Facebook, Twitter, etc, did I realize that it’s actually 5 days to release. The UK releases on Thursdays -it went out on the 7th– while the US unleashes books into the trade on the last Tuesday of the month. Doh!

But back to the original post…

I was up before dawn this morning and nearly lost my fingers twittering in the dark (I had to alternate removing my glove to press the keys and put it back on when my fingers went numb) which meant that one tweet took twenty minutes, so Alice and I scuttled back into the warmth in record time.

This morning I’ve subbed a couple of poems to a magazine; I’ll be amazed if they take them, since the whole process was a little tongue in cheek, but I’ve long given up trying to second guess who will buy what, and who will reject it.

And I’ve tidied up the order of the Damage Time extracts, so hopefully new -and returning- readers will be able to run through them a little more smoothly, and added Chapter 7. I’ll add two more sidebar chapters next week in the run up to the US release (which is a whole 7 days away! eek!) and on the big day will post one last extract, which is a main narrative chapter linking into the two sidebars.

Right, onto revisions and uni homework. Abyssinia!

• October 21st, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0