I’m not very good at looking back, and even worse at blogging about it, but there’s a lot that’s happened recently and I want to pick out a few things to process, and also explain something I’m going to be doing. I’ve packed about 6 months worth of stuff into the past 3 months, so I am bound to forget something and also not give each thing enough space, but I’ll do my best.
Okay. Let’s do this.
So back in October I was Guest of Honour at Octocon in Dublin and it was such a wonderful experience. I was GoH at Bristolcon last year, but I was so deep in grief (Kate, my best friend, died only 3 weeks before it) that I barely remember the day. This year I was in good health, myself again and ready to wear my brave trousers.
Reader, it was amazing. I had such a great time. I met Maura McHugh, fellow GoH and she is awesome. I met people I’ve only spoken to on Twitter and I got to hang out with someone I met at CONvergence back in 2013 and it was wonderful. I was looked after so well and I want to thank the Octocon committee once again for inviting me.
Fantasycon was only two weeks later (I think, my goodness, it’s all blurring into one long frenzy of activity) but I had a great time again and even sang in the karaoke!
Tea and Jeopardy live shows!
At both Octocon and Fantasycon we put on live Tea and Jeopardy shows for the audiences there and also filmed them. At Octocon, our guest was the splendid C.E. Murphy and you can watch the video of that show here and at Fantasycon our guest was none other than the amazing Brandon Sanderson, which you can watch here.
A particularly lovely thing was seeing people wearing the wonderful Tea and Jeopardy t-shirts that were part of the Worldbuilders fundraiser. My heart did a little flip flop every time I saw one!
I won an award!
I was on the shortlist for the British Fantasy Society Best Short Story award and didn’t think I would win. I mean, that sort of thing happens to other people. But it happened to me and I was so utterly thrilled and flabbergasted. The story was “A Woman’s Place” which was published in the 221 Baker Streets anthology published by Abaddon Books. Something that made it all the sweeter was that it was the only thing I had published in 2014, otherwise known as the Year of Complete Hell. My lovely friend Annie was in the audience when I collected it and filmed my speech.
Speaking of the Year of Complete Hell…
I want to pause a moment to reflect upon how things have totally turned around since then. This time last year my Mum was in the middle of chemo and really unwell. Now the worst of her treatment is over, her prognosis is excellent and she’s pretty much back to her old self in terms of cheeriness and energy. I cannot express the depth of thankfulness and gratitude I felt on Christmas day when we were all sat round the table as a family. We are through the worst and I feel we are stronger and closer as a result.
I still miss Kate, I don’t think that will ever stop, but I feel I have found a way forwards now, over a year on from her death. I still get the odd sucker punch to the guts when something happens I’m desperate to share with her, or when I think about how she’ll never know how the Split Worlds series ends, but I am living with it better now. At my son’s school they tie ribbons on a tree every year to remember a pupil who passed away. It was before my son joined the school, so for him and others who didn’t know the little boy, they were invited to remember someone else they’ve lost instead. My son tied a ribbon for ‘Auntie Kate’ and it felt important and good.
Of course, Planetfall came out at the start of November and is one of the main reasons I haven’t had a moment to blog. Things went kind of crazy there for a while. From the amazing reviews, to the Mary Sue guest post, to all the wonderful messages I’ve been sent by readers, it’s safe to say that I am thrilled with how it’s been received. After only a month on sale it went into its second printing so I am immensely relieved too!
Squares by Geeks
Remember how back in September I wrote about the Squares by Geeks group? Well, the geek community got on board and proved, yet again, that they are a gorgeous, caring bunch of people. At the three cons I went to I was given huge numbers of squares and even a few knitted hats. Over the dark nights of October and November I sewed them all together and made a total of 5 large blankets as you can see here. I delivered them all to the local collection point well before Christmas, so it’s my hope that they are keeping people warm now.
I knew, even as I stitched, that they were a tiny, tiny thing in the face of such huge amounts of suffering. Sometimes I felt guilty that I was sitting in my safe, warm house, deluding myself into thinking I was doing something of merit when it was just as likely I was simply soothing the part of me so distressed by tales of the refugee crisis. But I kept sewing because I kept coming back to the simple idea that no act of kindness is a waste. I cannot solve problems on this scale, but I can make something that might keep someone warm, that might make someone feel just that tiny bit better. And doing that is better than throwing my hands in the air and divorcing myself from it all together because it’s too big and too awful for me to fix. I am giving careful thought to what I’m going to do next; whether it’s rallying more people to send in squares now I have a P.O. box and therefore somewhere for people to send them to me directly, or something else – perhaps in addition to blankets – that I can contribute towards.
So, 2016 looks like it’s going to be one hell of a busy year and I couldn’t be more excited, and more ready to tackle it than I am now.
A fantasy novelette
First out of the blocks will be the release of a novelette I’ve written for Abaddon Books and their ‘Monstrous Little Voices’ collection. There are five novelettes in the collection in total, all set in the fantastical world created by Shakespeare. You can find out more here. Interestingly, the novelettes are going to be available for sale individually too, so that post contains a pre-order link to my story “The Unkindest Cut” as well as everyone else’s.
The re-launch of the Split Worlds series
The first three books are being re-launched by Diversion Press on February 23rd 2016 with lovely new covers (I’ve seen the initial drafts and they are fantastic!). The current edition e-books and paperbacks won’t be available for sale between December 31st and February 23rd, but the audio books will be, just FYI.
The Split Worlds Masked Ball LARP
On May 7th we will be creating a sliver of the Nether in mundane Bath with the Split Worlds LARP and I am so damn excited! We sold out of the full RPG tickets in only 9 days but there is a waiting list if you are still interested. Find out all about it at www.splitworlds.com!
I am Guest of Honour at Edge-Lit 5
And I am pleased as punch about it. It’s a lovely one day con that I’ve been to a couple of times, located in Derby on July 16th, 2016. You can book tickets here.
Two new novels will be published!
The fourth Split Worlds book, currently titled ‘A Little Knowledge’ will be released on August 2nd 2016 which also happens to be my birthday, so I think I might have to have a bit of a do! Then at the beginning of November 2016 my second science-fiction novel will be published by Roc. It’s called After Atlas and is set on Earth forty years after the Pathfinder took 1000 people into space to find God. It is also a standalone, just like Planetfall is.
I also have tentative plans to do a bit of self-publishing, but as next year is so busy I’m not announcing anything formally until I know it’s all ready to be released.
A period of radio silence
So, now that’s all written down, all I’ve got left to tell you about is my decision to take the next 3 weeks or so off social media. In all honesty I feel like a need a break after all the Planetfall stuff and the daily Tea and Jeopardy advent calendar episodes of the past few weeks. I have Split Worlds novels and a LARP to write and I want to fully immerse myself without feeling the need to reply to things online for a while. I just wanted to let you know so you don’t think I’m being horribly rude and ignoring you!
Seeing as I won’t be online when the New Year ticks around, allow me to take this opportunity to wish you all the best for 2016. Love, health and happiness to you all.