Oct 3, 2010

Apologies for the greater than usual gap between entries here. First there was the summer holidays, then there was the promotional tour for Evolutionary Void. However, all over now apart from a couple more events.

So: what I did in my summer break. To be honest it’s all a bit of a blur. We had a great time down in Cornwall. Fifteen of us rented a house for a week; adults were actually outnumbered by children which was kind of interesting. Sophie and Felix improved their swimming enormously, as you would do if you’re in the pool for two hours in the morning followed by surfing on the beach followed by two hours in the pool in the afternoon -repeat each day for seven days. Thankfully it only rained for one day, which didn’t matter as they were mainly in the pool again. My own surfing progress was minimal. Trying to keep track of eight kids on a beach doesn’t leave the adults with much spare time.

I did manage to get some work done during the remaining seven weeks they were off. Mainly notes. The chapter outlines for Great North Road came in at about 30,000 words, or roughly one third of an ordinary novel. Compulsive note maker that I am for all my books, I don’t think even I’ve gone to that sort of length before. It should be interesting to see how easy that makes writing the book, or not. Now that I’ve actually started it does appear to be a good thing, though it’s early days and I always begin with a great rush of enthusiasm. Given I’ve been thinking about the story for two years it’s similar to a dam burst once I do finally get down to writing.

As to contracts, well the USA contract for Great North Road, the collection and the reissue of the Mandel books will be along any day now for me to sign. Just as it was when the holidays began. I know people outside the industry regard publishing as a monolithic corporate structure operating with ruthless commercial efficiency. Trust me: it’s not. There have been plenty of e-mails and questions in the guestbook about availability of e-books, I know it’s difficult to download in some places, but most of my (English language) books are available in some kind of e-format now, and if not will be soon. The issue about downloading from non UK and non USA areas is an old one of territory. As always, it takes a long time for patterns which have been established over a century to be demolished and replaced with something new and more user friendly and relevant to the digital age. No use at all, I know, to those who are tapping their fingers impatiently, but remember this is still a transition phase. The new patterns of e-commerce are still struggling to emerge. If you want to help speed them along it’s the publishers who need to be told. I sympathize, and I get as frustrated as you, but it’s not me dictating the terms here people.

And so, to the tour. Big hello to all of you who took the time to turn up to one of the events. I never do get over how many people want to listen to me ramble on and get the books signed. Yet again to my amazement a couple of UK hardback Reality Dysfunction books were presented for signing. We really are in the rare unsigned copy territory now. How many more can there be out there?

One thing with travelling about on so many trains was that I actually managed to read some books which is a very rave and precious event for me. Number one in so many ways was Ian McDonald The Dervish House. Great story and even greater prose (damnit). Without a doubt next year’s winner for every prize going.

Also read, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Yes I know how many years behind I am. I have to say I’m impressed by how Rowling ties so many plot threads together. Then there was Ted Chiang’s Stories of Your Life and Others. Like Ian, I’m envious, so many excellent ideas so well written. And finally I got a proof of Equations of Life, (a perk of being in the business) a debut novel from Simon Morden. It’s a fast (very fast) paced novel in near future London that’s coping with the outside world falling apart, with a wild anti-hero who has a heart-condition. As fun and gripping as it sounds.

Music on the ipod as I was travelling: Snow Patrol.

Film of the year so far, Inception. Saw it the weekend we had in London without kids (yay!) when we went to see Pricilla Queen Of The Desert. Now that’s what I call a show.

Then of course there’s Lost, the box set of the last series. It was as well executed as all the previous series, and did end in a perfectly logical fashion given what had been going on. For some reason I was just left going: okay, but...

However, Mrs H and I have now discovered Fringe. Love it.

And also on the viewing front, Sophie has discovered the X Factor. My life is over. But I managed to fight back and introduce Felix to Thunderbirds, the full nine disc box set. Glorious.

Peter F. Hamilton
October 2010

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