September 2011

It’s been a while.

For all parents ‘Summer Holiday’ explains the gap perfectly. Two months spent on a big family and friends holiday in Cornwall, there was also Centre Parcs, glamping, holiday club, long weekends with friends, cinema trips, playdates, sleepovers, new DS games. Anything and everything to keep Sophie and Felix occupied. Fortunately, Mrs H took them on the glamping trip without me. I haven’t got that much work done in one week since the good old bachelor days. Now I remember how I used to write the really big novels like The Naked God.

But now the new school uniforms have been bought. How can they possibly not fit into clothes that they were wearing only two months ago? Hair has been cut neatly. Bedtime is back to a reasonable hour. Shoes polished. School gates swinging open…

Normal (as possible) life has resumed. And I’m on the last third of Great North Road –I think. As of the end of August it weighed in at just over 200,000 words. And as usual, I’m succumbing to the usual author doubts (see multiple earlier entries) and insecurities about quality and length and story and structure and… basically the list is as long as the book. But too late now to change anything major. For better or worse the die has been cast. In a mere year you too will be able to read about Sid and Angela and The Zanth and everyone else living it up in the year 2143; so you’ll be able to make up your own minds. Yes, it’s due out October 2012 (UK), assuming I keep the delivery date of Christmas. No reason why I shouldn’t, especially as it’s term time now. And anyway, Macmillan has gone and done the cover art, by Steve Stone, so I’ll just have to get it in on time. Or new year at the latest. And end of February by the ultimate editor-with-knife-glinting cut off point.

Of course by the time judgement is passed on GNR I’ll be so far into the next project with its completely new set of neuroses festering away I won’t care. On which point, many thanks to everyone who offered support re my last blog entry, and authors receiving criticism. Please don’t worry about me and my ego, these days I have skin thicker than tank armour. It takes a lot more than words in a blog’s comment column to make me curl up and weep that the world is a horrible place. See how neatly that slides into the cinema trip to Spy Kids 4D. Not even Jessica Alba in very fetching black leather outfits could rescue that one for me. However Cars2 makes up for it, though I just know I’ll be joining the undignified Christmas battle with other parents to get Felix a FinnMcMissile car. I might have to spend a couple of weeks testing it myself first to make sure it’s ok. And thankfully Mr Popper’s Penguins was actually not too bad.

So what other news is there? I did a rather prestigious British Library event a couple of weeks ago, talking with Neil Gaiman, Rachel Armstrong, Kari Sperring, and moderated by the indefatigable Farah Mendleson. I can honestly claim that I haven’t been on a panel that covered such a wide range of topics before. Musical zombies, anyone? It was the first time I’d met Neil Gaiman properly. What a gent.

And I seem to have a Facebook page now. After keeping well clear of it for a long time, Macmillan finally applied some tough love and set one up on my behalf. As soon as they hand over the access codes I’ll be able to use it myself –think of how hard it was for Agent Smith to get codes out of Morpheus in The Matrix and you’ll have an idea of what this is like. I’m not promising to respond to every query and comment on the wall, but I’ll start out being as active as time allows and see how that goes.

And onward to the usual album review section. But wait. What’s this? I actually managed to get out in the evening and go see a concert. What cutting edge adolescent revelation did I buy earplugs for? Er… Roger Waters performing The Wall. Twice! Obviously I had to check the first one wasn’t a fluke and it really is that good. Happy to report it wasn’t a fluke. So if anyone wants me for a book signing event in New Zealand and Australia early next year when he’s doing the last leg of the tour out there, just let me know.

Benefits of going to a gig like that? The technology has finally caught up with the concept. As a spectacle it is unmatched. And this was the music of my teenage years, which is always the most evocative. This particular album was one I never thought I’d ever get to see live, so no way was I going to miss the chance. Sadly, the flying pig wasn’t as big as the one I saw on the Floyd’s Animals tour (yes I really am that old: Bingley Hall ‘77 and I’ve still got the t-shirt that strangely doesn’t fit any more). But on the plus side I was nowhere near the oldest in the auditorium. And you’ve never seen so many middle aged men in tears as when they play Comfortably Numb -no I wasn’t one of them. Really. I wasn’t.

Peter F. Hamilton
September 2011

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