Day Boy’s Launch is Looming and it will be at Night at Avid

Day Boy is going to be launched on June 25 by the wonderful, amazing Isobelle Carmody. If you’d like to help me celebrate feel free (and it will be a free event) to book and come along to Avid Reader. (If that link doesn’t work let me know)

I’m thrilled to have Isobelle launch the book, not least because she is so busy at work getting Red Queen out into the world – this is the final in the Obernewtyn series! – so thrilled/guilty to be honest.

It’s all starting to feel a bit real.

If you’d like to see the real thing, book for the launch, and watch me get all emotional* on the night.

 

*emotional in this sense does not mean drunk – not until after the launch anyway.

Not Long Now – and some vague bookish rambling.

Day Boy is heading to printers in a little over a week, and it’ll hit the stores late June. Finally finding time to breathe. Between this book and work I’ve barely had time for anything else, but it’s almost done. And I can think about it (and soon I might actually get started on the roughly novel-length next Death Works MS that’s sitting next to me on a table and giving me dirty looks).

This is my quietest book. It’s not about saving the world, and there are no grand quests or races against the clock.

It’s about a boy raised by a monster, and the feuds of old men, and the monstrosity of boys, and the hope that there might be more. And it’s about small country towns and the rhythms of a year that will see an end to childhood. I grew up in a small country town in North Western NSW called Gunnedah – it wasn’t tiny, but it you could walk its edges – and my childhood was a good one, so all that is there, but towns, like hearts, have a darkness too, and that is there as well.

It’s also my most beautiful book the seasons swing through it, the trees turn, and my little Day Boy grows older and maybe wiser.

I hope you like it.

Jamieson_DayBoy2

Haunting

I think for me, as a writer, what I’m really wanting is to haunt the reader. Sure, I want to entertain them at the very least. I want to capture and entrance, to chart the heart and the mind’s triumphs and failings. I want all of those things, or part there of.

But above all, I want to haunt.

I want to have a reader inhabit a book of mine and then find that it has somehow inhabited a part of them.

A good book never leaves you, even as its specificity fades. A good book looks at you from behind your eyes. A good book haunts you.

And that’s what I want my books to do*.

*(Doesn’t mean that I actually do that, but a fella’s gotta have an aim.)

March

How did it get to March already? Edits for Day Boy are soon to drop, there’s a release date – July.  I’ve seen the cover, and it’s glorious – six books in and that still hasn’t gotten old. (You’ll all see it soon enough.)

And I decided to tidy up this overly busy webpage.

If you see anything missing (except commas) let me know.

 

Clowns and Vampires and Carnivals and Trains

Christmas is upon us, and Death Moots, and Birthdays – I’m crashing through my forties at an insane rate (still a lot of them to go though).

Next year is going to be all about clowns and vampires and carnivals and trains. I’m just finishing up drafts of the next Death Works stuff, and I’ve a rough outline (as in something kind of clear in my head about the final Death Works story – which will be called the Triumph of Death, and which I should finish next year, and which should be a truly satisfying way to see out a series that has been in my head for over a decade).

This has been an odd year for me. Working on Day Boy, trying to get the next Death Works story done (Carnival of Death), and fitting it around longer hours at Avid – a boy needs to pay his bills. In some ways it’s felt like a step forwards and a step or two back.

But, I’m very happy with what I’m writing, and I work in one of the best bookstores in Australia, in the most wonderful city, with some of the lovelietst booksellers you could ever hope to work with. So, to be honest, I am feeling kind of blessed.

After a few fallow years, a few missteps, and a bit of a breakdown, things feel like they’re heading on the up again.

So, may 2015 be a wonderful year for us all.

Here’s the rough unedited beginning to the prequel story to the Carnival of Death – I’ve always wanted to do one of those X-files like openings. It’s called ICE. Just a teensy bit of a weird intro to an even weirder Death Works story, got some full on cosmic horror/comedy (hopefully) coming.

I.C.E.

 

Ray checked the clip of his pistol. Full round, special munitions, ready to go. He wasn’t feeling lucky today. He suspected he might have to use it.

“I don’t like guns up here,” the pilot said.

“I don’t like pilots with opinions.”

The pilot laughed.

They’d been in the air for hours. Ray had forgotten the pilot’s name. He didn’t really care.

“Putting the gun away,” he said.

“See if you can find your sense of humour when you do,” he said.

“I’ll look for yours while I’m at it.”

“Right now your life is in my hands,” the pilot said.

“You don’t think I know how to fly a plane?” Ray lied.

The pilot shrugged. “You Special Interest Guys, who the fuck knows what you know.”

Ray smiled.”Which is exactly how it should be.”

The pilot smiled right back; both of them smiling like loons. “We’ll be hitting approach in about three minutes.” He gestured at the gear. “So, unless you want to have the honour, I suggest you shut the fuck up.”

 

 

Krissy Kneen – Opening Credits

9781922079381I’m posting a few things from other people up here, while I sink into the insane retail busyness that is Christmas.

Basically, I’ve asked some friends to shoot me a small slice of something that they’re passionate about and that will be coming out in 2015 (because, well, 2014 is getting old, and I’m all about the shiny, and I have a book I’m VERY excited about coming out in 2015).

First up is Krissy Kneen, who is a workmate at Avid, a wonderful award winning writer and poet. She is also one of the hardest working writers I know, not just in the writing that she does, but in her tireless promotion and support of other writers. She’s bloody awesome.

She has two books out next year – one through Text  and the other through UQP –   and I can’t wait to read them.

 

Oh, and this poem by Krissy is rather brilliant.

 

Opening Credits
I cry in the cinema
Or not cry
So hard that my head aches with the holding back
Not in the film
When those beside me weep
Manipulated by the stranglehold of  act three turning point catharsis
Or at the mid point
When the protagonist learns
That he has been pursuing a false solution and must change his quest
Not at the deaths or at the terminally ill
Not I
Instead I cry
Before the opening credits
In the add for a telephone company
Or an airline
Or a tablet
When the child calls his father
Or runs into his arms
Family the copywriter throws at us
And I, resentfully shed tears
Reverting to my fatherless self
A child
Who never seemed to mind
Until
This celluloid manipulation
Ambushes me with canned sentiment
And a small child
Held up to a low angle close up
Of manufactured paternal love
Before the opening credits.

Keith Stevenson, Guest Blogging – Character Building: Meet the Crew

I’ve known Keith Stevenson for a long time, he’s a great editor (I’m biased, he’s published some of my best stories), and a fabulous writer.

Check out the cover of his novel below. It’s a damn fine thing. Now, over to Keith –

Horizon

 

I’d like to thank Trent for giving over some space on his blog for the Horizon Blog Tour.

 

Horizon is my debut science fiction novel published by HarperVoyager Impulse. It’s an SF thriller centred on a deep space exploration mission that goes very wrong, with repercussions for the future of all life on Earth.

 

A lot of the action in Horizon takes place inside the cramped confines of the Magellan explorer ship, so the interactions between the characters are intense. As part of the development process, I did a lot of thinking about what I wanted Horizon to be about. This was my first attempt at writing a science fiction novel, and I knew from the start that I wanted to explore a number of scientific concepts relating to space travel, planetary exploration and alien environments. But I also wanted to make sure my characters were as ‘real’ as possible. Here’s an extract from my original proposal:

 

While the plot will be the main driver, the characterisation will also play a major part in developing the themes of the story. The characters will not follow the stereotypic ‘space hero’ mould. As much as possible they will be real people with hopes, fears, strengths and weaknesses placed in an extraordinary situation. Specifically, their characterisation will be used to explore:

  • the reasons individuals may have for abandoning a life on Earth for an extremely dangerous mission from which they may never return
  • the feelings of loss etc. that they experience when they are faced with the reality of being fifty-five years out of step with the rest of humanity and the culture clash that this involves
  • the paranoia, mistrust and power struggles that can emerge very quickly even among the most well-balanced individuals, and
  • how the characters face the ethical dilemma of being asked to help a humanity that some of them no longer feel any connection with, and what they must do in order to live with their decision.

 

So let’s meet the crew.

 

Flight Commander Cait Dyson — Mission Leader / Astro Sciences (Pax Americana)

‘Earth, the Pax and the Compact are light years away now. There’s only us, and we need to depend on one another, because at any instant our lives can turn on what each individual does.’

 

When we first meet Cait, she’s choking to death and her ship is out of control. Yet she manages to deal with the immediate dangers and rouse the rest of the crew. She’s more than competent in a crisis, but she’s increasingly isolated as the mission unfolds and she doesn’t always trust her own judgement. Several times she wishes she could just give up, but she knows none of the other crew are up to the task: either because they lack the perspective a commander needs or because they just can’t be trusted. Before the flight began, some at Mission Control thought she was too indecisive, but Cait has her own way of dealing with problems. She prefers not to act until absolutely necessary, waiting and watching as issues play out so she can identify the most effective intervention at the right time. Despite what she might think of her own abilities, she is a great leader, willing to put her own personal interests and fears aside and look at problems from all possible perspectives. She believes in ‘win-win’ but others among the crew, and on Earth, don’t necessarily support her efforts to achieve it.

 

Mission Specialist Nadira Coomlah — Planetary Physics / Climatology (Compact of Asian Peoples)

‘It sickens me that people with so much can want so much more, while we had so little and shared what little we had.’

 

Nadira was a late addition to the Magellan crew, and not a popular one. History between the United Pacific States and the Compact has been complicated in the decades leading up to Magellan’s launch [see my post Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow on Lee Battersby’s blog on 6 November], and during the initial outward leg of the trip before the crew went into deepsleep, the thin veneer of civility between the UPS crewmembers and Nadira rapidly broke down. The fact that Nadira is rightly proud of the Compact’s achievements and how it has raised the living standards of the poorest nations in the world, despite what she sees as UPS antagonism, does not endear her further to the crew. Cait alone does her best to build a common understanding with Nadira, particularly when the news they receive from Earth on waking brings a whole new, and potentially destructive, political dynamic to shipboard life. Despite the hostility directed at her, particularly from Mission Specialist Tom Harris, but also from Lex Daziel, Nadira is an effective member of the crew and works diligently on her mission goals, and it’s Nadira who first alerts the crew to the hypercane raging across the face of the planet Horizon, and the dangers that it poses to the viability of the world’s biosphere.

 

Mission Specialist Lex Dalziel — Life Sciences / Ship’s Medical Officer (European Union)

‘I didn’t travel all this way to put up with this sort of bullshit. I say we ignore the whole bloody broadcast. Earth’s too far away to bother about now.’

 

Although from an unspecified part of the European Union, in my mind, by name, and certainly by disposition, Lex is Scottish. A brilliant scientist, he could do a lot better in the social skills department, and he delights in setting up conflict among the crew just to see how it unfolds. But Lex also has some deeply held core principles which shape his actions. First and foremost he believes in the importance of the science he performs and the absolute necessity of ensuring the environment of Horizon is not contaminated as a result of the presence of Magellan. He also feels that — since Earth is a one hundred and ten year round trip away — the needs of Earth and whatever orders they may issue to the crew are a distant second to what he believes is right. When Earth re-establishes contact, and things don’t go the way he thinks they should, he challenges himself to show the courage of his convictions and for that he needs an ally. Cait and Lex were close on the initial outward journey until she understood his predilection for troublemaking. Now their relationship is difficult, and so he tries his best to enlist Mission Specialist Bren Thurgood, the bio-jack, to help him.

 

Mission Specialist Bren Thurgood — Computer Control / Remote Sensing (Pax Americana)

‘And now everyone needs me again. You, Cait, Earth . . . Where were all of you when I needed someone?’

 

Bren is a bio-jack, which means she has a chip in her head that lets her interact with and remotely control a range of ship’s systems. The transhumans of Earth’s future are often viewed with distrust and fear. Tom Harris is certainly no lover of bio-jacks and worries about Bren’s ability to ‘meddle’ with the systems he controls by more conventional methods. Bren was an unlikely addition to the crew, but Cait lobbied hard to have her included, firstly because she likes the younger woman, but also because they both had difficult upbringings in the desolate former USA. Bren feels like an orphan. Cut off from humanity because of the chip she carries, and cut off from other transhumans because of how far she’s travelled from Earth, she can only rely on herself.

 

Mission Specialist Tom Harris — Ship’s Drive / Life Support Systems (Pax Americana)

‘And as for the others . . . well, you know what I think about them, but I’ll keep my opinions to myself for the sake of shipboard harmony. As long as they do the same.’

 

Harris is a talented engineer. He understands technical systems a hell of a lot better than he understands people and he doesn’t have much time for the niceties of social interactions. He’s also an old-fashioned patriot and resents Nadira’s presence on board and Lex’s apparent disregard for the orders coming out of launch control. But for all his faults he’s a straight shooter and what you see is what you get. He recognises Cait is trying to do her best to follow mission requirements, and he respects the lengths she has to go to in order to bring the rest of the crew with her. He knows he couldn’t do what she does and so he does his best to support her, even though it’s hard to keep a lid on his own temper sometimes.

 

Phillips — Computer Interface Personality for Magellan

‘You have something that belongs to me, Thurgood. For everyone’s sake, I suggest you give it up.’

 

Modelled on Launch Director Dan Phillips of the Pax Air and Space Administration, Phillips is essential to Magellan’s operation, maintaining integrated control of all ship’s systems as well as balancing the drive and performing the billions of calculations required to create and control the pico-pulse thrust cascades that allow Magellan to travel at 0.6 lightspeed while ensuring the safety of the fragile humans on board. He’s also — when the crew wake from deepsleep — acting very strangely indeed.

 

And there you have it: five souls and one artificial intelligence as far away from the rest of humanity as you can imagine, with the fate of two planets hanging in the balance.

 

Follow the Horizon Blog Tour

 

3 November — Extract of Horizon — Voyager blog http://www.voyageronline.com.au/

4 November — Character Building: Meet the Crew — Trent Jamieson’s blog http://www.trentjamieson.com/

5 November — Welcome to Magellan: Inside the Ship — Darkmatter http://www.darkmatterzine.com/

6 November — Futureshock: Charting the History of Tomorrow — Lee Battersby’s blog http://battersblog.blogspot.com.au/

7 November — Engage: Tinkering With a Quantum Drive — Joanne Anderton’s blog http://joanneanderton.com/wordpress/

10 November — Stormy Weather: Facing Down Climate Change — Ben Peek’s blog http://benpeek.livejournal.com/

11 November — Time Travel: Relatively Speaking — Rjurik Davidson’s blog http://rjurik.com/

12 November — Consciousness Explorers: Inside a Transhuman — Alan Baxter’s blog http://www.alanbaxteronline.com/

13 November — From the Ground Up: Building a Planet — Sean Wright’s blog http://bookonaut.blogspot.com.au/

14 November — Life Persists: Finding the Extremophile — Greig Beck’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Greig-Beck-Author/101428386583764

17 November — Interview — Marianne De Pierres’ blog http://www.mariannedepierres.com/

 

Keith Stevenson is a science fiction author, editor, publisher and reviewer. His debut novel Horizon is available as an ebook via http://www.harpercollins.com.au/books/Horizon-Keith-Stevenson/?isbn=9781460704653

 

His blog is at http://keithstevensonwriter.blogspot.com.

The Business of Death

The Business of Death is finally available in its own e-volume – ie not as part of the omnibus. While the omnibus still works out as better value, it is a rather pretty thing. Here’s the cover. I love the colour and the comet.Business of DeathSo, only three and bit years after it was released you can now buy it as an e-book. I’d have loved to have seen this on the shelves, but then again, I was so lucky to see the omnibus edition – and a truly different take on the cover (which I adore).

And the next Death Works book is coming along nicely, it’s much bigger than 4, definitely a novel (though a short one), and it’ll swing us around to the end of the third sequence – which may also be rather novely too. Oh, and I’ll be writing a sort of prologuish story for this one, too, IN THIRD PERSON AND PAST TENSE NO LESS!

I can’t wait for you all to read this new one, I think it’s a lot cheerier than the last two, and it’s filled with added new characters – who I very much have enjoyed hanging with. This world has been a part of my life for over half a decade now, and I get the feeling it will be for a while yet.

The thing about Death and Mortmax, and Steve and Lissa and Wal and Tim and Mr D and James and Anthony and Bernice (yes, see, new characters) is that they give me a hell* of a lot of room to explore pretty much whatever I want to (wait until I finally get to the knotworkers). And I get to write about my home town. Makes writing a damn fun thing indeed.

Oh and you can buy this old/new edition here for kobo

and here for amazon.com and amazon.com.au

If you’ve already bought the omnibus edition that is plenty. If you’ve bought any edition and liked it, please put up a review on the retailer’s site of your choosing. Writer’s love reviews, they help sell books.

 

*no pun intended – OK, sort of intended.

 

 

A Short Taste of the Memory of Death

My new publishers, Momentum, have just released the first chapter of The Memory of Death over at their website. You can read it below, but I do warn you, there are spoilers.

This scene is almost as old as the last Death Works novel. I was planning to get into it straight away, but, as they say, there’s many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip (or shit happens).

This story finally resolves things, and, if everything goes to plan, the next arc of these character’s story will extend across a few interlinked novellas. What can you expect? Well, we get a bit more of Lissa’s point of view. You’ll get a broader sense of what is going on in the world beyond pomping (wait till I get to the knot workers – I’m planning on giving those folk their own stories at some stage). It’s all dark fun wrapped up in my sense of humour. I love this world, and I love playing in it. Hopefully I’ll get to play around in it for a long while yet.

Now, here it is…

 

The Memory of Death: Death Works 4 is a novella set in Trent Jamieson’s Death Works universe. It’s available for $3.99 from 11 February 2014 where all good ebooks are sold.  

One

My head strikes the ground, hard, and I bite my cheek; taste blood, get a lungful of water and I’m jerked backwards.

I cough. Roll over, and my knees click as I stand: bone scraping bone. There’s colour. Stabbing light, lending a hangovery intensity to my headache. And then there’s something that I realise is air. Its touch is such an unfamiliar sensation. So damn soft.

I try for breath, cough and try again. And this time my lungs billow. I can breathe. Ha!

A wave knocks me forward again onto my knees, and my fingers dig into the ground. Sand. Beach. A kid laughs somewhere, or screams (laughter and screaming, I know them both, laughter and screaming, screaming and laughter), and I cough up my guts, which amounts to not much more than a thin trickle of grey spit.

I squint, now on all fours, and try to take everything in. There’s too much.

Too much light. Motion. The world’s grown big again.

Gulls wheel in the sky. Beautiful, but the daylight burns. I drop my gaze from the sky to the shore.

One parent drags a curious child away from me, the kid’s heels leaving long trails in the sand. And then the kid spits at me. You’d think something monstrous had risen from the waves – and maybe it has. I snap my eyes shut. All I can smell is the sea. My lips sting, they have cracks the size of canyons; I could slide my tongue into them, if I could move my tongue properly. I taste salt, and bile. Water strikes my shoulders, pushes me forward yet again. Last time, it dragged me away, and there’s no guarantee that it won’t change its mind.

I have to keep moving or the sea will yank me back. And I don’t want that. Not with everything in front of me.

I heave myself to my feet, open my eyes again and shade them with my wrinkled hands. Half the beach watches me like I’m some sort of cautionary tale. No one offers to help.

Why would they?

My coat, the one that once belonged to my father, is heavy against my shoulders: stiff as lead. Dad had passed the coat on to me as a boy, and how I had yearned to grow into it. I was all grown up and working as a Pomp before it really fit, and even then it never fit me well. The last time I’d worn this coat I was so much more. I was the Orcus Entire: the Hungry Death incarnate. I’d wielded the stone scythe Mog. Something I’m sure my father would never have suspected (nor dared hope) I’d achieve. Yeah, I’d not really shown much desire for an executive position at Mortmax Industries; actually I’d barely shown a desire to put in more than the minimal amount of work there. Nor would he have even begun to imagine that I’d use Mog to sever the head of his best friend, Morrigan – a man who had become a god.

I’d been on a beach then too. And afterwards I’d leant on that scythe, weary from battle, and realised that I’d won. We’d won: my Pomps and me. We’d defeated our ancient enemy, the Stirrers, and their dark god. I’d felt pretty good about it all. Hey, I’d just averted a Global Apocalypse. But it didn’t last.

When you’re Death you know nothing lasts. But I never expected to lose everything so damn quickly. That was then.

Where the hell am I? Actually, I’m not in Hell at all, unless they’ve spruced the place up an awful lot. Hell’s all red skies, a giant Moreton Bay fig and the spirits of the dead glowing blue and forlorn.

This beach isn’t the beach of that last battle. No, that was on the Gold Coast. Different time, different light. And I’d been dragged from that victory to the deep dark Hell of the Death of the Water. We’d made a deal, to save the world, and he’d been unbending in his part of it. Mog, my powers, my life: all of it gone. And the world moved on.

Where’s Lissa?

Of course she’s not here.

She wouldn’t be. She thinks I’m dead. I thought I was dead. And yet I’m standing here. Get Out of Hell Free. Except no one gets out of hell free.

I’d learnt that the hard way when I’d performed an Orpheus Manoeuvre, with the help of Charon, and brought Lissa back from the dead. It was almost our first date. Lissa had returned the favour. I’m sure no one has done that to me this time. My memories were of death, but nothing after. And now, this too-bright beach, I focus on my boots, the leather as cracked as my lips, but at least they don’t sear my eyes.

I stumble towards the shore, a few more shuffles, and pause. I get the feeling if I take another step, I’ll cross some threshold. The world seems to stop. Holds its breath with me. The water’s white around my boots.

‘Mr de Selby?’

I look up. A guy in a cheap grey suit, lips a thin slash across his face. Nose broken more than once. He’s dry, a metre from the foamy dregs of the waves, holding a towel over one arm. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be dry, and clean, and not crusted in salt.

‘Yes, yes.’ The words come thickly from a mouth still remembering how to shape them.

‘If you could just take a couple of steps forward, sir. Out of the water. I can’t help you, unless you get out of the water. I’ve no jurisdiction there.’

I blink.

He frowns. ‘The water, Mr de Selby.’

He’s right. I can’t stay here forever, and I’m not going back.

I take a few unsteady steps towards him. The waves suck at my boots.

There are too many gaps in my mind. Holes you could drive a ute through, while it’s doing donuts, wheels throwing up stinking smoke and further obscuring everything.

Then I’m out of the water, onto wet sand. A wave hisses away behind me. I half imagine I hear it call my name.

‘Close enough,’ the man says, yanking the coat from me; it drops to the beach with a slap, and I feel about ten kilos lighter. He drapes the towel over my shoulders. The humanity of that movement, the touch of another hand, makes me cry: a single sob that threatens to build to a weeping.

Until he presses the gun into my spine.