Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Just to show the power of the Internet, I give you a review of The Demi-Monde: Winter that's came winging in all the way from South Africa. Penned by Dave-Brendon de Burgh you can find it on:


Dave is a writer and an aficionado of all things fantastic BUT more importantly seems to be quite even-handed in his critiques so this was one review I was looking forward to. You can learn a lot from people like Dave. But the problem I find with reviews by writers is that they approach books in a very analytical way, a sort of, 'where would I take this story if I was writing it' tip and Dave is no different. He's already looking forward to the last book, Fall, and how the series will end - his guess with either the Demi-Monde or the Real-World in rubble - so I better be careful and keep everybody off-balance thru Spring and Summer.

Talking of being off-balance that's currently where I find myself with Fall. I'm 170,000 words in and STILL struggling with the ending but I've a feeling that the last of my made-up 'isms' - InfoCialism in this case - will play a big part.

Oh, and well done, Dave: that 'our world in the novel' comment deserves a coconut!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


I've been so caught up in sorting out The Demi-Monde: Fall that everything else (including this blog) has been neglected. I've been trying to resolve the second phase of the book which has been an absolute swine but now I can see light (or possibly an on coming train) at the end of the tunnel. Problem is that in doing this I've twigged a better way of resolving the ending which will require a LOT of words. QED it's going to be a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG book so I thought I'd better touch base. The consensus seems to be that hitting 220,000 words (cf Winter, Spring and Summer which will weigh in at circa 150,000 words) ain't too bad. So I'm ploughing on with what looks to be a real beast.

I had a break today to speak with Amanda and the marketing people at HarperCollins re the ePromotion of Winter. All terribly exciting. Gonna be neat having posters of The Demi-Monde up at ComiCon!

Monday, 11 July 2011


Got chatting to a guy called Jeff Richards at Alt-Fiction and ended up giving him a copy of The Demi-Monde: Winter to review. As good as his word Jeff reviewed the book, posting it on SSF Chronicles. You can find it on:


Jeff made some interesting points. He wasn't a great fan of my cliff-hanger endings (which is a shame because there's at least two more to go). I thought long and hard about this when I was writing Winter, whether to make the books self contained or not. The problem is that if you put a resolve at the end then you've got to unresolve it at the start of the next book which always seems a bit artificial to me. The other thought I had was that as the action in each of the books is set in a different Sector with different supporting characters then the reader is going to have quite enough exposition to cope with without a long explanation as to why the protagonists are in danger again. But in the end, the real reason I use them is that I was brought up on Saturday morning pictures when I was a kid where every episode ended with a cliff-hanger ('Can Batman escape from the concrete block the fiendish Joker has encased him in. Tune in next week ...'). I'm addicted to the bloody things.

He would also have liked to have had more explanation as to how Norma got to be in the DM. Now, Jeff, this is all written, but I ain't had room! Fifty thousand words is a lot to drop into a book. I had hoped to do it in Fall but that would tip the book way over 200K which is too LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG. I'm thinking of doing it as a stand-alone story and maybe wrapping it up with the origin story of another key character appearing in Spring. I've got 50K written about her too. We'll see.

Finally, you're right Jeff, the Demi-Monde ain't steampunk. It's a thriller with an SF/Fantasy tip!

Anyway, thanks for the review, Jeff, much appreciated.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


To me breaching the 150K word barrier is the time when I can actually start thinking that I am really going to finish a book before the book finishes me. There are certain points in a book's life that go something like this:

20K: there's still time to stop and start again. What I've been writing is crap.

50K: there's still time to stop and start again but the pain of bining a month or two's work is immense. What I've been writing is crap, but it's a lot of crap.

100K: I've written so much that I can't start again but I'm losing the will to live. Maybe I should go back to accountancy. I don't know how to resolve the plot. All my characters are anodyne. What I've been writing is crap and it's incoherent crap.

120K: maybe some of what I've written ain't too bad. I have to dump/rewrite a couple of characters, usually the ones I spent the most time researching. Now is the time for a major read thru and assessment. I can't think of an ending. I'm fucked.

150K: I have a big pile of crap which needs to be polished (d'oh?). I still can't think of a denouement. There's too much sex/violence/swearing/exposition/boring shit. What I've got is mileage, which is great if I was laying a road, but unfortunately I'm writing a book.

180K: This is when I stop. There should hopefully be within this heap of over-written poo a half-way decent story of 150K. I start editing. I edit for three months. Nobody talks to me. I don't talk to me. I go to parties and stand there mentally editing my book. I refuse to read books on the grounds that these cocky bastards have finished their edit and are just taunting me. I change the ending. I change the ending again.

150K: I abandon my book and instead send it off to my agent. Why should I suffer alone?


The copy edit of Spring came thru on Friday. The copy edit is the last editing process in the pre-published life of a book, when the minutiae of the story is examined: spelling, punctuation, inconsistencies, that sort of stuff.

I must be getting better. Last time, Merlin (the name of my copy editor) covered Winter with a sea of red ink corrections but this time it was more of a puddle (and done in a rather sweet lilac colour). BUT hidden away in all this was a real bomb. Merlin made the observation that the revelation at the end of the book regarding one of my characters (I ain't saying who) didn't square with some of the earlier action. This was a real boot in the balls. Neither of my two beta readers or my editors had made this comment so it came as a bit of a shock.

A worrying shock. Inconsistencies can ruin a reader's supension of disbelief and smacks of sloppy plotting so I had to take it seriously. So Saturday was spent pulling together all this character's scenes and trawling thru them. In the end I didn't think there was too much of a problem but to be on the safe side I put in half a dozen or so additional sentences/phrases. It was all a bit belt and braces but I felt better at the end of the exercise.

Anyway, eyes down and hopefully the book will be winging its way back to Quercus on Tuesday.

Friday, 1 July 2011


I'm now well on with the fourth and final book of the Demi-Monde series. I had a rocky spell a couple of weeks ago when I thought I might be writing myself into a cul-de-sac but this I put down to lack of concentration - there was so much happening at Chez Rees that I was writing in spurts of a couple of hours. Now I've been able to put in a couple of solid days at the typeface, I'm starting to get a grip.

Yesterday I breeched the 135,000 word barrier and although some of it is in a pretty incoherent state most of the major elements of the book are now in place or I know how I'm going to shape them. The only big plot hole relates to Trixie and Wysochi and here I'm still waiting for inspiration to strike. I think I've got some interesting characters too - Judas Iscariot and Saladin strut their stuff as does uber-badnik, Thaddeus Bole - so I've had some fun writing them. Some of the reveals I'm pleased with too: I think only the most diligent of readers will have picked up all the clues scattered through the books so hopefully there'll be some 'wow, of course' moments.

What my major problem has been is the 'fun' element. The denouement is pretty messy for all concerned and it's difficult to crack jokes when people (and characters) are dropping like flies. I'll have a long ponder when the book is finished and in beta-mode.

Currently I'm thinking of splitting the book into two parts: one part set in the Demi-Monde and one in the Real World. My instinct is against doing this as I think the duality of the books is better preserved by interlacing the story relating to each domain but interlacing is bloody difficult to pull off and can be bloody confusing for the reader. This is especially the case as I've a feeling in my water that Fall is going to end up considerably longer than the 150,000 limit I set for the first three books. I'll have to have a think.

Got a day off today. It's the girls' final day at their school so it's speech day with the Ball tonight. Got a new tux!