Tuesday, 31 January 2012


Considering that the last week has been pretty hellish (pounding around the Midlands looking for a new house and being reminded that most houses are awful) it was quite nice to open up the internet today and find two great reviews of 'Winter' waiting for me.

The first was from 'The Trades' (http://www.the-trades.com/article.php?id=12880) written by R.J.Carter who describes Winter as 'part political satire, part steampunk, part cyberpunk and all parts downhill slalom race ... a ripper of a novel'. A great way to start the day.

The second was from the Lexinton Examiner (http://www.examiner.com/literature-in-lexington/demi-monde-winter-picks-up-where-michael-crichton-left-off-review) written by Jesse Coffey who gave a glowing review but then went a little further by suggesting that I might be the man to fill Michael Crichton's shoes! A trifle embarrassing. Crichton was a brilliant, brilliant writer who came up with some utterly amazing scenarios and storylines ... if I ever get half that inventive I'll be bloody delighted.

But reading Jesse's review reminded me of the great line from 'The Commitments' (a masterpiece of a film by Alan Parker) when Deco (the singer in the band) is told that he'll be jamming with Wilson Pickett. The line goes: 'Deco Cuffe and Wilson Pickett ... together at last!'

Trouble is that Deco and Wilson never did get together ... but I suppose I can dream.


In The Demi-Monde series, the virtual world that is the Demi-Monde was created by a rather secretive and unpleasant company called ParaDigm CyberResearch. Although it's rather a peripheral presence in the first three books it comes more to the fore in the last book: Fall. This being the case I decided that paraDigm needed both a logo and a motto. The logo had to incorporate a clenched fist on the basis that:

The clenched fist symbol of ParaDigm Global, adopted by the organisation when it was formed in 1906, symbolises that five elements are necessary to forge a successful team. These elements – as defined by the founder of Paradigm, Beowulf Bole – are Vision, Leadership, Intelligence, Resolve and Courage. Individually they are of little worth but when brought together in the manner of fingers in a fist, they have a strength that is irresistible.

As for the motto, I finally settled on the latin tag: fortes modo tempus mutare possunt.
This done I let Nigel loose and he came up with three designs:
ParaDigm Logo 1:

I really liked this, especially the mirror-image of the name which signals the duplicious nature of the company. Unfortunately it was a little too complicated for what I had in mind.

Next up was ParaDigm Logo 2:
Very good, so it was a toss-up between this and ParaDigm Logo 3:

This is the one which got the final nod and will grace the cover of 'The Demi-Monde:Fall'!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


I understand that 'The Demi-Monde: Winter' (US edition) is now on sale for the next week at a price of $1.99. What a bargain!

Monday, 23 January 2012


It's been an odd couple of weeks. Nelli and I are house hunting so I've had to fit my writing around trips to various properties. But still I've managed to do quite a lot.

First up I've submitted the last of the Demi-Monde books, 'The Demi-Monde: Fall'. After a bit of last minute tweaking it came in at just under 190,000 words which was my target and all-in-all I ain't that displeased with it. It'll be interesting to get reaction back especially regarding the carnage that accompanies the end of the first half of the book.

I also got the edit of 'The Demi-Monde: Summer' back from Merlin so I've been going thru that polishing and tweaking. It was subject to a pretty major overhaul after the first round of edits so reading it again gave me a chance to see how these sat and I'm not displeased. I swapped two chapters around and added and subtracted bits here and there but nothing mega. I've briefed Nigel regarding the artwork (a couple of PigeonGrams but nothing major) and given him some options for the blueprint that'll grace the endpages of the British edition.

Last week I was also interviewed by Rege Behe of The Pittsburg Tribune (amazing ... Pittsburg!). It seemed to go Okay. You can read it on http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/books/s_777493.html.

Right now I'm working on a piece regarding the history of Lilith and the Lilithi for the website - good fun but difficult!

Saturday, 21 January 2012


I was asked to comment on the jazz aspect of the Demi-Monde. This is what I wrote:

Consider this quote from Duke Ellington: ‘By and large, jazz has always been the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with’. Now substitute ‘science fiction’ for ‘jazz’ … see, it still works! And the reason for this is simple: SF has never been able to shake of the reputation it gained in the days of pulp SF that it was somewhat inferior … the genre has always been seen by the literary establishment as a little infra dig.

I guess it was this somewhat disreputable image that drew me to writing SF. That and the fact that SF (good SF) has the ability to transcend rules and regulations and to boldly go where other genres are too nervous to explore. I’ve never been big on rules and regulations given that they’re a simply a substitute for common sense.

I love jazz (some jazz; ragtime I can live without) and having a jazz singer as a wife I’ve become steeped in the stuff so it was natural that when I sat down to write my book I looked to jazz for inspiration. From my experience of sitting through numerous gigs I believe that the key to jazz is the ensemble: musicians being able to play together but also having the confidence in each other to solo. At its best the jazz combo is the perfect amalgam of the group and the individual. And from the word go I wanted the Demi-Monde to be an ensemble piece, with multiple characters having their time in the spotlight but then having to cede their place in the story … and all the while the story arc is maintained and driven forward.

But it isn’t just the style of the book that apes jazz music, there are more overt references too. As the opening book in the Demi-Monde series – Winter is set a virtual dystopia populated by twelve million Dupes (digital simulacra of living people) and ruled by Reinhard Heydrich (the monster who gave us the Holocaust) I needed a lead character who would be able to handle the perverse racialism and bigotry she would meet there. Making her a young black jazz singer was a snap: if Duke, Dizzy, Miles and Ella could survive and flourish in the face of so much racial hostility, then so could a tough cookie like my Ella Thomas.

But having drawn the character of Ella the temptation to go further was irresistible. I augmented the evil Singularities (recreated doppelgรคngers of historical personages) I feature in the book with a few good guys and the one I had to include was Josephine Baker. For a black girl from St Louis to conquer 1920’s Europe armed only with a skirt made from bananas, a beaming smile and a bucketful of talent showed just what formidable character she really was. I had a lot of fun seeding her into the Demi-Monde. Other jazzers are referenced in later books: Cab Calloway is responsible for the ‘ReBop’ jive talk used by NoirVillians featured in ‘The Demi-Monde: Fall’ and I also managed to sneak in a reference to the great Miles Davis.

So I guess you could say that ‘The Demi-Monde: Winter’ is a jazzy sort of book and that being the case I’ll leave you in bebop fashion: plant you now and dig you later.

Monday, 9 January 2012


Delivered Ellie back to LSE on Sunday and Quercus very helpfully managed to arrange some signings of 'The Demi-Monde: Spring' for the Monday. So it's thanks to Mark Bourbon-Crook at Forbidden Planet; Daniel and Therese at Goldsboro Books; and Ron Beard at Quercus. Nicola of Quercus looked after us splendidly so all-in-all a good day.
One thing I learnt ... don't do signings in a pink sweater.

Left to Right: Me, Nicola and Mark at Forbidden Planet


I submitted a story for inclusion in an anthology edited by the redoubtable Ian Waites to be published by NewCon Press in spring and I'm glad to say it was accepted. I'm not a great fan of writing shorts - there's sod all money in it and they use up stories/characters/denouements at an alarming rate - but I wanted to give a new set of characters a run out before deciding to hand them a book of their own and I have to say that I was quite pleased with how they turned out.

The story is called 'Alternate Currents' and 'stars' Nikola Tesla the uber-genius who gave the world alternating current and all the joys of copious supplies of electricity. It'll be interesting to see what the reaction is but I've already decided to expand it into a full-length novel, working title 'Tesla Vs the Martians'. This is what I'll be working on once I've put the Demi-Monde to bed.

This is the cover art for 'Dark Currents' - excellent - and is the work of Ben Baldwin. He calls it 'Conflagration'.

Saturday, 7 January 2012


I had a request from an on-line magazine to write a piece about surviving the Demi-Monde. This was the result. It gives me a chance to show how Ella was dressed during her adventures in the ForthRight. Artwork as always by Nigel Robinson.

Thursday, 5 January 2012


OK ... I've read the book and I've seen the Noomi Rapace Swedish film version and I'd not been been convinced by either of them so sheer curiosity persuaded me to take in David Fincher's effort. And though it wasn't a bad film I was left with the distinct impression that Fincher (and I'm a great admirer of his work so I say this with some reluctance) was intimidated by expectations generated by the book and the Swedish film adaptation.

I am of the firm belief that film adaptations of books must recognise the differences between what works in print and what works on celluloid ... but when a book like TGWTDT has sold 60 million copies it takes a brave, brave director (and an even braver studio) to defy this weight of expectation ... especially when Lisbeth Salander has become such an iconic character. Doug Liman/Tony Gilroy recognised the need to mutate a book when it moved from print to screen with their adaptation of the Bourne books and I think a little of their lack of reverence would have been helpful here.

In making Lisbeth (and I though Rooney Mara's performance was excellent) a more vulnerable character Fincher opened the way for a more liberated interpretation of the book's character dynamics. And what this did was make the two rape sequences (so powerful in the Swedish version) redundant and gratuitous in the Hollywood version: BUT I guess to have deleted them would have opened both Fincher and Sony to accusations of whimping out. Yet the fact is these could have been deleted with no harm done to Mara's interpretation of Lisbeth  (I would, however, have made the fight scene in the subway more visceral ... equip Lisbeth with a knuckleduster, perhaps?). The rapes got in the way ... which was unfortunate because Mara's portrayal made the burgeoning relationship between Lisbeth and Blomkvist much more believeable.

And while we're on the subject of Blomvkist, I thought Daniel Craig was terrific tho' who thought it necessary to have his daughter prompt the breakthru insight should be shot.

Yeah, it's better than the Swedish version ... the lighting's better, the acting's better ... but ... but ... but ... the script needs culling ... the tone is inconsistent ... it's too long ... the attempts to resolve the plot holes clunking ... and then there's the rape scenes. Roll on the 20 minute shorter Director's Cut.

My Score: 7/10

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Things seem to be going well for the DM in the States and Canada tho' it's difficult to assess how well. The reviews are starting to come in on Amazon.com ... nineteen thus far with ten 5* and three 4* which ain't bad. There have been some crackers in there too so I'm quite buoyed by the positive reaction.

Local papers in the US have also been picking up on the book. The Denver Examiner (weird to have your book being written about in the US) was the most intriguing http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.examiner.com%2Fbooks-in-denver%2Fbook-review-the-demi-monde-by-rod-rees-review&h=0AQF3LN9NAQGYzERwLkYmdPxGCSWBhHzeJku_9jxjPGkUfQ in that the writer alluded to my using an assumed name and having connections with the intelligence community. I just wish I was that interesting. Next up was the Iron Mountain Daily News (you couldn't make this up could you?) http://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ironmountaindailynews.com%2Fpage%2Fcontent.detail%2Fid%2F532380%2FThe-Demi-Monde.html%3Fnav%3D5087&h=QAQG8cg9PAQGLIcZkTpqKVZl8Ia11SmcWhaWng1PG_3RggA which cited me as a latter-day Jonathan Swift ... now THAT really made my day. Jonathan Swift is one of my all time heroes. Regina M. Angeli you are a star!

Finally I got this in from Toronto's 'The World's Biggest Bookshop':


A belated Happy New Year to all!

I had intended to open 2012 with a new slate - this in the form of having put the Demi-Monde saga finally to bed - but being an inveterate tweaker I'm still struggling to finished the the last book, 'The Demi-Monde: Fall'. It's almost there, just the glossary to polish and then it'll be in beta read mode. Probably tooooooooo long at 194,000 words (about a third thicker than the first three books) but there was a lot to cram in. What I've done is separate it into two parts - one mainly set in the Demi-Monde and one in the Real World - so effectively it's two books in one.

Am I happy with it? Difficult question to answer. I worry that the denouement - and I'm bringing a lot of story arcs together at the end - might be too convoluted and I'm tempted to include a second Epilogue to give some character resolution but that might just be over-egging the pudding. I'll decide after the next read thru.

Once 'Fall' is finally put to bed then I'll turn my thoughts about what to write next. I'm trying to chose between a SF whodunit series featuring a pair of characters called Rocco Rockman and his sidekick, JenniFur; a pulp SF series about invaders from Mars; or a stand-alone story about South Africa set in 2025. I might do them in reverse order.

New Year's Resolution; none of 'em is going to be longer than 120,000 words! I'm done with big books.