Category Archives: the rift

The Rift is open!

My second novel The Rift is published today. Huge thanks to the team at Titan for taking such sensitive care of the manuscript and for bringing the book out into the world – you are wonderful people.

For those in the Glasgow area, I shall be launching The Rift formally at Waterstone’s Argyle Street this Thursday, July 13th at 18:30 pm.  Neil Williamson (The Moon King) has very kindly agreed to act as questionmaster? interrogator? and there will be a chance to ask your own questions afterwards.

For those not lucky enough to live in Scotland, I will also be signing copies in London at Forbidden Planet, Friday July 28th 6 – 7 pm.

Once again, a huge thank you to the many wonderful friends and colleagues who have offered their unstinting encouragement and support as The Rift journeyed towards publication.  No book ever happens in a vacuum, and the discussions, deliberations and free-ranging book-chats that happen along the way are often among the most rewarding parts of the process. Thank you all.

The Rift cover reveal

Titan gave me an early Christmas present a couple of days ago when they dropped this into my inbox – Julia Lloyd’s stunning cover design for The Rift:

rift_final-artwork

Seriously, I couldn’t be happier with what Julia has come up with. The overall feel of the design forms a clear and interesting counterpoint with the cover of The Race, whilst being very much its own thing. I particularly love the strength of the colours. The image provides a wonderful visual interpretation of the novel itself and I hope it whets readers’ appetites for the story to come.

There’s nothing like cover art for making a book seem present, alive and well and truly on its way! With just six months to go before The Rift is published, you can read the full press release at tor.com here.

For anyone who feels they can’t wait that long, don’t forget that my brand new novella Maggots is just out from Solaris as part of Jonathan Oliver’s demonic brainchild, Five Stories High.  As a bonus, Solaris are also releasing the novellas as individual ebooks and you can pick up Maggots here for just £2.99. Not a Christmas story exactly, though Christmas does come into it. Don’t go overdoing things on Christmas Eve, that’s what I say – and I happen to think the protagonist of Maggots, Willy Randle, would agree with me…

5 Stories High cover image

Brief updates

Firstly, I’m delighted to announce that Nevsky Prospects will be publishing a Spanish edition of The Race, currently scheduled for spring 2017. Huge thanks to Marian and James Womack for their continuing commitment to my work. I’m thrilled that this is happening.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’m currently hard at work on the third draft of The Rift. I’m very excited about the book now. It’s now just over a year since I first began writing it, although the basic idea (and some of the characters) had been floating around inside my head for quite a bit longer. At this stage, the novel feels fully formed and really here.

Immediately prior to starting in on this third draft, I had a lot of fun first-drafting a horror story – quite a long and involved one – which I’ve been commissioned to write as part of a project that should be seeing the light of day sometime next year. It’s been quite a while since I wrote any horror – the story I wrote for Aickman’s Heirs in the summer of 2014, in fact – and I don’t mind admitting it felt great to be back in that territory. In fact, it’s inspired me to read, write and blog more horror next year. Plans are already afoot, so watch this space!

Researching The Rift

The Novella Award was lucky for me in more ways than just the obvious. Travelling north to accept the award gave me an ideal opportunity to visit Hatchmere Lake, in the Delamere Forest, a location that occupies a central role in my new novel The Rift. (For those seeking reasons why Cheshire? I have two words: Dead Letters. If you look at the crossed-out address on that envelope, then study a map of the immediate vicinity you’ll soon begin to see how one thing led to another. Cheers, Conrad.)

Delamere Forest is the largest deciduous woodland in the country.  It is also the site of several large meres, or lakes, and mosses – unique and ancient wetland habitats which are home to scarce species of plants and insects such as the White-Faced Darter dragonfly. (I didn’t hold out too much hope of seeing any dragonflies while I was there – it was too late in the season – but I like to think their nymphs were lurking beneath the surface of the water just yards from where I stood. And I say ‘lurking’ because for other species of freshwater invertebrates that’s how it is. For anything smaller than a stickleback, those things are vicious.)

Delamere is managed by the Forestry Commission, with many well tended, signposted footpaths and cycle routes for people to enjoy as well as an even greater number of narrower, more overgrown and less frequented pathways just begging to be included in a some weird novel or other. I spent most of a day just walking in the forest, checking actual locations against what I’d written and soaking up the atmosphere generally. I was pleased and relieved by how familiar it all felt, in spite of this being my first visit. But I’ve had this experience before. Although I really don’t like to write about a place without having visited it, my schedule does sometimes dictate that I need to begin writing before I get the chance to be on-site. The imagination works in mysterious ways though, and I’ve tended to find that the very act of immersing myself psychologically in a location results in a peculiar sensation of deja vu when I do actually set foot there.

This was definitively the case with Hatchmere. But the being there was very freeing, nonetheless.

I’m now well into the second draft of The Rift, and having these locations distinct in my mind brings the entire manuscript more clearly into focus.

Hatchmere Lake, Cheshire Sept 2015

Hatchmere Lake, Cheshire Sept 2015

Delamere Forest. Cheshire Sept 29th 2015

Delamere Forest. Cheshire Sept 29th 2015

(Seeing that white van when and where I did gave me a very peculiar feeling indeed – but you’ll have to wait until The Rift is published to find out why…)

 

Dead Letters

A little under two years ago, I received an email from Conrad Williams inviting me to submit a story for a new project he was involved with:

“I’m putting together a themed anthology (working title DEAD LETTERS) dealing with all the parcels and post cards and love letters we send but never arrive, or end up at the wrong address or sometimes come back to us, slashed open and changed somehow… 

Each contributor will be sent a mystery parcel from the dead letter zone: a trinket or photograph, an aide-memoire, a promise… or a threat… of fidelity. How you respond to this visual stimulus is up to you, but I’m looking forward to shaping a very dark, very inventive cluster of stories…”

I love anything to do with stamps and letters and the post in general, so this was an irresistible challenge, to which I agreed immediately. The project was only in the planning stage at that point, and I understood that it would be a while before my package arrived. As I was deep into final edits and revisions on The Race, I put all thoughts of Dead Letters on hold until after the London Worldcon.

At that point, something odd happened. Conrad was pretty amazing in the way he put the ‘dead letter’ packages together. When mine arrived, the whole thing was just so weirdly convincing that for a couple of minutes I found myself wondering what the hell the thing was, even though Conrad had pre-warned everyone the day he sent them out. Once I twigged, I found myself so instantly captivated by the story possibilities on offer it was difficult to decide which one to go with.

Nina Dead letter 96

 

And then I started writing and couldn’t stop. I’m not good at writing ‘short’ short fiction at the best of times, but it wasn’t long before I had 30,000 words and no end in sight. It was at this point I realised that what I was writing wasn’t a short story at all, but my next novel. An exciting discovery, except for the fact that I believed my Dead Letters story was doomed, that I was going to have to write to Conrad and withdraw from the project.

I hated the thought of doing that – the anthology had been part of my thought process for quite some time by then, I didn’t want to let Conrad down, and I loved the idea of Dead Letters as much as ever. I wanted to be a part of it. I carried on drafting the novel – a loose initial draft that would soon become the bedrock of The Rift – and hoping that I’d find a way to perform a detour, go back and complete the Dead Letters story – a different story – after all.

I used the Christmas/New Year hiatus as a springboard to do that. By then, I knew so much about the characters in my novel and the problems they were facing that I thought I could take a risk, write a story that ran off at a tangent from them but that was not itself part of that main theatre of action. I am not the kind of writer who thrives on having several projects on the go simultaneously – in order to write to my strengths I need to be totally immersed in whatever it is I’m currently working on. One workaround that does seem productive for me though is to write linked stories. That way, I keep the mental connection with the main project whilst giving myself the freedom to work in territories adjacent to it.

This is how ‘Astray’ was written. One of the main characters from The Rift does make an appearance, but ‘Astray’ is not her story.

I was pleased (and extremely relieved) to be able to deliver the story to Conrad before the deadline…

The full table of contents for Dead Letters has now been released. You can see why I’m pretty chuffed to be a part of it:

 

The Green Letter                          Steven Hall

Over to You                                   Michael Marshall Smith

In Memoriam                                Joanne Harris

Ausland                                         Alison Moore

Wonders to Come                       Christopher Fowler

Cancer Dancer                             Pat Cadigan

The Wrong Game                        Ramsey Campbell

Is-and                                            Claire Dean

Buyer’s Remorse                         Andrew Lane

Gone Away                                  Muriel Gray

Astray                                           Nina Allan

The Days of Our Lives               Adam LG Nevill

The Hungry Hotel                      Lisa Tuttle

L0ND0N                                      Nicholas Royle

Change Management              Angela Slatter

Ledge Bants                              Maria Dahvana Headley & China Miéville 

And We, Spectators Always, Everywhere           Kirsten Kaschock

 

Dead Letters: an anthology of the undelievered, the missing, the returned will be unleashed upon the world in April 2016 by Titan Books.

Titan(ic) news!

Well, this is all very exciting.

I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve recently signed a 2-book deal with Titan Books. Titan have acquired rights to my novel The Race, which they will be publishing in a new and expanded edition in both the UK and the US next summer. They will also be publishing my second novel, The Rift, in 2017.

Cath Trechman, Titan’s Senior Fiction Editor, has been incredibly enthusiastic and supportive, and I’m delighted to be working with her. She and her team are dedicated to building Titan’s fiction list by bringing in fresh and innovative work across the SFFH genres and I’m proud to be a part of that.

When Cath suggested that we should make the Titan edition of The Race truly new by including some extra material, I was only too happy to agree. The new edition of The Race will include a brand new novella-length appendix, ‘Brock Island’, which I’ve just finished writing. ‘Brock Island’ is not supposed to be read as a new ending, but it does expand our knowledge of the characters and their world, so anyone wanting ‘more’ will not be disappointed! Creating this extra material was a real challenge -‘Brock Island’ not only had to work as a story in its own right, it also had to complement the metafictional aspects of the main text – but it was also hugely rewarding to re-enter the book’s atmosphere and find new things there.

As for The Rift, I’ll have plenty more to say in due course. For now, I can tell you that it’s a science fiction mystery about a woman named Julie who believes she’s been abducted by aliens. The first draft is written – in fact I’ve begun work on the second draft just this afternoon. I don’t mind admitting that this is absolutely the most addictive story I have worked on to date and it’s wonderful to know that the book has found such a good home.

I’ll be telling you more about The Rift, and about the new edition of The Race here before too long. In the meantime I just want to say thank you to Cath and to Natalie and to the whole Titan team for bringing me on board and making me feel so welcome.

You can read Titan’s official announcement at booktrade.info here.