The Creative Apocalypse

Absolutely fascinating article from the NYT on the ‘creative apocalypse’. The idea that the internet is undermining creative industries with freebies is still going strong, but Steven Johnson makes a compelling argument that the creative people behind these industries are doing just fine — thriving in fact. It’s the big companies and conglomerates that are struggling.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit recently, and strongly believe we’re living through a creative revolution not a creative apocalypse. Johnson’s article completely nails the point. Anyone interested in how artists’ livelihoods have been changed by technology and the internet should give it a read.

Author Interview – Michael Patrick Hicks

Emergence will be released on 4th May. To celebrate its release, Convergence will be on sale at $0.99 for the week.

Michael Patrick Hicks’s debut novel Convergence was an Amazon Breakthrough Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and after reading it, it’s clear why. Not only is it action-filled, turn-the-page-and-find-out-what-happens-NOW reading, it’s also my favourite type of story in that it asks some very difficult ethical and philosophical questions about how future technology might affect the nature of humanity.

convergence
Convergence is set in a futuristic, post-invasion United States which has broken up into different territories. Main character Jonah Everitt lives in a refugee camp in what was California but is now under the control of the invading Pacific Rim Coalition. He’s also a DRMR addict. DRMR stands for Databiologic Receiver of Mnemonic Response, and is effectively a chemical and technological advance that allows users to relive the memories of the dead.
Jonah is hired to kill a high ranking member of the PRC and steal his memories, an act which sets an unexpected set of consequences into play.
I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read it, but it had me gripped from the first page.

emergence-800-cover-reveal-and-promotional
As a beta reader, I was lucky enough to get an advance look at Emergence, the second in the DRMR series. For those unaware of the nature of beta-readers, we read the novel prior to publication to help pick up plot-holes or style and story issues. I didn’t find too many of those (Mike’s a good writer), but I did keep writing little essays on his manuscript because he has so many fascinating concepts to mine around the DRMR technology. I just wanted to jump into his world and keep digging. You know it’s a good book when you want to grab the author by the lapels and shout, ‘Come with me! I need to know more about your world.’
Luckily for me (and you), Mike’s agreed to come along and answer some of my questions.

Your first novel Convergence is set in a post-invasion United States. This makes for some very interesting political speculation as to what would happen if a Pacific-Rim-style Coalition did invade the U.S. What attracted you to this setting?

I simply wanted to do something that was a bit dystopian and to make the environment something that was not only dangerous, but which would have a severe impact on the characters and uproot everything in an interesting way. I wanted something that was a bit grittier, a bit more noir. I was really attracted to America as a failed experiment. The USA is a very, very young nation and a bit of a Johnny-come-lately on the global stage that sometimes has a very peculiar arrogance to it. I wanted to see a North America that was “after the fall” so to speak.

The DRMR technology has some drawbacks, mostly in the form of addiction, but it also invites some interesting conjecture as to how living someone else’s memories would influence and change the user. I can’t help thinking that the introduction of this technology would lead to greater empathy and peace within the world, as people learn what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes. Do you agree with this? And if not, why not?

While I think, and at least certainly hope, that the world is moving toward greater, progressive values and inclusivity, I’m fairly positive that a technology like DRMR would be badly abused, if only by a minority of retrograde people who fear positive change and inclusivity. For all the good that could be done with it, I think there are some inherit problems and that it would kind of ruin everything for everybody. Maybe I’m just a pessimist. But, as readers will see in Emergence, it’s definitely a technology that’s ripe for exploitation!

Everyone has the stories they tell themselves about their own lives, so that even someone using the DRMR and accessing the memories first hand might come up with a different interpretation of who that person is. If someone accessed DRMR of your life, what do you think they’d learn from you?

Oh my goodness. I have no idea! Probably that I’m some horrible, darkly maligned personality with too many tortured thoughts and unending mental screams of anguish. Or maybe that I’m far more caring and squishy than I’ll publicly admit to.

If you could access the DRMR recordings of someone in real life, would you do it, and how do you think it might change you?

I don’t think I’d want to access the DRMR recordings of anybody I was close to. There are certain political figures and big-mouthed zealots that I’d be curious to access, but mostly to satisfy my own morbid curiosity on whether or not they’re the delusional, hypocritical con-men I believe they are, or if they actually believe the garbage they spiel. I don’t think such access would make me a better person, and I probably don’t want their particular brands of poison lingering in my head after all.

The DRMR world is detailed and feels very real. How did you go about researching this kind of political situation and the accompanying technology?

For the invasion angle, I looked at publicly available documents of Chinese officials war-gaming potential plans for invasion and looked at various refugee camps. The technology angle required a tremendous amount of research into memory formation, memory deletion, brain structures and how they interact, and some of the work that DARPA is doing. While the DRMR technology is a sci-fi concept, there are certainly efforts out there in the scientific community to make it not only plausible, but entirely possible.

When I tried to think of what genre Convergence is, I came up with a lot more than one: science fiction, dystopia, future tech, thriller. It’s a difficult book to pigeon hole. A lot of marketing involves trying to raise awareness of a book among fans of that genre, and having an original concept can sometimes make a book more difficult to market. Do you think this has been the case with Convergence?

To a degree, it has been, yes. But, the readers that have found it, so far, have been very kind and have received the book warmly. So, for that I’m completely grateful! Convergence is definitely a mish-mash of a lot of different genres, so if somebody hates sci-fi but loves mystery/thrillers, I think there’s a good chance they’d like Convergence. A lot of people think sci-fi is just aliens or Star Trek type stuff, but there’s plenty of room within the genre for other types of work. I operate very much in the Cyberpunk Noir end of things. Convergence is definitely more on the Blade Runner end of science fiction, in terms of it being very much about humans, on Earth, dealing with daily life, but their life just happens to have a little bit more high-tech stuff than we do. At least for now.

Who would you say are your favourite authors, and do you think they have influenced your writing?

Stephen King, Richard K. Morgan, Tom Clancy, Dennis Lehane – those are my big favorites. And yeah, I think they’ve definitely influenced my writing, a lot. Particularly in terms of technothriller writing, I think reading each of those writers has really helped shape my own writing style and my approach to writing and story-telling.

Can you give us a sneak peek into what’s coming next for the third of the DRMR series?

Not yet. Emergence is book 2, and that releases Monday, May 4, 2015. I’m working on an entirely separate and different project at the moment, for the Apocalypse Weird crew, and that’s where my focus is at these days. I’ve got a couple ideas for the third DRMR book, but it’s still a ways off. People should keep an eye on http://michaelpatrickhicks.com and sign up for my newsletter there; whenever I have an announcement to make, those are the readers that get it first.

Where would you like your writing career to be in five years?

I’m certainly hoping I’ll have a nice catalog of titles that a wide range of readers can plunge into!

What is your least favourite part of the publishing / writing process?

The business side of things on the publishing end can be mind-numbing and exhausting. Trying to line up ads with a number of promotions sites, and locking in release dates and coordinating between print and digital markets and waiting on proof copies, and keeping track of income and expenses for tax purposes, and spreadsheets and spreadsheets and spreadsheets – that is all very much not glamorous or fun. Don’t let anyone fool you – writing is a business, regardless of how much fun the writing side of things can be. But even that has its dreadful moments! It’s work. It’s not digging graves or working in a coal mine, thankfully, but you still have to be mindful of the fact that it is, first and foremost, a business.

You can connect with Mike on his website, twitter, facebook or goodreads (and do. He’s very nice. I promise)

Launch Party for No Way Home!

Yay!

We’re having a launch party for No Way Home on 2 March.  You can RSVP here.

While a physical party with wine and nibbles would be fun, this one’s going to be online (so all of us can attend).  And, and of course, there’s nothing to stop me you from having a glass of wine while attending… (just don’t spill it over your laptop)

The contributing authors are going to be chatting about their contributions, and there’ll even be some book giveaways (much better than nibbles).

Sound good? Of course it does. I’ll chat to you all there then!

The Work In Progress Blog Tour

Blog tour! Always fun.

The blog tour has some rules (which I’m going to break), but just so you know:

  1. Link back to the post of the person who nominated you.
  2. Write a little about and give the first sentence of the first three chapters of your current work-in-progress.
  3. Nominate some other writers to do the same.

Thanks to Michael Patrick Hicks for the nomination.

Mike’s debut novel Convergence was an Amazon Breakthrough Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and is a fantastic dystopian read.  Mike writes the kind of futuristic page-turners that are not only action-filled, but also get you asking the big questions about the nature of humanity.

I was  lucky enough to beta-read for his second novel Emergence, and regular readers of my blog will see more about his work here soon. I enjoyed both books so much that I asked him if he’d be willing to let me pepper him with questions about them, so keep an eye out for that.

He’s also the author of short story Consumption (which I really must read, because I’ve enjoyed his others so much) and Revolver.

Revolver is a story in the No Way Home anthology which features some of the best up-and-coming speculative fiction writers working today (including me: brag brag). But seriously, No Way Home is a fantastic set of stories. I thoroughly recommend it, and not just because I’m in it. No Way Home is due out on 2 March so watch this space.

First breaking of the rules (or at least bending a little), I’d also like to mention my fellow nominees Lucas Bale and S. Elliot Brandis, as well as J.S. Collyer who nominated Mike. They’re all authors well worth taking a look at.

My Work In Progress:

I’m busy with the third in the London Bones series titled Hive Memory.  I hate writing blurbs (so it should be shinier later) but this is what it’s about:

London’s famous werebees are about to select a new queen, but just at the most politically sensitive time, one of their own goes missing and returns three days later with no memory of where he had been or what had happened.  

Second breaking of the rules: I am a terribly disorganised writer. I write scraps and bits as they grab my attention from all over the story and then only decide later what order they go in. (Makes me sound great doesn’t it?).

In other words, here are three scraps, that may or may not be in the first three chapters:

Excerpt One:

Like many people, merely being around the police was enough to make me feel guilty. It didn’t help that the last time I saw Zee Haddad she’d given me a thorough dressing down. I shifted in my chair and tried to look innocent, or at least authoritative. This was my territory after all, and the werebee had come to me.
Zee sat in the client chair opposite mine, an untouched chamomile tea in front of her. We’d covered all the basic pleasantries — the how-are-yous, the miserable autumn weather, the tube delay that had made her fifteen minutes late. I’d provided her with a beverage. Then we’d chatted about my promotion to manager at the Trust. We were half an hour in, and I was still waiting for the reason she was sitting in my office.

Excerpt Two:

‘We’re meant to be workers, not lovers. Chastity’s a big thing in our culture.’
‘But?’
‘But we’re human too, and since when did humans keep it buttoned up? It’s like a French farce in the hive some mornings. Peek out the window and everyone’s sneaking out of one door and in through another.’

Excerpt Three:

I leaned back in my chair and studied his face. He wasn’t a conventionally attractive man. His face was a little too round, and the last of his hair made a Saturn-style ring around most of his head, but there was an intelligence to his eyes that made up for the lack of physical beauty. I could see why she liked him. What I couldn’t see was how he could be so blase about what happened.
I leaned forward. ‘You were missing for three days and you have no idea where you were. Doesn’t that bother you, even a little?’
He shrugged. ‘No, not really. It doesn’t feel like anything bad happened to me. And I’m clearly fine now. I wish she’d stop worrying.’
My internal weirdometer was pinging like crazy. Normal people don’t lose three days of their lives and just shrug it off. Despite the weirdness, I thought he was telling the truth. Anyone with the brain power to become one of the country’s leading fertility experts would also have the brain power to come up with a better lie. It was just a damned odd truth.

 Nominations

My first nominee is W. Freedreamer Tinkanesh.  

W’s writings have appeared in unknown, obscure zines and in the last ten years in various anthologies: ‘Write Now’ (UK, 2001), ‘Threads’ (UK, 2009, edited by Cassandra Lee aka Shawn-A-Lee McCutcheon-Bell), ‘Eclectica’ (2011, edited by Andrea Dean Van Scoyoc), ‘No One Makes It Out Alive (2012, edited by Hydra M. Star), ‘Blessings from the Darkness’ (2014, edited by Kelly J. Koch), ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of Horror 2014 (edited by Jennifer L. Miller).
W. Freedreamer Tinkanesh is the author of the novel ‘Outsider’ (2012) and the collection of short stories ‘Tales for the 21st Century’ (2014).

Walki’s novel Outsider is one of the most original books I have read in a while and I thoroughly recommend it.

Connect with W. Freedreamer Tinkanesh on:  Livejournal, Twitter, Goodreads.

 My second nominee is Heather R. Blair, who readers may remember did an author interview for me a little while back.

Heather writes fantasy and paranormal fiction, including Shivers, a collection of (shivery) short stories, the Celtic Paranormals series of novels, and Phoenix Rising. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

Connect with Heather: WebsiteGoodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

I may have another nominee coming, I’m just waiting for her to let me know she’s happy to accept the nomination. Watch this space.

Goodreads Giveaway!

Woohoo! Physical copies of A Murder of Crones are now available on Amazon.  (UK link, US link)

To celebrate, I’m giving away signed copies of both A Murder of Crones and The Secret Dead on Goodreads.

The Giveaway will open on 29 January and close on 5 February. You can enter via the link below.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Murder of Crones by S.W. Fairbrother

A Murder of Crones

by S.W. Fairbrother

Giveaway ends February 05, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

An exciting announcement…

I’m excited to announce I have a story coming out in a new Science Fiction anthology titled No Way Home.

Sci-fi is a bit of a departure from my usual genre, although I read plenty of it. I loved the challenge, and I’m really happy with how my story has turned out.  I hope you’ll like it too.

The anthology features some of the greatest up-and-coming speculative fiction authors on the indie scene. You’ll find stories from Lucas Bale, Harry Manners, Alex Roddie (writing as A.S. Sinclair), S.Elliot Brandis, Michael Patrick Hicks, J.S. Collyer, Nadine Matheson, and me, of course. I’ve had a sneak peek at some of the other stories in the collection, and trust me when I say you don’t want to miss them.

Expected Release date: 2 March 2015.

No Way Home Kindle

Stories From Which There is No Escape.

Nothing terrifies us more than being stranded. Helpless, forsaken, cut-off. Locked in a place from which there is no escape, no way to get home.

A soldier trapped in an endless war dies over and over, only to be awakened each time to fight again – one of the last remaining few seeking to save mankind from extinction.

In rural 70s England, an RAF radio engineer returns to an abandoned military installation, but begins to suffer hallucinations, shifts in time and memories that are not his own.

A widower, one of ten thousand civilian space explorers, is sent alone to determine his assigned planet’s suitability for human colonisation, but stumbles across a woman who is part of the same programme and shouldn’t be there at all.

A depressed woman in a poverty-stricken near-future America, where political apathy has allowed special interests to gain control of the country, takes part in a particularly unpleasant crowd-funding platform, established by the nation’s moneyed elite to engage the masses.

An assassin from the future, sent back in time to murder a woman, is left stranded when he fails in his mission and knows he will soon cease to exist.

These sometimes dark, sometimes heart-warming, but always insightful stories and more are to be found in No Way Home, where eight of the most exciting new voices in speculative fiction explore the mental, physical and even meta-physical boundaries that imprison us when we are lost.

And now…taking fan requests

I’ve had a few people tell me that while they enjoyed A Murder of Crones, it did take quite a different tack to what they were expecting: no zombies, not much of the police procedural etc.

This was done on purpose. I wanted to get Vivia’s backstory out of the way so I could get on with exploring the London Bones universe.

The next book is going to focus on a problem within Zee’s hive and I’m very excited about it.

That said, other than Zee (she seems to be a fan favourite), things  readers have said they’d like to see more of are: the history of zombie London, Vivia’s relationship with Charon the Boatman,  Shaun Little and his relationship with his neighbours …

I’ve been invited to contribute a longish (10,000 words) short story for an anthology that will be published in October. I’ve got some great ideas for it, but one of the wonderful things about publishing independently is that I can be really flexible about what I put out there. I thought I might take requests and give you what you want to read.  So tell me, what do you want to know? Any particular character you’d like to see shoved into the spotlight?

And….Book Two is out!

It’s been a wibbly sort of week. It’s been really cold for one thing which makes me grumpy, and then all sorts of things went wrong with the physical copy of The Secret Dead. (All fixed now. Thank you, Createspace. Your support team are wonderful.)

In addition, my four year old is sick, and is about as miserable as a small boy can be, and it’s made for a tricky week on the work front.

And so, finally, I’ve managed to get A Murder of Crones up onto Amazon.  (US, UK)

I’m going to be sending out review copies later today (small boy dependent) so watch your inbox if you’ve asked for one. And if you haven’t, go ahead. I’m happy to hand out to anyone who wants one.