What a year. Up and down. Left and right. Slow and quick. I’ve simultaneously stood with my head spinning while feeling like I’m made of stone.
So much action, and all with the backdrop of a global pandemic, bristling away like white noise. Like many people, at times I’ve really struggled to balance it all out. When I’m stressed, the first thing that I lose is my memory. It’s always been this way. I’m blessed (or cursed) with a pretty good memory – I can replay back almost anything that’s happened to remember almost anything about it. It’s only recently that I’ve learned that not everyone can do this. But this year, I’ve clung to my diary like a barnacle on a ship, anchoring me to engagements past, present, and future. It’s my coping mechanism. To write everything down, just in case my memory goes kaput again. So with a new year, a new diary arrives. And it’s a beauty.
When I look back – SO MUCH has happened this year that it seems ridiculous. I became a mother to little N, who is now 11 months old and turning into a true eccentric already. He’s funny, demanding, sharp as a tack, loves badgers and seals and walruses, and has eyes that stare right into your soul. But he’s also insanely cute and gentle and emotional. I can’t wait to see how he’s going to grow.
And fresh from the launch of Little Quakes Every Day at the end of 2020, I saw the launch of Composite Creatures in spring 2021.
When I remember juggling long days and nights of looking after a reflux-y newborn, recording radio talkshows and podcasts, appearing at literary festivals and author panels, writing articles and answering interview questions – I really don’t know how I managed it! But though it was immensely difficult, it was a good thing to have mental breaks and something to remind me that – despite being covered in a baby’s bodily fluids – I was still me. And one day I hope Little N will be proud of me for doing that too!
Here’s me, ten minutes after the book launch, already in my dressing gown and ready to feed a wriggly baby to slumber.
Much of the year I’ve been carrying on with bits of press for Composite Creatures, and I’ve seen the first foreign rights sold in Lithuania and Russia. Where next is anyone’s guess! And now I’m seeing the novel included in some brilliant ‘Best of 2021’ lists, including this shocker in The Washington Post and being nominated for the ‘Standout Standalone’ novel of 2021 at the Fantasy Hive Awards.
But I’ve also been writing new books too. But as they’re trickling into next year, we have to step into 2022 to learn more about those…
So what’s next in 2022?
Well, though I have bags under my eyes and it’s only the power of potent cups of tea that keeps me upright these days – my brain is fizzing with excitement for what 2022 will bring. Big things in every area of life – some scary and some wonderful.
I’ve got some appearances planned in January, with my entering the virtual world of Second Life as a rainy-cloud-riddled-marionette-hare-with-feathers (you need to see it to believe it), and on the ‘Parenting in Sci Fi’ panel at TBR Con 2022. Get the details for each of these here.
But as for writing, I’m heading into the New Year with two exciting projects on the go.
My next novel
One is my current novel-in-progress, which has been dominating my creative mind for about two years, though there were big gaps in between, when editing Little Quakes Every Day and Composite Creatures pre-release. And of course, I stopped writing for five months at the beginning of this year, when little N was born. So it’s a book I’m not yet sick of writing, but I’m ready to finish it. It’s had its season, now it needs to spread its wings.
It should be finished in the next month or so, and then it’s up to the fickle winds of publishing as to what happens with it. But I hope you’ll be reading it very soon indeed. I can’t say too much about it, but (as most of Twitter) I experimented with the AI art generator to create some rather terrifying book covers for the novel. They’re possibly the only thing about the novel I’m allowed to say!
A secret collaboration
This project is a strange one, in that it’s something I never thought I’d do, but I’m loving every minute. It happened quite organically, as often the best things do, and I’m on tenterhooks to see what happens with it.
The timescale for this one is quite similar to my novel – it’s near completion (for my part) but what happens with it depends on my extremely talented collaborator and what the publishing world thinks of it. I wish I could say more, but I can’t!
I dream of readers holding it in their hands one day in the not-too-distant future, but you know what? Even if they don’t – I’ve learned SO MUCH about storytelling, about art, and about the creation of modern mythology that it’s been an immensely rewarding experience just to create it. My collaborator and I are determined to have fun with it, and so far that part has been a massive success. One day I’ll share who this rather special collaborator is, but for now I’ll just say that they’ve been a humble, funny, and extremely knowledgeable mentor, and I expect their influence will affect all my future writing.
… And then what?
All going well, these two books will be on their way into the world in the next few months, but what next? Well, I already have my third novel planned out in my noggin. And potentially another secret collaboration or two (along the same lines as the one above). And though I’ve strayed from writing poetry for the last year or two, I’m determined to bring this back into my writing, though not in the way you might expect…
So all in all, you could say I’m keeping busy. And in these strange, horrible, bizarre days – telling stories and making things is the perfect way to get through it.
Here’s to 2022 – and hoping that it’ll bring balance and bright things with it!