Patrick G Cox

Dystopian Stories - Self-fulfilling Prophecies?

Reading an article on one of the several 'feeds' I follow for interesting news, ideas and so on, I came across one that certainly got me thinking. Entitled "What Teen Dystopian Novels Can Tell Us about the Future" it discusses how the genre projects a very bleak image of any future society. It hit a number of points I regularly consider, and reminded me that in my early 'teens and twenties I was also an avid reader of some of the authors and novels she mentions. The scary thing is that, like Orwell's famous "1984" they project futures which are all too plausible. Worse, the ideas within them have slowly entered our lives and our societies.

Step by Step ...

I think that many readers have the impression that an author "writes" the book, the editor checks the grammar, typos and so on, and the publisher does the layouts, conversions (for eBooks) and so on, an artist perhaps creates the cover, and that's it, the book goes to the printing and ... I'm afraid it doesn't quite work like that. 

Beta Readers and their feedback

I have just received the feedback from some of my Beta Readers on Harry Heron; Savage Fugitive and I must say I am pleased with their responses. As you would expect there is some criticism, but there is a lot more that is positive, so now the book can move forward. I have to make a few small adjustments to the story to take on board the criticisms, but in the main, the consensus is they enjoyed it, and loved the characters. As an author you really can't ask for much more!

SciFi; A Challenging Genre

Writers of science fiction face a number of challenges in the genre, not least because our scientific knowledge is expanding so rapidly. However, I think there are a number of other things a ScIFi author has to face as well. First is the possibly most basic aspect of the story; what sort of world is it set within? Here you have a wide range of possibles, from a completely alien world, through a fantasy one, into a 'future Earth', an 'Alternate Earth' and even a 'Past Earth' are all possibles. So are massive space station 'worlds' and even 'Space Ship Arks'. Having selected the type of world, one then faces the choice of what sort of society one is looking to build. A popular 'default' it seems is a sort of dystopia following a war, collapse of society due to a natural event or a pandemic. My choice is usually an extension (I'm an optimist!) of current political and cultural 'norms', often with an undercurrent of dissent and subversive activity.

An important aspect of creating a 'future' is 

Inspiration!

Inspiration is not always straightforward. Sometimes you get a really great idea, and .... it leads nowhere once you start developing it. At others, the idea simply takes on a life of its own and grows into a great story. There really is no way that I have been able to discover, which produces a winner each time. I'm not sure everyone has that problem, perhaps they do, and perhaps, they simply plough ahead and keep hammering at the idea until it does work.

Widening Distribution

I recently uploaded all my current titles to Publish Drive, a new e-book publisher and distributor. This means that all the books are now available through a much wider range of outlets than just Amazon and Kindle. All things being equal, they should now be popping up on Barnes and Noble, through Google Play and Google Plus, with iBooks and a range of others. All the titles are available in paperback and e-book formats, with paper versions being printed by Lightning Source and distribution through Ingram.

Juggling ...

This year seems to be racing for me. It is one of those years, when a lot of things have come together and need attention, so the things I enjoy doing, like sitting at my keyboard and writing, have suffered. This blog is one victim! Current tasks in hand include going over the edits for Harry Heron: Savage Fugitive, Book 4 in the Harry Heron series, which is now on track for publication end of June, early July. Thankfully it has not been a victim of the small disaster (I think every author's nightmare ...) of a laptop that refused to complete it's boot process for the last week.

The Challenges of writing SciFi ...

Writing SciFi presents a number of challenges these days, not least the speed of technological advance! When I first started writing seriously in this genre (now almost eighteen years ago), personal computers, were only just established as everyone's indispensable aid, mobile phones were just that, a phone using wireless technology, and "palm pilots" were a novelty. Tablets were still in the future, and pocket sized CD Players were still the way to carry music about. Within a very short time of my starting to write about ships managed and run by AI computer systems, almost all of that had changed.

Harry Heron; Savage Fugitive

Work on the final draft manuscript of Harry Heron; Savage Fugitive is taking shape. The story is now complete, and the manuscript is currently being overhauled to cut out the 'fat' and shake out any inconsistencies. My publisher plans to start work on the publisher's editing and internal design in March. All being well, we hope to see the book published in August or September.

Published at last!

Harry Heron: No Quarter is published at last! It has been a marathon haul, but I think the end product justifies the effort. What a job it has proved to be, and who would have thought a couple of hurricanes could have their own impact, but then the natural world has it's impact on everything. So, here we are, available at last, and just in time for Christmas, in paperback and on Kindle, Harry, Ferghal and their friends embark on a new set of adventures and sow not a little mayhem in their wakes.

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