Departing December

Hello, at the dawn of 2022. I hope your holidays have been well, and that your year ahead is looking if not outright hopeful, at least like something you can shape into something better.

My year ahead? That’s definitely a mix, some hopeful, some scary, but there’s a lot of room to sculpt it, and I’ve started work on that.

Firstly, the first draft of Mouse Cage/the Troy Thing is now done. It is, however, sloppy above and beyond my usual. Every time I glance through it I find sentences with missing words, for instance. This may be a result of my habit of writing with my eyes shut. (Sometimes it’s easier to picture and describe things that way!) But, yeah. It’s going to take some considerable work to shape up – and I’m not entirely sure what shape I want it to be in, yet.

As it stands, it’s around 170 000 words – almost, not quite, twice the length of Dog Country.

I could try and cut it down. I could try and expand on some parts of it and make it two (or even three) books. I am not sure which way would make something more like what I want to make. I’m also not sure about what to do with it – I am definitely intending to self publish it, but if it’s really long, maybe I should try and structure it into clearer sections. Then I could try posting the first section somewhere public – roughly covering my old City Mouse stories, which I posted publicly too – and save the other sections, largely new and the Dog Country stuff, for the book. That option does tempt me, but if anyone has opinions on that, feel free to drop a comment.

I need some time to figure that out, and I desperately need a break, but, thankfully, I do have some clear time coming up for all that – though I need to start finalizing my bookings for things like getting someone to proof this beast, covers, all that. So. Will keep you all posted on that.

However. Selling Aconite Braid is now in progress.

(If any agents I’m querying wind up here, hi!)

I have done up my query letters, my blurbs, done the best I can with them in a reasonable timeframe, and, after spending several full days making a list, it is out there and resting in inboxes waiting for attention. And I have a couple of thoughts.

The first is that I feel kind of awkward offering around a book with the following blurb:

Hope has fled the white nationalist militia she was born into and entered the corporate war that killed her brother, Caleb. Left to die in the fire that burned away all evidence of his murder, the nightmares that have engraved his killer’s face into her memory are Hope’s only lead.

Given a contract by Caleb’s employers to finish his work and find his killer, she’s been surgically wired into a prosthetic body she knows nothing about by Aranea Aerospace’s corporate espionage department. The Braid, the lynchpin in the company’s strategy to monopolize space access with the first private space elevator, is under attack, and she’s the newest pawn protecting it.

Did she ever really have a chance to say no? Probably not, but that’s the kind of choice Hope’s used to.

Uncovering Caleb’s secrets will mean confronting the poisonous truth of what the militia made her. Finding his killer will mean unravelling the web of lies spun around what Hope has become.

It’s a good book! I really think it is, I keep getting lost in it when I dip back into it and read a bit here and there and loving the thing, but it is also very clearly not a book that’s going to suit everybody. It is about people who hate other people, and hurts, and difficult emotions, and no matter how good it is, ‘The point of view character is an ex-member of a white nationalist militia’ is already not going to be for everybody, let alone the body-horror bits.

I like the book, and I think it represents a new high-water mark for me, but I also think it needs to come with a stack of content warnings because it is written from the point of view of a highly prejudiced and hateful person. So. Yeah. It needs responsible shelving to make sure people who don’t want to read this stuff do not have to read this stuff.

That might make it challenging to sell.

So we’ll see what happens with my hunt for agents, and much as this is going to likely be marmitey – beloved by some, not to the taste of others – I really like what I’ve done with it. So I’m really pleased to be able to send it out into the world to see what happens, but I’m keeping my expectations in check.

No broken hearts if it doesn’t work out, but, I made a good (if complicated and messy) thing with Aconite Braid. I’m pleased with it.

So. Next project? Not sure yet. Mouse Cage/the Troy Thing is definitely going to get some love, but I’m finding myself inspired by the oddest things lately. Christopher Robin, the movie with Ewan McGregor, feels wildly inspiring to me in a stitchpunk horror direction. Stumbling across sea shanties makes me want to work more on Mr. Scapes and Drenali. And, of course, Legacy of a Silver Age looms large in the back of my mind.

So. We’ll see, but between Aconite Braid and Mouse Cage, this year’s already shaping up to be something new and exciting for me.

I hope 2022 has room for you all to make good plans, find new ways to be happy, and brings you every opportunity to be more authentically you.

And, as ever, thank you so much for your support.

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By foozzzball

Malcolm Cross, otherwise known as 'foozzzball', lives in London and enjoys the personal space and privacy that the city is known for. When not misdirecting tourists to nonexistant landmarks and lurking at bus stops, Malcolm enjoys writing science fiction and fantasy with a furry twist.