Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Project

My self-imposed Hal Spacejock 5 deadline goes something like this:

• November 2008, write 50,000 words for NanoWrimo (done)
• December 2008, finalise the plot outline (more or less done)
• January-March 2009, write missing scenes, fine tune plot, repeat
• April 09, submit draft to editor, lots of rewriting & revision
• May-June 09, finish/polish the final final and hand it in
• November 09, Hal 5 release (and NanoWrimo 2009 for Hal 6.)

A week ago I came up with an idea for a new writing project, which is currently top secret. I mentioned it to my publisher and I've already started working on it.

My goal is 750 words per day, starting yesterday, which will continue until the first draft is complete. This won't delay Hal 5, because the new timeline looks like this:

• January-March 2009, write missing scenes, fine tune plot, repeat AND write new project.
• April 09, submit draft to editor, lots of rewriting & revision AND work on new project.
• May-June 09, finish/polish the final final and hand it in AND work on new project.
• November 09, Hal 5 release (and NanoWrimo 2009 for Hal 6.) AND work on new project.

See how easy it is? And people wonder how I manage to keep on top of everything.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

I'm taking a really quick break from tidying and cleaning to type this, so forgive my brevity. I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.

We're expecting 20 guests for Christmas lunch & dinner tomorrow, a family event we've hosted for the past 12 years or so. After the brain-straining NanoWrimo November my wife and I spend the whole of December attending to household repairs, painting, spring cleaning and so on. On balance, I think I prefer the writing ...

Now the turkey is ready, we have two full gas bottles for the BBQ, the veggies are all peeled/chopped/diced & sliced and the house looks as tidy as it did LAST December. (Better even. I finally hung some of the kids' artwork.)

Between Christmas and New Year it's my eldest daughter's 14th birthday, which seems to have been planned over two days this year, and after the New Year celebrations I'll be back to the writing.

Anyway, I hope everyone enjoys a very Messy Christmas, and I hope 2009 brings you much joy and happiness.

Simon Haynes

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, December 08, 2008

2008 Aurealis Award Finalists

The 2008 Aurealis Awards finalists have just been announced, and Hal Spacejock 4: No Free Lunch is one of the five shortlisted SF novels:

• K A Bedford, Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait, Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
• Marianne de Pierres, Chaos Space, Book Two of the Sentients of Orion, Orbit
• Simon Haynes, Hal Spacejock: No Free Lunch, Fremantle Press
• Kim Westwood, The Daughters of Moab, HarperVoyager
• Sean Williams, Earth Ascendant, Astropolis Book Two, Orbit

Winners will be announced at the Aurealis Awards ceremony at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts in Brisbane on Saturday 24 January 2009.

Full details here, including the complete list of finalists in all categories.

(I don't expect to win but I'm very happy to be a finalist. The Aurealis Awards mean a lot to me.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New interview up

Rusty Lime recently interviewed me about writing, the Hal books, and the relative merits of the C64 and ZX Spectrum.

And don't forget the chance to win a set of four Hal Spacejock novels on the Ebooks Just Published blog. (I can only see five entries at the moment, which means there's currently a 20% chance of winning a prize worth a hundred bucks or more. With odds like that it's surely worth entering? The prize includes worldwide postage, too.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Psst - Pass it on

Andromeda Spaceways offer

I've taken on the job of mailing out Andromeda Spaceways back-issues, and half my office is now stuffed with copies of the magazine ranging from issue #2 to #37.

Therefore, I'm going to run a quick "help to clean out Simon's office" special. Until Christmas, if you order any print issue of Andromeda Spaceways, I'll throw in another print issue of your choice for free.

How much are you up for? Well, older back-issues are just A$5 each, while newer ones are $7.95 or $8.95. Add $1.20 postage per 2 issues (paid + free) and for as little as $6.20 you can score two copies of ASIM, which is 1/3 the price of a single paperback.

(By the way, I have fiction in issues 3 and 6, and a daft drinks article in issue 2.)


1. Despatched to Australian postal addresses only (Sorry, but overseas postage costs more than the magazine. However, you can still buy the current issue as a PDF for around US$4.)
2. You can have one free issue for each issue you pay for (buy 4, get 4 free)
3. The free issue must be of equal or lesser value to the paid one.
4. Tell me which free issues you want in the comments
5. You can only choose issues we have in stock. (Some issues are sold out, and say so under the cover pic.)
6. If the issue you pick has run out, I'll ask you to nominate another.

Every order will receive a Hal Spacejock bookmark & fridge magnet while stocks last.

With 37 issues in print, Andromeda Spaceways has a huge back catalogue of fiction, reviews and articles, and it's all wasted sitting in my house.

If you take advantage of this offer, please consider blogging about it, reviewing the magazines when they arrive, or just letting a couple of people know about ASIM.


Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Nanowrimo day 22

On Friday the 21st I only managed about 700 words all day, but dashed off another 600 after 11pm to end up with my smallest daily total for quite some time.

On Saturday the 22nd (yesterday as I write this), I really didn't feel like writing anything. Friday's 1300 words were reminiscent of a scene in Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch, and so I needed a new direction and some fresh ideas. That's never good when you're facing an empty screen first thing in the morning.

Eventually I abandoned my plans for the characters, skipped ahead an hour or so of their time, and threw them into a dangerous situation. Having Hal and Clunk protecting someone else was a novel experience for all three of us, and I ended up writing over 3000 words.

I guess the editing side of my brain will just have to piece all this together later...

The graph below shows my NanoWrimo progress from day one. The grey part represents the required daily count, red shows under and green over.

The reason for those two zero days, and two huge green days? The NanoWrimo servers are based on US timezones, so if I submit my wordcount after a certain time of day it's added to the NEXT day's tally instead.

You can see how the required daily count has been shrinking at an ever-increasing rate, thanks to my goal of writing 2000 words every day. As it stands now I only have to write about 900 words a day to finish, but I'm sticking to 2000 because I need a 120,000 word first draft by Feb next year, and December is always a write-off. (Hah)

How's everyone else's Nano going? Feel free to gloat or moan in the comments ...

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Win all four Hal Spacejock books

.. including worldwide postage, via the Ebooks Just Published blog:

I've just finished reading Simon Haynes' hilarious sci-fi, comedy adventure Hal Spacejock and enjoyed it so much that I've decided to run a competition to give one lucky reader the chance to win signed copies of the entire 4-book series (print edition). Here’s the deal ...

Read the rest on their blog, and please note that winning this particular comp requires skill, not random luck:

Entries will be judged on their originality, creativity and humour. Don't feel you have to limit yourself to a review. Other possibilities include writing an extra or alternative scene, some witty dialog between the main characters, a back story, critiquing a particular passage, etc, etc. Believe me, once you've read the book, plenty of ideas will flow.

What a nice chap ;-)

Please feel free to share the competition, even if you don't intend to enter.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What I don't like

I thought I'd take a trip through a few things I dislike in novels. They're not dealbreakers, but the more of these an author incorporates into their work, the less I'm likely to enjoy the result.

In the comments, you're welcome to add your own. Mine aren't listed in any order - they're just hitting the post as I dream them up.

1. A cast of thousands.
In a movie you get to put a face to every name. In a book you just get the name plus a description, which is promptly forgotten. The worst characters are those which are so similar to half a dozen others in the same book you end up wondering why the author didn't just roll them into one. Mentally, I already have.

2. Excessive description.
To me it's a table, or a sword, or a room. You can just about get away with 'large' and 'small', and you're only allowed to embellish the description beyond this if said item reappears later in the book. By which time I'll have forgotten the description. And the name.

3. A cliffhanger ending.
There's a reason I wait until TV shows are wrapped up for good before buying the mega boxed set with a ton of extras I never look at. I hate cliffhangers! (Not as much as I hate ads, but we're getting close.)
Give me cliffhangers in scenes and chapters, but not at the end of the book. If the book DOES have a cliffhanger ending I'll get the whole lot when the last one is released. (And trust me, I'll know. A book with a cliffhanger ending has 'book N of Y' on the cover, and I'll wait until N = Y thankyouverymuch.)
Why the antipathy? Because I once got caught out by an author who spent five years writing the last book of a series. By the time I read it I couldn't remember the characters, the plot, OR any of the names. It might just as well have been alphabet soup for all the enjoyment I got out of it.

4. No plot
Plots are a handy little aide-memoire. If I can't remember the character's face OR name, I can at least try and remember what they're supposed to be doing. Give me something to distinguish this book from fifty thousand others published at the same time.

5. No typos
A few of these sprinkled around liven things up, especially if I can't remember why whosisname is doing whatever to whatsisface, but if I stop reading for enjoyment and start reaching for the red pen, look out.
I realise they're not all down to the author, but I never said this was fair.

6. Misleading or fabricated cover blurbs.
You know the ones: "Its ... steaming!" standing in for "It's a steaming pile of crap and I only managed to read the first chapter!"

7. Completely misleading cover
If there's a face on the front I'm going to associate it with the protagonist. If there's a plot on the back, I more-or-less expect the book to follow it. If none of it bears any relation to the contents I'll rip the cover off and attach my own version, and then donate the book to the local thrift shop. With a pencilled review above page one.

8. Contractual obligation books
Anything trotted out to meet a deadline, instead of being written because the author loves the entire process from beginning to end. (That includes rewriting and polishing, folks.) There are plenty of new writers out there who would kill for a chance to get published. If you write garbage for the pay cheque, it's your spot they're after.

9. Tie-ins written from movies which were adapted from a novel in the first place.
Kerching! I have nothing against movie tie-ins, books written from TV shows, etc, etc. I'm specifically talking about books which are competing against the original, by way of the movie. As far as I'm concerned, anyone reading the novelisation or a movie of a novel is getting short-changed.

10 and last: Really good novels I wish I had the talent to write*

* Nonono, not literary fiction or classics or worthy books. I'm talking about fun books which hit a nerve with the public.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, November 17, 2008

For Portland, OR residents

Portland, USA: You're not doing too badly when it comes to the Hal Spacejock books, are you? The distributor, ISBS, is based there. Powell's books of Portland stocks the entire series, and I've just had a NanoWrimo message from someone who works in the SF section at the Portland library telling me they have the books on their shelves.

I just took a peek in the Multnomah County Library online catalogue and they have 24 copies of various Hal Spacejock books across a number of branches.

So, if you live in the area and have been hanging out for some Hal, try the library ;-)

If you live elsewhere in the USA, you can either ask your local library to get them in (from ISBS), or move to Portland asap.

Surely that's not too much to ask?

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Couple more things

First, io9 has interviews with James Strickland and myself, where we discuss NanoWrimo and how a month of madness led to at least two published novels.

Second, Sarah Wise from the Creaking Shelves Bookshop in Scotland just sent me a snap of Hal Spacejock sitting in her shop window. Note the spaceship and the mini Lego Hal sitting on top of the book ;-)

Third, I spent part of yesterday plotting and now have a bunch more scenes to write. I'm still trying to get the characters to do what they're supposed to, and they still keep trying to run off the rails.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, November 14, 2008

This is one with a rant in front of it

I've started seeing this in the media recently, and it's driving me nuts. When talking about figures, politicians and reporters have started using phrases such as 'we expect inflation will be a number with a two in front of it' or 'unemployment will be a number with a four in front of it.'

First, it's not accurate. Is the former two point something, twenty point something or two million point something?

Second, it's GOT to be a number. Inflation can't be a 'word with a two in front of it', unless it's 'Two High'

Gah. Next it'll be book on favourite pastimes with a 69 at the end of it, or a round of golf with a four in the middle of it.

Yes, I really am expecting it to spread like wildfire - look out for the robbery with the gun in front of it, the scandal with the policitian in front of it, and the writer with the manuscript with the rejection in front of it.

Now I have a smile with a wan in front of it.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

A third to enjoy

Tobias Buckell, fellow SFNovelists member, has just posted the first third of his third published novel, Sly Mongoose, on his website. (His third website? Dunno.)

You can find the first third of books one and two at the same location.

Speaking of SFNovelists, if you'd like to check out regular writing-related posts by published authors, you'll find the group blog here.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Nanowrimo day 12

I'm powering ahead now - on Monday I switched to a new character, and after two days of solid writing I know his name, his situation, his deepest desires and his secrets. I've also given him a love interest and a couple of major problems, neither of which I knew about yesterday.

THAT's why I love NanoWrimo. Forget the roadmap and go charging off through the scrub. You never know where you'll end up, or even how you got there.

(Sometimes the widgets lag the real count, so for the record I'm currently on 23482 at 2:40pm on Wednesday the 12th of November.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, November 10, 2008

For UK Hal fans, and those who want to be

Just a reminder that The Creaking Shelves bookstore in Wigtown, Scotland, is the only place you can get the Hal Spacejock series in the UK.

They're selling imported copies and bundles, and I signed every copy before they were sent over.

If you're interested, here's where you get them (and they do mail order, too.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

One picture is worth 14811 words

(As of today, that is)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Nano progress day 6

Hit 10000 words today, and I took a bit of a breather to mess with the plot outline. I've been juggling two different pieces of this book for some time now, and today I realised I can move one of them to the last 1/4 (ie. the end section), which solves the problem neatly.

Before this insight I kept streamlining and compressing one piece of the plot into the smallest possible chunk so it didn't delay the introduction to the other piece. (In past Hal Spacejock novels this has led to chunks of plot being compressed into thin air, which is why I have almost a million words of unused Hal scenes sitting in a folder.)

I don't know whether this plot outline will work, but that's what NanoWrimo is about - bang out the wordage and worry about where it all fits later.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Interview with Diana Pharaoh Francis

Diana Pharaoh Francis’s latest book, The Black Ship, is the second in her Crosspointe Chronicles series. It a novel of adventure at sea, friendship, betrayal and magic, and will be released November 4th, 2008.

1) What was your inspiration for writing The Black Ship?

Well, there were a couple of things that led to writing this book. First, I meant for it to completely stand alone, so very little of the first book in the series, The Cipher, ends up in this book. A bit of it is there as backstory, but this book is really about Thorn and his big mouth and the trouble he gets into. At the same time, I wanted to tie into the unrest and political events that started showing up in The Cipher, but hopefully those flow naturally from Thorn's story. Probably most importantly, I wanted to get my characters out onto the Inland Sea because it is such a marvelously strange sea. It's a magical see where what was shallow a moment ago is now deep, where the currents shift in the blink of an eye, and it's filled with magic and monsters. Many ships don't survive. Exploring the sea, more than anything, is what pushed me to write this book about these characters. And once I met Thorn and Plusby and several others, I had to tell their stories.

2) What do you find most interesting about Thorn?

I’ve become very interested in flawed characters—in people who don’t always do things in their own best interests, or who are contradictory and sometimes dangerous to themselves. These flaws can be incredibly valuable, when you think about people who are willing to sacrifice themselves for others. Yet those flaws can be dangerous, too. Thorn fascinates me because he ends up in a place where he’s torn between doing one version of right and doing another and he doesn’t know which is the more right thing to do, but he can't do both. That and he’s snarky and sometimes rude and he was huge fun to write.

3) What is it about fantasy that attracts you?

I think it’s the possibility for real heroism, and that an individual can have an enormous impact on his or her world. That a person’s decisions matter to the larger world, and that honor is worth something, and so is sacrifice.

4) What sort of research did you do to write this book?

I did something incredibly bizarre. I set this book on a square-rigged clipper ship, even though I’d never been sailing. Ever. I didn’t know anything. So I did a lot of research on clipper ships, square-riggers, the commands that are used, the feeling of being on the sea, life aboard and so on and so forth. I went out to Washington to take a short cruise on The Lady Washington and asked a whole lot of questions. I read all sorts of sailing accounts and manuals and fiction about sailing. I looked for diagrams and slang, I looked for everything that might have anything to do with sailing anywhere. I watched The Deadliest Catch to see a cold, vicious ocean in action. The process was wonderful. I think that when people read this book that they’ll really feel like they are aboard a ship. At least I hope they get that.

5) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

I have so many favorites. Wow. Well, early on I read the Narnia books over and over, and of course the Madeleine L’Engle books. But I remember that the books that really jolted me into reading broadly in fantasy were Zelazney’s Amber books. I still don’t know what it was about them that appealed so much to me at that time, but after that, I became an avid reader of fantasy, almost excluding anything else.

As for favorites now . . . I love Carol Berg and Robin McKinley. I’m a fan of Marjorie Liu, Anne Bishop and Guy Gavriel Kay. But really, I’m a voracious reader and I have so many favorites that I couldn’t begin to cover them here.

6) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

I have always been a storyteller, but I didn’t start writing until I got into college. Then I tried to write mainstream sorts of fictions. They were bad. My heart wasn’t invested in them. Eventually I began to write fantasy, which made me so much happier. As for how I got where I am now? Hmmmm. Where am I? Essentially I did some short stories and published a few of them, but I am really more a novel writer—short fiction doesn’t really come to me very often and it's uncomfortable to write, not like novels. So I worked on a novel, then another one, and then another one. At the same time, I was getting my MA and my Ph.D.

Then one day a friend (Jennifer Stevenson) asked if I’d like to do a novel in a week. I said . . . “wha…?” She explained that a novel in a week is when you take time off from life. Most people can carve out a single week of life from work, family, and other obligations and totally focus on writing. The idea is to write as much as you can during that time. When you’re done, you’ll know if you’ve got the beginnings of something (or maybe a complete draft if you’re really kicking butt on the writing), or you’ll know if it’s not worth pursuing. Either way, you’ve only lost a week to it.

So I did this, and found that I was really rocking on a novel I liked. It turned out to be Path of Fate, my first published novel. I did the submitting rounds and it was picked up by Roc.

7) What does a typical writing day look like for you?

There’s no such thing as typical. I’m still working full time, and I have a family with kids, and so I end up squeezing the writing in wherever and whenever I can. I’ve become a lot better about getting more accomplished in shorter bits of time, but really, I’m always scrambling to keep all the balls in the air and hoping none of them shatter if they fall.

8) Where do you write?

I usually write in my office. It’s a room in the upstairs of my 1917 house. It’s painted purple and has a bank of five windows that looks out over the front yard and lets in a lot of light. It’s got wall to wall books and my ‘desk’ is an old kitchen table from when I was growing up. It is about eight feet long and about five feet wide. It’s also piled with papers and books, my computer, printer and scanner. On the walls are swords, a battle ax, a munch of maps, and a bunch of pics. I also have two lava lamps, one shaped like a space ship.

9) What is hardest for you as a writer?

You know, it really all depends on the day. Like many writers, my ego is sometimes fragile so some days it’s just hard to believe that what I’m writing isn’t utter dreck. Then other days, it’s squeezing out time to write. And then maybe it’s getting through a particularly tricky scene, or figuring out how to fix a scene that just won’t work the way it is. The hardest thing changes every day.

10) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

The Path books (Path of Fate, Path of Honor, Path of Blood) are traditional epic fantasy. The first focuses on Reisil and how she has to make a choice to do something she absolutely doesn’t want to do, even though everybody else thinks is a great honor. In the second book, she finds out that not everybody is what they seem to be, and that evil can be really seductive. In the third book, she finally comes into herself and must really embrace who she’s become.

The Cipher is the first of the Crosspointe Chronicles, and is about Lucy and Marten. They are both very flawed characters and must come to terms with their flaws. In the course of it, they do some pretty awful things, even though both want to be good peopel. I really like them both. This world is not your usual epic fantasy world and has a lot in common with Victorian England.

11) How do people find out more about you and your novels?

First, thanks everyone for hanging out with me. I appreciate it. To buy the books, head over here to Mysterious Galaxy , Barnes and Noble , or Amazon. For more about me, a taste of the books, or random useful information, go to my website. Here’s a link for my blog, Mad Libs.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

US Election coverage

The BBC is streaming their coverage live.

And, because it's the Beeb, the feed is commercial-free.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nano day 4

I had a lousy writing day yesterday - I'm seeing my accountant on Thursday, and I have to take all of last year's figures with me. That means sorting through the typical shoe box full of receipts and statements, entering everything into a spreadsheet and coming up with subtotals in all the different categories.

It's hard to concentrate on fiction writing when you have that much fun awaiting your attention, and so on Monday I only managed 800 words or so in between the spreadsheet chicanery. I'd just got into the swing by 11:30pm when my wife pointed out we had to be up at 6:30 am to get youngest off to band practice. (Thanks to daylight saving, 6:30am is a body-clock time of 5:30 am. I don't function at all before three coffees and/or 10am, body clock or otherwise.)

Oh yes, and yesterday I also spent half the day writing an HTML-based print routine for Remind-Me-Please 3, because I recently upgraded my wife's PC from v2 and she was the first to notice the new version didn't print anything when she clicked the buttons. (I tried telling her the printer was out of paper, it was all down to Windows XP, she wasn't clicking the buttons in the right place, etc, in the hope she'd ask me about it after the end of November, but in the end I confessed there was no actual code behind the buttons.)

Today, after a massive six hours of sleep, I've managed 3000 words before 3pm. I did this by ignoring most email, my accounts spreadsheet and other niceties of civilisation. I did get the usual three coffees in, and I'm surviving on a diet of mini Snickers, Mars Bars and Bounties... all the loot I bought for Halloween trick-or-treaters, which nobody tried to claim.

Anyway, I'm about to tackle the accounts spreadsheet again, which is a pity because I was really into the writing. It was one of those days where I could half-convince myself I could write one 90,000 word draft a month.

Maybe later I'll get another thousand words in. And not just on my blog.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hal Spacejock Website

I've just updated the main Hal Spacejock site with a new front page (6 covers! Woot!), pages for Hal 5 and 6 (now with even more FAQ), news pages for them both (pathetically empty), and a few additional bits and pieces.

Check it out

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Hal Spacejock books 5 and 6

I just got off the phone from my publisher and they've verbally confirmed Hal Spacejock book 5 for November 2009 and Hal Spacejock book 6 for November 2010.

After that, who knows? I have more plot ideas than I can possibly use, and I still love the characters, so it's really down to the publisher and the book-buying public.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

International Backup Day

I'm unilaterally declaring November the 3rd International Backup Day, or IBD for short. Grab a blank DVD, memory stick or removable hard drive and take a copy of your important files, right now. This is doubly important if you don't know how to do a backup, or have never bothered.

JA Konrath recently posted about various backup and restore methods, so head over there if you're uncertain about the whole concept of storing a copy of your data.

If you're not sure whether it's time to backup or not, consider this: If your PC died tomorrow, what would you lose?

You might like to post about IBD on your blog if you believe backing up is important.

Windows users: At the very least you should take a copy of your 'My Documents' folder - right-click on it, select properties and note how many gb it takes up. You'll need a memory stick at least 10-20% bigger than the total, so 3gb of files will require a 4gb stick or a blank DVD. 500 megs of files will fit onto a CD.

If you have a lot of data, I recommend an external USB hard drive. Just remember not to leave it connected to the power or the computer when not in use, or a lightning strike will take it out along with all your other gear. If you DO pick up a 500gb drive, don't waste all that room. Make folders called Jan-Dec and schedule a monthly backup into the relevant folder.

If funds are tight you can pick up an empty 3.5" USB hard drive enclosure and fit an old 10 or 20gb drive. That's equivalent to 20-40 DVDs, which is masses of room for the average user. If you have a huge collection of digital camera pics, consider how much you've saved on film and developing, and put a tiny portion of that cash towards a backup solution.

Personally I'm a backup freak, with a dedicated 200gb partition containing automatic daily, monthly and yearly snaphots of My Documents, two dozen external hard drives, backups on two completely different computers and a pocket full of memory sticks. But you don't have to go that far.

Finally, a free backup app you might find useful. (Windows only)

Official International Backup Day page

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Helpful NanoWrimo links

This year marks my fourth NanoWrimo, and barring any disasters I intend to maintain my 100% record. For those wondering whether Nano is any use ... Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch contains a lot of ideas, characters and actual writing from a couple of my earlier Nano efforts, so the answer is yes.

The benefits of Nano are many, from thirty days of mad writing with no worries about the quality of the prose, to the understanding of family who you'll finally hear saying things like "No, he can't come to your election victory celebration. He's WRITING this month."

So, on to Nano 2008. This year I've plotted Hal 5 and will be writing a substantial chunk of the first draft. I've not written a word of fiction since Nano last year (in itself a damn good reason for me to sit down and do it again), so I suspect it's going to be a bit of 'right you, into the deep end' for the first few days. I'll live.

Enough of the pitch. Now I want to share a few links:

My Nanowrimo daily progress forms, Nano tips and the unique one-day-catchup form are all here.

yWriter4 for Windows is here. (Your mission is to install it and learn how to use it before the 1st. Ha.)

The Nanowrimo forums. They usually melt down for the first 5-7 days, but after that about 60-70% of Nano hopefuls have packed it in, and everything moves smoothly again.

Once you've signed up for Nano (and you'd better hurry), the Regions page allows you to specify your geographical location, and will then give you a link to a forum where you can meet up with nearby Nanoers. E.g. my region is "Australia & New Zealand :: Perth :: South", and we're already planning meet-ups and word wars with "Australia & New Zealand :: Perth :: North"

Finally, my NanoWrimo profile is here. If you want to run a word war widget with me, just copy and paste the following to your blog/website, replacing the [ and ] with < and >, and the ID with your own NanoWrimo ID (number, not name. It's the last part of the URL when you access your user page on NanoWrimo's site.)

[img src="http://www.nanowrimo.org/NanowrimoUtils/WordWar/84789-ID.png" /]

See you in November ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Nano '08

I worked my way through the Hal 5 plot over the weekend, and managed to escape without changing more than 95% of it. This was prompted by the ever-closer NanoWrimo 2008, which starts in just over 10 days.

I didn't quite get yWriter 5 ready for this year's NanoWrimo, but yWriter 4 looks like it's popular enough already:


I'll be using yWriter 5 myself during November, ready or not, and will use NanoWrimo '08 to write a large chunk of Hal 5 and also debug yW5 at the same time. (No coding allowed until after the daily wordcount is complete, of course. That's my reward #1. Reward #2 is GTAIV PC, which is coming out mid-November.)

Anyone else participating in NanoWrimo? If so, feel free to add me as a writing buddy/contact/virtual punchbag/word war opponent:


See you on the 1st!

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Thursday, October 02, 2008


With her permission, I'd like to share a self portrait my eldest daughter has been working on for the past couple of days:

1. She used the Gimp open-source art package
2. She drew it freehand with the mouse

(She usually works with pencil and pastels, never directly on the PC.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Hal Spacejock 4 review

This one slipped past my search filters somehow. It's a write-up/summary of Hal 4 in the Sept 2008 Midwest Book Review. (It's on their site under the Internet Bookwatch and Wisconsin Bookwatch sections. Hal's a slippery fellow ...)

Anyway, the review starts as follows:

With his gift for satire, science fiction author Simon Haynes is the Australian Terry Pratchett.

Cough splutter blush.

In evidence I submit "No Free Lunch", a rollicking SciFi showcasing the adventures of that square-jawed, square-shooter spaceman Hal Spacejock.

That's part's right.

"No Free Lunch" will leave science fiction enthusiasts eagerly looking forward to the next thrilling, quirky, and humorous adventure of Hal Spacejock, interplanetary entrepreneur!

Which is a problem, because the books still haven't been picked up by a US publisher. So, you can look forward to them but you can't actually buy them in bookstores and such.

Looks great, wonderful reviews, but You Can't Have It.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Interview with Mindy Klasky

Mindy Klasky is the author of nine speculative fiction novels, including MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL, the third volume in the Jane Madison series, about a librarian who discovers that she's a witch. You can learn more about Mindy at her website - www.mindyklasky.com - including reading chapters from each of her novels.

Available at Amazon, Powell's and most online and bricks-and-mortar bookstores.

Why this book? What made you want to write this story?

I started writing the Jane Madison series because I wanted to play with a world that was light and fun, with a clearly defined supernatural influence. (I had just finished the dramatic, dark, magic-less Glasswrights Series, along with a trunked novel about a world-destroying conspiracy of evil-doers who torture children, murder scholars, and do other depressing dastardly deeds.)

Despite the lighter tone, Jane confronts some serious questions in the books - most often about the nature of friendship and family. MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL was specifically sparked by my interest in how friendships change over time, particularly as we get older and more settled, losing some of the angst that cements some ... younger relationships. I think that it's the perfect conclusion to the Jane Madison Series, wrapping up loose ends, while letting readers envision a future for their favorite series characters.

Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?

I have always enjoyed authors who build incredible characters, giving them realistic plots through which to navigate. Over time, my list of favorite authors has evolved to include more Young Adult authors (such as Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld.) I find myself veering away from authors who take political stances that I find distasteful, particularly when their politics stray into their storytelling. (Orson Scott Card? I'm looking at you!)

Why genre? Is there something special about science fiction or fantasy that draws you to write in the field?

I love the opportunity in genre to answer the "what if" questions. I could certainly write a searing indictment of contemporary culture, drawing on "ripped from the headlines" stories about spousal abuse, abandoned children, tortured prisoners, etc. I find it more intriguing, though, to structure my inquiries in speculative terms. Readers free themselves to think more broadly when the framework for their thoughts is patently impossible. Jane Madison readers can ask themselves about their relationships with their mothers, grandmothers, best friends, and romantic interests without needing to cut too close to the emotional bone. Readers are less defensive and more expansive when they are freed from the direct constraints of the real world.

What do you find most interesting about Jane Madison?

Jane is a bundle of contrasts and insecurities. Usually, she knows what she should be saying and/or doing; she just doesn't remember to state those words or take those actions in the immediacy of the moment. (Her judgment is even more impaired when the men of her dreams are around....) I enjoy structuring Jane's foibles - mostly because she is, at heart, an educated, eloquent, strong woman who acts in her own best interest and in the best interest of those around her. (That action becomes even more challenging in MAGIC, when Jane meets her true love, only to find that "the course of true love never did run smooth.")

You're a writer. What else are you? What are your interests? Hobbies?

I've been a lawyer and a librarian. I'm a wife, a daughter, a sister, and an aunt. In between juggling all of the professional and familial hats, I am an avid reader, a cat-wrangler, a baker, a quilter, a movie-watcher, a Boston Red Sox fan, and a scrapbooker. (Basically, I can't just sit and watch TV; I need to have something in my hands. I get most of my quilting done during the World Series.)

Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you need to know in order to write it that you didn't know before? Do you have some special preparation you do for writing?

For each of the Jane Madison books, I've conducted a lot of "spot" research, doing quick online searches for information about specific crystals, individual runes, and other magical paraphernalia. Jane and her best friend often quote Shakespeare, challenging each other to identify the play, act, and scene. I usually start out knowing the quotation, but I need to research the specific reference. MAGIC is heavily tied to Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST, so I re-read the play in preparation for writing this volume. I can't write without a live connection to the Internet (although I have to restrain myself from checking my email every twenty-seven seconds!) In the rare times that I've tried writing without an Internet connection, I leave myself cryptic notes (e.g., "Find Stomach Crystal.")

I see a lot of food, especially baking, in this book. Is that something that really interests you? Or is it more driven by the needs of the story?

I've always enjoyed baking, although I am almost always dieting. Creating the Cake Walk bakery gave me a chance to indulge my sweet tooth in low-caloric ways!

This fall, my baking interest is going to grow beyond the four corners of the Jane Madison series: I'm launching a charity calendar that will include some of the Cake Walk recipes, along with favorite recipes from a variety of paranormal, urban fantasy, and mystery authors. All profits will go to First Book, a charity with the mission of getting underprivileged children their first books to own. (Details will be posted on my website shortly!)

Jane's best friend, Melissa, goes on numerous disastrous first dates throughout the series. Do you have your own share of first date disasters to tell?

Every one of Melissa's horrific dates has a seed of truth in one of my own first dates. (In one horrific year, I went on 28 first dates - a record that convinced me that I was perfectly happy to live the rest of my life alone. A couple of years after swearing off dating, I logged on to match.com (in response to prompting from my concerned, married brother.) I reluctantly completed my dating profile, clicked on "match" and the first profile that came up belonged to the man I married 17 months later.)

What are you writing now?

I've started a new urban fantasy series, the As You Wish Series. The first volume, THERE'S THE RUB, will be in stores in October 2009. It's about a stage manager who discovers a magic lantern with a wish-granting genie inside. Alas, her wishes don't go precisely as she plans....

Anything else that we should know about you, your writing, and the Jane Madison Series?

In addition to selling the Cake Walk recipe calendar, I am raising money for First Book by auctioning off a stunning, handmade necklace-and-earring set inspired by the Jane Madison series. The glass jewelry was created by a prominent librarian and jewelry artist specifically for this First Book fund-raiser. Details (including pictures of the incredible themed jewelry) will be posted on my website on October 1; the auction will close on October 31.

Thanks for taking the time to ask these questions! I hope that people will stop by my website and/or email me any questions at mindy@mindyklasky.com.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Hal Spacejock Book 5 ...

... is a goer. Just spoke to my publisher and it's full steam ahead for a (hopefully) 2009 release.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Hal 1 review

Just spotted a new Hal Spacejock review, this one on the Contrariwise blog. One particular comment caught my eye:

The story is fun and fast-paced, a great book for a quick read or for a younger reader who can appreciate humor, slight cursing, and poop jokes.

Go the poop jokes, that's what I say!

It’s an entertaining read, and I recommend it for anyone who loves deadpan narration and a few hours of frivolous fun in a science fiction world.

Don't delay, go read the rest of the review and see whether you agree with it. If you don't know whether to agree or not, download Hal Spacejock, read it, THEN go and debate the review.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Ebook piracy - is it really a problem?

As you may know, my publisher agreed to release the first Hal Spacejock novel as a free ebook in open, non-protected txt/rtf/html formats. Anyone can download it, read it, share it.

If you listen to some authors (and most publishers), this is akin to handing out blank cheques - a sure-fire way to destroy the book-selling business.

Personally, I'm convinced that ebooks are nothing more than preview trailers for the main feature. Sure, some people will read an ebook all the way through, but they're in the minority. And if they do read your novel from start to finish on a cramped little screen I guess that means they're enjoying the thing, which suggests they might recommend the work to others ... some of whom will prefer paper over pixels.

I don't have any sales figures to back up my 'ebooks damage you not' claim, since the first book recently sold out of its second printing (a third is planned) AND the ebook coincided with the launch of Hal 4. There was a spike in Hal 1 sales, but that hit a wall when the stock ran out.

However, I do have one very interesting fact to share. I recently drew three more winners in my monthly Hal Spacejock competition, and in the email which went out to everyone I explained that they could still download the first book for nothing. So which book did all three winners select, given a choice of Hal 1-4?

A copy of Hal Spacejock book one - the same title they can download for free.

Three people is hardly a big sample, but I was surprised even one winner chose the first Hal book. Why pick that one when the full ebook version is just a click away? Why not pick the second so they get two Hal novels for the price of one?

It does show that an ebook was of very little interest to the lucky winners, and that maybe ebooks aren't paperback-destroyers they're made out to be.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Query Project

I recently agreed to participate in Joshua Palmatier's Query Project, whereby a bunch of published authors reveal the sekrit handshake they used to get published, get an agent, etc. (You'll find links to a bunch of other posts at the bottom of mine. Follow them all for a different perspective!)

My route to publication was a unconventional, to say the least, and was mostly bereft of query letters, submissions and - let's be honest - common sense.

You can read the full story on my website, so I won't go over that again. Instead, I want to concentrate on the query letter I used after Hal Spacejock books 1 and 2 had been published, and immediately after I handed in the final manuscript for Hal 3.

Around this time (late 2006) I thought two things: one, that a prestigious US agent was shopping my novels around over there and two, that a major UK publisher was still considering them in England.

The catalyst for me approaching my current agent was this: the discovery that the US agent had written to my publisher six months earlier to say that the US publishers wanted to see the books do well in the UK before they'd be interested, due to the british style of humour. Somehow this message got lost, and when I heard about it I leapt into action.

Since the UK publisher was still (I thought) considering the books, I dashed off a quick query letter to the John Jarrold literary agency. John's based in England and I felt he would be ideally located to apply the thumbscrews over there. Immediately after clicking send I rang my publisher to explain what I was up to (they have world English rights to the Hal books, so any sale would be a sub-licensing deal), and I was still on the phone to them when John's reply came back, asking to see the first book.

A few weeks later I heard that the UK publisher in question had already decided against the book six months earlier, and had written to my current publisher to say so. That message also didn't get through. Despite this setback, I signed with John Jarrold and he's represented me ever since.

Anyway, this is a copy of the query letter I sent John Jarrold. Comments are in red.

Hi John, [Hey, I live in Australia. Formality is for Poms]

I'm the author of an SF/Humour series which is currently selling through bookstores across Australia and New Zealand. (The Hal Spacejock series, published by FACP - http://www.fremantlepress.com.au/ - and distributed by Penguin Australia - http://www.penguin.com.au/) [I felt it important to mention this up front. We're not talking self-published.]

I was born in the UK and moved to Australia aged 16, so the humour in the books is more Red Dwarf, Black Adder and Hitchhiker's Guide than Crocodile Dundee. [There's some bloody awful aussie humour around. Not Mick Dundee, necessarily, but it ain't Home & Away with a laughter track either.]

The first book was a Dymocks best-seller for three weeks on release, [So it's not a complete dud] and the second title has been out for just over three months. [So it's not had time to become a complete dud]. Book three entered production last week [ditto], and will be published across Australia and New Zealand in January 2007.

Earlier this year [IMPORTANT US AGENT] of [BIG US AGENCY] contacted me through my website [he'd heard about me via one of his clients, but I didn't mention that] and offered representation, but Fremantle Press have World English rights so I passed his query on to them. He showed the books to a number of NY publishers, without any result, [I didn't mention that I'd literally discovered this an hour or so earlier, a whopping six months after the fact] and Fremantle Press is now going to ship the books to the US where they will sell as imports through the existing distributor, ISBS. ([IMPORTANT US AGENT] said there would definitely be interest if Spacejock did well in another market first, but then you could say that about any book.)

That brings us to the UK, and the purpose of this email. Tom Holt was kind enough to give me a cover quote for the first book ('Better than Red Dwarf', amongst other nice lines), and on my suggestion Fremantle Press sent a copy of Hal Spacejock to [Big UK Publisher]. I don't want to leap boots-first into any negotiations, but I did wonder whether there's anything here for you.

To my knowledge, [Big UK Publisher] haven't decided one way or the other. [Absolutely true. Neither myself nor the publisher had heard a thing] I know these things take time, but I believe the earliest they could have seen Spacejock was October '05. [Nearly a year earlier]

I can't ask you to represent me for these books, since Fremantle Press already have World English rights, and any deal would be between them and a publisher. What I did with [IMPORTANT US AGENT] was to put him in touch with Ray Coffey at FP and they proceeded from there.

The situation is complicated by the fact [Big UK Publisher] are already looking at the first book - assuming it didn't fall down the back of someone's desk. [It hadn't, but I would eventually discover that the reply had]

I should mention that I'm currently writing the fourth book in the Hal Spacejock series, with two more planned after that. My contract with FACP only covers the first three with no option clause on any further works, and [stuff deleted].

On the writing side I've seen several of my stories in print (including one alongside Tom Holt in Andromeda Spaceways), and I won an Aurealis Award in 2000 for a short story. After that I turned to novels. [Never hurts to mention publication credits & awards. The Aurealis is Australia's premier spec fic award, but I didn't bother explaining. A quick Google search will show whether an award is notable or not.]

Hope I didn't go into exhaustive detail in my email. I wanted to lay the details out without taking up too much of your time.

Incidentally, although I live in Western Australia I was born in Croydon, [etc, etc, we're almost family, me ol' mucker, etc, etc]

[This is where coincidence plays a part. JJ wrote back to say he'd worked in a public library near Croydon in the 70's, and a couple of emails later we established this was the exact same library my mum used to take me to every week when I was a kid ... in the 70's. In other words, he was one side of the counter and I was the other!]

Simon Haynes

There you have it - one query letter (or rather, email). It worked for me, and you'll find a bunch of others here:

Paul Crilley
Chris Dolley
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Gregory Frost
Simon Haynes
Jackie Kessler
Glenda Larke
John Levitt
Joshua Palmatier
Janni Lee Simner
Maria V. Snyder
Jennifer Stevenson
Edward Willett
David J. Williams

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Does this mean I'm weird?

I love election telecasts - or rather, I love the ABC (Australia) ones. Come the Federal or WA State Election night I'll be glued to the PC, TV tuner card locked to the ABC and munchies & make-work at the ready.

Yeah, make-work. I'm not daft enough to watch the election coverage without SOMETHING to keep me busy. Tonight I'm packing Hal Spacejock fridge magnets & bookmarks for the hundred or so people who've requested them recently. (Follow the link to get yours - I'll even pay the postage within Australia.

Anyway, the coverage starts in about 45 mins, I have stacks of magnets, bookmarks and printed envelopes at the ready, and then it's on. Later in the night I'll have a second TV window open so I can watch the Formula 1 qualifying, so it's just as well I have two eyes.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, September 05, 2008

Boring old hall cupboard? Not here.

I've just spent a busy week or so shifting the burglar alarm & network ports & file/webserver into the hall cupboard, freeing up the spare bedroom. The cupboard is on a corner, with a wall on one side and the door in the front.

Last night I was watching an old ep of Doctor Who and it hit me. Brilliant idea. I turned to my wife & said 'I'm going to turn the hall cupboard into a Tardis.'

She said 'Okay.'

You can see why we've been married 17 years.

Now, I wonder what Pantone colour Police Box blue is?

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Way behind schedule

I had it all planned out - 200m of new cat 5e solid core cable, wife & kids out for the day, everything ready to go. By the time they got home later I intended to have all 8 network ports rewired through the walls (dbl brick) & connected to the server gear which will soon reside in the hall cupboard instead of taking up the spare bedroom. I'm replacing the old paired cat 5 with 5e as part of the process.

So I start pulling up the first of the old cables, and the join breaks. And two hours later I'm still trying to fish the bloody end with a string & weighted hook, something I've done many, many times over the years with ease. It doesn't help that the waste pipe for the aircon runs along the top of the cavity, nor that the roof is in the shade & still damp, nor that the sunlight is in my eyes and the torch has no appreciable effect.

I've paused for brekky & a coffee now, and then I'll get that sucker pulled up the cavity if I have to use levitation.

For the rest, I'm going to solder the bloody joins in a lump. Watch THAT break.

Edit: 30 seconds after posting this I hooked the network cable on the first attempt. See, it DOES pay to whinge aloud.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, September 01, 2008

Interview with Lara Morgan

Lara Morgan is the author of Awakening, The Twins of Saranthium Book One published by Pan Macmillan's Tor imprint on September 1 this year. Awakening is a fantasy novel set in the hot lands of Saranthium where the pact between serpents and humans is failing and the rumours of the return of the banished god of the serpents, Azoth, leads twins Shaan and Tallis into a journey they may not survive. It's good versus evil but one in which the lines between become increasingly blurred.

Awakening is Lara's first book and took over ten years to see the light of day which she thinks is not bad in the overall scheme of things. Lara has a BA in English, has travelled to many odd places and has been a gallery assistant, arts project manager and the consulting editor of a newspaper. She lives in Geraldton, Western Australia.

What was your inspiration for writing Awakening?
I started it so long ago it's hard to remember! But I don't think it was any one thing, the story grew very slowly from a small seed and changed a great deal along the way. I think one of the things I find most inspiring though is how people cope with being thrust into extraordinary circumstances and I like to explore that in the book. The characters have to deal with quite a lot.

Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?
Some of my favourite books growing up are still my favourite books now, such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Narnia Chronicles. I was also addicted for a while to the Famous Five and I was wildly into Sidney Sheldon in my teens but that's a different kind of fantasy all together! Now I'd say one of my favourite authors is Ursula Le Guin. I never tire of reading her Earthsea books and am always amazed by her ability with language, she just writes so beautifully. I also love Isobelle Carmody, Sara Douglas, JV Jones, Scot Westerfeld, Fred Vargas, Donna Tartt, Juliet Marillier, Cormac McCarthy's The Road, Mark Twain, Geraldine Brooks ...the list goes on and on.

What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?
I think it's the attraction of a world less ordinary, a reality less mundane than the one I inhabit. I was always the kid who believed in fairies and was convinced there was something living under my bed at night and I don't think I've ever really grown out of it, I've just moved on to wanting to write about it and create my own strange worlds. I also think good fantasy and science fiction can go just as far in exploring the nature of humanity as any literary novel and I get as much satisfaction from reading someone like LeGuin as from reading Hemmingway, if not more.

Why did you decide to make Shaan and Tallis twins?
The twin idea came about because of the mythic significance of twins and also because of the powerful connection twins have, even when they grow up apart, and that is very important to the story, especially for Tallis. He feels a strong sense of something missing from his life until he finally meets his twin. And Shaan as well even though she wasn't as aware of it. Then again, I'm not entirely sure I decided to make my characters anything. I really feel that most of the time they are telling me what is going on and who they are, almost as if I am writing their history. It's as if Shaan and Tallis and their story already exist and I'm just the typist elected to jot it all down.

What (besides writing) do you do for fun?
Browsing in second hand bookshops - in fact I'm trying to convince myself it's a kind of sport. Travelling, especially to places with ruins, walking on the beach and of course reading, reading, reading garnished with an addiction for watching science fiction tv shows: Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Buffy, Supernatural etc etc. I'm a total sucker for anything mildly speculative.

What sort of research did you do to write this book? What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?
I spent some time reading about weapons and ancient civilisations but I don't do a great deal of pointed research unless I get stuck on a particular detail while I'm writing, such as how big a sword should be, the logistics of a serpent flying, or something like that. I researched the anatomy of dinosaurs for the serpents. Any preparation mostly consists of me making sure I have a cup of tea handy - it's like a ritual I find it hard to get to work unless I have tea.

Shaan really wants to become a serpent rider, to be one of the elite warriors that patrol the skies. Would you like to do that too?
I guess I would like to be some kind of powerful warrior woman who can command serpents in theory - except that I am really quite short and afraid of heights and I think that could be a tiny problem. Basically most of the characters in Awakening are braver than I am - especially Shaan, she doesn't run away from a fight whereas I would be the one hiding behind whatever large metal object I could find trying to offer a diplomatic solution.

If you were Shaan or Tallis and found out you were descended from a maniacal god and had to surrender to an already decided fate, what would you do?
I think I would probably head straight for the nearest inn and down a lot of Cermezian wine - but then as I said I am not as brave as either of them. Although it would be quite handy to have Tallis's powers. I don't think I'd mind that.

What are you writing now?
I'm working on book two of the Twins of Saranthium trilogy.

Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?
I've written since I was in primary school but I didn't consciously decide I really wanted to be a writer until my late 20s, despite studying creative writing at uni. I thought for a while I'd be a journalist but realised I didn't like politics enough to do that. It was after returning from seven months overseas in 1997 that I got up one day and decided to write a book and it snowballed from there - although very slowly. I wrote stories, collected rejections and dabbled away at this book until in 2003 when I entered the Women's Weekly short story competition and won. That really changed everything. I got noticed, went to a writers festival and was asked to submit a story for Penguin's Girl's Night In 4. After that I had something to put on my resume. I wrote another book, this time a young adult sci fi novel, and got a mentorship through Writing WA with Isobelle Carmody. That sci fi novel hasn't been sold yet but not long after that I tried selling Awakening to various agents and was picked up by Curtis Brown - my agent was actually a judge on the Weekly competition and remembered me so I think that really helped - and by the end of 2007 Awakening and the rest of the Twins of Saranthium trilogy had been sold to Pan Macmillan. So it only took about ten years!

What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?
I wish I could say I write all day like some kind of female Bryce Courtney but the reality is I make tea and spend quite a chunk of time staring at what I wrote the day before and trying not to get distracted by the internet before I really get down to writing. I usually write about four hours a day, six on a good day, and try to aim for 2000 words, but I don't always make it. I comfort myself by remembering that sometimes James Joyce only managed seven words a day ( or so it's rumoured). This is especially important on days when I've done more deleting than creating. If I get really stuck I will write long hand or just try jotting down notes for the next scene so I at least have something to work with.

Where do you write?
Usually sitting at my desk straight into the computer and often cross legged because I can't reach the floor, which results in painful bouts of pins and needles and a reminder to myself that I should invest in a foot rest.

What is easiest/hardest for you as a writer?
The easiest is imagining how the story will progress and the hardest thing is writing it. I often have trouble with the logistics of fight/actions scenes and making sure it isn't just stilted detail and dialogue is like pulling teeth with a set of Barbie's plastic tweezers. I find writing a character's interior monologue and describing surroundings the least difficult.

This is your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there.
This is my first book but I have written another, a much shorter book for young adults, which is yet to be sold and as mentioned before I have had a short story published in Girl's Night In 4, but under the name Lara Martin.

What is the purpose of fantasy/science fiction, if any?
I think the purpose is the same as any other form of writing: to try to make sense of humanity and what we do, albeit in a slightly different setting. I also think in some aspects it is just really, really entertaining and a great way to escape from this mad world we've created, because god knows sometimes you just want to be taken somewhere where you can't see the pile of dishes you haven't done today!

Thanks for the interview, Lara!

Awakening is available through Dymocks, Pan Macmillan, Leading Edge Books and many other bookstores.

Lara also has a myspace page and will have her own website soon.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Retro Remakes comp

For the games programmers amongst you ...

Retro Remakes is the home of those old 8- and 16-bit games you used to love, translated to modern machinery. If the words Lunar Jetman, Uridium & Quazatron mean anything to you, then you'll know what I'm on about.

Anyway, they're having a competition for the best remake of Sep-Dec 2008, and I've donated a set of signed Hal Spacejock novels (1-4) as one of their prizes. If' you have a half-finished conversion you've been meaning to tidy up, maybe this is your chan

(Thanks to Shane Hockings for suggesting this in the first place.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Interview with Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson is the author of the Greywalker parnormal detective series. UNDERGROUND, the third book in the series, was released August 5--it's her first hardbound book and she's very excited about it. You can learn more about Kat and her books by visiting her website (http://katrichardson.com/) or blogs (http://katrich.wordpress.com/ or http://katatomic.livejournal.com/)

1) Why this book? What made you want to write this story?

I had a couple of things I wanted to do: I wanted to write a "monsters in the sewer" adventure and I wanted to expand a little on the character of Quinton, Harper's mysterious tech-geek friend in the Greywalker series. So I combined the two interests into one book and this was the result.

2) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?

Oh, it's definitely changed over time. My tastes change, and there are always new writers coming on the scene who surprise and excite me. I love classic writers of excellent English, like Shakespeare, Austen, and Kenneth Graham as well as their contemporary colleagues like Patricial McKillip who make language a joy. I also really admire groundbreakers like William Gibson, Richard K. Morgan, and Ken Bruen. I'm a total fangirl of quirky writers like Cherie Priest--and she only lives a few miles away!--Liz Williams, Jasper Fford, and Victor Gischler. I've let a lot of writers drop off my reading list for lack of time, not lack of interest.

3) Why genre? Is there something special about science fiction or fantasy that draws you to write in the field?

I like the "what if" that underlies SFF. It's a challenge not only to style, craft, and story but to raw imagination. It's the quintessence of invention and curiosity that drives humans to strive. If it were not for "what if" would Gallileo have invented a telescope to look at the stars? And you see where that led.

4) What do you find most interesting about Harper Blaine? her various adversaries? Why these characters?

I lover Harper's toughness. I don't just mean that she carries a gun and talks like Sam Spade; it's her sheer drive to keep going in the face of any and every adversity that makes her intriguing. She had a nice, settled life that she's worked hard to build and when it was suddenly upended, she hated it, but she rolled with it and keeps on going. She's learning more in each subsequent book about her abilities, but also about herself and what really drives her and what ultimately satisfies her. Her adversaries change in each book but in the end there is always the problem of making peace with herself and living with her challenges.

I have to say that my favorite of her adversaries is yet to be fully revealed. I'm working up to it in a future book. Suffice to say, he has a plan and it is Not Good. But writing about it should be tremendous fun.

As to why these guys... Well, they just seemed like the right group to complicate Harper's life.

5) You're a writer. What else are you? What are your interests? Hobbies?

I'm a former magazine and technical editor, so I'm kind of an English and History geek, but I'm also fond of sailing, computer games, swing dancing, ferrets, target shooting, and motorcycles. I used to work at a renaissance faire as a dancer and actor. I've read the Sunday funnies for a radio service for the blind. I work on the Northwest regional board of the Mystery Writers of America, and before I got into journalism in college, I majored in vocal music. I'm also a bit of a science geek: I love to read physics books and biology, I used to write technical course material about diamonds for the Gemological Institute of America, I hand-code my own website (which explains the very plain design), and I poke my nose into all kinds of tech-y subjects whenever I have the time.

6) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you need to know in order to write it that you didn't know before? Do you have some special preparation you do general to writing?

UNDERGROUND required quite a bit of reading as well as interviewing. I spent a lot of time in my library reading about local Indian tribes and legends, local history, local architecture, and then I tracked down the historian for Seattle's underground tour and picked his brains, too. Research is one of the things I love about writing--I always find some weird detail I hadn't thought of that can be useful. I've found information on crimes, earthquakes, people--even buildings--that have turned out to be fascinating and useful. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 made it into GREYWALKER, POLTERGEIST utilized information and locations from Washington's most notorious mass murder, and the collapse of a building in Pioneer Square in 1897 became an important clue in UNDERGROUND.

7) I see a lot of information about the homeless in this book. Is that something that really interests you? Or is it more driven by the needs of the story?

It was more story-driven, but I have to admit that after doing the research, my awareness of the homeless, and the situations that surround them, has gone way up. Some really have given up on getting out of their situation--it can be really bleak and crushing--but most are trying very hard to re-enter the mainstream, to get jobs and homes and stop living on the street. There are some surprising grass-roots organizations out here--like Peace for the Streets, Women in Black, and the Coalition for the Homeless--trying to help these people get off the street and back to living lives that aren't haunted by a constant state of fear and hopelessness and raise the awareness of people like me.

8) So, if you were Harper Blaine and someone introduced you to a zombie, as happens UNDERGROUND, what would you do?

Me? I'd freak right out. I am so much not Harper Blaine. Babbling... yeah... that would be my most likely response.

9) What are you writing now?

I'm working on Greywalker #4 which has just been retitled VANISHED. It's a continuation of the arc that started in GREYWALKER and it will wrap up a lot of questions as well as posing some new ones to be answered in Book 5.

I'm also working on an SF Police thriller novel I'd like to finish and sell and I'm noodling with a bunch of other ideas. But that's pretty much the way all writers are--noodling constantly.

10) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you be surprise?

It was a bit of a surprise. I'd always wanted to be a singer or a dancer or maybe an ice skater--very girly. But when I was heading for college, I realized I'd been writing all my life--my first short story was written for a class when I was eight--and I thought that was a huge clue that maybe I should just do that, instead of being a music teacher.

11) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?

I do and I don't. I start with ideas either under a deadline or something that has just jumped to the front of my brain and won't shut up. Then I try writing it out for a while. Eventually I get stuck and have to fall back and outline. After that I can usually go ahead, although I've been known to write up to four outlines of 35 pages or more each before I can comfortably finish a novel so it's a bit more complicated than "I just write." I write my novels with a Mystery structure where timing and placement of clues is vital, so what I'm really doing when I outline is working out ahead of time a lot of the issues that would normally come up in revision. That doesn't mean I don't revise, but it's not usually too heavy. With shorts or novellas, I tend to just jump in with an idea and thrash around, revise a couple of times, and then finish it up and ship it. I don't have much of a routine per se, I just get up, clear off the housework and paperwork, mess around until I feel like I've wasted enough time for one day, and then write until I can't stand any more, or I've reached a good stopping point. And I write pretty much every weekday and do things like this interview on weekends.

12) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite? How does the environment you write in affect your production? Your process?

I don't have much space, living on a sailboat. I just plop myself down on the dinette bench, pop open my laptop and work. I like being at home where I can blast music, look after our geriatric ferrets, or pace around and talk out the dialog aloud, so I'm not really comfortable in coffee shops or libraries. I do occasionally have "playdates" with Richelle Mead and other SFF writers in the area whom we've started calling "Team Seattle" where we sit in her living room and work because we're too embarrassed to let the other one see us not working.

13) Is there anything you especially like to work on in a book? Anything you hate?

I hate writing sex scenes, which is why I never do them. There's one in UNDERGROUND and it was the worst thing I ever had to do. Ugh! I'd rather write an action sequence, or even revise, than do that again! What I love is making the past come alive, letting the setting and the ghosts flow out--that's just too much fun!

14) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

Right now, only the Greywalker series: GREYWALKER, POLTERGIEST, and now UNDERGROUND, but I have a werewolf Christmas short story coming out in an anthology in October called WOLFSBANE AND MISTLETOE that was edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner. A Harper Blaine novella will be out in January 2009 in the collection MEAN STREETS and I'm really looking forward to that, since the collection is just four of us from Penguin's fantasy noir side: Jim Butcher, Simon R. Green, and Thomas Sniegoski.

15) Do you see fiction as having a purpose? Generally? How about your own work?

My work is mostly entertainment, but I hope that readers do occasionally see the depth of history in it, and the way in which human beings shape their worlds by what they believe--good or bad--as much as by what they do. That's a bit of a recurring theme in the books, along with the idea that you can control and shape your own life, no matter what gets thrown at you.

In general I think fiction should sneak ideas into our heads--not bludgeon us. It pretends to be entertaining, but it should tickle our minds to thought, if possible.

I'm excited that the UNDERGROUND is out in hardcover and I hope it does the series proud. It's been an interesting book to research and write and I'm looking forward to seeing it "in the wild" at last. It's a Roc book, so it's available from major booksellers all over the US, Canada, and the UK and you can get one online--I'll even sign it if you ask--from one of my favorite independent booksellers: Seattle Mystery Bookshop, or find an independent bookseller near you, or order from Barnes & Nobel.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Interview with Gregory Frost

Gregory Frost is the author of, most recently, LORD TOPHET, the sequel to the acclaimed fantasy novel, SHADOWBRIDGE (both from Del Rey Books). Shadowbridge is a world dreamed into being, as its creation story--included in the first volume--makes clear. It's an accretion of our myths, legends, folk and fairy tales but they've all altered in the translation somewhat, and taken on lives of their own. Everything in Shadowbridge thus sounds familiar and alien at the same time.

1) What was your inspiration for writing these books?

The answer is, there's no single inspiration. The idea of this world of bridges was one I kicked around for years. I talked it over with other authors, like Michael Swanwick who threatened to steal it if I didn't do something with it (nothing like that sort of terror to push you into action). One inspiration might be Gormenghast. Another is surely M. John Harrison's Virconium stories. And Hadawy's translation of The 1001 Nights. The Trelawney translation of The Ocean of the Streams of Story by Somadeva. But you won't find any direct reference to these things. Samuel R. Delany has a concept he calls "received language" and to a degree, I think that's what happens with all of us--we absorb, we receive, and bits and pieces accrete, and this thing emerges. It's original, it's us, but it's also all this stuff we've read, seen, heard, thought about. This is one reason why as a writer you absolutely must read beyond your narrow genre or you're going to be boring.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?

Roger Zelazny, Philip K. Dick, Fritz Leiber, Walter M. Miller, Mikhail Bulgakov, Homer, T.C. Boyle, Donald Westlake, Jack Williamson, Kelly Link, Shirley Jackson, Ian Fleming, John Irving, Alexandre Dumas, Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Rafael Sabatini, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Flannery O'Connor, Raymond Chandler, Carlos Fuentes, Julio Cortazar...I don't know if this is anything like a definitive list, but it comprises the names of writers whose work I treasure and can come back to time and again and be rewarded.

3) What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?

I think, as a kid, it was the 'gosh-wow' factor. Fiction that took me away from where I was, and at the same time sort of wryly commented on where I was. I loved its strangeness, its otherness. Really, I wallowed in reading it. I never thought I would be writing it.

4) How did you come to make Leodora your protagonist?

When Mr. Swanwick threatened to run off with my world, I immediately went out and wrote a story called "How Meersh the Bedeviler Lost His Toes." I created the "Coyote" figure for all of Shadowbridge, and in the frame of that tale created a storyteller named Bardsham (which is a Shakespeare joke of sorts--the faux bard). Bardsham was based on a real shadow-puppeteer I'd met. But when I came to the prospect of a novel, I didn't want to write about him. At some point, I arrived at this vision of a girl, Leodora, standing on top of a bridge support tower, high above the city, and looking at her world. What I said about about things coming together out of all the material you read, things you see...I don't know where she came from, where that moment came from. The view from Arc de Triomphe, or from a railroad bridge I'd climbed as a kid, or looking down from the Palatine Hill in Rome? I have no idea. Maybe it's all those things at once. But it pushed the book in a direction, and the rest unfolded from there.

5) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?

I've been an avid cyclist for (shudders to admit it) 38 years. This is the first summer, in fact, in all that time, I haven't been on a bike (I had a serious leg injury last fall and I'm still working that off). I studied aikido for ten years, under the tutelage of sf/fantasy author Judith Berman. Used to sing in three garage bands (not at the same time of course). And I tremble to admit it, but I like to read research.

6) What sort of research did you do to write the Shadowbridge books?
What kind of preparation do you do when you are writing?

Frankly, every book requires a different amount of and sometimes entirely different kinds of research. I got hooked on that element back in the 1980s, researching for TAIN and REMSCELA, which comprise the retelling of the Tain Bo Cuailnge and subsequent events in the life of the Irish hero Cu Chulainn. A lot of sociological research into bronze-age Celts went into those books. Research into Druids, and into mythology. Shadowbridge has been more of the same, but now it's not just one branch of mythology, it's all of them shoved in a blender and pureed. But my first novel, LYREC...I did no research at all. That book came, whole-cloth, out of my head. I heard Jeffrey Ford say the same thing about The Physiognomy, too--to my amazement. He just invented that world and ran with it. Didn't do a lick of research, and those three books are just sodding brilliant.

7) How much of you goes into the characters? How much is Leodora like you?

They're all me, aren't they? Villains, heroes, heroines, lovers and fiends. She isn't "like" me. How could she be? She's herself. I think that writing fictional characters is akin to acting. You adopt the role of the character and try to inhabit it while that person's on stage. Then you try to become the next character, and so on. To a degree you have to know these people before you pick up the pen and write (sorry, I still use a fountain pen so that's my metaphor). You have to know what motivates. You have to know at the very least what they want. Even if they want nothing at all--wanting nothing is a state of being. It tells you something about the character and how she'll react. It sounds horribly pretentious, but it's not. It's ridiculously basic. Creating characters is understanding on some intuitive level what they want right now.

8) What are you writing now?

A supernatural mystery (no, there are no frickin' vampires in it, so stop asking now). Contemporary, and set on the Main Line outside Philadelphia. As far from Shadowbridge as one could get...which is no doubt why I have no career at all. I just can't stay in one place long enough to concoct a series.

9) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?

I thought I wanted to be a comic book illustrator. I wrote and drew comics all through junior high and high school. Showed them to nobody, really. But I'm not one of those who says "Oh, yeah, I popped out of the womb knowing I was going to be a writer." Great, man. Love ya. Not me, I had no damned idea at all.

10) Why genre? Is there something special about science fiction or fantasy that draws you to write in the field?

I think it's hard-wired into me. The first book I can remember ever choosing on my own from the library was a retelling of The Odyssey. I grew up on Captain Midnight and Superman and The Twilight Zone and Commander Cody. And comic books. I was utterly fantasy oriented, and story ideas when they come are invariably fantastic or horrific. I don't think in terms of "people paralyzed by angst at recognizing the human condition." Sorry, just not my cup of hemlock.

11) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?

That would depend on where I am in the book and whether or not I know what the next part looks like. First drafts are hard, and crappy and fragmented. Revisions just seem to last forever. Different parts of the brain and different processes, and so different lengths of time. But I now write far more often in coffee shops than I would ever have thought possible.

12) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there?

Before this was FITCHER'S BRIDES, a reworking of the Bluebeard line of fairy tales. The serial-killing husband. Dark, nasty, and great fun to write. There's a collection of short stories out from Golden Gryphon Press called ATTACK OF THE JAZZ GIANTS & OTHER STORIES--I've been publishing short fiction since 1981. I mentioned already the early novels. There's also a science fiction novel, THE PURE COLD LIGHT, that was a Nebula nominee back in the mid-'90s.

The Shadowbridge books are available pretty much everywhere, but I recommend purchasing them through Powells.com simply because I support independent booksellers.

If you want to order Shadowbridge, go to http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780345497581-0
If you want to order Lord Tophet, go to http://www.powells.com/biblio/2-9780345497598-1
If you're interested in Attack of the Jazz Giants go to http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9781930846340-0
If you're interested in Fitcher's Brides, go to http://www.powells.com/biblio/17-9780765301956-0

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Signed copy of Hal 4 up for grabs

For your chance to win a signed copy of Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch, as well as some rather good prizes*, visit http://www.aboygoesonajourney.com

* Did you see what I did there? ;-)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Interview with Jackie Kessler

HOTTER THAN HELL is the third book in the Hell on Earth series (August 2008). Don't be fooled by the "paranormal romance" tag on the spine; this book is, perhaps, a love story, but it's much more urban fantasy than a romance. For one thing, there's no traditional happily ever after. For another...well, no, that'll do it. Unlike the first two books in the series, HOT stars the incubus Daunuan (pronounced "Don Juan," sort of).

Jackie Kessler is the author of the Hell on Earth series, published by Kensington/Zebra Books. She's also written numerous short stories and is the coauthor of the upcoming BLACK & WHITE, a dystopian superhero novel to be published by Bantam Spectra in 2009. Jackie lives in Upstate New York with her Loving Husband, two Precious Little Tax Deductions, two geriatric cats, and 8,000 comic books. She's not really a succubus, and despite all the rumors, you'll never catch her stripping on stage. For more about Jackie, please visit her website. And remember: love your inner demon.

1) What was your inspiration for writing HOTTER THAN HELL?

I knew that I wanted Daun to have his own story. After the events in HELL'S BELLES and THE ROAD TO HELL, I had a good idea what it would be. Heh, heh, heh. Daun's still pissed off at me.

2) Who are your favorite authors and books now and when you were growing up?
Now: Neil Gaiman, Chris Moore, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine, George RR Martin.
Then: Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, JRR Tolkien

3) What is it about fantasy that attracts you?
There's something about the nature of Good and Evil that fascinates me. Maybe it's because the two are so close to each other. Maybe it's because the dark side has cookies. But man, it's that burning drive to fight against the forces of darkness--or, from the other end, to blot out the light of the world--that is compelling. Give me the dynamic villains, the tortured heroes.

4) What (besides writing) do you do for fun?
Fun? Fun? What is this "fun" of which you speak? Hmm. I enjoy reading, long walks on the beach, the sunset, kissing in the rain...Wait, is this getting too personal? Okay, then: good music, good friends, good wine. Me = happy.

5) What sort of research did you do to write HOTTER THAN HELL?
Among other things, I did a lot of research on Mozart--who plays an important role in the story. Fascinating man.

6) What are you writing now?
The fourth book in the Hell on Earth series, HELL BOUND. The protagonist/POV is back to Jesse, the former succubus.

7) Did you always want to write? Or did you stumble into it? How did you get where you are now?
I used to want to be a comic book artist. Then I wanted to write comic books. Then, once I was in college and started taking creative writing courses, I realized that I wanted to write books. Or, really, book: I had this one idea, and it was going to be my Great American Novel. So, er, 20 years later, that book still isn't published (although a version of it is currently on submission, eek). But I have three novels and one novella published, with three more novels and one novella to come in the next year. Life is good.

8) What does a typical writing day look like for you? How long do you write, that sort of thing?
Usually, I get the bulk of my writing done first thing in the morning, before the day job, or after the Tax Deductions are in bed for the night. When I'm on a deadline, a pot of coffee is my best friend, and I'm lucky to be in bed before 1 am.

9) Where do you write?
My home office. I can (and do) write on the train, when I'm traveling from Upstate New York to NYC. But I prefer to be at my desk, on my computer, with the Internet right here to distract me. Wait, no, not that last part. Er, next question...

10) This isn't your first book; tell us a little bit about what else is out there.
The first two books in the Hell on Earth series focus on the former demon Jezebel. The first book, HELL'S BELLES, is the story of why Jezebel runs away from Hell, as well as her adventures hiding on Earth as a mortal stripper and falling in love, while avoiding the demonic bounty hunters on her trail. (Sex, strippers, demons -- what's not to like?) The second book, THE ROAD TO HELL, continues the story: now Jezebel (known as the human Jesse Harris) needs to return to Hell to save the lives of those she loves. (If she'd known love was this tough, she would have remained a demon of lust.)

Daun loves his job: seduce a lot of mortals, bring their souls to Hell, party at the best interdimensional pub this side of the Astral Plane. But when the King of Lust makes him an offer he can't refuse, Daun has to give up all the tricks of his trade to properly befriend—and bed—Virginia Reed, a woman who's meant for Heaven. If he can get her to love him for the incubus he really is, and if he can avoid the rogue demons that are hell-bent on destroying him for reasons unknown, Daun will become the First Principal of Lust, second in line to the King. But Daun learns that love is more than a four-letter word, and that maybe, just maybe, demons really do have feelings after all...

You can buy HOTTER THAN HELL at Amazon.com, and all good bookstores.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre mini-con

The Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre SF Group is planning a mini-con for 21 September. The group's first mini-con, held in 2006, was an outstanding success, with several score people attending. The panels, readings and inexpensive lunch all contributed to the day’s success, and this year's effort pormises to be even better.

Confirmed panelists include Adrian Bedford, Janet Blagg (my editor), Lee Battersby, Lyn Battersby, Hal Colebatch, Stephen Dedman, Russell Farr, Simon Haynes (me!), Elaine Kemp, Alisa Krasnostein, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Ian Nichols, John Parker and Tehani Wessely.

The one-day mini-con, which starts at 10.00am, will be held at the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre, Old York Road, Greenmount, Perth. Gold coin admission, lunch available.

(From Horrorscope: http://ozhorrorscope.blogspot.com/2008/08/news-katharine-susannah-prichard.html)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Friday, August 01, 2008


Not sure whether anyone else does this, but if I drop something my instinctive reaction is to try and cushion the fall with my foot. I've saved many a mug, glass and bowl like this, but there is a downside. A few years back I managed to save an old 5 1/4" floppy drive with my bare foot, which then needed stitches. The cost of the medical treatment worked out to be three times the value of the disk drive, and I would have been well ahead had I just let the thing smash into the floor instead.

(My wife does something similar, only SHE managed to save a carving knife with HER foot, and I think that weaned her off the practice. The kitchen looked like a scene from Saw VI - Utensils Fight Back.)

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hal 5 FAQ

I just updated the Hal 5 page on the Spacejock.com.au website, adding a bunch of Frequently Asked Questions which keen Hal readers might find interesting.

You're welcome to ask more questions in the comments. I'll pick some out and answer them on the page.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Conflux virtual mini-con

Just a reminder that the Conflux Virtual Mini-con "Prepare to Dream" will take place this weekend on the Conflux website: http://www.conflux.org.au/forum

For a full list of guests and appearance times visit this page. (I'm on at 4pm AEST.)

AEST = Australian Eastern Time

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Couple of things

First, I just signed the petition against age banding of books. This is a battle being fought in the UK, but you can bet Australia will be next. (There's nothing we love more in this country than a good classifying, preferably administered by half a dozen overlapping government departments.)

I don't intend to go into age banding here, but if you don't have a clue about the problems it might cause, visit the site above and find out.

Second, I just noticed Planet Fantastic's Bestselling Books of All Time, and the first three Hal books are all present. (Hal 4 was their #1 bestseller last month, so it's a bit soon to expect to see it in a list covering over three years of sales.)

First, this is the top ten:

1...Temeraire, by Naomi Novik
2...A Feast for Crows, by George R. R. Martin
3...Thud!, by Terry Pratchett
4...Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman
5...Never Seen by Waking Eyes, by Stephen Dedman
6...Black Powder War, by Naomi Novik
7...Judas Unchained, by Peter F. Hamilton
8...Shadow Box, edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings
9...Knife of Dreams, by Robert Jordan
10..Old Man's War, by John Scalzi

then the Hal books take up these positions:

#25...Hal Spacejock, by Simon Haynes
#57...Hal Spacejock: Second Course, by Simon Haynes
#86...Hal Spacejock: Just Desserts, by Simon Haynes

Congrats to everyone on the list.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)