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Tuesday, 29 March 2011

The first half of 2009

June 25, 2009
Four days ago, I signed off on the Monster Maintenance Manual, and I'm beginning to ponder about what comes next. Probably the ingenuity book, but you never know: things don't always happen in the expected order. The last few days have been fairly intensive on the publicity trail, as I have been plugging The Lawn. Now it is time to traipse off for a couple of weeks, then I come back and do the same thing for Australian Backyard Explorer. It's all good fum, but yesterday, I sat in "the tardis", a remote studio booth at the ABC and talked to New Zealand, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Canberra, Hobart and Port Macquarie, one after another. My voice held up.

Now I'm off, though, to investigate Far North Queensland and gather some atmospherics for Cornish Boy, which I still haven't entirely ruled out.

June 5, 2009
The clock is ticking. The Lawn comes out on June 26, and seems to be getting good reactions in the marketplace, and the publicist is setting stuff up for me. This means mainly getting around the radio stations to talk the book up. Australian Backyard Explorer comes out in early August, and I have been down to Canberra to record some short clips about some of the activities in the book, to go on Youtube: here are the links.

Making a pooter

Catching animals

About the book
Meanwhile, I am off to Noosaville next week for Reality Bites at Embiggen Books in Noosaville, where I will be talking about Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World and Darwin in general. A couple of weeks after that, I am on a general look-around trip to Cape York. This relates to a couple of future possible books and also to the on-hold or stalled Cornish Boy project: perhaps I will find what I need to re-start it.
Or maybe not. I'm mainly doing finishing touches to the monster books and doing some intensive research on the ingenuity book. There is no shortage of amusing material to be had out there! You can see the interview I did there, if you want.

April 26, 2009
I set myself the task of writing a quarter of a million words of good-quality first-draft of the Cornish Boy by a certain key date. I succeeded, but it has become apparent that far more research will be needed, so with the equivalent of four out of eight books drafted, I have put the whole project on hold.

Instead, I am working on monster books for young readers of any age and a study of how ingenuity goes bad, when inventors get the bit between their teeth and gallop wildly off in all directions. This will, in part, mine some of my discard files from previous books, the bits that were more amusing than relevant—which is an oblique way of saying that this will not hesitate to use the curious, the amusing and the downright bizarre, from the boofery of rocket scientists to the chutzpah of circle-squarers, that daftness of the food adulterers and those who would have the British government fashion a giant lawn-mower to make mincemeat of the Germans in 1918 or the bloke who was charged with faking a headless chook.

I will also draw on material tracked down for a few partly-drafted books that never happened, but which contained good material, and all sorts of stray bits that I tripped over and noted down.

March 22, 2009
Happy birthday, dear blog. Now we are seven. I started March 18, 2002.
Well, I am now 185,000 words into the Cornish Boy series, and getting into the swing of it. The planned nine books have dropped to eight, because there wasn't enough material to sustain a full book on one important story. As the book preceding it was giving me some trouble, I am now trying to stitch the two together. I liken what I am doing now to a sculptor getting the clay in place: the shape is sort-of right, but new ideas are constantly occurring, and the final product will, I hope, be gold. That amount of word-hacking adds up to almost two complete books in just over six weeks, so as you can imagine, there's a lot of reshaping to come. It is, after all, first draft stuff. 

My Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World has rated a mention in The Age, but alas, still no reviews in the major press. 

The Lawn is now printing. I have seen some of the designs, and I'm delighted. The same applies to Australian Backyard Explorer. We are now casting around for an artist for Monsters.

February 6, 2009
Good grief! Look at the time! A couple of wins for me: first, a comment in the Toronto Mail and Globe. I found out about this after somebody saw something on a list about two books with similar titles. As Jean has met me and known me on a list since about 2001, she alerted me to the other book. Then somebody quoted Stan Consultant, who said nice things

Second, I was in Dymocks, just before Christmas, and there was Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World on the "best seller shelf! Seems they just had an over-stock, but keep it a secret! Shhh! 

Third I walked into the ABC shop in Sydney's QVB and found not one, not two, but three of my books on the shelves at the same time. Mr Darwin's Incredible Shrinking World, The Speed of Nearly Everything and 100 Discoveries. Given the short time a title stays on the shelf, that's good.

I have just signed off on the page proofs of Australian Backyard Explorer, and proofed the first formatting of what is now officially The Lawn

I am now 85,000 words into the Cornish Boy series, and taking a pause to plan more strategically, now I can see where I am going. Sort of. The first three books are all under control, and several of the others are in hand, one or two need to be looked at harder, and I need to do more reading. 

Fiction is different, because the characters also play a part. I have had occasions in the past when the words headed off a different way, but I decided to add a real-life person known as Scrammy Jack: I decided that if Dickens could make Mr Micawber a magistrate in Australia, I could promote Scrammy Jack. Before I knew it, Scrammy Jack had acquired a haughty wife, and edged aside two other people. It's a new world!

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