2017: The year of the Duck in the Mist

On the surface it was a serene writing year for me. I didn’t put a lot out there. I glided along, occasionally quacking in the form of a short story or two.

Underneath those unruffled feathers, I was paddling furiously. I’ve written a lot this year, which means 2018 will look a bit frenetic, but really all the actual writing work has already been done. It’s just the public quacking that remains, and there are lots of things I’m not allowed to make a noise about yet. I’m looking forward to an exciting 2018, though. There should be at least one new short story, novella, and novel with my name on, hoping to be bought and read, by this time next year.


Back to 2017, and those short stories:

‘The Chambermaid’ was published by Black Static in March. I went both autobiographical and Aickman for it (to be fair, a lot of my early life experiences were Aickmanesque anyway, so it wasn’t a stretch). I once read that writers often use their own lives as inspiration when they start writing and then move away from it. I seem to be going in the other direction.

‘Fire at Will’ was a literary short story about how life and art fit together that appeared in Confingo in May.

‘The Tears of a Building Surveyor and Other Stories’ found a home at Strange Horizons in September, which was gratifying as it was a fantasy story I’d been attempting to get right for years. There was a real sense of achievement to finally getting it into a form I liked.

Interzone published my SF novelette about a future of plastic eating and plant growth in September, too. It was called ‘Blessings Erupt’.

In fact, I scored a hat-trick in September with the release of the Unsung Stories Anthology, 2084, which contained my rollercoaster of the future, ‘Uniquo’.

And I wrote a strange short story a month for my Patreon project. With 2018 planning to be on the busy side, I’m not sure how much longer I’ll keep up the Patreon, so if you want to get access to those stories now might be a good time to sign up.


No novels or novellas from me in 2017; The Beauty was meant to get a US release in November, but that’s been pushed back to January 2018 so I’m on the brink of that waterfall right now. Gulp. I did write a few bits and pieces of non-fiction. Den of Geek, my favourite place for film and television conversations, published a few pieces of mine. Here are links to my favourites:

The Little Known Fairy Stories of JRR Tolkien

A Review of the Folio Society edition of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/A Scanner Darkly

Why the Best One-Off Characters Belong to Asterix

I also wrote a few articles about books and reading for various places. For instance, I wrote a piece about books that contain surprising darkness for Storgy, and a bit about why I love Rupert Thomson’s The Book of Revelation for Helen McClory’s Unsung Letters project.

I also committed my duck expression to screen in a long conversation with one of my favourite people: George Sandison of Unsung Stories. We talked about dystopian fiction. I may have spoiled Childhood’s End for anybody who hasn’t read it.

I attended FantasyCon! There’s no actual evidence of that, but I was there. I also did a few other live events up and down the country, and enjoyed it, so hopefully I’ll get the chance to do more of that in 2018.



In the last weeks of 2017 I pushed myself very hard to finish a SF novel that I’ve found incredibly challenging (envisage those webbed feet moving at the speed of light and you get the picture), so I’ll be hoping to find a home for that in the future. Some books are so enjoyable to write, I’ve found. This one wasn’t. But it was good for me. It’s kept my brain busy all year, and whether it ever sees publication or not, I’m proud to have completed it. Thanks to everyone who’s read something of mine this year! Continuing love for The Beauty and The Arrival of Missives has been brilliant, and Missives popped up on some shortlists, which kept me going.

Now, onwards with the paddling. I keep hoping someone’s steering this thing.

Actually, I take that back. A lack of steering is essential in these murky, misty times. Let’s see where we end up next.





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