Saturday, December 31, 2011

Looking Back at 2011

It's been a hard-working but very rewarding year for me. As usual, I've spent far too much time sat at my computer hammering the keyboard, but my labours have, at least, borne fruit. THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE CLOCKWORK MAN was well-received, with reviews being 99.9% positive. Middle volumes in a trilogy are tricky beasts. On the one hand, you have to continue the story told in the first novel, on the other, you have to foreshadow events coming in the third book, and amid all that, you also have to produce a self-contained story. I think I just about pulled it off, but CLOCKWORK was a very different experience to THE STRANGE AFFAIR OF SPRING HEELED JACK.

Weirdly, my memories of writing JACK are nothing but a blur. I was living in a different apartment at the time, and mostly I recall the room in which the novel was written, the view out of the window, and the warm sea breeze blowing in. There was more research involved than with CLOCKWORK, but how I actually constructed the yarn eludes me. Perhaps with the pressure of it being my debut novel, all my mental energy went into creating it rather than into remembering what I was doing while I was doing it!

This year, I felt much more confident while writing EXPEDITION TO THE MOUNTAINS OF THE MOON. There was a sense of everything coming together nicely, and opportunities to confound expectations. There have only been a couple of reviews so far (EXPEDITION isn't officially published until 24th January), but both are very positive, so I'm feeling optimistic.

In the latter part of 2011 I started work on a number of projects, some of which I can't mention yet. For PYR, I'm writing A RED SUN ALSO RISES, a non-Burton & Swinburne novel inspired by the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs but with a steampunk flavour. This is much more a science fiction/fantasy novel than my previous, though the themes I'm exploring are very much grounded in the real world.

I've also completed three and a half of the twelve short stories intended for THE SOMEWHAT SINGULAR MR. MACALLISTER FOGG. This is pure steampunk of a much more flighty nature than B&S. Written simply for fun, they riff on typical inspirations: Sherlock Holmes, War of the Worlds, Jekyl & Hyde, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, the Mummy, Dracula, etc. I'm having great fun with these yarns.

My two top secret projects are both for the YA audience. Both are non-steampunk novels, and one is VERY suited to adaptation for a TV series. We shall see!

Turning to other topics, I've been living in Spain for three years now and am still loving every minute of it. I've absolutely no intention of ever moving back to the UK. The climate, the food, the landscape, the people, the sense of freedom I have here … these are things I don't want to give up. Obviously, I don't want to give up my Spanish partner, Yoli, either! My three years with her having been truly life changing in so many ways, all of 'em positive.

So on to 2012, and there's a long list of things I want to achieve, one of them being more daily mobility, 'cos this sitting at a desk malarky is very definitely NOT a good way to stay fit. I'm thinking about using the excellent voice to text software on my iPhone for the planning stages of my writing, meaning I can walk and talk and still get stuff done. 2012 is my 50th year. Thank the Lord Harry that I'm in good health, but I think when you've accrued half a century, you have to start making the effort to keep the engine running smoothly!

A few more hours of 2011 remaining, though, so I think I'll go mix myself a drink! Tally ho!

Happy New Year all.

Mark Hodder

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