Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Second Book and an Anniversary

Wednesday 19th July

We’ve had an abrupt change in the weather here with the 9.00AM temperature dropping 6 degrees and these white fluffy things appearing over the mountains opposite. This is after a night during which I took two cold showers and kept having to turn on the bedroom fan. You’d think that such a drop in temperature would result in us feeling cool, but not so. The humidity has ramped up – the dead leaves outside are no longer crispy – and the outside temperature feels only marginally cooler. Meanwhile, the house, having soaked up the previous days of sunshine, is now releasing it like a storage heater and it’s only half a degree cooler inside. From experience I’m guessing this weather change is due to a hot and damp south wind coming in and hitting the cooler air from the North. I’m also guessing that another usual consequence of that will be occurring in Makrigialos: a rough sea driven by that wind eating the beach down there. Now we’re waiting to see how things will turn out this coming Sunday, with the forecast temperature supposedly heading for the red zone.

The Dr Whip story is now approaching 9,000 words with an end in sight. We’re off to Sitia shortly for some shopping (because this seems likely to be the coolest day), so I won’t be getting much more of it done today.

Thursday 20th July
Um, change of direction today. I was considering how the Dr Whip story, which I extracted from the first book of this Penny Royal sequence, might well be reinserted. Certain aspects of the short story key neatly (well, with a bit of reshaping) into the whole ... perhaps. While I consider that I think I’ll do some of the second book. I have some sequences in mind involving the prador which should be fun to write.

Yup, I was right about the beach down in Makrigialos, but I do wonder if others are right about the temperature ramping up to some sort of peak on Sunday. It’s even cooler today with the 9.00AM temperature a mere 23.8C.

Friday 21st July
I’m getting more and more impressed with my Kindle every time I use it. The thing is easier to read than a book, yet essentially can be a library of them. Only yesterday I wanted to look up the spelling of a word for a crossword I was doing (tenebrous) then remembered the free copy of the Oxford English that came with that device. I later decided to subscribe to Asimov’s, signed up in just half a minute and had the first issue of the magazine a few seconds later.

For the guy who asked me about how to subscribe to Asimov’s : you hit the ‘Menu’ button next to the ‘Home’ button, select ‘Shop in Kindle Store’, go to ‘Magazines’. I had it there as a suggestion because of my previous SF shopping, but you can bring up the keyboard and search it out. You can buy a single issue of the magazine for £2.79 (or thereabouts) or you can subscribe to it, with a 14 day free trial, for £1.99 an issue. It couldn’t be simpler.

Okay, I’ve started on the next Penny Royal book and, unusually, I’ve remembered to record when I’ve started writing a book. This means that when someone asks me that old favourite in interviews, ‘How long does it take you to write a book?’ I’ll actually be able to give an answer that’s better than a guess. I slid into the writing easily, quickly polishing off my first 2,000 words (in fact I did them in about 3 hours) and have plenty of ideas of where to head. However, I must watch my tendency towards character proliferation. Perhaps I’ll start killing a few of them off...

Saturday 21st July
A group of Norwegians is staying in the rooms above Revans. One of the women I recognize because it was she who last year announced that something terrible had happened in Norway. This was of course Anders Breivik’s killing spree. And now, in America, we have had another shooting. The frequent response I find to this sort of thing is, ‘The world is going mad,’ but no, not really. This sort of shit has been going on since the first human picked up a rock and thought it might come in handy for breaking a skull. What we really should be amazed about, with our population now over 7 billion, is the infrequency of such events. Oh, and by the way, I guarantee that by the time I post this on my blog someone will have claimed that this is all due to violent films like Batman, which of course ignores the short history of film and the rather longer history of human violence.

Sunday 22nd July
It was our anniversary yesterday and some surprises were in store. We went to a shop (owned by the same people who own Revan’s bar) so Caroline could satisfy her shoe and bag habit on this special day. While we were there the daughter, Nicky, came out with a marble chessboard and cast pieces which I thought she was going to try and sell to us. It turns out this was a gift for our anniversary from her family. Next we went to the Gabbiano for a meal and as usual ordered white wine. What turned up was a bottle of expensive Champagne bought for us by Chris, our English neighbour up here.

A very enjoyable meal ensued only slightly marred by the spectacle of some anti-smokers getting silly. They came in demanding a non-smoking area in a restaurant open on all sides with a breeze blowing through. Marco showed them to a table, doubtless on the basis that they didn’t have to smoke there. After seeing someone smoking two tables away from them they got up and stormed out. I had to laugh. They must have taken a wrong turning on their way to California. This is Eastern Crete where the denormalization process and lying propaganda of groups like ASH hasn’t yet got a grip. Their chance of finding a restaurant with a non-smoking area (anywhere but in a stuffy back room) was remote to non-existent. It’s also the case that restaurant owners here can’t afford to turn anyone away, and are less likely to miss the belligerent anti-smokers than the more common smokers who, incidentally, tend to drink more and are less likely to whine.

Monday 23rd July
Oh please spare me from the Greek families descending on sun beds ‘free for customers’ and marking out their territory with half-drunk frappes bought elsewhere; from the young men hogging an area of seafront and displaying like cockerels with bats and ball to their current squeezes preening nearby; from the fat brattish boys; from the mothers being dragged about by invisible umbilical cords connected to their little darlings; and from their bloated husbands who think they’re Mr Universe fresh from a weight-training session. Yup, it’s Greek holiday time. But at least they do enjoy the beach and the sea, which is in complete contrast to many English abroad who don’t like the sea, find the beach too hot, and spend their time sitting inside a bar getting completely pissed.

Tuesday 24th July
I’m steaming along into the next Penny Royal book and as ever constantly surprised that I can just sit down and write my 2,000 words without too much trouble. In fact, on the last couple of occasions, I polished them off in about two hours. Perhaps it’s time for me to shift into another gear and aim for 2,500 or 3,000 a day? No, because today I’ve only managed 1,500 words and am pondering a loose plot thread that might have to be extracted all the way back through the previous book...


robann said...

The kindle is not only a great reading experience but also broadens your reading. It's so easy to try a couple of free chapters that you can venture outside of your normal genres. It's also good to be able to read a series of books in the correct order rather than relying on a bookshop actually having them all in stock...

Do the people of Crete also dislike the 'mainlanders' or is it just you? ;-)

Alberon said...

It looks like the Dark Knight Rises box office has been hit over the weekend due to the shooting. I haven't seen anyone blaming the Batman films (not that I've been looking) yet, but I'm sure it will happen. This sort of tragedy thing is always going to happen again and again. I'm in favour of tougher gun laws as I think it reduces the chances of this sort of thing happening.

Where do you stand on gun control?

Before the ban I had been driven out of some pubs by smoking setting my asthma off or just by making my eyes so red they felt like they were on fire. So I'm for anti-smoking laws, but asking for a non-smoking area in an effectively outdoor place is just damn silly.

Northern Fop said...


I too like pubs better now there's much less smokey. I do think the current (UK) law is ridiculously draconian though, especially in that a pub or restaurant can't even set aside a smoking room and stay on the right side of the law.

What on earth is wrong with a 'snug' or somesuch, separated from the main bar, where people can smoke cigarettes, pipes, cigars, cheroots, hookahs, etc to their hearts' content? Smokers who like a drink (i.e. the large majority) just stay at home and subject their kids to all that second hand smoke. What a brilliant solution!

Graeme Finch said...

You could always write less and have more time off.

Angelos Chaidas said...

...from the young men hogging an area of seafront and displaying like cockerels with bats and ball to their current squeezes preening nearby....

Had to smile when I read this one. To expand a little bit further (since I used to behave exactly like that):

The totally idiotic concept is that the harder you hit the tennis ball (which was never designed for a wooden raquet) the more "awesome" the spectacle. What few beach-raquet afficionados know however, is that the whole thing is totally flipping annoying for EVERYONE on the beach, including their girlfriends. Somehow, every greek bloke that picks up a raquet immediately behaves like Nadal on steroids.

And then we grow up and prefer to chill in our towel applying copious amounts of sunscreen to our girlfriends.

Beach etiquette is slowly taking place in Greek beaches (the wanna-be Federers know they are annoying and pick more secluded strips of the beach) but we still have some ways to go.

That said, it's one hell of an exercise.

Sean said...

If you get a chance--after reading a few issues--I'd be curious to see your overall rating of reading Asimov's on the Kindle.
I've owned a Kindle for years (love it), but I've heard a lot of negatives about the magazine experience on the Kindle. (Can only use on one device, bad formatting, lousy/unusable TOC, can't bookmark a page, etc..)
The user reviews on the US site are full of tips how to get around these issues, but the whole thing seems cludgy. I've yet to subscribe because of the negative reviews.

Phil M said...

Thursday 26th. Amazon have shipped my copy of Zero Point......Yipee!

bascule said...

@Phil M.

Yep, me too. Just finished one book so will be staying in, hovering by the letter box waiting for delivery.

Wow was just about to hit "publish" when the doorbell rang. It's here, I have it. It's plumper than I'd imagined. That's the next few days taken care of then.

Lauris Mikulans said...

Got your book(Zero Point) yesterday! nice big and heavy one, will satisfy my huger for your books for a few days :)

Thank you!

Neal Asher said...

robann, the bar owners consider them the worst customers.

Alberon, my view on gun control is that generally criminals don't obey the law - rather defines them.

Alberon and Northern Fop, I'm not for bans because that cedes control to the governemnt. It should be up to the owners of pubs etc. Also, ask yourself why there are no areas allowed for smoking and understanding that you'll begin to get wise.

Go Graeme, get controversial...

Angelos, swimming is great exercise too, and doesn't result in sand in my glass of coke.

Sean, I'll let you know when I get round to it.

Glad to hear you other guys got your copies of Zero Point ... before the release date.