Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Year In Review

Hey yo,

So I'm visiting my old home town in Adelaide (and yes, I will be visiting the old library while I'm here), and I've been sitting in old bars and cafes I used to frequent, and walking down old streets I've not trod for decades, and I'm feeling reflective.

But nice as it's been to think back on old years and reconnect a bit with my past, it's given me fresh pause to think about the here and now, and - of course - to think about the year, on this its last day. And since, dammit, this blog is my fucking soapbox, I'm going to do it right here.

I almost hesitate to call 2014 a year of change for me, because 2013 was so much more so; but if anything, change keeps happening for me. I'm not the person I was twelve months ago, and my life, while cosmetically similar, isn't the same life. Let's call it 'continuous change' and just say I'm living in interesting times.

There have been loads of highs, especially for me (and, of course, Abaddon), and a few lows, largely for the world in general. There's been a lot to rejoice in, and a lot to learn from. So, since this is the internet, let's do this list-style:

My Job
I hit five years in the industry and with Rebellion late this year, and it's been a ride. More than anything, I'm grateful that part of my job is being able to say "yes" to writers. I've been running Abaddon for a little over a year as well, and this was the year that many of my babies - the commissions that were wholly my call, from conception to contract - hit the shelves. It's been incredible seeing Sarah's Uprising, and Adrian, Malcolm and Colin's Journal of the Plague Year, and Two Hundred and Twenty-One Baker Streets, among others, turn up in the flesh (as it were), and I'm proud of what we've done.

Pictured: The moment a little bit of wee came out.

To say nothing of the social whirlwind that is publishing, flying to World Fantasy Con and gettin' down at LonCon and FantasyCon and the like. It's always a blast spending time with the brilliant, bizarre people of the genre world.

Pictured: Work.

My Writers
Which brings me to the people who write for me. Between approaching people I already knew, giving the nod to submissions and simply trawling for talent at conventions, commissioning puts you in touch with an exraordinary mix of people. I've met, worked with and now Facebook-stalk some brilliant men and women this past twelve months, and my life is richer for them.

Pictured: An argument for better security at mental health institutions.

My Writing!
And of course, if you didn't already know it, I'm a writer myself, with a handful of short fiction credits to my name, and this was the year I was selected for my first Year's Best anthology, for my mummy-romance short, "Old Souls," from Jurassic's Book of the Dead (which you should totes read). The Year's Best Australian Fantasy and Horror 2013, edited by Liz Grzyb and Talie Helene, is out now.

Pictured: The moment a bit more wee than I should admit to came out.

It's been a big year for space, it seems, between the ESA landing a probe on a comet half a billion kilometres away, India launching their space programme with a 100% successful remote mission, and the first stages of a seemingly solid commitment by NASA to land a human being on Mars already underway.

Pictured: Spaaaaaaaaaaaaace.

I'm... not going to go into the shirt. Suffice it to say I was one of those who felt it was out of line, but that complaint was delivered, it was acknolwedged, and amends were made in a few hours, and the only people still going on about it even a day later were GamerGaters trying to be relevant.

...which brings us to one of the real downers of the year. If you don't already know who and what GamerGate are, you're genuinely better off at this point not knowing, and at any rate a lot of people have done it better than I probably would already, so Google it if you'd like. The tl;dr is it's not been a proud time to be white, male, middle-class, a nerd, a fan of games or on the internet the past few months.

Pictured: An ethic.

It has had its plus points, including this Tumblr feed and the entry onto the world stage of such brilliant, inspirational women as Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn and Brianna Wu, but the best thing it's achieved so far is gradually dying away (although it seems it's not quite dead yet).

While I'm on a down note... Look, I'm not American and I'm not in America, so I appreciate this is an outside perspective and I don't fully understand the situation, but...

Honestly? It's really easy not to kill unarmed people. I do it all day. I could come round and show you how. In the meantime, while I'm sure there's context and it's all very complex, it just seems like something could be happening differently, and like the people with the ability to make that happen aren't really listening to the people asking for it. A lot of people are hurting, and a lot of people are angry, and the people with more power and more culpability are shouting at everyone else about how not enough people are empathising with them, and not trying real hard to empathise with anyone else. Not sure what the deal is, but I'm praying for you guys to sort yourselves out.

Marriage Rights
Alright, screw that negative shit. Honestly, if you told me five years ago that David fucking Cameron was going to usher in equal marriage rights in the UK, I'd have called you a goddamned liar to your face, and it turns out I'd have been a fool to do so. Already I have several friends who have jumped on the privilege, and I'm so happy to be living in a time when they can make that choice. Not least because, if this can change, what else can we do in our lifetimes?

Because... okay, yeah, I'm a big old feminist, in a time when that word is so contentious Time magazine apparently thought it was cool to call for it to be expunged from the English language, and I'm sometimes called a "Facebook feminist" or a "social justice warrior" (which to be honest sounds a lot more badass than the people saying this probably mean it to). But I've seen a hundred tiny steps forward this year, not least two people (that I can bring to mind) telling me directly that they've changed their outlook on gender in part because I'd helped them understand the world in a different way. It feels like the progressive side is under a huge attack, from the homophobes and the misogynists and the transphobes and the racists and those who demonise the poor - and all the rest - but I honestly believe that's just because we got them scared.

Pictured: A feminist cookie, just for you.

So keep up the good fight, guys. You're not the heroes they deserve etc.

A thousand, thousand times this.

Pictured: The whole future.

This little creature right here is the most amazing thing in the world. A year ago she couldn't crawl; now she runs, climbs, sprints and speaks. She teaches me so much about her, and about myself, every day, that I can barely keep up. And she terrifies me; because I want to give her the world she deserves.

Have a fun evening, and a very happy New Year. Here's to 2015 being even more amazing.


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Write for Abaddon Books! Redux

Hey folks!

So, next year, Abaddon Books will have existed as an entity for ten years (the first book came out around a year later, in 2006, but we started being book people in 2005).

Ten years! Ten years. TEN YEARS! A lot can happen in ten years. Like me: I freaked out at the senior prom, joined the Army, went into business for myself and became a professional killer.

Wait, no; that’s the plot of the John Cusack vehicle Grosse Point Blank. I get confused sometimes.

Okay, so: I’ve been with Rebellion Publishing for a hair over five years, and it’s the best game in town. Big enough to swim at the deep end, small enough to do we want. Abaddon Books is a home for risk-taking, innovation and irreverence, and we’re immeasurably proud to have brought some of the best, brightest and most challenging new names onto the market.

And here we are doing it again! Our last subs month was a blast; the talent, passion and dedication shining through every page blew me away. The only drawback, in fact, was having to say ‘no’ to so many people who frankly deserved a shot, because so damned many of you were so good. And I’m pretty sure this is going to be even bigger. So go ahead and do it! Bleed and sweat on your keyboard and make my job twice as hard as last time. It’s all I want.

[turns on Netflix to look for Grosse Point Blank]

Man, that was a great movie.

Oh, wait, you’re still here.

So we’re looking for two things! Firstly, I would love to see a submission for a new 30,000-word novella set in one of our existing worlds, particularly The Afterblight Chronicles, Tomes of the Dead, Weird Space or Gods & Monsters. Pick up some our existing characters – I would love to see a “what happened next” for The Culled’s nameless hero and Kill or Cure’s Jasmine! – or bring a new character into the mix of any of our worlds.

Secondly, and more importantly, I’m looking for a new world! Find something we haven’t done. Hard SF, maybe, or a monster we haven’t done (werewolves? faeries?). Maybe something I haven’t thought of at all and therefore can’t give an example of! Again, I want a 30,000-word novella, which will kick start a new series in 2015.

You’ve got until mid-February. The doors open (metaphorically) at midnight on January 14th, 2015, and close at midnight on February 15th, 2015. Send us a 150-word “elevator pitch,” a 1000-word chapter-by-chapter breakdown, and a 2000-word sample, to, by the deadline, and expect to hear from me... some point. When I get around to it. It can take a while (okay: you can start chasing me on the 1st March).

Do it.

What are you still doing here? Do it.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ADDENDUM! Abaddon is a Work For Hire imprint. That means that we buy your work off you outright, rather than the licensing-with-royalties deal you're probably more aware of. The money's a bit better up front, but you lose control once we buy it. This may not be for all people. If you want to understand more about the Work For Hire model, feel free to get in touch and ask some questions.