This is not the super fun part of writing a book.
Every single project I do seems to involve re-inventing the bloody wheel. And god knows I have no idea how to sell a book. But, these days, the author (especially a "new" author, which, in prose, I am) has to be deeply involved in the selling of a book. Moreso, I suspect, when it's a genre book -- and, in GUN MACHINE's case, apparently the imprint's lead book of the season -- because the field is more crowded and the financial expectation is more pressing. I imagine it's easier to distance yourself from the pack when you're one of the only five Jonathan Franzen impersonators hired this season.
It's COPYEDIT PHASE, too. This is where kind people at Mulholland Books work diligently to uncover my every stupidity and list them in a gentle and forgiving manner, and then I swear at them and hide under the bed for a week or two. Thereby blowing the copyedit deadline. It is kind of horrible. Especially when you're still in the process of gearing up to begin the next book.
BOOKS IS FUN
Just read ME AND THE DEVIL by Nick Tosches. That was one odd book. A first-person literary consideration of an aged blood-drinker called... Nick Tosches. (Turns out one of the perks for writing for a big publishing house is that they'll mail you as many pre-release books as you can eat.) Tosches writes what Cormac McCarthy describes as "simple declarative sentences," but each one seems to be a wonder of sculpture, so perfectly weighted that you want to lift them in your hand and heft them to understand the magic of their balance.
And then you go and crawl under the bed and hide for another week or two.
Okay, so, Ariana, my good right hand and the designer of (among many other things) this newsletter, got this in the mail yesterday, and insisted I turn on teh Skypes and look at the unboxing:
23andMe are, of course, the people who'll decode the non-homogenous section of your genome for a hundred Yanqui bucks. And that's the packaging. Welcome to you. Naturally, they're from San Francisco. I'm almost surprised it didn't read "dive into you" or "take a little swim in Lake You." But seriously. Those colours, that message. Don't you get a little bit of BRAVE NEW WORLD from that?
A British designer, Chris Heathcote, paid 23andme to sequence (that unique 1% of) his genome. Later, he came across an interesting medical fact on tv, a genetic curiosity. So Chris opened up a device – via which the digital files from the service were accessible – and looked it up on his own genes. You can see the piece of his that I took this from here.
And, creepy packaging vibe aside, that's why we're probably going to get to sidestep BRAVE NEW WORLD. Because so many people have worked so hard, for so long, to put the tools of information in the hands of the people. Which leads to, in the early part of the 21st Century, Chris can look shit up on his genome.
Think about what you can buy for a hundred American dollars today. And add to that list the unique section of your genome. An iPhone 4S starts at $199. That's two lots of genetic sequencing you can buy, over the bloody internet.
Even a cheap handgun, bought online in America, might run you a bit more than that. A hundred and thirty, a hundred and fifty. Three hundred for a Charter Arms .38. More if you're looking for one of the nice old ones with the checkered grips. Which I mention for a reason. Takes a lot of guns to make a Gun Machine.
This is one of the descriptions of GUN MACHINE currently doing the rounds, by the way:
Mulholland Books presents... GUN MACHINE
This morning Detective John Tallow was bored with his job.
Then there was this naked guy with a shotgun, and his partner getting killed, and now Tallow has a real problem: an apartment full of guns. Old guns. Modified guns. Arranged in rows and spirals on the floor and walls. Hundreds of them.
Each weapon is tied to a single unsolved murder. Which means Tallow has uncovered two decades' worth of homicides that no one knew to connect and a killer unlike anything that came before.
Tallow's bosses don't want him to solve the case. The murderer just wants him to die. But there's a pattern hiding behind the deaths, and if Tallow can figure it out he might even make it out alive.
LONDON, Kapow Comics Convention, Sat May 19th, speaking only.
Next week, I will collect up all the pre-order links for GUN MACHINE that are floating around, not least because some of them have different story information, I noticed... but, for right now, I'm just going to press COMMIT and hope you're having a good day. See you next week.