• Category Archives Peaceforgers
  • Meat Space Explained

    Before I get into the meat (haha) of this post…I’m still sorting the cadence, and it could vary if something comes up, but I’m probably going to move to doing blogs and sending messages to my mailing list on a quarterly basis for a while. With the writing and editing wrapped up on the last Peaceforger book, my mind wants to dive into the next book after that. To that end, I want to maximise time spent working on the book. And, since you are more likely to be following me for my books than my life-changing blogs (heh!), I suspect you’ll appreciate that as well. Okay, onto the good stuff!

    As promised when I first posted the playlist for Peace Maker, here’s a quick explanation of which place each song in the playlist is about. I’m posting the playlist again here so that there’s a bit of a buffer between this and the MANY SPOILERS in the explanations. (I mean, I’m hoping that keeping them short helps reduce spoilers, but, seriously, SPOILERS.)

    Okay, last warning: SPOILERS!

    1. Public Image Ltd – Seattle is, well, for Seattle.
    2. Depeche Mode – Pipeline, from the Construction Time Again album, is for the construction equipment office where they interrogate Zane.
    3. The Weirdos – The Hideout is for the warehouse that’s their main hideout, cos I couldn’t think of warehouse songs and the ones with that in the title weren’t right.
    4. The Cure – Jumping Someone Else’s Train is for the train station where Katja meets Lex.
    5. Placebo – Burger Queen is for the burger joint where they eat with Lex and Marleina.
    6. The Geto Boys – Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta, from the Office Space soundtrack, is for the empty office where they meet Zane in the middle of the night that one time.
    7. Emily Haines & the Soft Skeletons – Doctor Blind is for Dr. Scott’s office.
    8. Manufacture – Many Machines is for the plant, and gets extra points for Dune samples. RIP MindKiller!
    9. Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground is for the Seattle underground.
    10. The Refreshments – Banditos is for the Mexican place where Katja sees Engalls.
    11. The Prodigy – Fuel My Fire is for the fueling station, with extra points because it has relevant themes.

    The highest number of correct or close-to-correct guesses came from Iris A. Nice work!


  • Ripped from the Headlines!

    (Non-spoiler-y)

    Greetings from the end of the dumpster fire of a year that was 2020, a year in which Too Much happened. A year that many writers of books and scripts will point to when someone gives feedback like, “It seems super improbable that these things would happen.” A year that was approximately the 4th in a row filled with things that seemed unbelievable. (Please enjoy just a few of the many images I found looking for one for this post. They’ll help you remember that, mainly, the news was full of said dumpster fire.)

    And, of course, when I wrote the first draft of Peace Maker, it was still early 2016 (a whole year before the delightful photo of me at the top of this post, where it looks like I did know what was coming…) and much of what was going to happen after that draft was done would still have sounded too unreal to ever happen.

    So, I’d like make it clear that I was trying to write with some amount of restraint, some amount of realism. I was imagining what sort of things the future might hold. IMAGINING.

    Now, you might read Peace Maker and think some of it was surely written this year and was not, in fact, just me imagining as I’ve claimed above.

    As the release date approached, I suddenly saw my story as one might if one had not been the writer, had not been living with it for years. And, when you read it, you’ll wonder why I didn’t realise what you might think until sometime in September; it will be pretty obvious what I think you’ll think I wrote this year. You may well doubt me.

    But my beta readers can tell you that the version they got in January 2018 had this same plot and all the same things in it. Which means I have witnesses. Which means I’m doing better with this book’s disclaimer post than with the one I made for Peace Fire.

    For Peace Fire, I had to clarify that I hadn’t used a real “who.” For Peace Maker, it’s that I didn’t take any real “what.”

    I can’t see any suspicions about me not creating the “when” (I mean, 2050 is a real year that will happen, if we don’t destroy ourselves, so I won’t be claiming I imagined that) or the “where” (we all know Seattle is a real place). Which I guess means we now wait to see which “why” or “how” I accidentally seem to steal for the final book in the trilogy.

    (Which, fortunately, beta readers can attest they got last September, over 2 years before it will be published…My reputation might remain safe!)


  • Actually Katja

    I think I’ve mentioned it enough and am open enough about it that you likely already know that I’m Autistic. What you might not have known, until someone mentioned it in Peace Maker, is that Katja (the main character of the Peaceforger trilogy) is also #ActuallyAutistic. And you can’t be blamed for not knowing, because…

    …Because nobody said anything about it in Peace Fire, even though she was as Autistic then as in the second book. Just like my friends, as far as I know, aren’t constantly talking about me being Autistic.

    …Because women and girls on the spectrum remain under-diagnosed. I’ve even heard about one man who specialises in assessing autism who missed that his own daughter is Autistic. (The studies and figures cling to the gender binary, but I imagine this generally applies to AFAB people. Also, I am uncomfortable using the word “diagnosed” in this context, as autism isn’t an illness, but…that’s another topic.)

    …Because I only got my autism assessment in 2014 and it took me a while to feel I had a right to really claim or write that reality. Since Peace Fire finally found its way to the page for the first time in 2014, I was definitely not feeling my rights then.

    …Because, as we say in Autistic circles, if you’ve met one Autistic person, you’ve met one Autistic person; we’re as different from each other as we are from neurotypical people. And most of what people think of as how Autistic people are is based in stereotypes of male Autistics. So, even if you’ve got an Autistic friend, your “education” in us is likely incomplete.

    However, by the time I wrote Peace Maker, I was ready to own it. I felt I had a right to just flat-out state that truth of who Katja is. After all…

    …If I want Autistic representation in media, I should do more than just want. And I shouldn’t keep it quiet.

    …If I want Autistic people in media who are, by my experience and understanding, realistic, I should do more than just want.

    …If I want people to respect the call of “nothing about us without us” that we Autistic people often make, I should take advantage of this opportunity to make it about one of us, with (by) one of us.

    In fact, once I embraced this, I realised that every idea I currently had for new books involved Autistic main characters. Which led to a little examination. Was it weird that that was the case? Was it okay that that was the case?

    And then I thought of all the neurotypical people who, without a qualm, only write neurotypical main characters. In fact, all those books I’d read by cis, het, neurotypical, non-disabled white men tended to have main characters who could also be described that way. And people didn’t seem to question that very much for decades (centuries?).

    Oh.

    Just to be sure, I ran this by a number of people I respect and whom I trust to tell it to me straight and call me on my rubbish. And they agreed with me. Which means that, hurrah!, Katja was my first but certainly not my last Autistic main character.

    We might need to handle things a little differently, but there is room for people like me in book-worthy situations. Just like there’s room for us in the world.


  • Meat Space Is the Place

    If you’ve been around since Peace Fire, you know one of the things I like making is playlists. You might even have heard me mention that, on my computer, I’ve got hundreds of them. Which means that you are surely shocked—SHOCKED!—to hear that I’ve created a playlist to go with Peace Maker and have some character-specific ones in the works.

    Technically, the playlist I made for Peace Fire wasn’t just a general playlist that embodied the book but was a playlist I thought Gran would have made in the 2010s if she knew her grandkid would be a hacker. So, instead of a straight-up Peace Maker playlist, I’ve gone another way.

    Please enjoy the late-night placeholder image I created to go with the playlist until I make a moodboard for the book. Pure class, non?

    Introducing Meat Space Is the Place, a playlist of songs inspired by physical places Katja actually gets to go in Peace Maker. Because she probably needs to be reminded that she does go places…And, recalling my frustrations when almost every playlist I made for Peace Fire or one of its characters was missing songs when I put them on Spotify, I carefully made this one with songs that Spotify actually has. Oppressive, but it means you’re getting the full playlist and not some partial, sad thing.

    Note for my Radio Edit readers: Some of these songs have Language and/or Themes you might not love.

    Now, play the list! And then, play my game! (Explanation after the embedded playlist here.)

    Okay, so. Some of you HAVE read Peace Fire but you have NOT yet read Peace Maker. If that’s you (though I reckon you could have a go if you haven’t read either book), I would love you to drop me a comment with your guesses about what place (or type of place, since, aside from the super obvious one, I’m not expecting you to name a specific location) each song in the playlist might be about. I won’t approve your comment until November when I’m done taking guesses. That way, nobody can steal your brilliance. Please, feel free to be as serious or silly as the list inspires you to be. And, yes, you can skip songs, but maybe the skipped songs are opportunities for non-serious guesses.

    (Want to feel extra free to share your silly ideas? The last song in this playlist was almost a Sir Mix-A-Lot song just to emphasise the place from the first song…)

    Though what I’d really love is if you were willing to make a video of you saying, or holding up signs with, your guesses that I can use when I make the video I’m planning to make. Please make sure you clearly state that you’re okay with me using footage from your video. If you’re going the sign route, you could also share pictures of you and the sign.

    I’ll be sharing (and not unkindly! my intent isn’t to mock you at all) guesses when I write a blog (and include my companion video) about where the songs are actually about. Because, as I made the playlist, I was kind of delighted to think of where people might guess each song was about.

    Deadline: Please post all guesses by November 7.

    I’m planning the blog to post in January (with a spoiler warning so folks can choose to come back later, but having given eager early readers a solid chance to read) with the companion video (posted to my YouTube channel) of me sharing guesses and then telling people what’s real. This deadline will give me time, taking into account holidays and other things on my plate, to have something by then.

    Thanks in advance for playing along!


  • Peace Maker is here!

    Unlike the wait for this sequel (just 5 days short of 4 years!), I’ll keep this short and sweet. But just in case you didn’t see any of the social media yesterday…and just in case you’ve been WAITING, AMBER for this to happen for 4 years…

    Hello. It is 7 October, 2020, which means that Peace Maker finally came out yesterday. Hurrah! The first draft was done at least 6 months (if my notes are correct) before the first book, Peace Fire, even came out. But…Look, everyone involved had Things go down that held this up. April 2016 to now, there lost lives, lost jobs, new homes, new jobs, mental and physical health issues large and small, and so forth. Yikes. It’s almost like the world, or at least the nation in which I currently live, has been a dumpster fire of troubles from 2016 to now…

    Enjoy my hastily composed still life for Peace Maker

    But here is it, the 2nd book in the Peaceforgers trilogy. And I am so, so thrilled it’s finally in your hands. Or it could be…If you don’t have your copy, you should be able to find it (or have them order a copy for you) wherever books are sold. And, just in case you prefer to buy online and don’t feel like searching, here are some links to the most usual of suspects:

    Barnes & Noble paperback

    Barnes & Noble ebook

    Google Play Books ebook

    Apple Books ebook

    Amazon paperback

    Amazon ebook

    And find the Radio Edit version (ebook only) at Amazon. (It should be showing up some other places, but there’s been no joy so far.)

    For those who didn’t get enough of it last time, here’s the video I made for the Peace Fire release with a non-comprehensive list of a few free and easy ways to support artists you love.


  • I Still Swear…

    It probably shouldn’t surprise you to learn that, just like Peace Fire (book 1 in the Peaceforgers trilogy), Peace Maker (the next book in the trilogy, starring the same characters) also has The Swears.

    The short version: There is definitely swearing in my book. More swearing, in fact, than in the last book. There is also a version I made just for without it anti-swearing people. You’ll have to scroll (or read) to the end for information about that. (Pre-order that version here.)

    The long version…

    Actually, I’m going to refer you back to the swearing post for Peace Fire for all the context and thoughts and such. Here, I’m going to tell you the numbers (whilst using enough censorship that this post stays swear-free). You know, in case you’re skipping the other swearing post and so still underestimate just how swear-y this sequel is.

     

    A jar labelled "swear jar" and filled with large denominations of money and a credit card

    Let’s pull out ye olde swear jar and calculate the damage. In my 307 pages of story, the following words (or variations thereof) show up the number of times listed here:

    • F-word: 300
    • S-word: 285
    • D-word: 65
    • H-word: 70 (but some might be in words like “shell” because I used Find to do a word count, which introduced some uncertainty for some of these)
    • Rude words related to male genitals: 8 (but only when used in that sense, because, for instance, one can be cocky or be pricked by a needle and that’s not rude)
    • A-word: Whether you spell it the “usual” way or the variant that includes an R, it’s the sort of thing that might show up in words like “parse,” “assume,” “password,” etc, so there’s no easy way to get an accurate count. But those of you who didn’t run away after the f-bomb count can probably handle this…
    • B-words: 26 of one and 28 of the other
    • Random other words that I’ve learnt are considered pretty much like swears to a US English audience: 3, but I can’t promise I searched for all the words you’d hope
    • Because it is of special concern to some of you, whether you read the normal or edited version, I want to note that I did not use the Lord’s name in vain.

    But, as promised when I made the first one happen, Peace Maker gets a Radio Edit version as well. (And now I’m going to pretty much repeat what was in the last post. If you just re-read that, unless you need to know the other, less-likely to offend US English people numbers, you now know everything! Well, everything covered by this post.)

    I called it the Radio Edit because, as most of you probably know, music is a massive part in my life. When I think about voluntarily censoring something I’ve created, my mind immediately goes to radio edits of songs. Though I could totally use words on the radio that I’ve taken out of the Radio Edit. I could also have way more sexiness on the radio than you’ll find in the Radio Edit.

    Because it’s the culture in which the story takes place (and, yes, what counts as swearing varies based on which English-speaking country you’re in), I did the edit based on US English swearing. It should be good for you non-swearing folks in general, given my experience has been that, overall, US English is the most limiting variation. Unless you have a problem with words like “crap,” “piss,” and “jerk,” in which case I really can’t scale it back enough for you. (I also left in phrases like “the evidence was damning” because there are non-swearing uses of words that US English considers swears in other contexts.)

    Actually, here’s a count for words that are something like those mentioned in the last paragraph:

    • Bloody – 6 times in a sense other than “having actual blood on them” in the regular version, and 27 times in the Radio Edit. Left in or used as a replacement because I opted for US English ideas of swearing, and it’s not really seen as a rude word at all in the US as far as I can tell.
    • Crap – Whilst it shows up only 1 time in the regular version, it shows up 143 times in the Radio Edit. Left in or used as a replacement for the same reason as “bloody.” But clearly used a lot more than bloody…
    • Piss – 5 times in both versions. But…listen, I hear some of you non-swear folks say you’re “pissed off,” so I feel pretty okay about this. After all, you’re not giving this book to your kids (in front of whom I’ve heard non-swear folks use the word anyway). “Piss” seems like a pretty reasonable non-swear rude word these days.
    • Bollocks – 1 time in both versions. Left in for the same reason as “bloody.”
    • Screw – 1 time in the regular version, and 64 times in the Radio Edit. But a good percentage of those new times are in the quite innocuous sense of messing up.
    • Shag – 1 time in the regular version, and 3 times in the Radio Edit. Left in or used as a replacement for the same reason as “bloody.”
    • Sod – 0 times in the regular version, and 12 times in the Radio Edit. Used as a replacement for the same reason as “bloody.”
    • Bugger – 0 times in the regular version, and 4 times in the Radio Edit. Used as a replacement for the same reason as “bloody.”

    The swearing was not removed by just using the Find and Replace function. (For instance, I did not just replace every f-bomb with the same word.) That would have left a massively inferior book (instead of one that I just feel isn’t as authentic sounding). What actually happened is that I made a list of every swear word I could think of and a few extra-rude words, and then I used Find to locate them. (If I missed anything, please accept my most sincere apologies. The cost of a full line edit and the impact on timelines was not something we could work out.) I then made changes on a case-by-case basis. (Which only confirmed my belief that swear words serve particular purposes and carry their own, unique connotations and nuances. But this edit isn’t about me; it’s about you. So, I did my best for you, all things considered.)

    If the Radio Edit does well enough, it will be part of the plan from the start to do it for books I write after this that are more than the tiniest bit sweary. Though I’ll definitely press for it for the last Peaceforgers book because it would be unkind to you anti-swear readers to do otherwise at this point. Because it’s not the way things are normally done and due to the cost (in terms of time, money, and energy), it will only be an ebook. Currently, Amazon is the only place I’ve confirmed it will be available for pre-order. (If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app to your computer or device. That’s what I use!) I’m working to make it available more widely, and hope to at least have it available through Barnes and Noble (as an ebook). If you search for Peace Maker at your preferred ebook supplier, unless the cover is the one you see above (with the Radio Edit stamp on it) and the description notes that it has been edited for swearing, I can’t guarantee that’s what you’re getting. Shop carefully!

    xxx

    Peace Maker (Radio Edit) is now available for pre-order here


  • Judging this Book by Its Cover

    Because you’re certainly on my mailing list and/or following me on social media (and somehow evading the algorithms that keep us all from seeing all the things we asked to see), you’ve seen the cover for Peace Maker already. It’s another good one by George Cotronis at Ravenkult, the artist who did the Peace Fire cover.

    After the clean and simple Peace Fire cover, I thought it might be nice, in a non-spoilery way, if I tried to point out five details of this Peace Maker cover that might tell you a little about what’s in this 2nd book of the Peaceforgers trilogy.

    1. Things are messier, not nearly so clear or obvious or straight-forward.
    2. That same basic silhouette confirms that it’s still Katja telling us this story.
    3. We can see she’s still hood up and boots on and, though it’s not quite the same, still got light in her. Ready for action, but maybe not quite where she was in Peace Fire.
    4. And she’s still facing down a circular shape, but it’s also not quite what it was in Peace Fire.
    5. The picture—in the circles of light and scattered throughout—has plenty of a light, bright blue you might remember from Peace Fire.

    For more than that, well, you’ll have to actually read what’s behind this cover when the book is out 6 October…

    xxx

    Pre-order Peace Maker wherever you usually buy books. Though, at this time, I’ve been told that nobody can find a listing for the paperback. Argh! They are, I’m promised, working on it…

    Here’s a wee link roundup if you’d like to pre-order the ebook at the bigger Usual Suspects:

    But I also know it’s being sold through smaller (aka they haven’t yet tried to take over the world) outlets, and the paperback should also be available everywhere. Eventually…At the very least, once it’s out, you should be able to ask your fav indie bookshop to order it for you!

    Oh, and it’s on GoodReads, in case you want to note that you’d like to read it…


  • News About New

    Did you hear? The next book in the Peaceforger trilogy is on its way!

    Peace Maker launches 6 October, 2020. What’s it about?

    Ears still ringing from their last explosive attempt to save the world, Katja and her friends learn that the war is bigger and the future is darker than anyone realized. So much for life after Demo Day.

    To counter a threat that’s more than just scattered mind control, they’ll have to stay in Seattle. They’ll have to stay in the fight. But maybe this time they can keep their battles in the digital realm. Maybe this time someone else can do all the meat space stuff. Either way, it’s time to regroup, research, resist. And when they do, they’ll learn what the enemy already knows:

    There’s more than one way to reprogram a human…

    Keep an eye on social media and/or join the newsletter for updates. On social media, I’ll be posting some wee memory nudges about Peace Fire, just in case you’re into that kind of thing.

    I do want to acknowledge the times we live in, the ongoing fight for justice and equity, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. With that going on, I particularly don’t want to crowd out voices speaking directly about social change or the voices of BIPOC. I definitely took some time to consider the current world situation and how I might best, appropriately let people know about the book. In the end, I thought about how it’s books, poems, and music that have helped me keep going in all kinds of difficult times, and how it is always my hope that the things I create might at least give people a chance to step out of reality for a breath. So, I’ll try to keep the posts reasonable, and I’ll cross my fingers that this little story about revolting against those in power gives your brain a break.


  • The Road to Dystopia

    If a utopia is a society/world where everybody gets to be happy and free, a dystopia is a society/world where nobody (except the person or tiny group of people at the top) gets to be truly happy and free.

    The 4 main characters from Mean GirlsMaybe we all spend a few years in a dystopia…

    A lot of times, an apocalyptic event is a great excuse for some person or group to set up their dystopia. The founders of dystopic societies aren’t picky, either. Any apocalypse they have survived and that has put them into a position to enact their bad ideas will do.

    Sometimes, the post-apocalyptic dystopic society is the result of the fact that humans can be really stupid, so they think they’re setting up a utopia and, oh, never mind…It’s all horrible now.

    A lot of the dystopias we’ve seen lately in popular books (and the films based on them) are post-apocalyptic. Which, sure, I get. An apocalypse wipes the slate clean (and, hey, as a writer I can’t hate the apparent freedom from “nobody would do that” that comes from a society that’s been wiped like that), and makes room for big and obvious changes. And I’m not here to hate on that. I’m even open to the argument that most societies in post-apocalyptic settings are dystopias, and that that is necessary for dramatic tension and plot to exist. I haven’t read All The Books though, so I’m not here to talk about that either.

    Because as much as a massive natural disaster or a man-made apocalyptic event can be enjoyable, it’s those dystopias that have less epic roots that really get at me. Those times where you find yourself looking at the world around you, the real one, and seeing the hints that, oh my stars, we could be headed there.

    I don’t think I read any dystopian books before I was a teenager, which seems weird to me…But, I also don’t know if I would have really noticed them if I had read them before my teen years, so, maybe I did? But as a teen…Starting to notice the things that are crap, unfair, dangerous about the world…Idealism in full bloom, in the heady and gorgeous way that mostly seems reserved for adolescents…Having had a little time to simmer on the distrust of government that Ender’s Game woke in me…I picked up 1984 and began to paranoidly fancy dystopian fictions, whilst also worrying that they weren’t just fictional. That we were headed that way.

    Slogans from 1984: "Big Brother Is Watching You" and "War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength"I weep…

    I managed to not let the dread kindled by dystopian novels drive me. I managed to keep it locked in a tiny cupboard inside me, to be pulled out when it was strongly merited. But, quietly, my subconscious was looking for the warning signs that we were headed for a dystopia about which I’d already read or for one that no writer had thought to warn us about.

    In my early 20s, I finally read The Handmaid’s Tale. No, I have no idea why it took me that long. Some failing of adults and supposed good influences in my life, no doubt. Heh.

    Drawing of two women in loose red cloaks and white head coveringsThe mandatory fashion isn’t the only thing terrifying in this one…

    That woke me back up, pulled the dread and paranoia out of the cupboard and dusted the whole lot off. That one, as we started to learn how that world came to be, seemed (still seems) far too possible and real. And that’s when I realised that it’s not just the story of the dystopia that matters, not even if there’s a part where someone escapes or overthrows the dystopia (causing me to take note, lest I find myself trying to survive a dystopic scenario). No, if the author lets us see it, the road to the dystopia is just as important. But I’m one of those people who thinks that truth hides in fiction and we shouldn’t treat fiction as unimportant.

    So, the road to dystopia…

    It was The Handmaid’s Tale that made me wonder if we would notice a dystopia creeping up on us. Because, sure, a terrorist group (or a fanatical religious group pretending to be another kind of terrorists) shot the government. But, you know, we’ll recover. We’ll sort it out. Humanity can totally come back from stuff like that. Oh, limiting of rights? Listen, it’s just temporary and isn’t a temporary sacrifice of rights worth it for freedom? But I’m not here to dissect our current world or modern events in Western countries.

    I always felt like dystopian fiction overlapped well with my enjoyment of cyberpunk, because I could so easily see the worlds, regimes, societies, ambitious antagonists in cyberpunk stories being the road to dystopias. There are other reasons I like cyberpunk and other noteworthy points, but we’re talking the road to dystopia today, poppets. I’m not here to praise cyberpunk things.

    Ready for me to pull this together? I’m exhausted as I write, so let’s all hope real hard as I jump into the next paragraph.

    I accidentally wrote a cyberpunk novel. I accidentally wrote a novel that is, arguably, an origin story for a dystopia. A road to dystopia.

    I just thought I was writing sci fi. That’s all I was trying to do with Peace Fire by the time I sat down to pour out the words.

    Text: Peace Fire (Your Brain Needs a Firewall). Beside the text is the Peace Fire cover: a silhouette with a red flare in the middle, in front of and a large, round, metallic shapeEven my own cover art didn’t tip me off…

    When somebody sent back notes and called it cyberpunk, I blinked. Oh, okay, sure…I can see that. Okay. Yes! It’s cyberpunk! I like cyberpunk. Somewhere in non-linear time, teen me was suddenly really pleased and she didn’t know why.

    And then I had a conversation with a friend. She’s one of those people who is quite smart, who reads loads, and who happens to do marketing so thinks about how to classify things. She kept using the word “dystopia” when talking about my book. If you read the stuff that came before this paragraph, you’ll know that this didn’t make me unhappy. But, I didn’t see it.

    And, when she pointed it out…when she helped me see that this scenario is a road to dystopia…when my brain imagined the dystopia that this book could dump everyone into…Oh.

    Suddenly, I was wondering when my dystopia-induced paranoia got dulled…Or maybe it was just no longer as loud. Had it been whispering warnings to me from the little cupboard in which I keep it, nudging my fingers as I told this story? Or maybe it was the lack of an apocalyptic event, now that those are so closely linked in the popular imagination…Or did I not see it as dystopian because I just assumed that you know you’re writing dystopic fiction when you write it? Just like you might assume you’d know if your real world was on the road to dystopia.

    I don’t think this will change the sequels. I’m currently working on draft 2 of book 2 and have book 3 outlined (including the ending), and I think I’ve got it right. But now that I see the dystopia on the horizon, it’s like I’m at the optometrist and they’re asking whether things look clearer through lens 1 or lens 2. And I was pretty sure it was lens 1, but lens 2 came down and I wasn’t even aware the world could be so sharp.


  • Hack the Playlist!

    It’s a Wednesday, and I’ve gotten used to Wednesday posts, so here’s one more.

    If you’ve been paying attention, you know Peace Fire came out yesterday. You might also know that music is really important to me. And that’s why I can’t feel like I’ve done this whole endeavour justice without blatantly injecting some music into it.

    When I write, I have soundtracks in my head (and usually on my speakers) that set the tone, and my first mental images of Peace Fire were more like music videos. I think music helped me build a sense of atmosphere, an idea of cool outside of what Hollywood tells me it is. Music, my own and others’, also helped me accept that a non-stop, butterfly-filled utopia isn’t actually the kind of place from which creations that connect with me tend to come. Not unless someone has at least been letting some moths in…

    I wrote about music and how I write, specifically talking about the role of music in Peace Fire, in a guest post for someone else’s blog, so keep your eyes on my social media. I’ll post the link and you can read that post if this topic interests you. I’m not planning to duplicate information 😉

    For this post, I’m keeping it kind of simple. After all, I’m still nursing a sugar hangover from yesterday’s book launch celebration. I haven’t been so reckless in my cupcake consumption since the horrifying “Valentine’s Cupcake Gorging” of 2015 for the Most Worlds blog. Which is why my most-practised form of moderation is abstinence. Ha!

    Simple and musical? That means it’s playlist time!

    My knee-jerk idea for this was to make a playlist of what the characters would listen to, but my characters are young and cool and live in the future. Any song I could put on a playlist is at least 34 years in their past, making it officially an oldie. The characters aren’t too cool for oldies, but let’s adjust focus for my sanity.

    I thought of making a playlist of songs I listened to whilst writing, but that’s a lot of hours and multiple moods (each of which could have its own long playlist).

    So, I present to you a playlist of songs that the main character’s grandmother would have made if you’d told her that her granddaughter was going to be a hacker. Consider this something like backstory on the grandmother…Seriously…

    And consider this your “Mature Content” warning. This is not the Radio Edit playlist; some of these songs have the swears and the sexual themes. (The only editing of content here was the painful process of cutting it down from a 3 hour playlist to something closer to 90 minutes…y’know, as if Gran had made a mix tape…)

    Oh, and probably another warning that I meant this to be quick and then spent way more time on it than I should have…And I still don’t have all the volume levels equalised between songs. Ugh. I’m so sorry. I hate that. If I get more time soon (cue hysterical laughter) I will totally replace this file with something where I’ve manually adjusted everything. Anyway…

    Without further explanation or comment on the individual songs:

    Hack the Playlist!

    Animated gif: A CD fragmenting in a microwave

    1. Sound Clip (from Hackers): Hack the planet!
    2. The Cassandra Complex – Nice Work (If You Can Get It)
    3. Nitzer Ebb – Join in the Chant
    4. Welle:Erdball – Starfighter F-104G
    5. Sound Clip (Iggy Pop from Hardware): Good Morning Amerika
    6. Front 242 – Headhunter v1.0
    7. Front Line Assembly – Mindphaser (Single Mix)
    8. TheProdigy – Firestarter
    9. Eon – Fear: The Mind Killer (Altered Edit)
    10. Sound Clip (from Dune): It is by will alone I set my mind in motion
    11. Underworld – Cowgirl
    12. Varnish – Tied to my Chair
    13. Sigue Sigue Sputnik – 21st Century Boy
    14. Placebo – Infra-Red (Hotel Persona Remix)
    15. Sound Clip (from Max Headroom): This is the future: people translated as data.
    16. Orgy – Fiction (Dream in Digital)
    17. IAMX – Cold Red Light
    18. Tubeway Army – Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
    19. The Boomtown Rats – I Don’t Like Mondays
    20. Sound Clip (from Hardware): Everything. Is under. Control.
    21. Massive Attack – Future Proof
    22. Anne Clark – Sleeper in Metropolis
    23. Visage – Fade to Grey
    24. Shriekback – Faded Flowers
    25. Sound Clip (from Blade Runner): Roy’s “Tears in Rain” monologue

    Only one of these tracks is mine. If you like what you hear, go buy the song or the film and own another piece of happiness.

    Peace Fire cover: a silhouette with a red flare in the middle, in front of and a large, round, metallic shape

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