09 December 2018

New release - The Starfighter Invitation

The only thing bigger than the world's first full virtual reality game is the mystery surrounding its origins.  Who is behind Ryzonart Games?  How was such a huge advance in technology achieved?

Taia de Haas loves having her own virtual spaceship, and wants nothing more than to visit every planet in the solar system.  But she cannot ignore the question of whether such a magnificent gift comes with strings attached.  Is the game a trick, a trap, a subtle invasion?  Or an opportunity to step up and fight for her own planet?

Caught in a tangle of riddles and lies, Taia can't resist trying to win answers from Ryzonart's mysterious administrators.  But will finding the truth cost her the Singularity Game?

About the book

This is a story that began life as "Snug Ship" which is a name that I liked a lot (not least because it was easy to fit on a book cover!), but didn't exactly telegraph what kind of story to expect.  It wasn't until late in the development of the story that I decided to change to The Starfighter Invitation - not because I don't like the final title, but because I felt it telegraphed perhaps a little too much.

This was also a book that took me a long time to write - nearly two years - which I can only blame on 'research'.  To write a story about MMOs (massively multiplayer online roleplaying games) I felt it necessary to refresh my memory of MMOs, and so I reactivated my Final Fantasy XIV account.

Pictured is my character (Rennyn).  Although there is some pointlessly revealing clothing, one of the things I really appreciate about FFXIV is the wealth of clothing options that don't involve chainmail bikinis.

In terms of writing speed, that was a mistake.  FFXIV is a beautiful game (with a lot more plot than the usual MMO), but like all MMOs it's designed to be played and played and played.  There is no end, there is just a timesuck of enormous proportions.  Eventually (admittedly after I'd levelled all the crafts to the current max level) I decided the only thing to do was quit cold turkey, and so I logged out one day and never logged in again (though I do intend to pick it up when the new expansion comes out around June).

The Starfighter Invitation covers something of the experience of playing an MMO, while adding true virtual reality to the mix.  The experience of virtual reality is definitely a topic that opens up exploration into the self you present and the self that you feel that you are.  I also spent a lot of time thinking through narrative structure, since I was building the story along the common experiences of an MMO player.  I'm not sure the way I approached the structure will work for everyone, but much of it will certainly be recognisable to MMO fans.

I also spent some time getting into current gaming culture so that I wasn't using completely outdated slang, and now regularly watched Twitch and YouTube as a result.  I don't stream myself, however, as my internet connection is not currently up to it.

The Singularity Game series is an ongoing one, and I'll be swapping off writing it with The Trifold Age, so next up will be Tangleways (finally!).  I would very much like to get Tangleways out in late 2019, but my writing speed has definitely dropped, so I will make no guarantees.

I hope you enjoy meeting Taia (and Dio, who is one of my favourite characters ever).  See you in-game.


These are the currently-available links.  I will add to them as further links (including the trade paperback) become active.

16 June 2018

Hey, an interview

Here's an interview with me over at Pine Reads Review!

On the writing front, still working on Snug Ship.  Everyone's deep in the bowels of a massive wrecked spaceship, trying to decide if virtual reality is all that fun after all.

Snug Ship has a slightly different take on the privacy concerns that Stray looked into - I think whenever you do some kind of connected future-tech you can't avoid privacy concerns.

I might - might - get a first draft done by the end of June.  Then it'll be editing.  I'm at least confident that it'll be out this year, anyway!  Then I'll be able to get on to working on Tangleways, which I'm really looking forward to.

22 March 2018

Long-term plans for audiobooks

Audiobooks have been a not-infrequent request (particularly of the Touchstone Trilogy).  Smashwords has come out with a new audiobook model that seems accessible for Australians, and not too onerous for me to put together.  It's a big initial outlay of money, so I'll be saving up for it, but now have it on my more immediate to-do list (hopefully I'll get some tax back in July to fund at least the first book).

On the writing front, still plugging away with Snug Ship.  This is not a particularly long book, but it seems determined to progress slowly.

You'll notice the blog has been particularly quiet, and this is in part because I've been determined to get the first draft done (maybe six chapters to go [forty down - they're short chapters]), and have cut down drastically on other writing, gaming, etc.  I won't try to set a release date, since my estimates have been invariably wrong so far, but the end is at least in sight.

I like Snug Ship quite a lot, but it abandons some traditional structure concepts, so I'm not sure it will please everyone.

[I've been thinking about the concept of Chekov's Gun a fair bit, and how I prefer to make that gun barely noticeable, or leave it out altogether.  Sometimes the gun is necessary on that mantelpiece, and other times it spoils a story for me.]

Status update

 On the good and bad news front.  I have written quite a lot this year!  I have continued to make forward progress on Tangleways  (finally g...