Second Star To The Right

I’m trying something I’ve never really tried before, in terms of writing, and it’s scaring the hell out of me.

I’m forward planning.

As I write the copies of Folk’d Up have just arrived from the printer, although I left work too early to intercept the courier from Blackstaff offices; I had to leave a message with the reception guy to hold them for me.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? This is the same guy who went out for a fag a few weeks ago and accidentally locked 700 people in a building behind him as he did so. When this was – I felt, under the circumstances – extremely reasonably pointed out to him by office workers hanging out of first-floor windows (i.e. without the use of objects hurtling toward his head) his response was an annoyed grunt that his fag break had been cut short.

So you’ll understand if I greet tomorrow morning with some trepidation that the big papery thing tied up with string hasn’t been deposited into the big shreddy thing, or used as bog roll, although I do hear that chapter 5 is soft, strong and thoroughly absorbent.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. I especially can’t wait to press it tightly against a copy of book 1, so tightly in fact that I’m more or less forcing them to have sex with one another, then turn them on their side and read their spines, run my fingers along their soft yielding edges, and go ‘oooooohhhhh’.

Wow. That sentence ended up in a dark place, huh? No wonder my child-minding business went bust.

I still have the spectral presence of book 3, Completely Folk’d, on the horizon, and man, that one is gonna be a beast. The last thing I want is for this whole thing to land with a spluf. Or a gwlt. Or a pfhl. I’m using those onomatopoeic words in this blog because Blackstaff keep deleting them from my novels by the way. You can’t touch this blog, motherf**kers! Anyway – I want the whole trilogy to hit you right between the eyes with a Thud! Boosh! Smack!

Christ, this is turning into an Adam West era “Batman” episode.

Worrying as that challenge is, book 3 is at least already written in some format. It’ll be rewritten, perhaps quite extensively, but ’tis always easier to refine than to invent.

No, the forward-planning I speak of isn’t for Folk’d, but for life post-Folk’d.

It’s weird because although fantasy & sci-fi are so often lumped together – especially with these new terms of “geek” or “genre” or “cult” fiction being bandied about – they really are quite different from one another. I would have always counted myself as more a sci-fi nut than a fantasy nerd, and yet my first big success story has been firmly planted in the fantasy genre.

My next venture, though, is going right back to sci-fi. The future, in fact. And that’s what scares the hell out of me, because I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to get a few speculative guesses wrong. You might have noticed, for instance, that we don’t currently go everywhere on moving pavements, we don’t have domestic robot servants who take care of all that pesky ironing and washing-up, and WHERE THE F**K ARE MY F**KING HOVERBOARDS, NASA???!!! F**K MARS! F**K EUROPA! DID YOU SEE HOW COOL THOSE THINGS LOOKED???

I remember reading one of Jules Verne’s lesser known stories set in the future (the 2100s I think) and what struck me was how much everyone in it blathered on about what life must have been like in 1890s Paris (apologies if I’m getting some small details wrong here, I can’t be arsed to Wikipedia it). Of course, ol’ Jules himself lived in Paris, and he wrote the story in the 1890s. It suddenly hit me – this is our problem, isn’t it? You look at Star Trek time travel episodes from the classic series; oh look a time warp…to America in the 1960s.

We always try and interpret the future through an obsession with what the world is like now; when was the last time anyone, anywhere, really gave a toss what life was like anywhere in the 1890s, let alone in Paris? The fact is, something completely unforeseeable is going to come along and blow our predictions out of the water. The Internet, the mobile phone, the iPod – all seemed to explode overnight, and all of them changed the world. No author can realistically hope to get much right when peering into the looking-glass of things that have not yet come to pass.

Truth is, though, I shouldn’t worry. Getting the details right doesn’t matter – telling a good story matters, and nothing else. So, f**k it. I’m going to set my story in 2091, far enough away that – fingers crossed – everyone reading this blog in 2014 will be long dead by the time that year rolls around. I’m going to throw mad ideas at the wall not for the sake of throwing mad ideas at the wall – oh alright, a little bit for that – but to see if I can get them to serve the characters and the plot.

I’m going to introduce a team of people, one at a time, each one with a remarkable ability borne out of a horrible consequence of rampant technological advance.

I’m going to have them team up. There will be derring-do. There will be piss-taking on an epic scale. Quite possibly one of the characters may be a super-intelligent monkey.

And by God as my witness, THERE WILL BE HOVERBOARDS!!!!!

Laurence Donaghy

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