Introduction by Mark
All the thoughts and considerations I write down in these blogs are of course endlessly fascinating… Occasionally other people’s thoughts are however far more interesting than mine. So here’s Kate Baucherel, fellow Harvy Duckman author, expert in anything with the words cyber or crypto in fount of them, black belt in some form of violent sport or other and occasional drinker of Guinness, with some interesting thoughts. I think this sort of thing should be encouraged…
Unblocking the Dam By Kate Baucherel
I don’t think I’d ever suffered from writer’s block. Sure, there are those times when you stare at a blank page and remember that it’s hard to edit one of those. You just start writing words to fill the space and they eventually resolve themselves into something with a life of its own that can be tweaked and moulded into a compelling story. The thing that caught me out just a few weeks ago was quite different. I’d always thought of writer’s block as a brick wall, something where you push through and the next idea is on the other side. This was different.
Five books in to a series, with characters all doing their own things and tackling challenges that change them, it should be a fairly easy ride. There’s a certain amount of housekeeping to ensure that the familiar tropes and character quirks are covered. An appearance by Donald the Cat is a requirement, as is a comment on the practicality or otherwise of smart fridges, and one day I will write down what coffee they all prefer rather than hunting back through the earlier books to check. There are threads to tug on from previous books. There is a need to make the story stand alone as far as possible with an identifiable background and a new and yet more evil scheme for our heroine to foil.
And then there’s the tech. The world is moving ridiculously fast and while the first in the series, Bitcoin Hurricane, took a matter of a weeks from concept to completion and extrapolated the tech that I’d been working with for a few years, this was different. In Unstable Realities we are diving head first into the metaverse, opening up virtual and augmented reality with a fully hybrid Olympic games as the backdrop. My work has already taken me into Decentraland and the Sandbox, immersive conference venues, flying around Second Life and projecting shows into my living room with The Round. I’m comfortable with virtual worlds, but not all my readers will be. Conveying the wonders of that environment was a challenge, alongside getting the technical elements as close to reality as possible.
So much material, so many ideas… and therein lay the problem. After rattling away a quite a pace, with a deadline in my sights, the writing stopped. The ideas were all there. I could play each of the scenes in my head with dialogue, detail and clarity, but I couldn’t write them down. The river was dammed.
How did it burst? With determination and a handy pair of transatlantic flights. I normally spend those trips watching a slew of movies. Outbound, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. There was no washing to do, no cats to play with, no emails or social media to distract me. 6,672 words went down on the laptop between Amsterdam and Atlanta. Then a week of extra inspiration – talks by people developing or using the metaverse, from the creators of Second Life and ChatGPT to people building avatars and reality apps, and even a DJ who uses augmented reality and 3D effects in his show. Another 4,350 words appeared on the way home, writing in airport lounges and cafés (I slept across the Atlantic this time).
The final few scenes were the hardest to write. The climax had lived in my head for so long that getting it down on paper was tough, but it felt like the final break of the dam wall, words pouring out onto the page. “The End” was a sweet moment of calm. Now the book is floating towards the mouth of the river, through editing and proofreading and typesetting and audio recordings. It’s release into the Amazon ocean is expected at the beginning of May.
Keep up to date with SimCavalier news and pre-order details at the SimCavalier Café – sign up here. And don’t forget you can find the first four SimCavalier books at the usual retailers on ebook, audiobook or paperback, or come and say hello and pick up some signed copies at SciFi Scarborough, 22-23 April.
Afterword by Mark
I too will be at Scarborough Scifi between the 22nd and 23rd of April, I’ll be on the table next to Kate, wearing my New Rocks so I don’t look too short in comparison to the overly tall Mrs Baucherel, along side a couple of other Harvey authors who are at least not taller than me.