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This was another quiet year for me. 

Okay, that’s not entirely true. There was one particularly exciting thing that happened — that is still happening, actually — but it’s not something I’m permitted to talk about yet. I know it’s a tease to say something like that, but I mention it only because there really isn’t much else to say about 2019, at least as far as writing and publishing goes.  

Welllll, that’s not entirely true, either. 

In addition to the news-that-cannot-be-revealed, I did end up selling a novelette to Ellen Datlow for Tor.com. It’s called “Go Fish” and I believe it’s scheduled to appear online and as an eBook in April of this year. This was one of only two sales I had in 2019, but it’s easily the biggest short fiction sale of my entire writing career. The sale aside, it’s been a real honour to work with Ellen, which is something I’ve wanted to do since I started publishing. 

My second fiction sale of the year was a Black Lands/Felix Renn story called “A Glass Darkly” to Space & Time magazine. It always makes me happy to have more Black Lands stories out there in the world. Especially now that all of my writerly focus is on the Felix Renn novels. 

Speaking of which, over the past month or so, I undertook a massive edit of the first Felix novel, Sycamore, and it’s now back with my agent. I also wrote a very strange standalone novella called “Grey,” that I’ve been describing as Good Omens meets Get Carter. It’s a pulpy action fantasy story about a mysterious celestial entity called Grey, Heaven’s hatchet man, who’s hired by God to retrieve the last human soul which has been stolen by the Seven Deadly Sins. It was a lot of fun to write, partly because it’s not like anything I’d ever written before. Not sure if it’ll find a home because it’s just so damn weird, but time will tell. 

I’m currently working on a few short stories, and once those are done I’ll be back to work on the next Felix novel. I’m also working on a new Felix novella, “The Sun Never Rises,” which takes place between Sycamore and Book 2. Felix first appeared in a series of chapbook novellas, and as a long-time lover of the form, I always knew I’d continue to write Felix novellas alongside the longer novels. 

On a somewhat related note, Kat and I went to Seattle in May of last year, and we had the chance to visit a number of the locations from one of our favourite TV shows, Twin Peaks. I’ve been a huge Peaks fan since it originally aired, and I count the show as a major influence on my own work, so it was really great to see so many of those iconic locations. And the trees! Those big, majestic Douglas firs! 

I think the reason it feels like not much happened for me in 2019 is partly because I spent the better part of the year looking for new representation. Ask anyone in the biz and they will tell you that trying to find an agent is a long, stressful, soul-sucking task. I like to think it’s one of those things that decides how serious you are about your career, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s really no fun at all. 

On the plus side, I did end up signing with a new literary agent and a new film/tv agent, both of whom are fantastic and enthusiastic, and I’m excited to be working with them.

I tend to keep my expectations low, because disappointment has a habit of striking when you least expect it, and it has no qualms about hitting you when you’re already down, but I’m still hopeful and optimistic for the future. You have to be in this business, or any creative endeavour, for that matter. The fact is, I’d write even if I wasn’t trying to get published, but I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t my dream to have some sort of writing career. I don’t need to be rich, but it would be nice to make enough money to pay my share of the bills and have enough left over to treat my wife, go on the occasional vacation, save for retirement, etc. 

I feel this is a modest dream, an attainable dream, despite all the blog posts and advice columns that will happily tell you that a career as a fiction writer is virtually impossible. Since there’s a new Star Wars movie out, I will respond with a quote from that lovable scoundrel Han Solo: “Never tell me the odds.” 

It isn’t that Han doesn’t want to hear the odds, he knows the chances of survival are slim, but he also knows he’s going into that asteroid field anyway, so he’s saying keep your doomsaying and negativity to yourself.

I think anyone who has a dream of a career in the creative arts needs to have that attitude. We don’t try because it’s easy, and we don’t try because it’s hard, either. We try because this is what we were made to do. It’s the thing that, no matter how much it might hurt us or disappoint us, we always come back to in the end. It’s our passion. And even if I never publish another book, I can tell you the odds of me giving up writing: slim to none. 

Okay, that’s not entirely true, either. 

It’s actually none. 

See you on the flip-flop. 


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