Russell Kirkpatrick's Journal
Stuart MacBride is a very funny man. Many people are funny without intending to be, but Mr MacBride means to be funny. Droll, in fact, is the best word to describe his wit.
He has discovered he is taller than me, and takes every opportunity to explore the comic possibilities this affords. I refrain from thwacking him with the box I carry around.
Anyway, today we took in the sights of the Moeraki Boulders, Dunedin, the windswept and hoar-fristed central Otago plateau, and Queenstown. All were splendid, none more so than the boulders.
Tomorrow we sally forth on a wilderness adventure, 4WDing, walking and jetboating our way up and down the Dart River valley. If I'm unlucky, Stuart 'Six Foot' MacBride won't drown.
Today my youngest brother James and I played our annual golf grudge match. To my surprise James won, helped a little by the 18 shots I gave hom. But he had a glorious period that meant I was consigned to the 2009 dustbin.
After lunch Stuart and I headed off for a three hour drive south to Oamaru. An odd place to stay, but there is a fun little place to watch penguins come ashore and that's what we did. Eventually. After not being served petrol at one service station, despite asking nicely.
Then there was the evening meal. Oh dear! To call it a meal would be a serious abuse of the word. We were told they had a buffet but no menu. Our hearts sank, but bravely we agreed. Mistake! The meat was stringy, the veggies over-sauced, the plum sauce diabolical and the custard, oh dear, looked like reconstituted vomit. Certainly someone must have eaten it. Before it was served.
Accommodation is excellent, andwe are off to the Moeraki boulders tomorrow morning.
I'm about to set forth on a trip around the South Island with a total stranger.
I've done this before, of course: long-time readers of my blog will remember three years ago I took Ellen Datlow on a week's tour of the South Island. This is the same deal, only my un/lucky companion is Stuart Macbride, the Scottish crime fiction author.
We were brought together by the amazing Linda, she of Penny's bookstore fame and weird and wonderful contributor to this blog, as well as part-time donkey. (Don't ask!) Linda is an avid crime fiction reader and met Stuart in Harrogate a while back in her role as intrepid fan. Stuart's over here doing media work and looking for a holiday after meeting a deadline. I'm in need of a break. It all works.
So for the next week or so I'll be gallavanting around with what promises to be a mad Scotsman in tow. I just hope it doesn't decide to snow...
OK, enough ranting about selfish behaviour on the roads. What have I been writing?
Lots of stuff. I've written 50,000 words this year of a new sci-fi story I'm very excited about. While I dearly love fantasy, science fiction is my first love, and I've always wanted to write it. This is a near-future story with a myriad of twists, some hard science and some very interesting characters (including one actual, real, well-known living person who won't go away). It's the first spec fic story I've read to have a Samoan POV character. I'm having a great deal of fun writing it!
I've begun to plan a new fantasy series. This will be set in a completely new world, with different rules for magic. The scope of the series will be enormous, beyond anything even Erikson or Martin have done. I intend to paint this on the largest canvas I can find. This will be true epic fantasy, nothing held back, with characters who are lovable, bizarre, venal, heroic and exasperating. Two of my POV characters will be twins, and I will be exploring the bond between twins (my youngest brother and sister were twins, and they exhibited an uncanny bond when they were young).
I've begun writing my cartographic magnum opus, the book I've had in my head for twenty years. Provisionally entitled 'Radical Cartography', it explores the notion of what maps we'd have if for the last 500 years we'd spent trillions of dollars collecting data about things important to people rather than to governments, the military and colonial powers. This won't be a huge moneymaker, but it will be an intense labour of love. I intend every page of this lavishly illustrated book to be perfect. I have no idea if it will find a publisher, but that's not the point.
I'm working to finally finish the Bahrain atlas - there have been serious editorial and data holdups as the Royal Court reviewed the first draft. I'm hopeful it will be finished soon.
So that's that, apart from University teaching. What are you lot up to?
I spent most of today in Auckland with my editor and others from the local branch of HarperCollins, my ANZ publishing company. I had a great time looking over what the proof readers made of my sixth novel, 'Beyond the Wall of Time.' I'm a terror for repetition, and they always catch me at it. Some of the mistakes I make and never see during my own edits leave me embarrassed. Despite extensive notes characters go missing, swords and stones are there one moment and gone the next, and people stand up after having just stood up. Sigh.
I left HarperCollins having submitted two manuscripts, both of which I'm very nervous about. The first is a part-finished near-future scifi/fantasy hybrid, quite unlike my usual style. The second is ... a children's picture book. I wonder what will be made of them. I've got more hope for the novel, though we've worked hard on the picture book. It's not really my area of expertise, but we had a fun little story to tell.