Long post! Pictures at the end 🙂
I’ve written another short story for an anthology, but it’s not due out until Q1 2017. I haven’t even settled on a title yet. It’s about 16k words (a little shorter than The Biting Cold). It’s in the Athanate universe, but it’s set in a fictional island in the West Indies (‘St. Mark’s’ in the Leeward Islands) in about 1800. It’s pre-edit, but hey, there’s only 16k words so it can’t change much. Hahahaha.
I’m working on Bian’s Tale companion series book 1, Saigon: The Reach of Lies. I’d say it’s going well, but I got to a point last time, about 75% through the whole book, and suddenly, it wasn’t going well. I’m going to be cautious this time and say it’s going okay. I’ll start to engage with beta readers sometime this month or next.
I’m also working on the plot of Bite Back 6. It’s time for the Adepts to come to the fore, and many threads need to be woven in. Those of you who’ve read The Biting Cold and Winter’s Kiss (Bite Back: Outsiders companion series) know that there is input from that companion series as well. A couple of chapters early in Bite Back 6 will actually be the next step in the Outsiders series, and I will be telling the same events from the two different points of view.
I have a lot of other projects I would like to start, but they’re all on the back burner.
Road Trip Report
Readers of this blog will know I did a US road trip in the fall. I visited Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. It was too much and not nearly enough. I have been promising to show pictures and report back, but I don’t want to swamp you with 20GBytes of photos and pages of musings. I’ll try it a state at a time and no more than a couple of photos per road. This post is just an overview. Next post will start the actual road trip and cover Wyoming.
Why did I do it?
Planning started back in 2014 when I was sketching out the plot for what became two books – Cool Hand and Angel Stakes. The internet is amazing for writer’s research, but there’s a lot to be said for being at the place that you’re writing about. Talking to people. Seeing with your own eyes. And I’d done a lot of research on Denver in 2011 when I was planning the story that became Sleight of Hand and Hidden Trump. So… I planned to visit New Mexico and Los Angeles in preparation for Cool Hand and Angel Stakes.
But…life happened. I didn’t go. I wrote those books using internet research and some feedback from people in the area.
How many mistakes did that produce?
Not as many as it could have been. On the Cool Hand audio, I had Julia pronounce Ute as ‘oo-teh’ and it should be more like ‘yoot’. In Angel Stakes, I had a desk sergeant at the police station, and apparently LAPD does not use sergeants to man the front desks. This was pointed out to me at great length by a reviewer (who managed to miss some other deliberate fictions, got his own facts wrong and got completely the wrong end of the stick on other non-LA items – LOL).
Still…the Bite Back action will move north in BB7 and I wanted to get a feel for the states involved. I also wanted to see some of the places I’d written about using just the internet and friends, hence the trip to New Mexico.
I could also use the photos for backdrops in book covers.
And I wanted a road trip. For me, there’s nothing like the vanishing point to free the imagination.
Came together when the whole family wanted to see my daughter, Jessica, on the set for Iron Fist, filming in New York from summer to late fall. The family would fly out in the last week of August and spend about 2 weeks, and I would go from there when the rest went home. The timing was exactly what I wanted – to be touring after Labor Day, when the prices would drop (hahahaha) and it wouldn’t be too cold in the mountains (hahahahaha).
I couldn’t work LA into the trip. Instead, I concentrated on the Rockies.
The research required me to visit Wyoming and Montana. I wanted to start in Denver, and on a road trip, you should not travel any road twice, so that gave me my first loop:
Wyoming, taking in the areas where the Cheyenne pack run (Medicine Bow National Forest), and including the places where two of the founder packs of the Confederation are based—Wind River and Bighorn.
Montana, taking in Bozeman.
And returning through Idaho, along the Bitterroot and Salmon-Challis areas, where the Bozeman pack runs. (I was originally thinking of missing Idaho, but readers told me I had to see places like Stanley and Sun Valley, and it just worked).
Having done that, I needed to come back through Utah to Colorado.
I knew I’d need some time in Denver to write up, and then set off on the second loop.
For the southern section, I wanted to head to Nevada first. There is the potential for a scene in the Humboldt-Toiyabe area, and I also just wanted to drive along the ‘Loneliest Road in America’—Highway 50.
Then down to Taos, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Back to Denver and complete.
(The requirement for returning to Denver was simple economics of return flights and car hiring).
That was the plan. It went right and wrong. Tune in to the next post to see how it turned out in Wyoming in detail.
How did it go overall?
It was awesome. As I say, things went wrong, and I’ll tell all in the next few posts.
The important thing was that the principle reasons for the trip went very well – I finished the draft of Winter’s Kiss, edited and published it while travelling. I talked to dozens of people. I got lots of photos. Loads of ideas. I came back to the UK with my head full of scenes for Bite Back and other books. My imagination went into overdrive.
There are some photos on the Bite Back page, both from New York and from the road trip. Go to (https://www.facebook.com/TheBiteBackSeries/ and scroll down), I won’t repeat them here, but instead, have a look at some tasters of what’s to come.
I needed a car. Plain Toyota Camry – on a couple of occasions, I was sorry I hadn’t got a 4×4, but it did the task. Yes, things went wrong with cars…
I needed places to stay, hotels, motels and AirBnB. (I didn’t stay here – Jackson, Montana). Yes, things went wrong with hotels…
I needed a camera. During the trip my Canon G9 died slowly, and there’s a tale to that too. Ended up with the current Canon equivalent, a G7x. High quality, fast lens, reasonable zoom, no filters, no changeable lenses, manual and auto programs, robust, fits in pocket – basic parameters for my kinda road trip.
I needed money. Mix of credit and cash. I have to say, I was offended by some of it! Cos I’m speshul.
I sought out views of scenes I’d already written. For instance, here is where Jen and Amber looked down on Denver from Lookout Mountain (at night), after the meeting about the quarter horse race venue in Hidden Trump.
And scenes I’m going to write. A chase, a fight. Bite Back 6 or 7. This is part of a disused railway track in north Denver.
But mainly I took photos just because the scenery was AWESOME. Every bend in the road seemed to bring something new and incredible.
Trees and mountains and rivers…
And the drama of Great Dunes and a dark butte under threatening clouds.
As I said, it was awesome, and I look forward to telling you more about it – the little things and the large.
Would I recommend a road trip in the Rockies? Hell, yeah.
I will continue to update progress on writing as well!