News

Locus Award Shortlist

I’m delighted that Fleet of Knives has followed its predecessor Embers of War by being shortlisted for the Locus Awards.

And it’s also currently number #5 in the Locus Magazine bestseller list for paperbacks!

Video: Reading & Interview for SRFC

You Can Do It!

Years ago, when I was first contemplating becoming a serious writer, a friend told me, “Things like that happen to other people.”

The implication was that I shouldn’t even try. That it was a waste of time to even attempt to follow my dream. Well, I’m here to tell you not to listen to that sort of negativity. If you have an urge to write, there’s no reason you shouldn’t. You should absolutely follow that urge and chase that dream.

However, please bear in mind it is hard work, and requires a peculiar mixture of iron self-belief and professional humility. You have to be arrogant enough to write a novel and shrug off bad reviews, but also humble enough to cheerfully accept edits and criticisms. You have to be willing to learn how to write good dialogue, how to create characters and plots readers care about, how to come up with hooks that snare an audience, and how to write engaging prose that keeps them reading once you’ve got their attention.

Writing changes you. It requires you to confront the emotional truths of the work. It requires commitment, long hours, and a desire to constantly learn and improve. But, if you’re willing to do all that, and put your heart and soul into your craft; if you work hard and keep honing your craft; if you’re persistent in building an audience and continue to submit or self-publish your work despite all serbacks and rejections; then you stand as good a chance as any of the rest of us.

Ten Lockdown Self-Care Tips for Writers

Over on the Curtis Brown Creative Blog, I have posted my list of ways in which we can take care of ourselves and our creativity during these times of social isolation.

You can read the post here.

My Writing Process

I wanted to give you a real behind-the-scenes look, so here are some answers to some FAQ about me and my writing process:

1. Favourite notebook: A hardback Old World Journal from Peter Pauper Press, which was given to me by my son for Father’s Day, and which is almost too good to use. But for day-to-day use, probably a Moleskine (or cheap imitation).

2. Favourite pen: I tend to write with whatever comes to hand. I’m more than happy using a Bic biro.

3. Writing software: Microsoft Word. I have tried Scrivener, but didn’t get on with it. It seemed unnecessarily fiddly. But that’s probably because I started writing on a typewriter and got used to the idea of starting at page one and writing through in sequence until I reach the end.

4. Hardware: Mac desktop and cheap Hewlett Packard Windows laptop.

5. Taking Notes: Google Keep on my phone.

6. Favourite places to write: The Watershed upstairs bar in Bristol, and the cafe in Waterstones, Bristol Galleries. I find the low level background noise helps me focus and not get as distracted as I sometimes do at home (no housework nagging at me). Plus the staff in both places are chill about you working in there for hours at a time.

7. Words per day: I tend aim to for 1000 words but don’t always make it (and on rare days, I’ll write 2000 or 5000). Some days, I’ll only write 100, but if they’re 100 good words, I’m satisfied.

8. Favourite writing snack: The great thing about working from home is that I can make cheese-on-toast whenever I want.

9. Coffee or tea? Although I love the flavour of coffee, it doesn’t always agree with me. I savour a really good filter coffee every now and again, but generally stick to tea when I’m at home. There’s something gentle and thoughtful about tea. It lifts you up like an enlightened flight of angels where coffee just yeets you into the sky like a trebuchet.

10. Background music: My all-time favourite writing music is Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner. But if I’m in the mood, almost anything instrumental will do. However, I’ve recently found YouTube videos of ambient noise really helpful: cafes, bookstores, waves on a beach, rain in a forest. It’s the same benefit I get from writing in coffe shops: low levels of background noise that seem to placate the conscious parts of the brain (the bits that worry about laundry and tax returns) and let the creative part take full reign. 

11. Creative heroes. 

  • Miles Davis. For a heroin addict, the guy had a hell of a work ethic. He put out dozens of albums and repeatedly reinvented not only himself but also his musical genre.
  • Patti Smith. I fell in love with her album Horses at an impressionable age. In recent years, I’ve also come to love her books and they way she blends art and life until the border between the two becomes indistinct and permeable.
  • Iain M Banks. Inspiring, fearless science fiction that’s so inventive you sometimes have to take a step back in order to realise just how creative it all is.

12. Plot or Pants? I’m a mixture of both. I have to know where a book’s going before I start writing it, but that doesn’t mean I won’t leave plenty of room for digressions and detours en route. My entire notes for a book might take up a page or less of typed A4. I don’t like to plan in huge detail, because I like to give the characters space to react and act, and find a totally worked-out plot constricts my creativity. Part of the fun of writing is to get to know the characters as you bring them to life, and then see how they’ll behave when you throw problems at them.

13. Editing. Usually, I tell people to write their first draft and get it finished before they start editing, as editing can be an excuse for procrastination — but to be honest, I don’t take that advice. I do the majority of my editing as I go along, so that by the time I reach the last page, the whole draft is in decent shape. I know, I’m a hypocrite, but it works for me.

14. Alien or Aliens? To be honest, they’re both head and shoulders above every other sci-fi horror movie, but my heart will always belong to Aliens. It was the first of the films I saw (I watched Alien a few days later on VHS) and some friends and I snuck into our local Odeon underage to watch it. And I still think it’s a masterpiece of set-up. Those marines aren’t faceless grunts. Before they meet the Aliens, each of them gets a moment that humanises them, which means we’re rooting for them even though we know they’re (mostly) doomed. And I guess the aesthetic of that movie never really left me. You can see it in my writing, and they way most of my characters are grunts in dirty overalls, just trying to do their jobs.

15. Biscuits? Ginger nuts dipped in coffee or tea. 

* This article was originally posted on my Patreon page in October last year.

Links to all my articles for The Engineer

For ease of reference, I’ve collected together the following links to all my articles for The Engineer magazine. I hope they give you some entertainment.

Natural Selection on the Unmanned Battlefield https://www.theengineer.co.uk/ai-warfare-gareth-l-powell/

The Victorian Rocketmen https://www.theengineer.co.uk/sci-fi-eye-the-victorian-rocketmen/

Why A Dystopian Future Isn’t Inevitable https://www.theengineer.co.uk/sci-fi-eye-why-a-dystopian-future-isnt-inevitable/

Tomorrow’s Transit Technology https://www.theengineer.co.uk/tomorrows-transit-technologies/

The Future of Wearable Exoskeletons https://www.theengineer.co.uk/scifi-eye-the-future-of-wearable-exoskeletons/

Who Goes There? Tomorrow’s Facial Recognition Technology https://www.theengineer.co.uk/who-goes-there/

Moving The Moon https://www.theengineer.co.uk/moving-moon/?fbclid=IwAR0-K8RVB-BCdkiuiTfGNrtDka3laG7BYaeWL2JIqnmH4cPxAuA6_0Yl84U

The Victorian Rocketmen

My latest SciFi Eye column for The Engineer is now live.

“Could history have been very, very different? Science fiction author Gareth L Powell looks at the way a few small changes could have drastically altered our world  – and put a Victorian in space!”

https://www.theengineer.co.uk/sci-fi-eye-the-victorian-rocketmen/

The Last Reef ebook

Yesterday, I re-published my first novel SILVERSANDS on Amazon Kindle (https://amazon.co.uk/Silversands-Gareth-L-Powell-ebook/dp/B08739GHPR…).

Today, I’m following it up with my first short story collection, THE LAST REEF. Order it here (UK): https://amazon.co.uk/dp/B0874W3164/

It’s also available in the US and other Amazon stores.

Silversands ebook

Silversands (ebook)

ANNOUNCEMENT: I’m re-releasing a new edition of my 2010 debut novel, Silversands, as a cheap ebook. Only £1.99 on UK Amazon (and comparable prices on Amazon US and other Amazon sites). It’s a cyberpunk romp set on Earth’s first colony world. Enjoy!

Download here.

New Book Announcement

I’m delighted to announce Light Chaser, a new novella co-written by Gareth L. Powell (that’s me) and Peter F Hamilton (author of The Reality Dysfunction, Pandora’s Star, and Salvation).

The full announcement is on the Tor.com website here.