July 1st, as always, marked the start of Flash Fiction Month, but for me personally there was also some very big news: I’ve had a book accepted for publication!
If you’ve subscribed to my newsletter or have spent some time in the Flash Fiction Month chatroom, you may already be aware of this, but the Winchester Writers’ Festival this year went a little better for me than I initially let on. One of my one-to-one meetings was with Scott Pack, an editor at Unbound. He passed on the manuscript for Ten Little Astronauts, my MA novella, to the rest of the team. A week or so afterwards I found out that they’d decided to go ahead and launch it.
Unbound is a crowdfunding publisher, which is pretty much why I decided to approach them: it is nearly impossible to get a novella published by conventional means. The couple of weeks since they accepted my work have mostly revolved around organising a campaign for it, which alongside Flash Fiction Month and my regular job have resulted in more than a couple of very, very long nights. I’ve been working on a pitch, thinking up rewards for supporters, and – for reasons that will become apparent below – arranging the use of an Acheron-class submarine.
Ten Little Astronauts is, essentially, Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in space. It takes the characters and basic premise from the classic murder mystery and translates them to a setting where explosive decompression is a constant threat and there is liquid nitrogen on tap.
Given that the entire point of my novella was to move Christie’s iconic characters into space, it might seem peculiar that I’ve invested so much time and effort into borrowing a vehicle designed specifically to get away from it. Well, there’s a good reason for that. The U.N. Owen – the spacecraft on which the events of Ten Little Astronauts take place – is orders of magnitude larger than anything that has historically been sent into space. In order to construct a believable murder mystery, it was necessary to construct a believable, hard sci-fi setting. However, in order to research that setting I found there was nothing – not even Mir or the International Space Station – I could rely upon to provide a proper sense of scale, and certainly nothing I could get to in person. However, more or less just down the road, there was HMS Alliance.
Having visited Alliance for research while writing the book – where one of the submariner guides provided information that would later prove critical to a major plot point – I’ll now be returning to film the pitch video for the book’s crowdfunding campaign. Partly I feel as though the location is appropriate because it provided such a boost to my research, but also the interior of the sub is easily the closest thing I could find to the interior of the U.N. Owen. All in all, I think it’ll make a very impressive backdrop to the video.
Since the campaign hasn’t quite started yet, I’m afraid there isn’t currently any way to support Ten Little Astronauts directly. However, you can still help by passing on the message and telling anyone you think would enjoy it that the campaign is about to start. Unbound offers me a chance to produce a book of considerably better quality than I could ever produce on my own. If funded, Ten Little Astronauts will have professional editing, proofreading and cover design, with a trade paperback distributed by Penguin Random House no less. Beyond that, I’ve already got the backing of people who know more about the publishing industry than I do, and were invested enough in the book to get behind the whole submarine idea pretty much from day one.
However, when it comes down to it, whether or not Ten Little Astronauts actually makes it into print will be up to you. I’m absolutely depending on pledges from readers to make the book happen, so keep an eye out for more news, and in the meantime tell your friends!
EDIT: The Ten Little Astronauts campaign has now launched on Unbound! You can find and support it here.