Joe Wright just sent over this absolutely fantastic Ten Little Astronauts artwork! It’s based on a scene from the novella that a very small handful of people will have heard me read at the International Agatha Christie Festival.
Chances are you’ll have come across Joe Wright’s work before, as he also produced the image I’ve been using in almost all my promotional materials for Girth Loinhammer’s Most Exponential Adventure. This one’s very different in terms of style, though:
I was trying to make something that was reminiscent of old sci-fi pulp novels, which I understand isn’t exactly the aesthetic you’re going for, but I think it’ll help catch the eye.
It may not be a direct representation what’s described in the book (in which the U.N. Owen is not much to look at), but for the overall tone I think this is a great match. The pulp style harks right back to the time of And Then There Were None, and the image itself certainly captures the tension at this point in the story. But to find out what’s really going on here, you’ll have to pledge for the book!
If you’d like to see more of Joe’s work, one handy place to look would be his profile on deviantART. He’s a writer as well as an artist, and regularly takes part in the same Flash Fiction Month event as I do: you’ll see his stories referenced in a number of my own, typically those written as part of a challenge involving another author’s entries for the event.
Ten Little Astronauts has been making spectacular progress recently. So much so that it’s actually a little difficult for me to keep up: by the time I actually managed to record the 225 supporter book draw, the count was up to 233. That’s a good chunk of the way towards the next draw, which will be coming up at 250 (if we reach 250!). That next draw, by the way, will be for a brand new story written specifically for the winner: quite a prize!
This is the kind of sudden surge of interest that the book needs to reach 100% by Christmas: a tight deadline, but one that’s looking more achievable than ever now that we’re already more than two-thirds funded. Right now Ten Little Astronauts is just a hair away from 70%, and if we can reach that today there’s a chance that Unbound themselves will even step in and start promoting it more.
Basically, whether you’ve put in a pledge or not, doing something to share the book would make an absolutely massive difference to its chances of success. Tweeting it or sticking a link on Facebook helps a little, but actually sending a personal message to someone you think would enjoy a sci-fi murder mystery in particular would help a whole lot more. With so many people behind the book already, I know there must be more out there who would be willing to support it: the only challenge is reaching them in time!
It’s the eleventh hour. Aragorn is making his “It is not this day” speech. The rebels are approaching the Death Star. Neville Longbottom has destroyed the final horcrux and Harry Potter is preparing to battle Lord Voldemort. I’m not familiar with Twilight, but I’m sure there’s some confrontation between Heartthrob McSparklepants and a bad guy of some kind.
The point is, there are just days left to fund Ten Little Astronauts. At 63%, it’s the bulk of the way there and it has a solid chance of reaching its target, but only if the people who want that to happen make it happen.
At this point, you’re either behind the book or you’re not: there’s no time left to “get around to it.” 213 people (at current count) have pledged for a copy of their own. Countless more have shared it, told their friends about it, and generally helped it along in less direct ways. If it’s not your kind of thing, I get it. If you can’t afford to chip in for a copy right now, I definitely get it. But if you’d like to help my career as an author all the same, doing something – anything – to spread the word about it before that Christmas deadline would make a spectacular difference to the book’s chances of success at absolutely no cost to you. Continue reading
One of the advantages of having already gained a substantial level of support for Ten Little Astronauts – which is now more than halfway funded with over 200 supporters – is that it’s started to attract more attention from the media. It ended up in the news twice this week, so I thought I’d go ahead and share!
This article was the result of an interview with Lev Lourie (with the photo taken at Fair Oak Library), and appeared in the new Eastleigh Times on the 30th of November:
Just the next day, on December 1st, the book also got a place in Portsmouth’s Star & Crescent under the headline: Bringing Agatha Christie into the Space Age Might Land Local Writer a Book Deal. I actually wrote this one myself, as a contributor!
It’s great to see the book reaching a wider audience, and I hope this will help to secure the rest of the funding by the Christmas deadline. Still, if you want to help the book out and would like to spread this around yourself, that would make even more of a difference!
I’ve been invited to talk about Ten Little Astronauts at the International Agatha Christie Festival on September 14th! If you’re in the area (or planning to make a trip to Torquay for five straight days of Christie-related goodness), you can catch me at the Platform taking place at 6pm in the Spanish Barn of Torre Abbey. I’ve written a little more about my talk on Unbound, but the main thing to mention about it would be that I’ll be giving an overview of how the book came about – from devising the mystery and researching the setting all the way towards its journey to publication – as well as reading from a couple of sections that won’t have been heard anywhere else (unless you were on my MA course!).
The Agatha Christie Birthday Celebrations last year were well worth the trip, so I’m really looking forward to getting a look around the festival itself. I was only there for the day (including about eight hours of train travel) last time, and even though I won’t be around for the full five days of this event, it should be a much more relaxed trip all round. If you’re there, do let me know and say hi! Continue reading
Ten Little Astronauts has now reached 20% of its crowdfunding goal, which means – as promised – the audio version of the first chapter is now available to all my supporters! If that link just takes you to the standard book page, you either haven’t pledged or you’re not signed in: either way, there’s an easy fix. 😉
One thing you might notice (and may already have noticed if you read the excerpt very closely) is that the first chapter of Ten Little Astronauts is in fact titled “Eleven.” This is because the title of each chapter corresponds not to the chapter number, but to the number of crewmembers alive on board. As a result, the chapters count down rather than up.
This is the first recording made using my new equipment – a condenser microphone connected to a mic preamp and voice processor – that I’ve released online, so I’m hoping it’ll hold up favourably to the audio I’ve put out there in the past. I’m still learning how to make the most of the equipment, and I expect that the next few recordings will rely less on editing the sound in Audacity and more on finding the right settings to use on the hardware itself. “Eleven” does feature quite a bit in the way of ambient noise added in afterwards, however. If you’ve already pledged and you fancy having a listen, I recommend using speakers if at all possible: if you’re just using earbuds, chances are some of the detail won’t come through. Continue reading
On Thursday I got up at 6 and hopped on a four-hour train to Torquay. The reason? Agatha Christie’s birthday celebrations! Also, the event marked 100 years since the creation of (perhaps) her most famous character, Hercule Poirot.
There were a fair few Poirots at the festival itself, which reminded me somewhat uncomfortably of Stevyn Colgan’s A Murder To Die For, in which a murder takes place at just such an event and the mystery fans present (most of them dressed as fictional detective Miss Cutter) take it upon themselves to solve it. It was during the cream tea at the end of my visit that I realised that the opening chapter of that book had left enough of an impression on me that I should probably go ahead and pledge to support it. If anybody else would care to do the same (the book sounds very, very funny) then you might see me at the launch party.
After days of planning, one of which involved getting up at 5:30am to film on board a WWII submarine, Ten Little Astronauts is now live at Unbound. If you’d like to see a hard sci-fi reimagining of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were none become a thing that actually exists and that you can find in bookshops, now’s your chance to make that happen!
Unbound is a crowdfunding publisher. If you’ve ever organised a project through, supported a project on, or simply heard of Kickstarter, you’ll have some idea how the process works. The main difference with Unbound is that they’ll only take on projects they have some faith in: they already put forward the money to get me on board that submarine with a professional videographer!
However, in most other respects things do work a lot like on Kickstarter, right down to the goodies for supporters. If you just want to support Ten Little Astronauts, the minimum pledge is £10 and you get an ebook to read. An extra £5 gets you a first edition paperback as well. For £10 on top of that, I’ll sign your first edition and throw in every ebook I’ve ever published up to this point. Continue reading
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.