The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Saturday, 31 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

Well, Christmas has come and gone and from all accounts here in the Beynon household it was a good one.  There was one absence that was deeply felt and throughout the day I found myself looking to the empty chair where my mother has sat in Christmases past.   It was an odd feeling setting only four places at the dinner table this year.

After Christmas, we loaded into the car and drove seven hours north to spend some time with my wife's side of the family.  The kids and the dog are such good travelers.  The weather co-operated and we found ourselves in the far north just in time for a brutal flash freeze.  Our drive back was favoured with fine weather, too.  We arrived home last night to a few inches of snow and the obligatory persons of snow soon took shape in our front yard.

And here we are, hours before the New Year.  Tonight it looks as if the kids and I will be heading out to celebrate the turn of the calendar without my wife.  She's resting upstairs in the hopes that she'll be well enough to accompany us this evening.

No resolutions.  I make mine later in January on my birthday. It has been a strange year.  There have been triumphs and tragedy.  That is, I suppose, as it should be.

I wish you all the best in the new year and I hope that something interesting and wonderful is waiting for all of us on the other side.  Be nice to each other and I'll be back in 2012.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Santa Comes Early to the Fergus Library







Despite the lack of snow, Christmas is alive and well in my little slice of the world.  The streets are decorated, the houses are covered in lights and our local library is full of festive activities.









As I've stated elsewhere in this blog, there are very few things to which it is almost impossible to say no.  Being asked to help St Nick out during the holidays is one of them.  Santa is a very busy guy, especially around this time of year, so when the Fergus Library asked me if I could stand in for Santa this year, I didn't even have to think about it.

The answer to that particular question must always be "YES".









I would like to pass along my personal note of thanks to the staff at the Fergus Library for inviting me in to help out Santa.  If you have never had the opportunity, I suggest you try it.  There are worse ways to spend an hour than seeing the wonder and magic in the eyes of little children.



Thursday, 8 December 2011

"Don't embarrass me, dad!"


A short while ago during parent / teacher interviews my daughter's teacher told me that his class was doing a project on creative writing and would I be willing to come in and give a professional point of view.

"I don't know how professional it will be, but yes," I said, "I'd be honoured to come in and share the little bit I know."

Well, yesterday was the big day and it was a blast.  I only hope the kids had half as much fun as I did.

I started off talking about how lucky I was to have had a full year of creative writing in high school (Grade 11, I think).  As an added bonus, one of my daughter's classmates is the grandson of the teacher who taught me that course.  I told them that the one exercise that stood out in my mind was the day she showed up to class with this battered, mud-crusted hightop sneaker.  She dropped it onto the table at the front of the class and. amid a cloud of dust and mud, asked us to write a page about the sneaker.  "What's the sneaker's story?" she said.  We ended up with 22 different stories.

After that we spoke about different writers' advice.  Heinlein's rules for pros, Neil Gaimen's idea that writing is like building a structure - placing one word after another like bricks in a wall until you end up with something that wasn't there before.  From Ray Bradbury, I shared his idea that anyone can write a bad story but he challenged anyone to write 52 bad stories in a row (assuming a Bradbury-like output of a story a week).  Vonnegut's advice of giving the reader a character they can root for and being sadistic enough to put that character through hell to show the reader what he or she is made of.  And every writer's greatest bit of advice - READ!  Read a lot on all different sorts of subjects.

We did a creative exercise involving a Killer Platybot who yearns for freedom from the evil scientist who created him.  We could have gone on for hours with that but I decided when the scientist's cave was full of hot coffee would be a good time to stop.  I encouraged them to finish the story themselves and told them they'd probably have twenty different endings.

We talked about Symbiosis.  They seemed interested by a vampire story but seemed a little disappointed when I told them it wasn't really about vampires.  We talked about The Platinum Ticket and the Pratchett Prize.  We talked about editing, being edited and how many drafts are enough.  I also pointed out the dangers of editing too much so that you find yourself moving commas around.  We spoke about the value of reading your work aloud to get a feel for flow.  I told them if they find themselves stumbling over a word as they read their writing aloud to take a long, hard look at that word.  It probably doesn't work in the sentence and your vocal stumble is telling you to do something about it.

It was a wonderfully rewarding experience for me and I hope the kids took something of value away with them.  The best bit of writing advice I gave them came from The Pratchett Prize award party.

"Kids," I said, "if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone who has sold 75 million copies of his books comes over to you across a crowded room and asks if he can give you some advice on your book, always, always, always say YES!"

Monday, 21 November 2011

Reviews...

They say you should bask in the good ones and learn from the bad ones and at the end of the day a review is only one person's opinion.

Today - we bask.

Part of being an author is shameless self-promotion.  I'm learning that.  Over at the website I put together a "Review" page for my story Symbiosis.  It's accessible from the main page of the website.

I thought I'd add the info here as well:




Symbiosis Reviews


My short story, Symbiosis, in Evolve Two has received a good deal of positive attention from reviewers. 
Here’s what people are saying:

Publishers Weekly:

“a simple attempt at companionship between a lonely human and an unexpectedly endangered vampire in David Beynon's "Symbiosis.”

Innsmouth Free Press:

“The last piece of the first section, David Beynon’s “Symbiosis”, is one of the stronger pieces in the book, largely because of its streamlined (emotionally potent) structure and extraordinarily effective writing. It’s a prototypical “down and out” interchange between two characters in a world gone mad with paranoia, that’s chosen to focus its wrath on an easy target: vampires. And it’s got a great premise, which Beynon himself put best in his wrap-up: “‘Symbiosis’ arose from a news story about thermal imaging used to screen for spiking levels of fevers of clientele at a nightclub in Singapore. I wondered what they would do if they discovered someone registering as room temperature.”

SFRevu:

The best story in the book is, arguably, David Beynon's "Symbiosis", a splendid, insightful piece rewriting the difficult relationship between men and vampires by emphasizing their similar conditions of loneliness and need.

Vampchix:

“ "Symbiosis" by David Brynan is a quiet tale of politeness and dispair.”




Thursday, 3 November 2011

So...what have YOU been up to lately?

Busy, busy, busy....

Let's see -

There was a visit from my sister.  She lives in Newfoundland and spends much of her time at sea as a marine engineer working for the Canadian Coast Guard.  She returned to Ontario to visit friends and family, but she also returned to say goodbye to this:


This is the home we grew up in and where, until she passed away in January, my mother lived.  Well, the farm sold recently and with the closing looming, it was time for one last visit.  It was an emotional farewell.  I walked the property one last time the day before the closing.


There were still apples in some of the trees in the fence line.


The property hasn't been properly farmed since my dad passed away 16 years ago.  The back field was overgrown with small trees and shrubs and the rail fence along the south length of the property had seen the toll of sixteen winters.

My steps brought me to the river's edge and, given the recent wet weather, was wide and deep.  During my walk I scared up a deer and watched with delight as she bounded across the property.  I got a little bit of video of her, but no clear photos.


At the north east corner of the property is the old railway bridge.  When I was at the farm there were two trains a day, every day.  Rail service discontinued along this line many years ago (20 years?) but I still slow down and look for trains as I approach the crossing on the sideroad.  It's now found reuse as an ATV trail.

The farm has sold to a young Mennonite family and it's my fondest wish that the farm returns to being a working farm.

It was with a heavy heart that I pulled the door to the house shut for the very last time.  I felt as empty as the house.


To contrast, there was a really nice write up in the local paper, The Fergus-Elora News Express last Tuesday regarding my recent reading at Roxanne's Reflections. They don't have a link to this particular story, otherwise I would link to it here.  As it stands, here's a link to the weekly paper's site and I'll post this scanned photo of the article:


I know I mentioned the story in my last post, but it was a very nice write up and it was well received in the community.  Earlier this week I walked into a local toy store and one of the owners said, "Hey, it's Local Writer!"

The other big event, of course, was Hallowe'en.  This year I won't go into my annual rant about how the damn spell checker tells me that when I spell Hallowe'en (there it goes again) correctly, with the appropriate apostrophe in the appropriate place that I am doing something wrong with that squiggly red line under the correctly spelled word.  No, I definitely won't be ranting about that this year.

The whole family dressed up this year:


There's Baron Samedi, accompanied by Lady Macbeth (with her dalmatian, Damned Spot), Executioner Boy, The Stylish Witch and, of course, Willow, the Hound from Hell.

We had some impressive pumpkins on the carport roof:


And I don't even want to talk about the really, really bad thing that happened in our driveway at the bottom of our front steps:



And finally, one last little bit of business.  I wanted to share a little review of Evolve Two that was done over here at the Innsmouth Free Press website.  In general, the anthology received a fairly good review, though some stories were panned.  Others weren't.  Here's what they had to say about my story in Evolve Two:

The last piece of the first section, David Beynon’s “Symbiosis”, is one of the stronger pieces in the book, largely because of its streamlined (emotionally potent) structure and extraordinarily effective writing. It’s a prototypical “down and out” interchange between two characters in a world gone mad with paranoia, that’s chosen to focus its wrath on an easy target: vampires. And it’s got a great premise, which Beynon himself put best in his wrap-up: “‘Symbiosis’ arose from a news story about thermal imaging used to screen for spiking levels of fevers of clientele at a nightclub in Singapore. I wondered what they would do if they discovered someone registering as room temperature.”

Pleased to see the Symbiosis has been so well received.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Newspapers - Something Old...Something New

It's been a bit of an emotional time here at the Beynon place.  The sale of the old family farm is upon us.  The closing date is Friday and yesterday I had a nice little sit down with the lawyer to dot all the i's and cross every t.  Tomorrow, rain or shine, I will slide on a pair of Wellington boots and walk the property for the very last time.

Anyway - throughout readying the property for sale we have made a number of interesting discoveries.  The other day, we found this at the very bottom of a bin full of dishes:



This is a copy of Canada's Nation Farm Magazine.
Let's have a closer look at the date on this thing:


If you can't make that out,  it reads May 3rd, 1939.  I've taken a careful trip through this newspaper's brittle pages.  What a treat.  There are photo of PRINCESS Elizabeth and there's also an article about Hitler conversing with Roosevelt.  The ads are amazing.  I now know the price of a round trip train ticket  from Vancouver to Halifax in 1939.*

I imagine this newspaper will be donated to the Dufferin County Museum, but first I think I might have it scanned for my own records.

Now, onto something new that was looking up at me as I had my morning coffee.


Well, hey!  That's me in the paper at my recent signing and reading.  Unfortunately this particular article isn't on the paper's website.  If it was, I'd link to it.

I kind of like being referred to as "Local writer".  Could do a hell of a lot worse.

*  $81.40, if anyone's interested.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Evolve Two On-Line Book Launch

Evolve Two - the anthology in which my short story, Symbiosis appears - is holding an on-line book launch party tomorrow.  Although the book has been out since mid-July, this on-line event gives the internet community an opportunity to virtually meet the editor, Nancy Kilpatrick, and some of my fellow authors.  You'll be able to make comments and ask questions.  I've never participated in anything like this so it's all new to me.

Here's the link to the Bitten By Books website where the event is being hosted.


http://www.bittenbybooks.com/48489/evolve-two-launch-party-and-50-gift-card-giveaway-1025-rsvp-here/


I'll be there from time to time throughout the event as familial obligations permit.  Stop by and I hopefully virtually see you there.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Reading at Roxanne's

On Saturday October 15th I was fortunate enough to be invited to do a signing and a reading at Roxanne's Reflections Books and Cards in Fergus.  I read from my short story, Symbiosis, in the anthology Evolve Two: Vampire Stories of the Future Undead, edited by Nancy Kilpatrick.


I had a wonderful time.  It was my first signing and the first reading I've done in years (except for bed time stories for the kids).  Even with the miserable weather, the event was moderately well attended and I have been told that I did a passable job of both reading and signing.  It was a tremendous amount of fun and I would happily do it again.

I was interviewed by the Francis Baker from the Fergus-Elora News Express.  I will be sure to like to his article when it appears in the paper.

Following the reading, Roxanne encouraged questions.  I was asked about the writing and editing process and about seeing my words in print and about being shortlisted for the Pratchett Prize.  I did a pretty good job of sounding like I knew what I was talking about.

Anyway, for those that were unable to come to the reading and who are interested, I am posting a wav file of the selection I read at Roxanne's, complete with the same sort of awkward set-up that I treated listeners to on Saturday.  This is my first time adding an audio file to the blog so I have no idea how well this will work.  The file was recorded with Audacity and I take full responsibility for the lack of production values.


video
That said, Enjoy!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Newsprint

I've decided that I look kind of cool in newsprint...


This comes from an ad in this week's Wellington Advertiser.  Here's the complete ad as it appears in the paper:


Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Ontario votes

Today Ontario votes for a new premier.  We have a lot of rights and not a whole hell of a lot of responsibilities.

This is one of them.

It's not that difficult to haul your ass down to a voting booth and mark an X.

Lots of people fight for democracy and we're complacent about it.  Exercise your franchise.   It's the responsible thing to do.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Reading at Roxanne's

I got an unexpected e-mail from the owner of our local bookstore the other evening.  Roxanne runs an independent bookstore here in Fergus called, fittingly enough, Roxanne's Reflections.


Her store might have been the first store my wife and I visited upon moving to Fergus, but it could just have easily been this store just down the street.

In the e-mail, Roxanne told me about Independents' Day, the day when independent bookstores across Canada hold special events and sales to promote reading and books.  This year Independents' Day falls on October 15th.  Roxanne also likes to feature a local author each year and this year she asked if I would be willing to come in and sign some books.  I told her of course and even offered to do a reading.

So, if you're in the Fergus area on October 15th between 1:00 and 2:00 pm please make your way to Roxanne's Reflections on St Andrew St.  She has a great selection of books and you couldn't go too far wrong if you picked this one up:


You might just be able to get someone to sign it.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Sometimes I feel like a twit...

So twitter has been around for a while and I never really understood the appeal.  Well, I did, but I didn't.

I know that 140 or so characters has become the new benchmark for a coherent thought - I mean really - your thumbs get so tired after a while.  Smilies and emoticons abound.  But it was never something I thought I could sink my teeth into.

I did start to notice a trend in my online habits, though. There are a couple of websites I follow where they post their twitter feed on the right hand side.  I began to see content in that narrow band of twitter stuff that was actually of interest to me.  I had also read (somewhere, I don't remember exactly) that a person's twitter feed was a stream of information custom suited to their interests.

Well, I took the twitter plunge and became BeynonWrites in the old twitterverse.  So far I find it a very busy mass of information, little of which is of real interest to me, but there is the odd gem.  I'll keep looking in on twitter from time to time and time will tell.

If you'd like to follow me on twitter, there's a little doohickey up there on the right and I'll see if I can incorporate my very boring twitter feed into this blog and the website.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Quiet house...

There's something about a quiet house.

After a wonderful summer of kids dashing down the hall and calling out to each other the quiet is somehow...unquieting.

Both kids were picked up by the bus and my wife followed them shortly after to head off to her office, leaving me alone with two gerbils and the dog.  The gerbils are sleeping (they're mostly nocturnal) and the dog is moping because the kids are gone.  Except for the occasional scratch of a tree branch against the screen of the dining room window, only the clicking of these chiclet keys and the light drone of the furnace fan break the silence of the house.

After they left I brought the laptop to the dining room.  My basement office is too close to what I've dubbed "The Doom Puddle" - a bit of a drain issue in the basement I'm hoping to hear about getting fixed sometime very soon.

I opened up Herne and have reacquainted myself with my most recent work on it.  But it needs to brew a little before I pick up where I left off, so I started a short story.  This story has been taking form for sometime but now that I've started it's moving in a different (and maybe better) direction than originally intended.  Time will tell.

I decided to leave the short story and return to Herne (finishing today's work on the story in mid-sentence so picking it up tomorrow will be easy).

The dog needs a walk, then back to work on the book.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

BT Corner


As you might know if you follow the blog, I'm involved with our local Heritage Committee.  A recent project I chaired was tasked with creating a park at the gateway to our downtown commemorating the Beatty family.  I'm glad to say that the park is now pretty much finished.

It's been a long haul but it has been well worth it.  The park has a dry stone wall:


Custom benches sporting the Beatty logo:


A custom bike rack:


And now, at last, the park has information panels!

The park was built with three themes in mind.

Industry:


Community:


And Family:


If you're in the area, come and sit a spell.  There are worse places to spend some time than in this little gem of a park.


Monday, 29 August 2011

Fan Expo...or... A gentle reminder why I'm no good in crowds...

Those who know me are painfully aware that I hate line-ups and crowds.  I hate them and will usually go out my way to avoid either one.  This past weekend was Fan Expo in Toronto - Canada's ultimate geek-fest.

I went.

My friend Roy and I took the subway into downtown and made our way to the Toronto Convention Centre.  It felt Like a hundred mile trek until we were herded into the underground parking ramp and went down, down, down into the bowels of the building.

The irony of such an event being held in the world's largest basement is not lost on me.


This is just a taste of what the crowds were like - in some sections the press of humanity was so dense that you could hardly move.

While there, I ran into a pair of old friends visiting the Expo for the day.  It was an unexpected treat to see Kevin and Tanya.

Later I sought out comic book writing and illustrating team, Katherine and Stuart Immonen.  They were very busy signing for fans but made time for a little chat.

I had to snap this picture for the kids.


That's a life-sized (ten feet tall) model of Hagrid made entirely of Lego.

The highlight of my visit was the chance to meet Nancy Kilpatrick, the editor of Evolve Two.  As an added bonus I got to make the acquaintance of David Tocher, whose story, Chelsea Mourning, has such vivid and blunt description that you'll be wincing as you turn the page, wondering what he'll hit you with next. It was a pleasure meeting them both.We had a nice visit and signed some books.


My friend Roy busied himself browsing the vendor tables.  He is hugely into the Anime and Manga scene and teaches a course in Manga at the local high school.  He found a few treasures that came home with him.  

 What's a geek-fest without a little Doctor Who?  There was a lot of Doctor Who.  Lots of folks in costume - almost an even split between David Tennant and Matt Smith representing The Doctor and , as far as I could see, a lone Captain Jack Harkness. In addition to costumes, there was merchandise galore, almost universally over-priced.  I couldn't come home empty-handed for the kids, so I picked up this little guy:


After a long day of line-ups, crowds and walking on concrete, I felt like this gent near the Steampunk table:


It was definitely time to go home.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

In the mail...

Well, look what finally arrived in the post today:



It's a really great feeling opening the package knowing that this is your copy of the book straight from the publisher.


Really cool.  It would have been even cooler if my cheque had been in the envelope with the book, but I suppose I'll just need to keep checking the mailbox.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Gotta love the local bookstore

My local bookstore is Roxanne's Reflections.

I love Roxanne's and have since I moved to Fergus 12 years ago.  It's a wonderful, intimate shop with a wide selection for all tastes.  If they don't have it in stock, they will happily order it in.

Roxanne commits her time and sponsorship to the Elora Writers' Festival and is an active member of our community.

Here's another reason to love your local bookstore:


Look there - on the shelf at my local bookstore...it's Evolve Two, the anthology in which my short story, Symbiosis appears.  And it's on her shelf two weeks before it gets to Chapters or Indigo.  let's take a closer look at that shelf...


Very nice.  And every copy on the shelf has a bookmark - right on page 85.

If you're in the area and looking for a copy, pay Roxanne's a visit.  Besides Evolve Two, I guarantee you'll find something else you'll want to take home.

Thanks, Roxanne.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Free Fiction Sampler at Underwordsblog.com



It has come to my attention that there is a little taste of Evolve Two over at Underwordsblog.com's Summer Free Fiction Sampler.  Scroll down until you see Evolve Two, then click on the book title to see who of the 22 authors was chosen to represent the anthology.

Monday, 11 July 2011

In the Shadow of Atlantis



There’s this thing called the Fermi paradox.  Very basically it says if there’s a high probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations (Fermi, I think, had some sort of equation, but it was more vigorously explored in the Drake Equation)  - then where the hell are all the aliens?

There are theories about why we haven’t encountered evidence of other civilizations.  They range from humanity is alone in the cosmos to an inherent self-destructiveness in intelligent species to suppression of evidence by our governments to the intentional isolation of humanity from others in the cosmos by those very same aliens we’re looking for.  There’s another theory about the narrow window of opportunity regarding radio signals and the belief that we just might not be looking at the right place or that we’re unable to detect a message in the first place.


In the shadow of the final shuttle launch, I put forward another hypothesis:

Disinterest.

If there are other intelligences in the universe and if they are anything like us, perhaps their evolution brought them to the fork in the road that stands before humanity.  If other intelligent societies are anything like us perhaps they, like us, decided that tax breaks were more important than reaching out into the cosmos. 

Perhaps they, like us, reached for the nearest little satellite – say a moon or neighbouring planet – and thought “Wow – that was really, really hard.  And it was risky, too.  Do you know how dangerous it is to send folks into space?  There’s real risk involved and you know how risk adverse we are…And expensive?  Wow.  I keep seeing my taxes go up and up and I think about all those resources spent on that risky stuff that I really don’t understand too well?  Let’s face it, for a while it was all fun and good but really, there comes a time to say enough is enough.”

Perhaps they, like us, thought that unmanned (or whatever their equivalent might be) spacecraft would fill the void.  Maybe they, like us, committed to maintain their multi billion dollar space-station for another ten years or so.  Maybe they, like us, fooled themselves into believing that a return to capsules and rockets was not a giant step backwards into galactic insignificance. 

Maybe that’s why they, like us, never got to see that perhaps they weren’t alone in the cosmos after all.


Friday, 8 July 2011

Publishers Weekly Review of Evolve Two

Well, just take a look over there at Publishers Weekly.




They've reviewed Evolve Two - Vampire Stories of the Future Undead, the anthology edited by Nancy Kilpatrick in which my story, Symbiosis appears.

Here's what they had to say about the anthology:


Kilpatrick opens the sequel to 2010's Evolve with a lengthy essay on vampiric history, setting the stage for 22 stories exploring the future of vampires. Some are comedic, like Kelley Armstrong's "The List"; more tragic are a predator's pleas for justice in Michael Lorenson's "Six Underground" and a simple attempt at companionship between a lonely human and an unexpectedly endangered vampire in David Beynon's "Symbiosis." Kilpatrick and her authors have avoided the common pitfalls of themed anthologies by creating an assortment of tales set in unique worlds, from the mundane to the postapocalyptic and interstellar; the futures don't quite reach Stapledonian depths of time, but Sandra Kasturi's "The Slowing of the World" hints at them. Never repetitious or dull, this anthology stands as a model for other editors to contemplate. (Aug.)


Kinda nice to be singled out for a mention by the good folks at Publishers Weekly.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Pratchett Prize Evening, London and other fun

Well, at long last I have downloaded my cousin's pictures and I'm able to put together an account of the Pratchett Prize evening at Waterstones Piccadilly.

The bookstore itself is mind boggling.  It is apparently the largest bookstore in Europe and I'm not surprised. Five floors of a great Art Deco-ish building housing as many books as you could ever want and a lovely restaurant and bar on the 5th floor.  The 5th View was the venue for the party.
We - my wife, the kids, my aunt and uncle - met up with my cousin and one of her sons and hung around the bookstore before the reception.  Normally I would have been eagerly drifting along the shelves looking for something new to read, but I was a tad distracted.  Finally we headed upstairs and enjoyed a cup of tea before folks started drifting in for the Pratchett Prize.

As stated in an earlier post, we sat with Michael Logan and his lovely wife  Natalie.  It was tense, but there was also, I think, a collective sigh of relief from all of us, shortlisted authors and friends and families (perhaps especially friends and families who have put up with us since the shortlist was announced) at the announcement being so close at last.   This one was taken prior to the announcement.



Marianne Velmans, Publishing Director for Doubleday UK started the announcement with a brief blurb about each of the shortlisted entries and spoke about how difficult the decision had been.  When Michael and I had spoken before the announcement we both assumed that the decision must have been made better than a week before, so it was a surprise when Marianne told us that they were still deciding leading up to the party.

Each of us was asked, in alphabetical order, to come up and get our swag.  I'll show the swag in a bit.


On the left is Marianne and that's Sir Terry Pratchett handing me my stuff after shaking my hand.

After each shortlisted author, or their representative if they were unable to attend, was introduced, Sir Terry spoke a bit about the variety of stories and the difficulty of the decision.


At last the announcement was made with the Logans - Michael and David - splitting the prize.

I must admit that it was a great disappointment, but one I hope I handled with good grace.  I licked my wounds quietly for a few minutes and returned to the table with my family.  I spoke with everyone - except my uncle.  He had apparently disappeared.  It was later I found out he was speaking to Sir Terry about nuclear physics.


A short time later Marianne came over to the table to speak with me.  We had a wonderful conversation about the prize, about my book and the other shortlisted entries.  We also spoke about publishing on both sides of the ocean.  She told me a bit about the selection process.  By this time Suzanne Bridson, Marianne's Editorial Assistant and Transworld's Senior Press Officer, Lynsey Dalladay had stopped by, too.  Between the three of them I found out that the selection process was nothing like I imagined.

I thought that there would have been a handful of people, twenty at the most, reading the submissions for the contest.  Not so.  There were approximately 500 initial readers to sort through the 500 plus entries.  After each novel was read, it was assigned a score out of ten.  Those that scored 5 or more advanced to the next round.  And so on, until the six shortlisted novels were selected.  From my conversations, it looked like everyone in the room connected with Transworld had read each of our novels.  It was a pretty stringent selection process and any of the novels that made it through had to have been liked by a good number of readers to make it that far.

While speaking with Marianne and company, Terry Pratchett made his way over.


What a gentleman.  He started off by telling me that he enjoyed my novel.  Then he said, "Might I offer you a few words of advice?"

When a guy who has sold over 65 million books asks if he can give you some advice about your novel I believe the answer is always yes.

"Please," I said, "I'd be a fool to say no."

And then he gave me some pointers - and good ones, too.  We spoke for about ten minutes - mostly him, but I elicited a smile or two of my own from the Discworld  creator.  Although I didn't win the big prize, those ten minutes were worth the price of the trip.

After congratulating Michael once more, it was time to grab my swag and get some food into a pair of very hungry kids.

What's that?  Oh, the swag...


Here it is.  A nice official certificate, a bottle of champagne and a Transworld fabric bag.

I joked with my wife that the bag was so that I could carry home each and every little fragment of my shattered dream.

She said that wasn't very funny.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Radio Silence

Sorry for the delay.  I know last time I promised details the following day, but we kind of got busy with the rest of the vacation.

Here's a little something from the Pratchett Prize evening.  It was a great time.  The judges said it was a difficult choice and one that was not actually finalized until the day of the award.  In the end there were two winners.


Pictured here are Michael Logan, Sir Terry Pratchett and David Logan.  Here's an article from the Guardian that talks about the award.

Before the award my family and I spent some time with Michael and Natalie, his wife.  He's a great guy and if I couldn't win, I'm glad it was him.  We compared notes about what being shortlisted meant to us, nervousness leading up to the award and how much we both love telling stories.


I'll have a more detailed account of my conversations with Marianne Velmans, publishing director of Doubleday UK and of course with Sir Terry, but I'll save that until I get some accompanying photos from my cousin Sara.


After the award, the kids were starving (they didn't think much of the trays circulating at the awards which weren't much geared to a child's palette).  Here were are at a nearby restaurant:


Oh, and look over there across the way.  There's my aunt, uncle, cousin and her son:


After the meal, the kids were thrilled to find this:


Will you look at that - a mini-TARDIS in the heart of London!