[7RQ] 2019 in Review, 2020 to Come / Audiobooks / Human tails


It’s become a running joke amongst my friends to end each year saying, “Hey, remember when we thought [insert the previous year here] was the worst ever? Good times, good times.” And while 2019 was certainly a dumpster fire in many ways, it’s important to remember that, on a large scale, the arc of history bends towards the good things. We may have a real fight on our hands in the short term, but turning up to the fight is itself what helps make things better in the long term.

As for work… 2019 was a weird one, for me. Actually, I’m pretty sure I say that every year, but the weirdness and unpredictability of a writer’s life is something I cherish. I’m a stickler for routine and process when it comes to the literal writing part, as most people know. But I do kind of enjoy the chaos of not knowing what might turn up in my inbox tomorrow, or what I might be writing in six months’ time.

This year, I finished the second Brigitte Sharp novel THE TEMPUS PROJECT, which is scheduled for publication in May.

I also sold THE ORGANISED WRITER, and while the publisher is still holding off on announcement for now, I’ve already been through the major editorial revisions and it’s due out later next year.

(My lit agent also closed several other exciting deals, but the TEMPUS publication is the only one we’re allowed to talk about at the moment.)

I wrote a piece for this year’s WRITERS’ AND ARTISTS’ YEARBOOK, which is the sort of statement that would have made a young aspiring me pinch myself.

I also wrote PROJECT CANNED SOUP (codename, obv), which is a how-to book on writing, or probably the closest I’ll ever come to such a thing, anyway. And I wrote two screenplays; the first I can’t talk about because the studio hasn't yet announced the project, the other was the STATION PRIME spec I mentioned a few months ago. I also worked on a pitch for a TV series.

Racing video game FORZA STREET was published under its real name at last — it had already been ‘soft-released’ as MIAMI STREET in 2018 while undergoing final development. I worked on it from 2016-2018, developing and creating the world and characters and writing draft scripts.

I started writing the third COLDEST graphic novel, and I’ve also been working for PROJECT GOJIRA, an as-yet-unannounced-but-very-big-budget videogame, since 2018. My contract on that was recently extended, so I’ll continue to work on it through most of 2020. I also consulted on a new mobile game, but that’s a rather more nebulous prospect.

Once again I organised/cat-herded the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for Best Writing in a Videogame, to be awarded early next year. Over the summer, I also led a revamp of the Crime Writers’ Association’s social media presence and policies, and took over handling of their official Twitter accounts @the_cwa and @crimereaders.

Finally, I appeared for readings and signings at several libraries, attended a few conventions and festivals, and rounded it all off with my last-ever ‘tabling’ appearance at the UK’s best comic-con, Thought Bubble.

And yet, 2019 has felt like a slow year because I haven’t had any big stuff hit the shelves. That’s a perpetually odd feeling for someone coming off nearly 20 years on the weekly comics hamster wheel, where it’s not unusual to have something new go on sale every single week. By contrast, while a couple of my books were reprinted (such as the New York Times-bestselling DAREDEVIL SEASON ONE, now rebranded as FEARLESS ORIGINS in the post-Netflix era), the only truly new things of mine you could get your hands on this year were that piece for the W&A yearbook and FORZA STREET.

But! 2020 will see publication of THE TEMPUS PROJECT and THE ORGANISED WRITER, plus the sixth Alex Rider graphic novel ARK ANGEL, and at least one videogame.

What will I be doing while those are printed and prepped? Well, the third Brigitte Sharp novel is almost certainly on the cards. I’m also working on an idea for a series of crime thrillers, though whether I’ll have time to actually begin writing that in 2020 remains to be seen. As mentioned, GOJIRA is still going, with two major mocap shoots scheduled early in the year. I’m going to try and cut through the plot tangle of that third COLDEST graphic novel. I’m in talks to begin work on another screenplay, adapting someone else’s work for the first time in that format.

And finally — well, as far as scheduled stuff goes! — I’m launching a new podcast, about which I’m very excited indeed, with some stellar guests already lined up. No details yet; rest assured you’ll hear all about it here and on social media, and if you enjoy this newsletter then I certainly hope you’ll also enjoy the podcast. For now, a teasing corner of the show art to whet your appetite:


In our more regular format… what’s been worth reading lately?


This is interesting: when ebooks began to take off, pretty much everyone expected they would overtake print. But they never did, for some reason. I’m not a huge ebook reader myself, preferring print for many reasons — but I’m also Old And Knackered, so I’ve often been surprised that I’m not so much an outlier on that one as I expected. Instead, ebook sales seem to have plateaued at a significant, but nevertheless small, portion of the market.

Audiobooks, meanwhile, have taken off in the post-iPod age — and seem set, here in the UK at least, to soon overtake ebooks in sales. That feels like quite a significant shift, simply because the experience of an audiobook is so different to reading on a page. Will it also bring about a change in the writing experience, especially with the increasing advent of Audible Originals? Watch this space… or maybe listen to it.


Interviews with William Gibson are always worth reading, and so this piece in the New Yorker is no exception. Ignore the sensationalist title, it’s a quality interview.


“Suddenly, even the most powerful people in society are forced to be fluent in the concerns of those with little power, if they want to hold on to the cultural relevance that thrust them into power in the first place […] Wasn't it good enough that [a comedian] wrote that joke that some people found somewhat funny, some years ago? Why should they have to learn about current culture just to get paid to do comedy?”

This piece by Anil Dash is more than a year old, but still entirely relevant. As is so often the case, the people who most need to read it won’t, and wouldn’t grok its points even if explained to them. But still, worth reading.


A great thread on old, pre-microchip methods of computing in the era of punch cards, and computers the size of a room. If you think that era is no longer relevant to how we use computers today… well, you’re mostly right. But if you’ve ever wondered why a plaintext email line still tops out at 78 characters, read and find out:


Here’s something that’ll have you doing a fair impression of Kombucha Girl as you imagine all the uses it could (and should or should not) be put to: Japanese researchers have built a prosthetic tail for humans. It’s ostensibly to help the infirm keep their balance, but I mean, come on.


And let’s end with a delightful bit of Internettery, a great and genuinely educational application of web technologies. Be sure to scroll aaaaaaaaall the way down.