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23 August 2009 @ 03:55 pm
Oh, you know. Updates and stuff. The usual drill.  


Oof. I haven't written on here for ages. But let's be honest - I haven't been in the country for ages either. Not really. I went out and bought a laptop some little while ago, simply so that when I'm in some strange city I could feel I wasn't entirely cut off from my family and friends. What I've discovered, though, is that I'm rubbish at accessing the internet abroad. Sweden wasn't interested, Estonia wouldn't have me, and the dry ironic laugh that Lithuania gave when I tried to search for available networks seemed just a little too personal, frankly. It was as if the entire Baltic state was mocking me. Why on earth would it want to do that? I'm sensitive.

And I'll be honest. The reason I'm writing this now is because I ought to be packing. And I hate packing. It seems a lot more fruitful to be spending time online talking about suitcases than actually fetching any down from the cupboard. I'm off to Singapore on Tuesday morning, and that's very exciting. And a little bit nerve-wracking, as I'm not entirely sure what it is I'm doing over there. The National Library of Singapore wrote to me a few months back, telling me that one of the short stories in my last collection has been selected as this year's international representative, and wondering whether I'd like to pop over and give a few speeches about that. Of course I would. I live in London, where the sun only shines after every other country in Europe has had a go with it already and doesn't want to play with it any more. Being somewhere warm, where noodles are plentiful, and chewing gum is frowned upon, sounds very good to me.

But I'm only finding out by dripfeed now what it is I'm meant to be doing. Some time in the next few days I'm appearing live on Singapore's prime time breakfast TV show. And I understand now that the British Council have poached me so I can go to a few schools and try to inspire kids about the joys of writing. (There are joys, of course there are. But most of them involve the fact I can stay in bed late in the morning, and don't have to wear a tie to work.) And I'm giving readings to big audiences, I think. And meeting lots of dignitaries. In all honesty, one of the reasons I'm delaying my suitcase packing is I'm not sure how formal I should dress. I quite fancied wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. It may not be appropriate.

It'll be fun, though. And I'm getting rather good at the handshaking and cheekkissing that these sorts of things involve. My handshaking is expert, even if I do say so myself. I'm firm and masculine, and have timed to perfection just how long I should grip for. (I've been practising on myself, using the other hand.) The cheekkissing is a bit trickier, because I can't practise on myself, it's biologically impossible. But I think I can do it gently and sincerely, and with my facial hair causing only a minimum abrasion to the recipient. So all will be well.

When I last wrote I was about to nip off on the first of my lecture cruises. I was talking about Flemish literature and fine art, as I sailed around the rivers of Belgium and the Netherlands. It was all very jolly, and the getting up for an hour without recourse to notes and talking about authors whose names I can't pronounce only mildly terrifying. I met some lovely people, and ate an awful lot of food. (Those luxury ships have seven course meals, you know!) Since then I've been touring the Baltic Sea, visiting a series of nine countries, talking about Russian literature. It's been absolutely wonderful, and I'm going to do some more of these in 2010, I think. And you haven't lived, let me tell you, unless you've tried giving an account of the humanism of Ivan Turgenev, and his contrast with the disillusionory novels of Mikhail Saltykov, during a storm - so that you need the lectern to grip hold of to keep upright, and you see your audience constantly dipping out of your eyeline as the sea rolls. Fabulous. Sort of.

But it has meant that when I've been in Britain, I've had to use my time to catch up with a whole series of deadlines. Some of the drama projects are a bit hush hush and I can't talk about them much yet. (But there's one BBC radio one for which I'm going to need your help - a thirteen part weekly series which I write, with my plot affected by suggestions from the listeners. I need lots of sympathetic plot suggestions from my mates. And a minimum of suggestions that suddenly everyone turns into dragons, or ends up on the Moon.) But the book ones are up for grabs, so here we go.

I've got three books coming out this year, which is very exciting. My first is an armchair guide to The X-Files. It was a little hobby project I started whilst watching all the boxsets with my wife Janie last year - we'd watch a couple of episodes, and then I'd go upstairs and write what I thought. And just for fun, I thought I'd throw Chris Carter's other series into the mix as well - Millennium and The Lone Gunmen - just because I didn't have enough to do. By day I'd be working on my fiction - what my agent calls my Proper Work - and by night I'd be wondering whether Mulder and Scully had enough sexual chemistry or not. The result of all that - this vast quarter-of-a-million word tome called 'Wanting to Believe' is out... well, now. I think. I haven't seen a copy yet, but my US publishers (Mad Norwegian) tell me it's now shipping. Do consider reading it if you like The X-Files. I'm not part of that series' fandom whatsoever, so I suspect the book will be greeted with cries of dismay, and I'll find out my views on the series are ignorant. We shall see.

The second is an Australian publication, released in September by Twelfth Planet Press. They specialise in exciting speculative fiction, and have recently been celebrating the novella form, and it's something of a matter of personal pride that they're taking a story of mine. It's not really a novella, but a long-ish short story called Roadkill - but it's being released with another long-ish short story by Tansy Rayner Roberts called Siren Beat. (Rather cleverly, we both get our own cover, by virtue of the fact you can turn the book over and upside down. I like that!) Roadkill is a story I wrote largely in Australia last year, and was inspired by a lot of the friends I met attending the Swancon convention there - not least Alisa Krasnostein, who runs Twelfth Planet. Do check it out.

And in November my second collection of short stories is released! It's called Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, and it's big and funny and weird. It's a series of stories which reflect and bounce off love - sometimes comically, sometimes as horror, mostly with quirky fantastical elements in them. A talking pig in the Garden of Eden becoming the composer of the first love song as he falls helplessly for Eve; the Devil writing romantic fiction; a man breaking up with his wife when she returns to him his heart sealed within a plastic sandwich box. All this, and lots of advice about the dangers of kidnapping psychotic succubi, or exactly what to do if you take a job as a tree, or if your husband vanishes on a business trip taking the entire nation of Luxembourg with him. You know. Useful stuff.

Because my last collection, Tiny Deaths, did rather well, and picked up the World Fantasy Award, my publishers at Big Finish are releasing this in a series of editions. Nice glossy hardbacks and limited editions bound in faux leather. You know. Posh stuff. The stupidest idea I had was that there should be a special limited edition, which came with a short story placed in the book in a series of envelopes, all of them individually handwritten by me. The story is just over a thousand words, and writing out fifty of the things doesn't sound so bad - but believe me, I'm counting them off very grimly, one by one. Last night I reached number forty. Grr. Ten to go. Needless to say, I'll be writing a lot of these stories in Singapore. My hotel looks very nice, I'm sure it'll have a writing desk.

So there you go. Sorry it's such a splurge, and sorry it's so blatantly self-publicing. If I can get my laptop to work in Singapore, I'll try to relax a bit and be a lot more chatty. So long as I'm not handshook or cheekkissed out. It's hard to write properly when you've done too much cheekkissing. All that puckering up can take a lot out of a man.

Altarielaltariel on August 23rd, 2009 04:08 pm (UTC)
Good to read an update, Rob. Enjoy the sun and the noodles and of course meeting Singapore's answer to Bill Turnbull.
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:11 am (UTC)
...Well, I'll enjoy the sun and the noodles. Two out of three ain't bad.
Ariaariaflame on August 23rd, 2009 04:09 pm (UTC)
I'm hoping that the Roadkill didn't have anything to do with that little incident on the trip from the airport to the hotel at Swancon. (I swear that was the first time I'd seen anyone come onto the GF Freeway by way of an exit ramp).

Congrats on all the books coming out. I can't remember how humid it is in Singapore at this time of year. I've only been there in February where it was pretty moist.
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
Ha! But no-one died during that road incident. Especially not a peculiar looking rabbit with the wings of a bat...

I'm prepared to brave the humidity. With buckets of cold water if necessary.
spastasmagoriaspastasmagoria on August 23rd, 2009 04:22 pm (UTC)
Dude, it's the Year of Rob!
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:13 am (UTC)
Well, technically, I wrote most of this stuff in 2008. So that was the Year of Rob.

But nobody noticed. Ha.
thanatos_kalosthanatos_kalos on August 23rd, 2009 04:38 pm (UTC)
Hooray for a year of projects! I can't wait to read/hear/see all of them. The BBC Radio one sounds especially interesting-- I'm somewhat curious as to how many people will suggest 'Rocks fall. Everyone dies.' every week.

Enjoy Singapore! From what I understand, the dress code is shirt and tie (and trousers, obviously) but because of the humidity you can forgo the jacket. I've not been there, though, sadly, so I'm not sure.
these points of data make a beautiful linebiichan on August 23rd, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
'Rocks fall. Everyone dies.'

It's probably a good thing I'm not British, because I don't know how I could resist sending that one in.
(no subject) - robshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - robshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thanatos_kalos on August 24th, 2009 05:39 am (UTC) (Expand)
these points of data make a beautiful line: becky draws the night skybiichan on August 23rd, 2009 05:42 pm (UTC)
Congratulations on the books coming out! My friend Steve (from work) has been wondering when the X-Files one was going to happen. We were actually talking about it yesterday during the overlapping half of our lunches. (Well, that and speculating on Moffat's Who.)

I'm really looking forward to the short story collection. Have been, actually, ever since you were talking about the stuff you were writing for it. I can't wait to find out what happened to Luxembourg.
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
The X-Files has been ready for a while, but I think it's been delayed because of bigger books that had to be released first. Or something. I'll be intrigued to see it too. I no longer remember what I thought of individual series, let alone episodes, and want to see whether I'm allowed to enjoy them or not.

Bad bad stuff happened to Luxembourg. You'll see.
affablestranger: genevaaffablestranger on August 23rd, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
Good to hear from you, as always. Looking forward to Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical. I loved Tiny Deaths.

Have fun in Singapore. :)
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:17 am (UTC)
Oh, thank you very much!
Blazingskies: blazing skiesblazingskies on August 23rd, 2009 09:32 pm (UTC)
Welcome back to the wonderful world of livejournal!

Good to hear that you've been so busy - being busy is good, right? The X-Files guide actually sounds like an ideal birthday pressie for a friend of mine, so I must hunt down a copy of that at some point soon.

Hope you enjoy Singapore - my Dad tells me it a fabulous but very strange place.
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
Yep, busy is definitely good. But I have to admit, a little bit of relaxed sleep without deadline or public speaking nightmares would be welcome too...

Not that I'm complaining. Well. Much.
katieheyokish on August 23rd, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
I was kind of hoping you might be at the Edinburgh Book Fest so I could ask, "Rob, Rob, can I take your picture, can I?" Beacause I don't just do pinhole photography these days. Enjoy Singapore. It's rather strange.

p.s. Just loaned Tiny Deaths to a mate who wants to read really good short stories. The new collection sounds intriguing. And useful.
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
I've popped over to your website! I'd *love* to have a picture taken by you. All the photos taken of me are very bland. I think that's because, whenever anyone points a camera at me, I somehow contrive to fix my face in the blandest pose imaginable. Even the sincerest smile is rendered into something plasticky and artificial. Your pictures have tremendous unashamed character to them. I'd be very intrigued to see what you'd find...

Useful is the best thing a book can be, of course. Fortunately each of my stories, like Aesop's Fables, has a helpful moral placed at the end.
(no subject) - heyokish on August 24th, 2009 04:43 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Transcendancingtranscendancing on August 23rd, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
You know, Perth's just a skip from Singapore :P


You know you want to :P

Good luck with all the upcoming publications and the handshaking and cheek kissing! You'll be awesome as always :)
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:23 am (UTC)
Oh. You know I know I want to...

Ah well. One of these days! I'm determined to get to Melbourne for Worldcon next year. It's not Perth. It's thousands of miles from Perth. But at least it's the same country...
(no subject) - transcendancing on August 24th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
catsparxcatsparx on August 24th, 2009 12:32 am (UTC)
have a ripper trip!
robshearmanrobshearman on August 24th, 2009 02:24 am (UTC)
Thanks, Cat! I shall do my best to make it as ripper as I can!
Rob Vincent: applauserob_t_firefly on August 24th, 2009 02:25 am (UTC)
Best wishes for everything! I'm not part of X-Files fandom at all, though I did watch casually and I really liked The Lone Gunmen (yes, I'm the one) so I shall definitely be checking out that book.
Dizzy Steinway, Cannonball Queenhailpoetry on August 24th, 2009 04:34 am (UTC)
Here's wishing you safe and happy travels, as always!
flinthartflinthart on August 25th, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
Your writing is great. But your mental arithmetic is clearly not as sharp as your wit, sirrah... or you would have recalled that fifty hand-written copies o a thousand-word story is fifty goddam thousand words. Half a novel!

Your hand is going to cramp up like your own personal Quasimodo on the end of your wrist, thus derailing your sex life for the next twenty years...
mrchuckadams on August 25th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)
Just came over from the Big Finish site were I listened to your podcast, it's a good listen, utterly incomprehensible but fun:)

I met you Gallifrey back in February, you said that I "was your first Chuck".

Look forward to getting my hands on your short story collections.

Enjoy Singapore.
Garymandrake91 on September 14th, 2009 11:04 pm (UTC)
Watch out for those Singapore Gin Slings, they're a killer!! *grin*