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11:29am on Sunday, 16th July, 2006:

Summer Reading


I've written five books, two of which were published, two of which weren't, and one of which I haven't tried to get published yet.

The published books are Artificial Intelligence and Computer games and Designing Virtual Worlds. They're non-fiction, although the editing done to the first one was so bizarre at times that I wouldn't exactly say it was fact, either...

The two unpublished books are INsightflames and Learning to Live with Orcs. They're written in entirely different styles, but neither of them fits easily into genres. The first one is Fantasy written as if it were Cyberpunk, and the second one is Social Science Fiction. Of these two, ISIF was very well received, but the overall verdict of UK publishers was: "this deserves to be published, but not by us". LTLWO was more: "Sorry, our lists are full right now", which, when I followed it up 6 months or a year later, became: "Sorry, our lists are full right now". It turns out that if you want to get published, it's all about who you know rather than what you know. The best way to get a novel in print is to have a job in the publishing business.

So, I gave up on novels and wrote a couple of screenplays instead, on the grounds that the film industry was so grasping that its power people didn't care whether you were personal friends of theirs or not as a prerequisite to looking at your work. This is indeed the case: they merely have to know someone who knows you, rather than actually knowing you personally.

So, that didn't work out either. Back to novels, then.

My third novel, I haven't tried to get published yet. I did try to get an agent through (hey, just playing the game) a personal contact: he liked it but didn't love it, which I assume is code for I don't like it. Still, I wasn't too surprised at that as it's a children's book and he's not a children's book agent.

Also, I still need it beta-tested. I wrote it, let some people read it, made some major changes as a result of their comments, then I left it 6 months, re-read it, and made some more changes of my own. It still needs to be looked over again, though. There are a number of areas I'm particularly concerned about (is the language too simple, the historical knowledge required too unknown, the protaganist too bland?). I think the formula is basically sound, though: Victorian-era superheroes defending the British Empire against a dastardly, Da Vinci Code style plot being perpetrated by the French.

So if you have any bored, opinionated, 9-14 year-olds looking for some summer reading, let me know and I'll send you a copy of the book, The Knights of St. Judas, for them to rip into. No holds barred.

Or, if you just want to read it yourself, hey, that's OK too.

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Copyright © 2006 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).