Happy new year! In this blog: The Richest Man on Mars, Race to Planet Earth, and other updates

Posted on January 2, 2014


Here it is – 2014!

In recent years, I’ve made quite a big effort with my New Year’s resolutions. If nothing else, I find that having something to focus on detracts quite a lot from the post-Christmas blues. 2014 is going to continue that trend, with a bunch of challenging resolutions on a variety of topics.

Chief among them is my resolution to write the fourth and final book in my space adventure series, which stars Bradley (a young runaway from Earth) and his affable alien grandpa. The series began in 2010 with the publication of The Astronaut’s Apprentice, and the concluding chapter will be called Race to Planet Earth.  I’m quite happy with the title, because I think it manages to capture a feeling of finality (insofar as it’s a homecoming for Bradley) but also a real sense of peril and adventure.

I’m making this my number one resolution because I don’t think I was fast enough with The Richest Man on Mars. It’s only just been published, and should trickle through to Amazon, etc., in due course. The previous instalment, City of Meteors, came out a little more than two years ago. I honestly think that’s too long for the target audience to wait, and some of the children who enjoyed The Astronaut’s Apprentice, some three and a bit years ago, will have moved  on and lost interest in these kinds of book by now. I suppose that’s one peril of writing children’s fiction. The Worst Witch series (which I love) began in 1974, before I was even born, and Mildred’s seventh outing was only published last October!

Anyway – once the final book goes out, I look forward to reaching a new wave of readers who will be able to burn through the whole story as quickly as they want, because it will at last be complete. And my resolution is to have the first draft finished by the end of May.

Also, if you’re interested in The Richest Man on Mars – which is already available from Falcon Berger’s very minimalist e-store and will turn up on Amazon shortly – you can read more about it right here.

One of the things that slowed me down in 2013 was preparing a sort of second edition of Bradley’s very first adventure, The Astronaut’s Apprentice. On re-reading it, I found a couple of bits that I didn’t really like and which bugged me slightly. Grandpa makes a couple of throwaway remarks which seemed funny at the time, but (with hindsight) totally out-of-character.

Even worse, when the pirates attack, Headlice – my implausibly-named heroine from Pluto – is completely useless. In fact, she just screams hysterically while the boys get on with the heroic business of fighting the bad guys. This felt like another false note, because we learn in the sequel, City of Meteors, that she’s just as capable of saving the day as Bradley is. So I reconfigured that paragraph to make it less sexist, and dealt with Grandpa’s uncharacteristic outbursts, and (while I was making those changes) tightened up the prose here and there to make some of the descriptions flow more smoothly. None of the changes alter the plot in any way, and the total number of changed words is quite tiny, but I feel much better about The Astronaut’s Apprentice now that the changes have been made.

I actually agonised over whether to do it – are you allowed, I wondered, to start mucking about with a book that’s already been published? – but then I remembered that Tolkien did it with The Hobbit (once he knew what direction the sequel would go in) and the Falcon Berger elves were more than happy to oblige in getting the new version to print.

Anyway, that’s an overdue update for you all. Happy New Year, and I’ll blog again when I have more information about Race to Planet Earth!

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