Blog
Subscribe to the Steven Hall News Feed

I’m taking part in a live online book group discussion...

Dated: Monday, 02 November 2009 14:34:27

I’m taking part in a live online book group discussion of The Raw Shark Texts over on the readitswapit.co.uk forums on the 9th November at 8pm GMT.

I’ll post a direct link to the discussion thread as soon as I have it...

S

The Aesthetic of Bookishness in the Twenty-first Century

Dated: Thursday, 29 October 2009 10:32:10

Jessica Pressman’s piece "The Aesthetic of Bookishness in the Twenty-first Century" discusses the way in which The Raw Shark Texts responds as a paper novel to new media and ?the death of the book’. The article appears in the next (fall) issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review, titled - “Bookishness: The New Fate of Reading in the Digital Age”. I’ve been lucky enough to read the piece already and it's very good indeed. Do check it out.

Hoops, secrets and robots, oh my!

Dated: Tuesday, 27 October 2009 10:49:55
Hello folks,

Sorry for the silence around these parts recently – I’ve been stupidly busy over the last few months and things are only getting more, not less, crazy. Good crazy though. Always good crazy.


Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Hula Hoop

Book 2 takes up most of my time, it’s a monster. A huge, wonderful, crazy, bizarre and brain-twisting monster. I’m pushing myself on this one. It’s a much broader canvas than Raw Shark, and every bit as complicated and full of hidden tunnels for active and super-active readers to discover and explore. It uses the geography of the book in a different way to Raw Shark, it’s, it’s.... well, you’ll see. I am very proud of what I have so far. A chunk went to my editor at Canongate last month and he was very excited about it too, which is good, because it is an odd and impossible beast, this Hula Hoop of mine.

Granta

A few months ago John Freeman, editor of Granta magazine, emailed to ask ?would I like to write about robots for them?’ Of course, I said yes. Granta! It’s such an honour to be asked. And robots! Who doesn’t love robots? So I packed a bag and flew to The Robotics Institute Carnegie Mellon University to meet some of the most advanced robots on the planet, including the amazing HERB , and these fellas too...








I’ll keep you posted on when my piece will run. (if you want to talk more about the robots - or anything else - the blog talkback thread is here)



Secretproject1, Secretproject2 (and maybe secretproject3?)

These things are running under, around, and in any spare inch of space left to me by the Godzilla-sized Hula Hoop. One of them is potentially a Very Big Deal and is simmering away nicely at the moment. One is more urgent, smaller and a real joy to do in what little spare time I have. The third has just come up. It will need further investigation. Hopefully by Christmas I will be able to tell you about some, or all, of these things. At least, I hope so - I really can’t wait to talk about these things!


I think that’ll have to do for now. More and in more detail soon!


S


Baby Got Books Interview

Dated: Saturday, 01 August 2009 11:44:03

Hey folks,

 

Sorry I've been quiet around these parts for a while. Thingsare getting excitingly hectic here - I'll put up a full blog with all thelatest as soon as I can.

 

In the meantime, here's alink to an interview I did with Baby Got Books. Some new Book 2 info,thoughts on The Grand Scheme and other new bits and pieces can be foundtherein...

 

Do post your thoughts, guys, always good to hear from you!

 

Steven  


Answering back?

Dated: Wednesday, 01 July 2009 11:53:58

Hey folks,

I’m back from my holidays (I fell out of a kayak and lost my snorkel, but otherwise very good fun) and trying to get up to speed with things.

I’m putting together a lot of my old blogs so I can post them on the forums, in case people want to read what I was doing and thinking when Raw Shark Texts came out. Mostly what I was doing, if the blogs are any guide, was dealing the rollercoaster of reviews the book got on publication and trying to make sense of the crazy place my life had become. I’m pleased with my restraint on the whole - I rarely commented on the bad stuff, and even when I did I tried not to take things to personally. Well done Past Steven Hall, I’m giving you a gold star for self control.

It seems to have become fashionable for authors to publicly respond to bad reviews in the past few weeks though, check out Alain de Botton’s [fairly astonishing comment] on reviewer Caleb Crain’s website in response to his New York Times review of Pleasures and Sorrows of Work.

The comment ends with “I will hate you till the day I die and wish you nothing but ill will in every career move you make. I will be watching with interest and schadenfreude” Which seems, er, a bit strong.

I do sympathise with the frustration which much have driven Alain de Botton to make such a post, even though I can’t agree that writing ?I’ll hate you till the day I die’ on a reviewer’s website is ever a justifiable course of action, though I’m sure most writers have felt a strong desire to do so at one time or another. Reviews can be lazy, ill-considered, needlessly aggressive, politically motivated or driven by other agendas that the author can only guess at (or perhaps even worse – is all too aware of) and that have little to do with the book itself.

One specific instance sticks in my mind (and for some reason I avoided mentioning it at the time) - in one week in 2007, Raw Shark received a nice review in a famous glossy magazine, and a sniffy dismissal in an famous broadsheet newspaper, AND BOTH WERE WRITTEN BY THE SAME PERSON. Of course, there are many brilliant reviewers out there, and raw shark was lucky enough to receive some very smart reviews, (and here I mean very smart positive reviews, and very smart negative ones), but when something like that happens the sheer lunacy and/or corruption it suggests does kinda leave you scratching your head, doesn’t it?

The beauty of the internet is that authors can answer their critics in a public forum if they feel the need to do so. It’s a minefield though, and author’s who can’t control their vitriolic outbursts often end up looking much worse than the critics who caused them. In an ideal world, the bad reviewers would always hang themselves with their bad reviews. This isn’t an ideal world and so authors should occasionally feel empowered to help the process along if there’s a genuine need to do so. The watchword for this though is ?control’.

For a hilarious master class in the art of destroying the sloppy reviewer, check out [Dan Rhodes is disliked by at the author’s website.]

As Willie says to Shaft in Shaft’s Big Score, “That’s the way to do it, junior.”


Formats and Editions....

Dated: Tuesday, 16 June 2009 12:40:38

Hello hello,

Been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. I’ve just been plugging away here at Hula Hoop. Every paragraph that I’m writing at the moment is taking a long time, for reasons which will probably be obvious when it’s finally finished and you guys can get a look at it. I don’t make life easy for myself, I really don’t. I’ve got a great feeling about this book though, and hopefully all the extra hours will be worth it.


Book Two
Speaking of the second book there are a few new details over on [the 3AM blog]  – nothing very spoiler-ish, but some things that haven’t been mentioned on here yet. There’s still a long road ahead with Book Two and I’ll keep you posted on my progress as best I can, although it might come off a little “something I can’t talk about yet is going really well, still struggling with a different something-I-can’t-talk-about though” but I’ll do my best to keep it interesting!



Book Two – duel format?
I’m just beginning to look at the possibility of having Book Two released in two formats at once. The first would obviously be as a printed book (if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it) and the second as something a little bit different. I’m very interested in working across different platforms, and I’m interested in the ways fiction can fit with the way we live now. I’m not talking about re-inventing the wheel or anything, but I feel that in the stampede towards ebooks (which are very interesting in their own right) publishers may have missed a trick, and so I’m going to take a shot at it to see what happens. I still need to talk to a few people about this (my publishers for one!) but hopefully everyone will be as excited as I am about the idea.



Raw Shark Chinese
On the Raw Shark Texts front, I’ve written a brand new introduction to the [Chinese language edition]  which is out very soon. Once that book is out, I’ll make sure a translated version is available on here.


Expanded Raw Shark?
I’ve noticed [here] and [here] and in a few other places too that rumours are circulating about a new/definitive edition of The Raw Shark Texts using [Jesse Walker’s amazing design work]. I’d love to release a limited, expanded edition featuring everything found so far, and it’s great to see the interest in that happening popping up around the web. I’m going to speak to Canongate about it very soon, and would quietly suggest that the more heat there is around this online, the more likely it is to happen... ;)


That’s all for now, more soon!

S


The future of Eric Sanderson & almost some film news

Dated: Tuesday, 31 March 2009 14:26:08
Hey folks,

Well, Book Two is steadily moving from its original state of ?nice idea’ to ?complex reality’, although not as quickly as I’d like. I have a big, important section coming up and that’s always a slightly daunting time. It’s great to be in a part of the book where Important Things Happen, but at the same time, it’s difficult to be relaxed there. Actually, sitting down and facing up to the challenge is the hardest part of that process.

I didn’t keep any notes at all for Raw Shark, but writing the book that way seemed to use up what little free memory I had left inside my head (I can’t remember my own telephone number now) , so Hula Hoop is already becoming very note-heavy. It has two hardback sketchbooks and a lot of coloured pens keeping its many twists and turns, goings-on and secrets all pinned down until they become incorporated into the manuscript proper. Although I didn’t get to sleep until late last night as I was trying to commit three new scenes to memory, so maybe a bedside notebook might be the way forward!

A few people have asked recently if Book Two is going to be a sequel to The Raw Shark Texts – the answer is that Eric Sanderson’s story is contained completely within the positive and negative chapters of The Raw Shark Texts, his journey (as they say on reality TV) is over there, and we won’t see him again. It makes me a little sad to write that, but I’m afraid it’s true folks.

I should also say that I’ve also been making notes for Book Three (still with the nickname ?PowerBall’) and Book Four too. I wouldn’t call it ?the bigger picture’ exactly, but an interesting framework is taking shape there. It’s frustrating that it’ll be a long, long time before I can talk to people about it.

Something very exciting almost happened on the film front last week, but I’ve been asked by the film people not to say what it was. Frustrating, but understandable. There seems to be lots of industry interest in the project though, with lots of big-name actors and directors asking to see the script. If this keeps up Blueprint must surely have a reasonable chance of getting their Raw Shark Texts film off the ground. I wish them all the best for it.

It looks like there might just be another Doctor Who audio play on the horizon for me too, if I can make the timings work with Hula Hoop. A different Doctor this time. It’s very early days but I had a great time working with Big Finish last time out, so going back to do another would be a lot of fun. I’d love to do a TV story for Matt Smith at some point, hmm, maybe one day.

S


Spring, Words and Skins

Dated: Thursday, 19 March 2009 16:26:30
Hey folks,

Spring has arrived here. Winter lasts a little bit too long sometimes, don’t you think? By the time you’re past New Year, the snow and ice and darkness aren't festive anymore and the next two and a half months is just overkill.

A lot of days over the winter, it didn’t  manage to get properly light here at all. You got a long, gloomy sunrise that looked like it was going to turn to day proper at about 11.30am, then never did, turning into a long, gloomy sunset at about 2pm instead. Not fun.

But living in this particular part of the North West of England with nothing at all to do has been great for my writing - I’ve managed to shift up the pace to 1,000 words a day this week, which is stupidly fast for me. 300 words a day is more like it normally, and some days I’ll maybe only get 100 done. Some days I’ll end up with less than I started with. I spent five hours on two short paragraphs last week. The process is so very slow because I work by writing and constantly redrafting in tandem – I’m 18,000 words into this new novel and I’d say that the bulk of that has maybe been rewritten thirty times already – and then rewriting all over again when the thing is done. So yes, 1,000 words a day is almost supersonic. I’m going to have to stop at some point to go back over it all, but progress is very much being made.

The words added to Book 2 this week include - ?phantasm’, ?parade’, ?abomination’ and the phrase ?uncommonly susceptible to the Devil’s influence.’

I’m also at work on more Raw Shark Texts, but I can’t say anything about that at all...


I haven’t heard anything from Pete Czernin at Blueprint for a while, so I have no film updates for you. I know that he’s snowed under with enquiries about this new Simon Beaufoy script he has, so as soon as there’s some movement there, I shall let you know.


My other film project has gone very quiet too. I think this might just be the nature of film. Sometimes it seems a wonder that anything ever gets made. I also might or might not be doing another Doctor Who story. Hmmmm. I think this has been The Month of Nebulous Projects. Not that I’m complaining too much of course, having space to get on with Hula Hoop is very nice. And much needed.


And, just because it’s been on my mind - Has anyone been watching the third season of Skins? What’s happened to it? The first two seasons were the best thing on British TV (sorry, Doctor Who, but they  were) and now it's turned into Skins Lite or something. It’s gone from ?astonishingly good’ to ?okay’ in a single year, which is a real shame. I can’t quite believe there are only two episodes left to go and still nothing has happened.

Does anyone know if they’ve changed their writing/production team? If you have any info (or just want to share your opinion) do drop by the blog talkback thread [here].
Come back proper Skins, you are missed.

That’s enough for now, I think. I’m going to go and tidy this desk before there’s some kind of papery landslide and I get buried alive.

More soon,

S


Heating, books and links...

Dated: Thursday, 05 March 2009 18:12:16
Hello hello. We have heating. And not like the heating we had before the boiler went either, proper heating – the kind where you don't have to think twice before venturing out into the kitchen, no, no – this is proper heating. We can leave internal doors open now and everything. Luxury.

Anyway, the new book is going well, but slowly. I always knew this section would take a long time though because a) it’s very long and b) it’s all written in [deleted so as not to spoil the surprise] so ever sentence takes forever. It’s a hard slog, but I'm enjoying it.

It’s funny, I answered a question on the [forums] the other day about how, when I was writing Raw Shark Texts, I’d had Scout in mind for maybe a year before she made her first appearance in the manuscript. I talked a bit about the strange feeling of excitement I had when she finally turned up on the page. It was like finally meeting someone you’d heard lots about, or a long-lost member of the family. Well anyway, something very similar happened today – a couple of characters that have been in my head for God knows how long made their first appearance in the text of the new book. Very exciting. Unlike Scout though, running into them wouldn’t exactly be what you’d call a pleasure. No, I doubt you’d look forward to being introduced to these two very much at all if you’d heard lots about them.

The other thing I’m doing for the new book is lots of reading – reading two or three specific texts and making lots of notes. Lots and lots of notes. The note-taking part is a new experience for me because I didn’t really make any notes for shark. Hula Hoop (that’s the codename/pet name for book two!) has some different requirements to Raw Shark though, so I’m trying to learn to do things in a different way to meet those demands.

I’ve also been hard at work trying to make sure that the internet funnels people to this site and to the forums. Paul and I took down the old rawsharktexts.com altogether this afternoon – that link sends people directly to the forum now, so hopefully more folks will be finding the boards there. I’m also working on something similar for my old Myspace. The eventual aim it to have everyone who wants to find out about my work or talk about it, coming to one place, rather than being scattered across a handful of different sites as they are at the moment.

I’ve also updated [The Raw Shark Texts entry Wikipedia], but there’s still lots to add/sort out there, so if anyone feels like having a go – please be my guest.

I’m also waiting to hear back about a short film project that I could be signing up to. I hope it happens as I have a nice little idea – I’ll keep you posted.

More soon,

S


Dated: Saturday, 28 February 2009 12:38:06
We are having our boiler replaced, so I’m writing this in bed. It’s cold here, damn cold. There’s a man on the roof and another hammering under the floor in the living room, which is kinda creepy.

I’ve spent a lot of time on the [new forums] this week, which I’ve really enjoyed. Since we moved over to the new software it really feels like the old place is coming back to life. Thanks everyone who’s posting there for helping to make such a friendly and interesting community. In addition to the blog talkback thread [click here], we now also have a Steven Hall Q&A thread [click here], where folks can ask me whatever they’d like to ask me. The thread has only been up for a few days but there have already been some interesting pots and a great spin-off thread about [the 21st century novel]. Also, in [The Red Cabinet] forum, the moderator known as CpVb006 is compiling a definitive list of, well, everything I’ve ever done, in addition to a catalogue of the Raw Shark negatives (the lost and hidden extra parts of The Raw Shark Texts) that have been uncovered so far, and where to find them. So yes, lots of interesting information and chat on the forums, do stop by and say hello.

Speaking of the forums, it’s really rewarding to see how the news of two returning Raw Shark Texts characters in Book 2 (known for now as Hula Hoop!) has stirred up a flurry of activity and speculation in there. Kudos for compiling a list of all the possibilities, guys. To fuel all that lovely speculation (I know, I really can’t help myself) I guess I could say that the return of one of those characters is actually kinda possible to predict if you think about their role and slightly odd story arc in Raw Shark Texts. There. That’s enough now. If you have predictions, explanations for predictions, or even just wish lists of who you’d like to read more about in the future, do please post them up in the forums. It’s always fun and always useful for me to hear what you guys are thinking.

Over on the film front, congratulations are due once again to Raw Shark screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, who won the Oscar last week for Slumdog Millionaire!

As Raw Shark Texts was Simon’s next project after Slumdog, I imagine that it’s now more likely than ever that we will see Mr Beaufoy’s interpretation of the book on the big screen at some point in the future. I know Blueprint are in top secret talks about directors at the moment, as soon as I can say something about any of this (and once I’ve found out myself!) I’ll make sure the info is posted in here . Interesting times, indeed.

Anyway, I’m going to stop typing now as my fingers are starting to freeze. Why do boilers never die in the summer?

S



Book Two

Dated: Thursday, 19 February 2009 13:39:54

It feels good to be properly writing again. I have this routine where I get up at 7am and try to get a few hours done before breakfast, which really helps. There was so much noise around Raw Shark Texts for so long that it made getting past all that kinda difficult. The book came out in the UK in March 07 but I was still touring with it into Summer 08, which didn’t leave a whole lot of headspace to really gear up for the next book. Things have gone a little quieter now (but not too quiet, which is nice) and I feel like I can finally be all-the-way excited and involved in the next big project.

I know it's way too soon for me to be talking specifics about the book, which is a shame because I’m at the stage where I want to talk to EVERYONE about it. On Monday there was a moment where, after hours of staring at the screen, something technical finally clicked into place and I got a real this-is-happening buzz. It’s quite a challenge to write, this book, and every bit as much of a house of cards as Raw Shark Texts (though in a different way). I think it also continues the principle of rewarding the active reader, something that I started out with on Raw Shark. Like Shark, the reader has a lot of control over how they read this story, more control perhaps, but again – in a very different way. It’s annoying to be so vague! I can say that the section from Monday made me so happy because it’ll read very differently on the second pass through the text, or depending on where… nope. That’s too much.

Is there anything I can actually say about the book at this stage? Well, again the first word of the title is ?The’, and there will be a returning character from The Raw Shark Texts. Actually, two characters, though the second’s part in Raw Shark could barely even be called a cameo. There’s also a much larger cast, a historical figure or two and some rather extreme typesetting. There, how’s that? Oh, and excitingly - and bizarrely - there is already some interest in the film adaptation!

I’m now going to get back to writing the thing.

More soon,

S


Congratulations Simon!

Dated: Monday, 09 February 2009 16:35:19

Congratulations to Simon Beaufoy on last night’s Bafta win for Slumdog Millionaire!

I think Simon is now officially The Hottest Screenwriter In The World™ so a movie based on The Raw Shark Texts is looking ever more possible. Is anyone in movieland really crazy enough to take on a project about conceptual fish? I guess we’ll find out soon.

Anywhoo, I’ve been thinking a lot about what this blog should be. I can and am using it to keep everyone updated on my work and connected developments, but could/should it be more than that? What would you like to know? I shall keep thinking.

If there’s anything you’d especially like me to talk about or if you just want to share some thoughts on what you think a good blog should be, I’ve sent up a dedicated blog talkback thread in the forums. You can go there directly by clicking here.
Do drop by and share your thoughts…

More soon

S


Films and Forums

Dated: Sunday, 01 February 2009 18:33:59


Hey folks,

You might have already noticed this week’s big news – the new forum is here and it's up and running!

Paul had a bit of a nightmare converting the data from the old forum so it took a lot longer than we expected, but we got there in the end. I think it looks really great and (hopefully) we’ve finally seen the last of the spam (!).

If you were familiar with the old unspace forum, then you might also notice the beginnings of a shift in focus with the new one. The Raw Shark Texts is just one of the sections on the board now, and before too long there will be new sections relating to… other things.

There is some bad news though - we discovered the hard way that the old forum wasn’t being backed up. This means that almost two years of posts in the Unspace Explorations forum have been lost for good after the incident last autumn, which is a massive shame. We were hoping against hope that we’d find them, but it wasn’t to be. The forum is already beginning to fill up again, but I feel really bad that so much interesting discussion has been lost. Rest assured that now we have control of the site, we are keeping regular back-ups…

Anyway, there’s lots more to come on the website front, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we have planned, so do keep checking back…

In other news, there have been some very interesting developments on the film front. Raw Shark screenwriter Simon Beaufoy (who’s previous adaptation Slumdog Millionaire is doing rather well) has just been nominated for an Oscar, so that’s helping Blueprint Pictures move the project along a little bit.

I read Simon’s Raw Shark script over Christmas and had a very productive meeting with producer Pete ?In Bruges’ Czernin about it last week. God, I’d love to be able to say more about all this, but I really can’t/shouldn’t yet. It is exciting and frightening in equal measure. Hopefully I can be a bit more concrete about some of these things before too long...


More soon,

S




New site, new blog!

Dated: Wednesday, 24 December 2008 14:56:50

Hey folks,

It’s Christmas eve and this is my first blog on the brand new Steven Hall website! What do you think? Pretty swanky, huh?

This lovely minimalist site design was actually put together by a very talented web designer called Ross Gratton way back in 2005, but it’s only really getting on its feet now that Mr Paul Wilson, The Ultimate WebGenius™ has come onboard to clean, streamline and build massively on what wehad back then. What’s here now is only the tip of the iceberg – the plan is for an eventual web of interconnected sites radiating out from this one, one for each book or major project I do, starting with an all new and very comprehensive www.rawsharktexts.com in the New Year.

I can’t believe that Raw Shark Texts is almost two years old now. In a world where so many books come and go in a matter of months, it’s so great and rewarding to see Raw Shark still out there and still picking up new readers. As my girlfriend likes to say – “you’re a bit of a cult now, aren’t you Hall?” Thanks to everyone out there who’s been reading the book and passing it on. You’ve made me the cult I am today ;) Thank you!

So anyway, what’s new? Well, a couple of things.


A few people out there might know I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan…

 

…so I jumped at the chance to write a 25 minute Doctor Who audio play to celebrate the show’s 45th anniversary. My episode “The Word Lord” is the fourth story on an anthology release entitled, appropriately enough, Forty-Five. It stars Sylvester McCoy as the 7th Doctor, with Sophie Aldred as Ace and Paul Reynolds (who folks my age will probably remember as Colin from Press Gang!) as the eponymous villain of the piece. Here’s the cover:



 

 

You can click here to find out more, check out the trailer and (if the mood takes you) buy it on CD or as a download. I’m sure youcan download if for free around the internet, but please don’t if you don't have to. I don’t generally have an issue with people nicking music for free, but Big Finish (the company who make these stories) are very small and they have to rely on listener's honesty to keep them in business, so if you can afford to buy it rather than grabbing it from a torrent site I’m sure they’d really appreciate it.

Anyway, I had a real blast working on this and I wenta long to the recording to meet the cast and watch the story being recorded (I even got myself onto the CD extras!). Here’s a pic of me with Sylvester McCoy, The Doctor himself:


 

I’d like to do another one of these some day and, of course, I’d love to do a TV episode too.

Maybe one day.


I also wrote and directed a short play for The Verb on BBC Radio 3, which was here but seems to have gone now. Hopefully we’ll be able to make it accessible via this site at some point.

The play is called TOUCH ME and takes the form of an interview with an author who has written a book printed on litmus paper. I really enjoyed putting this together, especially learning to work with actors, which is a whole new discipline for me and something I’m definitely going to look to do more of in the future.

 

I wanted to give you an update on Book Two but I’m running short on time, it being Christmas eve and all, so I’d better leave it there for now.

 

More to come soon, I promise!

 

S