Obviously I am hard at work on the research and plot-twiddling side of the next novel (which friend Kieron has helpfully suggested should be titled The Circle, which I shall adopt because my ability to come up with good titles is around my ability to play a devastating round of international-level lawn tennis), and definitely not rearranging my make-up drawer, compulsively buying socks, and panicking in a genteel and repressed fashion that I can’t write about an era I never saw as well as E M Forster, who lived in it. Definitely not. Those would be the actions of a mad lady.
The status quo with all those many, many projects referred to in the title:
Tame. Chick lit novella vaguely based on Little Red Riding Hood, in the loosest possible sense, features lycanthropy and lesbianism because I was into the letter L in 2007 or something: finally finished, being proof-read by the capable Marika Kailaya, expected to be available to buy before the end of October unless something goes horribly wrong.
Brown Bread, Boys. A Guy-Ritchie-themed gangland reinterpretation of Julius Caesar, asspulled at the last minute when realised that there was more work left to do on The Ideal London than there was time to do it in before November last year, and turned out to be one of the better things I’ve written. Is now at the yay/nay pass stage of editing, being read by a confederate whose job it is to either yay or nay things I’ve highlighted for deletion, and potentially flag anything else she thinks is appalling. May even be out by Christmas, if we’re lucky.
Hooked to the Silver Screen. Astronomically ill-advised gay romance with BDSM themes set in 1950s Hollywood against a backdrop of the Blacklist and the protagonist’s unwitting mob involvement. Currently waiting for me to read a lot more about the era, work out the supporting cast, and turn the plot from “I vaguely know what’s happening” to “I have this in hand and can write a day-by-day plan of what to churn out”, which I’m going to get to in about January.
The Circle. Edwardian England’s Faustian tragedy with Forsterian values, as told by a night-club singer in a version of Weimar Berlin that exists outside of space and time; four stage magicians ruin each other’s lives and the lives of those around them competing pointlessly, and one of them sells his soul to the devil. I’m currently filling up my knowledge gaps about the era, trying to make sure I have voice and colour down, and panicking slightly. Due to start writing November 1st.
KBV. Originally quite a pretentious idea for an epistolary fiction about an epidemic, focussing mostly on how epidemics are reported; I’ve scrapped the meandering media studies-ness of it all and am intending to try for an epistolary conspiracy thriller because I’ve never written one and sticking to one genre is for losers. This requires a more involved plot – I’ve come some way but it needs a lot more – and a lot of research. Not sure when I’ll get around to it, possibly next November if nothing else becomes urgent.
The Book of Mapp. A short story (or intended to be short) set in a post-revolutionary republic, the first of its kind, in a fantasy world. Theoretically a police procedural told by a propaganda agent, it is actually about the flexible nature of the truth and the power of the word, etc, etc. All it really needs is for me to just sit down and write it, which may happen in December if I am not Dead of NaNo.
The Ideal London. A kind of parallel universe story about the concept of imagination, which I think should probably be written by Neil Gaiman rather than me, but he seems to be busy so I’m doing it. Requires a lot more research and world-building than I’d managed when the deadline loomed over me, a better grasp on the characters, and hopefully a less patchy plot than I’d come up with before.
The remaining three I have stewing don’t yet have titles, even working ones, so they’re just referred to by their key element:
Robots. A ship’s medical officer fails to read the fine print of his contract and is thus resurrected as a cloud of nanobots after being atomised by an accident on a very dull botanical space mission. The main problem with this is that I have no idea what happens after the end of the first act.
Werewolves. Two-part story held together by the antagonist, a former thief-taker who becomes a werewolf by accident and turns out to be very good at it. Requires a plot beyond a selection of terrible events slammed jarringly against a selection of humorous interludes, which is what I rather inexplicably have at the moment.
Space. Requires substantial world-building (which is the fun part) and subsequent plotting, although at least the characters are fun to write and to write about.
So there, that’s… a reasonable number of projects. Even if I never have another original plot idea again I still have enough for a selection of books, and I have a notepad file full of plot summaries for short stories which would probably flesh out an entire collection.