Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Gathering Pace

After last week’s “double episode,”  Teratogenesis is moving forwarded at pace.  Not only that, but I’ve signed up to Scribd and will be releasing some older material as PDFs to download.  Coupled with the fact that I am no longer an unemployment statistic, it’s all go for me right now.

The Scribd project is something I’ve been doing for a number of years now, where I write a ‘traditional’ Christmas ghost story on Christmas Eve.  The Victorian tradition of the Christmas ghost story has pretty much disappeared (although if you are maintaining it yourself, let me know,) and I think that’s a real shame.  The first story- Harbinger- went up last week and proved quite popular!  However, given that Harbinger is also on the Xaeromancer Project web page and isn’t so strong out of context, I’m currently re-editing the remaining two pieces for Scribd.

Given that Christmas is very much a family time, this project doesn’t allows yield a result but it is very satisfying working within the constraints of the genre and the one day, finish by midnight time frame.  MR James was very much the master of this form and it’s from his theory that I practice.  To quote U2, “every artist is a cannibal / every poet is a thief” and you really have to go back to the source to see why something emerged and how it has changed over the years.  For example, if you like Charlaine Harris’ Southern Vampire Mysteries, try Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla or Lost Souls by Poppy Z Brite.

The Scribd project is also me dipping my toes into the issue of eBooks.  Personally, I’m quite happy to read on my laptop, but I know some people who hate reading PDFs.  Don’t get me wrong, there is something magical about the concrete sensations of a new book, but frankly, it costs nothing to produce an eBook.  Let me say that again:

It costs nothing to produce an eBook.

You can save a file as a PDF with the free OpenOffice suite (other word processors are available, but OpenOffice is free, as is the Office PDF plugin.)  Admittedly, this means that you have to proof, format and edit the file yourself, but I was taught that in school over a decade ago, so the odds are:  if you can read this blog, you can type, format and save a file that has been proofed in accordance to the standards of your spell-checker (if that is enough for you.)  So, there you go, use that secret wisely.

Also, I’ve specifically chosen the Portable Document Format (.pdf) because it’s a reasonably open format and compatible with a number of different platforms: both of the major eBook readers, smart phones (even the iPhone,) laptops, desktops, palmtops and tank tops.  I appreciate that I don’t write populist fiction so it’s doubly important for me to reach everyone who might be interested in what I have to say and format is a definite consideration for this.

There will definitely be more in the way of eBooks later along the line (a collected Teratogenesis, for instance) but for now, the Scribd project is all about testing the waters and experimenting with the medium.

Finally, I chose “Come As You Are”  by Nirvana for today’s entry because I didn’t figure that our protagonist would have chosen my first choice, “Memories” by Public Image, Ltd.  Sometimes it’s difficult to chose the music at the end because what I think is a good choice might not be what the narrator thinks is appropriate.