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World building (and destroying)

I wanted to give you an update on the new short stories that’ll be accompanying the omnibus edition of AUTUMN: THE LONDON TRILOGY next month (I’ll have an exact publication date for you very soon).

There will be six additional stories. On the whole, they’re quite different to the shorts I wrote for the original trilogy, but they do have a broadly similar genesis. The inspiration for all of the AUTUMN short stories – and there’s a heck of a lot of them now – came during the writing of the novels and asking, what if? or how? They’re either parts of the main story I wanted to tell, but that didn’t fit with the narrative flow of the main books, or they’re scenarios I wanted to write about that didn’t find a way into the overall story for one reason or another.

Have you ever watched a film and looked away from the action and instead focused on something going on in the background and thought, I wonder what’s going on over there? STAR WARS is the example of this I always used to cite (though it’s an example that’s been devalued somewhat as, since the Disney acquisition, I get the feeling they want us to pay to see what’s happening in even the most obscure corner of the galaxy). But the DEATH STAR was such a complex thing… surely there would have been as many personal dramas and conflicts taking place behind the scenes in the bowels of the station as there were playing out among the main characters? As someone who writes about extremely ordinary people, I’m fascinated to wonder what normal folk would have done to survive during the time of the Empire. To my mind, that’s far more interesting than Jedi Knights and mystical religions etc. Maybe that’s why I loved ANDOR so much and am getting bored with everything else…?

I digress. My point is that writing your own fiction series allows you to do just that. As you know, I did it first with AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, and then again with the second HATER trilogy, which gave me an opportunity to really open up that grim apocalyptic world and hopefully make it feel a little more whole, a little more real.

Unused Them or Us artwork

The latest AUTUMN novels were planned from the outset as a trilogy, so they’re far more focused than the original books which grew organically – when I started writing book one, I didn’t know there’d be a book two, let alone any others. These new short stories have allowed me to add substance to themes and scenes I glossed over to keep the main thrust of the story moving forward. For example, we know how our merry band(s) of survivors reacted to a particular situation they found themselves in, but how did that situation come about in the first place? What caused character X to form an alliance with character Y? While we were focused on one group, what was happening to those other folks further up the road? I hope you’ll enjoy these extra deviations.

I promised some details. They’re intentionally cryptic hints, but hopefully they’ll be enough to whet your appetite. It’s my intention for these shorts to be posted week by week throughout October for free on www.lastoftheliving.net to support the release of the omnibus edition.

  • BARELY A SOUND – a multi-part, largely character-free look at the way the world changes in the year following ‘the event’
  • SYMBIOSIS – two of the main characters from the LONDON TRILOGY meet for the first time, and get off on the wrong foot
  • WAITING FOR YESTERDAY – for some people, their world ended before everyone else died
  • ANOTHER FACE IN THE CROWD – there’s safety in numbers (even when you’re on your own)
  • BIOMASS – energy can neither be created nor destroyed… even the energy of the dead
  • WHERE’S WALLY? – I’m saying nothing about this one yet!

More news, details of the print and audio editions of the omnibus, and a glimpse at the cover art should be coming later this month.