Monthly Archives: June 2012

Got It Covered

Vanguard Prime: Goldrush

 

Well, here it is! The cover to Goldrush, the first book in the Vanguard Prime series. It feels like the cat’s already out of the bag, given that the cover has been available on the Penguin website for a while now, but I could hardly mention it in every post up until now and then not show it off…right?

 

I couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out. Superhero design is a tricky thing to pull off; it’s deceptively simple. You only need to read the posts on the Project: Rooftop blog to see how much thought goes into making people in tights look good.

 

My biggest fear with the cover design was that it would look inauthentic, that the publisher wouldn’t get what I was going for. When I was coming up with these characters, I wanted them to feel like genuine comic book creations, with their own histories and an adherence to the archetypes they represented (wow, I can get really pretentious about this stuff, huh?).

 

I shouldn’t have worried. The team at Penguin really know their stuff, pushing things in a more ‘realistic’ direction than I would have expected, making this look almost like the Film Tie-In edition right off the bat. It’s dynamic, it’s eye-catching, it’s right.

 

When you get the chance to see the actual book, you’ll find that the image wraps around to the back cover, showing off the whole team. I can’t wait for people to see that, because the design of the three characters on the back is amazing.

 

Thankfully, it won’t be too long now until everyone can see it for themselves. The book goes on sale July 25th. One week after that, we’ll be having a launch at the Sun Bookshop in Yarraville. Everyone is welcome along but please make sure to RSVP! You can find details on the ‘Appearances’ page.

 

In the meantime, I’m finishing up the manuscript for Book 3. We’re just about to begin editorial work on Book 2, which includes working out a title and coming up with another cover design. If it’s anything like the first, I can’t wait to see it!

 

(And if you’re curious about who’s responsible for the illustrations, make sure to check out http://www.mccowndesignagency.com!)

The Agony of Author Photos

I’ve gotten the go ahead to upload the book jacket but I’m just waiting on a format that’ll be easier to upload. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’ve been fielding the first interviews and trying to take a photo that could be used as an author pic. That experience was…interesting. The thing that kept repeating in my head the entire time was Liz Lemon trying to film the opening to her talk show. The clip I found doesn’t show any of the weird faces she pulls or the strange things she does with her arms, but it’s still a pretty accurate representation of how you feel on the other side of the lens.

Mutants Vs Metahumans: On Introductions and Writing What You Know

Six months ago I set up this website and posted my first (unofficial) blog post.  With the release of Vanguard Prime: Goldrush on July 25th, I think it’s time to start paying this site the attention it deserves.

 

I’d hoped to kick things off by posting the cover image to the book but I’m still waiting on the go ahead from my publisher, so instead I figured I’d provide a little background on who I am and what you should expect from this blog.

 

It’s safe to say that most writers grew up reading a lot and writing a lot, but mostly just dreaming a lot, and I’m no exception to that. I wrote my first story when I was six years old and I haven’t stopped since. I’d like to think my writing’s improved since then – given that my early stories were crudely drawn picture books where I ripped off the Ninja Turtles in various ways – but I don’t have the objectivity to make such a bold statement.

 

At the same time that I was writing my own stories, I was reading a lot too. I was a huge Roald Dahl fan, reading everything of his that I could get my hands on. I loved Paul Jennings, Morris Gleitzman, Judy Bloom, Emily Rodda and eventually, when I was older, John Marsden and Sue Townsend, as well as classics like 1984, The Lord of the Flies and the Junior Novelisation of Jurassic Park (what do you mean that’s not a classic?).

 

In addition to reading books, I was also really into comics. Spider-Man and Batman were early favourites along with X-Men and, after that, Justice League. Where other kids were talking footy scores, I was talking mutants versus metahumans. As you can imagine, this was of tremendous benefit to my social life.

 

I ended up studying Creative Writing at QUT in Brisbane, with the goal of someday getting a book published. The first book I wrote was a Young Adult fantasy, blending elements of steampunk, anime and videogame-style storytelling to enthral its readers. Or it would have been, if it hadn’t been a total mess.

 

After far too many years of trying and failing to get my manuscript published, I decided it was time to sit down and write something new. The only question was, what could I possibly write? What would be a strong enough idea to get publishers interested, and something that I would have enough passion about to actually complete?

 

The main thing that had happened between the first book and the second was that I’d moved to Melbourne and started working in the publishing industry, first in the Marketing department and then in Sales.

 

As a Sales Rep, my job involved (and still involves) me visiting bookshops to sell in our list of books two months ahead of their release. From that, I’d gotten a much better sense of the market and, in fact, learned a valuable lesson; they say “Write what you know”, which I’ve always taken to mean “Write from your own life experience”, but what it really means is “Write what you have knowledge of and what you’re passionate about”.

 

The reason my fantasy manuscript never got picked up was because I wasn’t familiar enough with the fantasy genre to write with confidence…and it showed. If I was going to write another book, it’d have to be on a subject that I knew intimately.

 

Drawing on my love of comics I decided I’d write a Young Adult book along the lines of Alex Ryder or Artemis Fowl, but with a superhero twist. Thanks to this stroke of genius, I could now say that whenever I was watching cartoons or reading comics that I was “doing research”.

 

I finished the book in late 2009 and started sending it out. A lot of people ask me how the publication deal came about, expecting it to have something to do with my job in the industry. And while I did have a few contacts who generously offered to read it, the offer ultimately came from Penguin, where I’d submitted the manuscript via the slush pile. It just goes to show, somebody actually does read the slush!

 

To give you an idea of how long the process takes, I met with the team at Penguin in June 2011 and they sent me the letter of offer two months later in August (it doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you’re checking your inbox every day it feels like an eternity).

 

The editorial process kicked off in early 2012, and on July 25 the first book in the Vanguard Prime series, Goldrush, will be available for sale – three years after writing the manuscript and nearly ten years after I first started working towards the goal of becoming a published author. That’s the thing about dreams. They come true, but only if you stick with them.

 

We’ll be starting the editorial process on Book 2 soon (a process I hope to write about in the future) and Book 3 is due at the end of August, with hopefully more to come after that.

 

I’ll be posting updates along the way, as well as blogging on whatever else takes my fancy. In the meantime, if there’s anything you want to know please feel free to post a question or send me a Tweet.

 

I’ll also be posting updates on events, so if you have the time please feel free to come along and say ‘Hi’. You can even ask me what my opinion on mutants versus metahumans is. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject.