andrew leon hudson

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The Lord of Misrule

by Andrew Leon Hudson

A brief digression: I entered a little on-line contest in March…

…and didn’t win.

Ah well, what was my loss I will now attempt to make your gain, by presenting failure as entertainment. Five verses, iambic octameter (that means “sixteen syllables per line”, read it duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh… if you want to).

So. Here, have a rhyme.


 

The Lord of Misrule

 

They call the leader of the proud King’s entertainers “Prince of Fools”.
All year he pranks, and jokes, and sings; in nonsense rhyme evinces rules
And regal edicts, tumbling as courtiers mock–and all the while
His majesty laughs on, the bitter bumbling jester wears a smile.

Then when the year comes to a close, that season northerners call Yule,
The king, in action grandiose, names his pet man Lord of Misrule,
And freely gives all symbols of command to this ennobled clown–
But, as he abdicates the throne, he sees no grin beneath the crown.

With bells and costume cast aside, the buffoon makes himself a ghoul
Of retribution for their snide mistreatment. He gives leave for cruel
Fun and much merry-made abuse, his orders prompting howls and squirms:
The King an ass! The priest a whipping boy! The rich crawling like worms!

Then at his signal–as the King crawls, as the courtiers all drool
And fight each other for their turn to ride upon the royal mule–
The entertainers raise the gates, throw all doors wide, let in the world,
And as disorder reigns the banner of new order is unfurled.

This low court desecrates the high and, as his master’s body cools,
The jester contemplates his prize, the crown of gold and precious jewels.
Amidst the corpses, poor folk dance and reel and splash through bloody pools.
Come dawn, the wisest amongst them will kneel and hail him King.

Of fools.

 

At the Hop – the blog-hop, that is…

by Andrew Leon Hudson

I was recently tagged in a blog hop by N. E. White, fantasy writer and editor of the anthology I had a story in last year (so I guess that means I now owe her two). After googling “blog hop” to make sure I knew what was happening to me–which I did, thank you very much–I was happy to be involved.

The subject of this pseudo-chain-letter is “questions about your writing process”, which for authors is a bit like approaching someone at a party and saying “So, tell me all about your job”. I’ll totally understand if I’m now talking to myself. Just let me put some music on in the background… okay, let’s go to the hop:


1) What are you currently working on?

Apart from novel editing (see most of my recent posts), I’m alternating between planning a sort of sequel and hovering my mouse over the folder containing a previous Work In Progress – a scifi/fantasy novel I’d really like to get finished. I usually keep something smaller handy as a palate cleanser, and at the moment that’s a submission to a follow up anthology, this time an Alternate History collection focusing on World War One. That deadline is creeping up though.

2) How does your work differ from others in the genre?

My current novel is Steampunk and in the first draft I attempted the genre’s default stylistic approach, which is to say I tried to fake a period tone by using slightly over-elaborate vocabulary and sentences. However that isn’t a Steampunk universal, and in general I think my writing has developed a “voice” that is my own (not that I’m making any grand claims there: I just write the way I do). So, if I bring anything unique to the genre I guess it’s that. Aside from a kick-ass story the likes of which have never been seen before, of course.

3) Why do you write what you write?

I’ve always been an enthusiastic reader of scifi and horror, perhaps less so of the latter as I’ve aged, but to an extent they are still the genres that drive me. In the specific case of The Glass Sealing, though, I was partly inspired by the legacy of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which played out more or less on my doorstep here in Madrid.

The occupation of El Plaza del Sol, 2011. Click the pic for more info.

Starting in 2011, a square in the heart of the city played home to a tent camp for months on end as people protested the Spanish government’s response to the global financial crisis. It was only fully cleared ahead of the Pope’s World Youth Day visit a year later (both at once would have been too much contention to bare…). Though mostly it was a peaceful protest–and a peaceful containment–aggressive tactics were used at times and I put some of that into my story. You could call mine a Luddite version of Occupy Wall Street set during an imaginary Industrial Revolution. Steam-powered Robots Won’t Take Our Jobs!

4) How does your process work?

I’d have to say… Occasionally. In 2013 I was scarily productive, churning out a quarter of a million words (about four times my previous record). This year it’s been far, far less. I have excuses, but they don’t deserve to be aired.

I vary in my approach: I’m mostly a planner on big projects, mostly a seat-of-the-pantser on short fiction–but in both cases I tend to spend a lot of time thinking before I get started. When I’m in the right mode then the words flow and I’ll clear a thousand in no time. When they don’t, I’ll be lucky to manage a hundred all day. In any other line of work, I’d get fired.


Okay, that’s my answers, hope I found them interesting. And in the interest of broadening the horizons of any hypothetical readers that made it this far, here are a trio of friendly writers to whom I pass on the baton:

Sean McLachlan | Nicola Jane | Lance Tooks

 

Postscript: another friendly writer, Tony OG, is very unhappy that I didn’t point people his way too. So now I have. He doesn’t usually blog about writing, but he is quite talented so maybe we’ll all be lucky and he’ll start.

Post-postscript: everyone else who knows me can go hang–what am I, a charity?

Post-post-postscript: gowan, get– getoutofhere! Leave me alone!

Post-post-post-postscript: stop looking for things that aren’t there. Like my generosity.

Countdown: Nine…

by Andrew Leon Hudson

A week ago I finished the first edit of my novel and slotted it into Musa Publishing‘s internal document wrangling device. Then, exhausted and perspiring, I collapsed into a corner like a punch-drunk prize-fighter to desperately recover some energy in the brief respite before the second round.

Of course, I exaggerate. Editing actually proved a largely painless process, and I had no doubts that the manuscript was better as a result. The job was still unfinished–the questions I asked needed answering before I could continue, and any changes I had made needed to be vetted before they could be accepted–but all things considered the situation seemed rosy. The Glass Sealing was in good shape, and in a fit of unexpected motivation I even managed to carry my work ethic over into other projects.

Everything was going so well.

And then came…

Rampant Imperialism.

My editor broke the news: the powers that be had decided that, rather than fostering an atmosphere of transatlantic equality amongst their authors, the Darkside Codex was to use (I can hardly bring myself to type the words) American English Only.

Naturally, I lodged a vigorously worded letter of protest on the spot. I was cursorily informed that Musa Publishing proclaimed the incomprehensible right to defend the use of American English even outside the borders of AmericaI barely had time to reel from this shocking act of international injustice before I received the document with the editor’s second edits.

Never before have I seen so many Z’s. Never before has a chaise longue been a chaise lounge. Never before has the word “colour” looked so drab. Even with a wiggly red line beneath it.

No hyphen in my no-one.

Really, I don’t know if I can continue. I never thought I’d say it, but I may have to go back into English Teaching… British English.

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN!

First In, Last Out

by Andrew Leon Hudson

Life gets boring without a visit to Mythaxis. For me at least.

When the editor got in touch I almost danced for joy. It had been a year since the last one.

I offered him a short story about the risks of working towards the relentless advance. I think he empathised.

First In, Last Out.

Is that a hand at the edge? Is that a person?

Addendum: although I hope you read all the stories there, I especially recommend you read Liam Baldwin’s The Lost World of WW1 and Jez Patterson’s Aye-Nay–because both of them are lovely chaps and you’ll like their stories as much as you’d like them personally, if you don’t already.

Countdown: Ten…

by Andrew Leon Hudson

About ten days ago, I received first contact from my editor (saying that feels absurdly nice: I have an Editor!), who introduced herself and let me know that she was already reading the novel–and enjoying it too. Though I imagine few working relationships begin with the words “Nice to meet you, you’re a talentless hack”, I have no reason to doubt her words, especially since she got in touch again to say she’d finished, she still liked it, and that it was time to begin…

The Editing Process.

eek!

That email was the first tick of the countdown: if all goes well, just over two months from now The Glass Sealing will be published (Andrew does a little dance). However, before then I will have to do a whole bunch of things I’ve never had to previously–or rather, things no-one else has demanded I do. Little dances possibly included, I’ve no idea–but let’s hope not, as the only thing less well-coordinated than me on a dance floor is my disco suit (this being Steampunk, probably what I ought to say is my formal evening wear. Doesn’t matter, I don’t have anything good there either).

My partner for the coming waltz (she’ll be leading) is Damien Angelica Walters, a genre author in her own right, with the horror novel Ink and a variety of short fiction sales to her name. A project development editor at Musa Publishing, creators of this shared world project, she has also been given responsibility for editing all the novels in the Darkside Codex to ensure continuity between the various writers contributing to the series. Sounds like a good idea, so what does that mean for me?

I’ve now received the “editor’s first edits” of my manuscript. My next job is to review them and respond with the “writer’s first edits”. Damien’s feedback ranged from the relatively trivial (typos, spelling errors and punctuation conventions that I missed or just got wrong) through the more significant (notes on theme and content that will help integrate my novel with the series as a whole) to the potentially problematic (slips in the point of view, superfluous scenes, confusing passages… damn). In this first round my responses could simply be a series of dis/agree statements so we can discuss the pros and cons of what she’s raised; however, there’s not much I can honestly contest so I’ll be modifying the text at this stage as well. 

Regardless, we’ll have this back-and-forth at least twice, followed by a meticulous line edit of the final galleys to sweep for overlooked mistakes. If anything slips through that net, I’ll have to live with it… but that said, my early impression of all this has been very positive and Damien has made sure these baby steps aren’t too intimidating. Of course, there’s more to come than “just” the editing–there’s cover art to develop and finalise, promotional strategies to put into action, breakdowns to recover from–but that’s enough procrastinating for today. I’ve got some reading and writing to do: full steam ahead

www.steampunker.de

Thanks to Alexander “Steampunker” Schlesier for the image!

Crashing back down to earth

by Andrew Leon Hudson

Why do we love our mothers? Because, just when you’re on the verge of breaking through to the literary mainstream in a cascade of sparkling glory, they send you a PDF of your early, “difficult” period, aged about five. I therefore present this early glimpse of stardom / damning indictment of my capacities as a writer, unedited (aside from a little cutting and pasting of my capitalised name):

1970s 747 story - 1

My editor should take note: apostrophes remain a problem area, and although my spelling has improved it is still far from perfect. I presume these are errors, of course; only paper planes are flung through the air, and if 747s went “boing” then act two would lose all tension. I am rather pleased with my quite FABULOUS gun, pen and notebook accessories. Guess I won’t be selling many copies in Arizona, but all that fire power should balance me out in Texas.

1970s 747 story - 2

I direct the world’s attention to my innate flare for visual storytelling. Though I seem to have brushed over the bit where someone tries to shoot down a passenger jet (with propellers no less) in some sort of fighter plane. In the movie that gets more attention.

1970s 747 story - 3

It was fully twenty years later that I studied a master’s degree in screen writing, yet even in childhood I showed a keen grasp of narrative structure courtesy of my ground-breaking unfortunately/fortunately/unfortunately reversals model.

[Please Note: I do not know if I got the apostrophe right in "master's"]

1970s 747 story - 4

And I Bring It Home Like A Pro with that second unfortunately, who knew that this was to be tragedy at its most poignant? I’m particularly taken with the emotional-state-corner-thumbnails, it’s vital to keep track of where your characters “are” at any given moment, but my tendency to start with lots of colour and detail but trail off to a rushed anti-climax in the final chapters still rings distressing bells to this day.

Thanks, mum.

xx

THAT STORY AGAIN IN FULL:

ANDREW was going to the airport
for a ride in a Boing 747
to USA. He had a suitcase with
things he would need and
some thing's very speshel, a 
gun, a pen, a noatbook. 
so he went on and got a
seet and thæy were of! 
Thay were fling in the are 
when
UNFORTUNATELY
the prpelers stoped !
forTUNATELY
thay started againe. And thay
landed. At last he said, 
I can go to the Hotel!
unfortunately
it was full so he hatd to
go back againe

Approaching the launch pad

by Andrew Leon Hudson

It’s been almost half a year since I told the world I’d signed a deal to publish my first novel, The Glass Sealing, set to be the fourth title in Musa Publishing’s Steampunk series The Darkside Codex, so I’m sure You, my reader, are very eager to know what’s been going on since then. Well, sit back and enjoy!

After a period of stony silence (nail-biting for me, Christmas-through-Chinese New Year for you) Musa finally got in touch again, partly to apologise for the lack of communications and partly to bring me back up to speed in much the same way I’m doing for you right now. This meant a run-down of the hoops I’ll be jumping through over the next few months, details of which I’ll spare you for now, along with a confirmation that my manuscript is with the series editor and that I can also expect contact from a “promotions specialist”, who I expect will look at how I conduct myself online and throw their hands up in horror…

However, all this good stuff pales into insignificance beside one thing: I now have a release date for my novel!

I’m going to post progress updates over the coming months to give you a glimpse of what goes on in the build-up to being published, the trials and tribulations, the laughter, the tears, ahem, the clichés. But in the meantime, please set your calendars for St(eamp)un(k), and May 23rd!

Art is never finished, only abandoned

by Andrew Leon Hudson

So said Leonardo da Vinci, which can only mean that my entry in Defenestrationism‘s Flash Suite Contest has been kicked from the moving car of creativity onto the cold, hard streets of public consumption to lie shivering at the corner of Success and Failure.

My piece, a four-part journey into a fractionally changed but increasingly disturbed world future, is really meant to be read all in one go, and fortunately that is now possible by clicking on the following link:

The lines, the trees, the cliffs, the eaves

First of all, I hope you like reading my story. I’ve resisted the temptation to be explicit about what inspired it as I think the clues are there, but perhaps I’ll give just one hint – what would you expect to find in each of those places, and who made them frightening?

Second of all, I hope you’ll vote for it too. There are four official judges plus the public vote as the fifth. Apparently you can vote as many times as you want, but I’ll happily settle for just the one from each of you – and then only if you actually liked it. Call it modesty, call it a championing of the democratic principle, call it establishing an excuse in advance of poor performance… call it whatever you like, just Vote.

There are nine writers in the contest and, of course, it would be nice to win. I’m in with a chance, but it won’t be easy and I wouldn’t want it to be: you’re only as good as your competition, and some of the entries are really good. My favourite (my other favourite, I should say) is Broken Toys by Julie Duffy, who makes suburbia thrilling…

All the completed suites can be viewed here. Best of luck to them, my congratulations to the winner, and a salute once again to Defenestrationism for letting us have our fun.

The lines, the trees, the cliffs, the eaves

by Andrew Leon Hudson

Hello again. As I mentioned last year, I’m a finalist in a slightly strange online writing competition: all the entries must be “Flash Suites”, collections of three or more flash fiction stories with a shared theme. Since early December the suites have been published one-piece-per-day, and now it’s my turn at last!

The entries are a mix of styles and genres, but mine is spec-fic and a kind of homage to one of my favourite storytellers (whose name I won’t mention!) in the form of four near-future encounters after the world has changed in a very specific, unsettling way. The first part appeared today and the other three will follow later this week.

The contest is being held by Defenestrationism, and my story shares its title with this post. I’ll update with the dedicated page for my suite when it goes live.

After the last suite is completed a public vote will be held started January 13th, with the winner announced on January 19th. I hope you’ll click over there and take a look–cheers if you do!

Double Negative: Don’t Not Read!

by Andrew Leon Hudson

As I might have mentioned once or twice before, last year I contributed a story to a speculative fiction anthology called Lucky or Unlucky? which was compiled from the work of various friendly, mostly amateur writers of the SFFWorld forum. In case you mistake that for a slur let it be known that, in the original sense, amateur writers are the best kind–we write for love of writing.

anyway, the participants have been engaging in a little blog tour and, at the risk of sounding like a one trick pony, it’s now my turn to drop hints about how talented we all were in the hope of provoking my massive regular readership (plus random browsers drawn in by the tag superb erotic babes) into helping out the Children’s Hospice South West in the UK by buying, and possibly even enjoying, an inexpensive book. So now I will.

One of our 13 Stories of Fate is Double Negative by Eric J. Best, which appropriately enough is about an impoverished youngster who laments that he was born with crippling bad luck… until he discovers a game of chance that rewards exactly that. I really enjoyed it, so here’s a brief excerpt as a salute to Eric and an encouragement to everyone else to buy enough copies to crash the internet (but help a needy child):

On a doorstep in a back alley a man sat and wept; his fancy clothes were streaked and torn from the mud and stone of the street. Felix stepped up and knocked on the door behind the man. A tough with a neck bigger than my waist answered, but he ignored us and went about kicking Mr. Fancy-Clothes down the street. With the door left unguarded, Felix grabbed my sleeve and pulled me inside to witness a real round of Rogue.

The men smoking their tobacco leaf rolls laughed when my stunted, malnutritioned head appeared just above the table edge. My brother fronted me ten coppers, and an hour later the men weren’t laughing any more. My brother and I were young and ignorant and played until we’d emptied every pocket and trod on every fragile pride. We had our first lesson in winning as the men slapped us around the room and held us upside down to make sure they took back every cent, and our ten coppers as well.

My brother cursed me, realising I really was Satan’s bastard, and told me so.

I was sore at being beat around, but I realised I was wiser than my brother–if there was anything that constant failure taught a person, it was wisdom. I had it in spades.

I started out small. I crafted four pair of dice out of river clay and fired them in my mother’s cook fire. They were hardly perfect, and I remade them more than once. I started with boys my own age, winning things that boys hold dear: smooth or pretty stones, sticks that looked like bows or swords, an apple, and once a real knife. I was so delighted by the dull iron treasure that I ran all the way home to show it off. For the first time in my life I witnessed one of my older siblings jealous over something I had. I felt like a god.

My inner longing had been kindled. I was like a performer who receives a standing ovation for the first time and is left with a hunger to hear the applause and see the smiling faces again and again. I was eight now and had formed my first addiction. The condition was hard to argue with: it was feeding me better than my family, it put better shoes on my feet, it made kids whisper when I went by, and even some of the toughs began regarding me with an air of respect. Forget that winning was feeding an infinite sized hole of egotistical need that had been lurking inside me; I didn’t even understand the concept at that age. All I knew was that I was living better than I ever had with only myself to thank for it–and a bit of consistent bad luck.

That’s just getting things started, of course. This budding gambler’s path crosses that of a strange and, by definition, tragically unlucky slave to produce a rather sweet story with a vein of both fantasy and humour running through it. So, my congrats to Eric, and to all the others who helped put together a fun collection of stories. Like me. Congratulations to ME.

Lucky or Unlucky? 13 Stories of Fate can be reviewed at Goodreads, hopefully by you, and is available at these online stores for a handful of virtual pennies that you’d otherwise lose down the back of your virtual sofa:

Amazon UK    |    Amazon US   |    Smashwords    |    Barnes and Noble

LuckyUnlucky2

Okay, as the Victorian coin tosser said to his buddy the snake oil salesman: shilling over.
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