A response to your comments and other news

By , 20 March 2009 7:21 pm

Wow! Who would have thought that I had so many friends? First of all, let me thank you all for taking the time to write. In particular, I want to express my gratitude to those of you who contributed quite long and thoughtful comments. I have considered all that you have written with some care and I might pursue some of the practical approaches suggested. No one actually came up with my own preferred strategy of writing a new volume which is a bestseller and then having the old series relaunched on the basis of a new one. This of course is a wonderfully cunning plan that has just has one small catch in it: I need to write a new blockbuster. Well, I am giving it some thought.

What I have concluded from your comments – and please continue to send them in – is that much of my original dramatic instincts were right: it is better to start with the Assembly and let the shadow fall upon it. To bring in Azeras at the start is just too conventional. However I do think that I could probably bring in Brenito and his dream right at the start. Something on the following lines. ‘On a near perfect world a man woke screaming. It was the first such scream for over 10,000 years and it was heard across one thousand worlds.’ Vero too might be brought in slightly earlier with profit and this would also have the benefit of avoiding the slightly excessive ‘info dumping’ (as I gather it is called in the trade) when he talks to Merral. However, that is all some way ahead. For all I know, even as I write, a certain inhabitant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington is looking for something substantial to read on Airforce One. (I sense there may be a market for escapist fiction in the White House at the moment.) Anyway pray on and do what you can.

The main news for me this week has been that the storm clouds of the financial crisis that have so far been on the distant horizon have now swept my way. The institution that I teach at (Gorseinon College, Swansea) has been suddenly hammered with a massive budget cut from the Welsh Assembly and so we are now in voluntary redundancy mode which next week shifts to compulsory redundancy mode. By all accounts the science unit to which I am privileged to belong (and I mean privileged: there are some very fine teachers in it) should be secure but who knows? These are odd times and what is often described as rationalisation is often irrationalisation. Nevertheless I am angry about it all; ours is, by any standard of reckoning, a high performing and competent educational establishment in an area where mediocrity (and worse) is the norm. It is also a relatively ‘lean’ institution; there are barely a handful of people about whom I have wondered what they do to justify their existence. The cuts concerned involve a mere £800,000: a little over $1 million. I used to think that was a lot of money but in these days of billions and trillions it is nothing. So next week could be interesting…

Anyway here’s a moral problem for you my fans. If I keep my job, then my financial welfare is more or less secure, at least for the considerable future. If I lose it I will probably have to start writing like crazy. Now do you see the moral dilemma you are placed in? What do you pray for? (The ideal would be a generous offer for film rights to arrive the day before I get given my notice but I suspect such happenings are rarer in reality than fiction.) I would simply suggest that this reminds us of the wisdom of appending to all our prayers that most vital of clauses: ‘Nevertheless, Lord, not my will but yours be done.’

Have a good week.

4 Responses to “A response to your comments and other news”

  1. Dan says:

    Ha, that was going to be my comment – write another book to draw people into the universe – but you got there first!

    Seventh Ship series…?

    Anyway, Matthew introduced me to the Lamb Among the Stars trilogy a while ago and I loved every bit – wouldn’t change any of it. I thought it was about time I complimented the author!

  2. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    Well, see, one reason I don’t want you rewriting the existing work is I want to see new stuff from you.

    A LOT of C.S. Lewis’s stuff has become popular I’m convinced because of Narnia.

  3. Tery says:


    I have two thoughts. Well, hopefully more than that, but two that pertain to this discussion.

    The first is to quote what I have heard from visionary Christian leaders – people who have spent their lives living and believing for things so far beyond their own ability to accomplish, that any success has to be attributed solely to the Lord. “If your vision doesn’t scare the living daylights out of you, it probably isn’t from God.”

    The other thought is to reaffirm what you already know – that both you and your word processor are tools in the hand of an infinitely creative God who:

    – delights when His children use the gifts He’s given them.
    -loves it when we give Him unrestrained freedom to do with us and our work as He wills.
    – has no difficulty whatsoever with details like promotion, reviews, exposure, and sales.
    – is always more interested in the softness of our hearts toward Him than in the efforts of our work for Him.

    Actually, I just had a third thought, which I will share in another post.

    Praying for discernment for you,


  4. Anonymous says:

    Aaaaah! Please don’t start with the scream sequence. The existing beginning is exactly what drew me in to start with. If I remember correctly, the first few pages were published in a “taster” book of Cristian fiction some years ago, well before The Power of the Night was published. I bought the first book and then I used to ask my local Cristian bookshop regularly as to when book 2 was coming out.

    There is so much that is right with the series as it is and so much that I like with the existing start, as well as stuff that can still be explored.

    For example, one aspect that intrigues me is that faster-than-light travel might bring unforseen risks. All other sci-fi that I have read takes an essentially materialistic view of f.t.l. travel and therefore sees no dangers whatsoever. The prologue, with its seeder ship, is also fascinating. How did they ever come about? Why are the gates hexagonal? Has it anything to do with the crystal structure of the rocks at the end of Revelation or am I just imagining things?

    However, there is one aspect that stands out for me as needing some adjustment: it is that the books get considerably larger as we approach the climax. You just have to put “the Shadow at Evening” next to “The Infinite Day” on the bookshelf to see what I mean.

    These are just personal views (I’m no writer by any means) but what I would like to see is another book set before all the existing. A prequel. How far back in time you go, I don’t know, but the events that set off the 10,000 years of peace look like they could fill another trilogy.

    Like youself and like Dan (first comment) my preferred solution is another book to draw you in.


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