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Stewart Hotston

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WIP

Slavery and economics

Today I bought myself a couple of books on slavery – not novels or histories on different slave systems through the millennia but actual books on how people who kept slaves went about keeping slaves.

The most interesting one is by Jerry Toner although attributed to the Roman cipher of Marcus Sidonius Falx. It’s called How To Manage Your Slaves and considers subjects such as

  • when they should be allowed to have sex
  • how to be a slave master
  • when to buy
  • what makes for a good slave
  • why they shouldn’t all speak the same language and,
  • why freedmen are a problem

It’s tongue in cheek but also solid history (as Toner is a fellow of Classics at Churchill College, Cambridge).

I’ve bought this not because I’m about to go out and re-enact the plot of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout but because I’m developing a pitch about a society whose economy and culture relies on slavery. It’s not enough when world building to know you’re against slavery. I want it to feel authentic. I want you to know, when you read it, what slaves deal with beyond simply being someone else’s property.

Having said that, the subjects covered by Toner are ones you’ll find discussed by economists lamenting people not doing as they’re supposed to right across the world. When people try to design our societies, the language and categories they use for ordinary people are, frighteningly, close to those slave owners use for their slaves. Where capitalism is more unfettered this is often especially the case – where workers are resources like light, space and licenses they are also worryingly open to being treated as if they were just that – inanimate resources. In this light, the best worker is the one who doesn’t get pregnant, doesn’t need lunch, doesn’t want to unionise and certainly doesn’t get sick. I’m reminded we should always be careful of ‘liberalisation of employment legislation’ because it’s really just code for ‘being able to treat workers as commodities’ and that is the very definition of being a slave – being someone else’s property.

My pitch, a fantasy novel with gods and magic, is obviously fiction – but it’s going to have economics, politics and people desperate to find their way to being human and not someone else’s commodity. Part of me hopes that when the book’s written and assuming the pitch is successful, you’ll imbibe my warnings about those who would make us slaves and hold in your minds the actions you might be called on to make if you want to remain free.

 

 

What do I do next?

I’m at something of a crossroads. I’m in super positive discussions with a publishing house I’ve admired for a while about taking a novel of mine, Dreams of Darkness, through to publication. I’m so excited I’m pacing the house thinking about it whenever I’m not actually working at the day job (and even then…).

The novel is standalone – the story and characters wrapped up in 110,000 words. However, the world they exist within is very carefully laid out for a much grander story that would spread over 9 books…yes 9. It would be an intertwined series of three trilogies whose characters would find one another over the course of the series and accomplish grand things.

Now. A reality check. This may not come to pass. I’ll not really believe it until the 9th book is out and I’m looking back on it all. However, in terms of timing it’s actually thrown me a little.

I’ve worked with Matt at Alternative Realities to bring out A Family War which did well enough (far beyond my initial expectations of a dozen copies to mates!) that it warrants the sequel. We’re currently aiming for the end of November. I’ve just had the final cover artwork through though and am sitting staring at it wondering how I’m going to split myself in two to focus on both at the same time. This would be pretty easy – except that I’ve got to find some time to finish the trilogy with the final book in the series, The AI War.

Then…oh then. I have just finished my first pass at editing a new novel which I’m tentatively calling Immortal Daughter. I’m trying to concentrate on creating a blurb for it but I’m too excited about Dreams of Darkness for which I’ve been staying up creating the history of a world and how the myriad of characters will twist together to tell what I’m hoping is an epic story.

I know. It’s not the worst dilemma in the world. Or even a dilemma really. The actual solution is to take each one in order of urgency (since they’re all important). But right now I’m a little like:

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I’ll get there. Hopefully without dropping any of the balls I’m currently juggling. Now, if you’ll excuse me I’ve got a synopsis to write, then a cover to approve, then a final edit to read through, an anthology to put together (if the authors ever get their bios back to me) and a series to plan…

WIP

As promised earlier this week, please find attached a 1,500 word sample for a new novel that’s completely unconnected to the world of Helena Woolf and the Oligarchs.

The novel is provisionally titled ‘Dreams of Darkness’ and stands alone. It’s currently with Ian Whates at NewCon Press, although he’s yet to read it, so there’s no guarantee at all that he’ll a) like it and b) want to publish it. However, Ian has carved out an amazing business in publishing superb stories, so regardless of my involvement you should seek him out and read the people he publishes cos he has a great sense of out of the ordinary writers.

The story asks the question, ‘what if all our myths were true,’ and then says, but if that’s the case, how is it we have the world we have today where science appears to rule and magic, mystery and legends are footnotes in history books.

The sample takes place very near the beginning and features one of the three main characters, a Fae called Maela from one of the Seelie houses. She’s discovered something of critical importance to her people, whose import she doesn’t understand and is travelling home when this part of the tale takes place. Once you’ve read it you’ll understand why I chose the image 🙂

I’d love your feedback on this, especially whether the action is interesting and if you think it would be something you’d read more of.

Cheers – link below

Dreams of Darkness WIP

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Damyanti Biswas is an author, blogger, animal-lover, spiritualist. Her work is represented by Ed Wilson from the Johnson & Alcock agency. When not pottering about with her plants or her aquariums, you can find her nose deep in a book, or baking up a storm.

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