ARIA is the new name for my science fiction trilogy of which the first is called Left Luggage. ARIA is an acronym of a amnesia-creating virus released from a case left on the struts of the International Space Station. The book is being published in 2012 by LL-Publications and I thought carefully over the last few days to write a page of acknowledgements. That page is in its first draft but I will post it here because it astonished me how many writers, some famous, have been involved. There have been other folk who I have not named, and who have encouraged me over the years though they have not actually read the manuscript. In particular Gladys Hobson and Brian Withecombe. Like me they had a literary agent, Christopher Hill, who was a sham. He reported to me with detailed progress reports of how Left Luggage attracted interest at HarperCollins and Crown publishers. I was offered a five-figure advance, as were many of his other clients. Sadly, it was all in Hill’s demented mind. He’d not sent our books anywhere and he’d sat in his Edinburgh home in a kind of Walter Mitty stew. I’d even met him over dinner at an Edinburgh hotel and he was smartly dressed, spoke eloquently, and seemed well-educated – all the attributes of what I imagined a literary agent should be. Except he wasn’t as over 60 of his “clients” found out. Many of us belong to a Beyond Hill yahoo group and have had our successes in spite of or maybe because of that weird experience.
So here is the first draft of my acknowledgements page. Feel free to shout if I have missed you or erred.
This novel would not have been possible without Daisy. Her twenty-four gears allowed my legs to rotate up the Welsh slope of Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen making my heart thump so fast my brain – freshly oxygenated – buzzed with an original idea. It was such a novel concept I dismounted at the summit, rushed into the Ponderosa Café and demanded a scrap of paper and a pencil. Thus ARIA was born.
I have trawled files to trigger my memory of all those editors, friends and critiquers who sculpted then polished ARIA to the diamond it now is. Any flaws are not their fault but mine.
The first real editor to lacerate my script and teach me about Point of View and strong characters is Doug Watts from the Jacqui Bennet Writing Bureau. My Hollywood-based pal, Jessie Lilley-Campbell helped me with Americanisms and pushed Left Luggage under the nose of Brad Linaweaver 1, (Battlestar Gallactica co-writer) who endorsed it. Each chapter cranked their way through the tough critique group of the British Science Fiction Association’s Orbiters including Terry Jackman, Mark Iles, James Bloomer and Ian Clark. Encouragement came from award-winning SF writer Jon Courtenay Grimwood2, and Stargate novel writer, Sonny Whitelaw. Urging me on were publisher Neil Marr of BeWrite Books, friend and guru Les Floyd, American writing tutor and award-winning writer, M. Kenyon Charboneaux3, and my American literary agent and friend, Rebecca Pratt. A wonderful writer in her own right, Bec Zugor, advised me on the Italian language uttered by mad Doctor Antonio Menzies. Louise Bolotin of the editing services, Plain Text, helped me with early chapters and query letters.
After all that help, and from too-many-to-mention-others, surely the manuscript would be perfect? Ha ha, but then I sent it to friend, hard-nosed crime writer, and agent, Allan Guthrie. Whoa! Advice from the world expert on pleonasms and tight narrative meant that I started over again.
During this time other novels and over fifty short stories had fled my fingers onto the world, so my style evolved, and is still developing. Perhaps it is in the bronze age now. In the last minutes Zetta Brown and Billye Johnson tweaked and poked ARIA further. Thanks to them and everyone.
None of this would have been possible if my wife had insisted I went out and found a proper job after I left teaching, so ultimate thanks to Gaynor and to my ever-tolerant grown-up kids, Eleanor and Rob. Above all they understand that when I am staring out of the window, I am really working.
NB the image is my sketch potential cover art.
1 “In Left Luggage Geoff Nelder asks the most important questions of life.”
2 “Geoff Nelder wears science fiction like other people wear clothes.”
3 “Memento meets the Twilight Zone.”