Thick skins (as opposed to heads) are as essential in this business as the acceptance that editors are an enigma (and I should know – in my spare time I am one). I remember one prominent editor for a significant British SF magazine rejecting a story of mine on the basis that he didn’t consider it to be a story at all but rather a script for a TV drama. The piece, “The Gift of Joy”, promptly sold elsewhere and was subsequently shortlisted for the BSFA Award for best short story. No doubt about it, the thin margin between success and rejection is all down to perception and personal taste.
On reflection, maybe that editor (a tall, long-haired fellow with a prominent Dutch accent) had a point. I mean, take my novel, The Noise Within. I had great fun writing it and was able to throw in all sorts of things – intelligent guns, special ops raids, shimmer suits, AI/human gestalt, renegade spaceships, alien technology, assassin drones, a virtual bar where assassinations are touted on a message board, an exotic pleasure world where drugs hold sway… Yet, when it came to the really BIG scenes – space battles, shoot outs, car chase, mad dash through the crowded thoroughfares of a space station, etc – my imagination would forever picture them in cinematic detail, as if portrayed in Technicolor on the big screen (we’re not talking straight to DVD here).
Maybe that’s why I envy that so-and-so Andy Remic (‘bastard’ seems far too harsh a word bearing in mind the circumstances). I mean, not only is he a congenial, charming fellow who writes stonkingly good hang-onto-your-pants action-packed novels, he gets to play around with cameras as well.
I’ve seen his clever films and trailers for novels and thought, “hey, I could have a go at that!” But the truth is I couldn’t, because I wouldn’t know where to begin and don’t have the time or inclination to start learning the necessary skills right now. Besides, I wouldn’t be happy unless I could try such a thing with a Hollywood studio and Cameron-esque budget to call upon (we’re talking the producer here as opposed to the politician).
So for now I’ll have to settle for offering green-tinged smiles as Andy’s filmic ventures grow ever more ambitious and skilled and be content with doing my damnedest to ensure that the images I paint in words are as vivid as I can make them. If the characters are as real and the action scenes as clear to the reader as they are to me… yeah, I can live with that.
If you’re curious, check out reviews for the book here (written by folk I’ve never met… honest!):