All the things I can’t say on a book tour
A few years ago I worked on the biggest and easily the best robot/human franchise this side of Cybertron. It is still to this day, something that makes me really, really proud of as a writer, and as a woman, because when I was doing it, there weren’t that many girlfolk writing for such a (what seems on the surface) male dominated franchise. I’ve always been into robots and otherworldy (as in the future) type stuff, so it seemed like a natural progression to delve into the world of science fiction. Leaning heavily on the world-building skills of one of my heroines Ursula K. Le Guin, I set about just doing a few short morning pages from some dreams I’d managed to remember that were weird, and I’d written them down (I do stuff like that).
As I started to write, I realised that these characters; some robots, some humans, some hybrid creatures who were characterised as monsters and doctors were coming to life. Like the Uncanny Valley of cyberdev, the worlds I was creating in these short stories; darker than Black Mirror yet lighter than The Handmaid’s Tale were so close to reality but I didn’t care, I just carried on. I mean if Brooker and Atwood can do it, we’re all in with a shout right? My worlds became hotchpotch notions of Downton Abbey-meets-Live Aid without the merest hint of irony, because that’s where I believe we are now. With just a few years of actual civilisation left we’ve still got time to dream that the things which freaked us out as kids may still not happen. My mum used to tell me that nuclear war could never happen in her lifetime, yet as I write this from Zurich, I know full well that here in our city we have community bunkers.
My latest book is ironic, it’s a satirical commentary on the shit we have to listen to as women, and the world we’re tearing down as people. It pokes fun at my former hometown for its sheer backward politik where UKIP and its acolytes are dragging civilisation backwards to a Precious Bane-style crucible where you’re tried by the media as a witch if you put your Barbour jacket on a fire. I wanted to write about how children are the most important thing that we have as human beings and how slowly but surely they’re being nullified by the Ritalin of YouTube and frigging Snapchat. And the idiocracy that people who are now shagging on street corners in full view of regular dudes going about their business are methed-up creeps creating zombie kids.
When I finished the book I was at peace. I’d done what I set out to do. My editor was happy that I’d sailed close enough to the wind to get the book in on time. However, my problems were just beginning. I figured in a time of post-apocalyptic and fantasy TV series about Westworlds and Westeroses that promoting this book was a complete cinch. I always do this! Why do I always do this?
Yeah… There’s a kind of silver-lining. I had an amazing idea to share the playlist of the shizzle that got me through sad stories about children bred for servitude (as opposed to robots) and babies that are grown on trees. My editor came back to me and said simply, “what’s the angle?”
Christ, yeah. What is the angle? It’d be pretty base to compare my piddly book to anything that Atwood and Brooker are doing, but why can’t I be in that space? Who says I can’t be there? Ursula K. Le Guin certainly had no drama putting out big fat tomes and titchy stories and finding a market for them. Asimov did ok, and so did Clarke. But wait, it’s niche, so, now what? Well it turns out that it’s not about the market itself because that’s doing really well. My editor asked me, “what are you gonna say on a book tour?”
Yeah, because my book IS NOT for the sci-fi marketplace at all. I’m so well versed in how well that audience is doing, some of my best mates are Hentai fans :P No, no, my book isn’t for them, although I am a bit partial to Add N To X (NSFW). My book is for everyone who cares about near futures, about the NHS and how it’ll unravel. My book is about women of my age wanting babies when no one told us to freeze our eggs. My book is about racism in its rawest form and how it is intensifying into a place where we’ll implode into each other and realise that when we are cut we all bleed the same colour. My book is about desperately wanting women to be more than DC Superheroes with invisible fucking jets. My book is about unconventional love that is still LOVE, without labels for this, that and identity signalling. Finally, my book is about how much I love Made in Chelsea and how I spiralled into becoming a reality TV anthropologist.
So yeah, and I’ve used a lot of yeahs, but you can see that when I go to Frankfurt later this year or I do some kind of tour across Europe, I’m gonna need to find something to do or say that will make a JoJo Moyes reader buy into just one of my stories. I kind of feel a bit like the time that Seaspray fell in love with Alana, and Hasbro did ok, you know?