SF & F: Axel America and the News Election Race

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Everyone’s keen to talk to me about Axel America and Donald Trump. Huddled together neighbours at a car crash, gleefully hiding terror. Never mind the politics, glance at the news media: photo-fit and run. The novel is about communication sciences: propaganda and cyber-stalking, everyday rather than futurist. It has many of the elements of science-fiction: Manchurian Candidates, super-intelligent defence systems and Tesla technology in the first five chapters and more throughout. Then there’s the psychology/SF cross-over: a presently advanced world subjected to Axel’s delusionary perception of global pandemics and martial law, holographic waves, time travel, light and sound weapons. It’s a book on the border of the news and conspiracy theory, fused by recent advances in social media. Threaded through it are themes of order versus chaos, war and peace, authoritarianism versus free will. One question I get a lot is ‘how do you satirise the satirical?’, and I say it’s a challenge, and we chuckle. Rupert Murdoch, Kay Burley, Piers Morgan, Donald Trump, Alex Jones: how do you look at the dark human cartoon and study their projections? One answer is to go right past the fiction of SF and into Fantasy. The novel pulls on the strings of bible prophecy, distant Pangaea, mercenary assassins, secret caves and valuable artefacts and more fitting elements to frame these dark cartoons. They’re comfortably enjoying their lives which disrupt. The incoherent, or unacceptable, nature of these news media antagonists and their rules requires hacking: not from the choices they give us, but from every choice.

I’ve been invited as a last minute guest to Titancon in Belfast this weekend at the Wellington Park Hotel. There you can pick up a copy of Axel America and the U.S. Election Race from myself at the AGPublishings stall.

You can support bookstores in Belfast by purchasing it from No Alibis, The Thinking Cup, Comic Book Guys and Forbidden Planet International. Or in Dublin, from Sub City Comics or The Winding Stair. The book is also available on Kindle and Smashwords.

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Lisa Flavelle’s Morning Talk-In, Belfast 89FM.

We’ve had some good reviews in The Irish News, Authors Talk About It and Belfast 89FM, which you can find on the Axel America page, along with a round-table vid-cast I’m on, produced by Nimlas Studios, talking about mental health in fiction.

Cover artist Sean Duffield models Axel America.

Cover artist Sean Duffield models Axel America: oh, the pride!

The Axel America book launch freed people’s minds, and their bladders.

A Qabalah’s worth of photographs from the Axel America launch party, an eye-watering then blistering evening of love, unity and dissent and spectacular mucking about.

On Monday morning I’m on Belfast 89FM, an excellent grassroots station, and on NVTV’s Novel Ideas, the East Belfast/Shankill Extra, and Following the Nerd all within a few days.

So Axel is now out, on Kindle and Smashwords, and in print from Amazon. We’ve had positive support from book sellers, particularly ComicBookGuys who promoted us with a special offer, and Malachy at Forbidden Planet International, whipping up some readers. The Thinking Cup on the Lisburn Road will be doing an event with us before November 8th and David at No Alibis suggested we let him stock ten copies. That works for me. In Dublin, Rob Curley made good with a copy (we only had one!), as did the manager of The Winding Stair bookshop on Lower Ormond Quay. We hope we can travel to re-stock soon. A complete list of stockists are on the Axel America page of this blog. 

The week to launch had been another hard week poking press behemoths with a series of big sticks until deciding it wasn’t worth dying over. We were helped by reviews from Peter Duncan and John Robbins, and the spectacular promo made by Ashwani Thakur, which is probably better than my book. Thank you to everyone who came out for the loud and bright launch party and sat patiently while Richard and I babbled a load of ‘conspiracy theory’ tosh, which you applauded.

Off to the White House

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Or rather The Green Room…

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Of The Black Box, Belfast.

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That’s this Monday, just around from the Duke of York where I’ll be tasting beer after.

The books have arrived, big chunky things. Michael at Northern Visions TV assures me he’ll be getting through it before we shoot on Friday for two shows: Focal Point (news), and Novel Ideas. 

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Tomorrow, I’ll be in Dublin to talk to sellers, meet some pals and attend the launch of The Call, a new novel by Peadar Ó Guilín. He’ll be in Easons with Oisín McGann and a group of fans and pals. (Link: FB event) It’s published by Scholastic/Fickling and is a children’s book about child abduction (!) by the Sidhe faeries. [More about that on Publisher’s Weekly]

The Axel America Election Tour has begun, kicking off with the folks at Downbelow, a podcast about Babylon 5. A double episode on Secrets of the Soul (dismissed), and Day of the Dead (applauded). I took a while to warm, fighting the prevailing opinion on the first episode, but I was roundly welcomed and it put me in a good mood to start. (Thanks Ian for the on-air sale!)

Next day, the first of the email interviews with Pro Media Mag, and talking to Seemi about comics and the making of The Invisible Artist show. I really enjoyed this one and you can find it linked with the others on the Axel America page

The weekend began with a night out at Sector 13, a local group of ‘mature’ comics readers and cosplayers. I was picked up by Peter Duncan of great British comics blog Splank!, and we hooked up with social Laurence McKenna, Paddy Brown (soon appearing in Hawaiian shirts), the jovial Ryan Brown, the omnipresent stoic Bruce Logan, teller of tales Glenn Fabry and Ishtar, an author visiting Glenn from Brighton. It was a night of fine craic and welcoming faces and I’d recommend it for folks in the area. More setting up and more interviews. Writers Community is a local site with an interview. Alan asked me questions where I’ve gone into the mechanics and politics of the book, and given some advice on writing.

Old friend Ciaran Flanagan phoned me up on Sunday for a segment on the ComicCityCast and it was a delightful lapse into casual (but excitable) chat about the origins of the book and where it is now. On Monday, US blog Literary Links got in touch to ask about Axel’s showbiz links and the creative lifestyle.

Today, it’s more attempts to bribe journalists and bloggers with a free lunch, and some house tidying so when publisher Andrew arrives on Monday, he isn’t sleeping in a hammock of cobwebs. Keep an eye to @TheAxelAmerica – there’s things I’ll announce there that have blown our socks off.

Oh, just time to mention http://www.outsidergames.com/jennifer-wilde/Jennifer Wilde - Stephen Downey

Me old pal Stephen Downey is working on a game based off the beloved comic, created with Rob Curley and Maura McHugh. For those unfamiliar, Jennifer Wilde follows a French artist and Oscar’s ghost as they solve mysteries in London, Paris and New York.

Running Facebook repeats

I wish people would blog. Why Facebook when you can blog? It’s only the ratings game. Stupid planet. I present two recent Facebook posts, for the joy.

18 August

You know those protestors with the pictures of dead babies, maybe the ones standing in a busy Belfast city street? I think we’ll call them the Abortionoids.
Well I had to walk back past them today. My laptop bag has a dangling piece of string, and as I bounced, the ears of a pair of scissors inside became entangled in it. The scissors half fell from my bag and snagged on another piece of string, linking a tree with one of the abortionoids’ signs about doctors who hiccup or something.
Anyway, I struggled to get free, and then the scissors got caught in another sign. Nobody seemed to have noticed, but I thought I’d better go. So I walked past the table with all the signatures of naive young fools who think choosing other people’s bodies are a bit like choosing your favourite crayon. I crossed at the lights, and I went to work. I was just taking my laptop bag off when I noticed two A3 signs about doctors who cough were just dangling from my bag!
Of course, I plan to go around that way as soon as I get off work and see if I can return these signs but everyone might have gone home by then. Ohnoes.
23 August

I am Writer, creator of life, farmer of worlds, blazing bastard comet on dinosaurs and bunnies alike. As I cast my supernatural machinations down upon petri dish people, the dishes build up, the dust grows from thick on carpet to thinner in the heavens of thon attuned ecosphere apartment. The spiders build webs over the sink, the shower walls cry for an old testament toothbrush cleaning, and that wall isn’t going to paint itself.

Yet here my power is diminished. I can make a man or woman of eternal song but I cannot clean thine own rack where the cutlery sits. I can destroy the most malevolent maniacs but I cannot get that stain on the toilet bowl removed.

I’m actually terribly good at cleaning when I’ve people coming round. Moto came to visit a few years back and I spent two days polishing a dump pile of a house into something passable that looked like someone could live in. I wondered if you have the same relationship with house cleaning. Or this one. I love cleaning round friends’ homes, I will visit you with brillo and spray, with vacuum and cloth. Certainly most folk I know have spotless homes, independently developed. There should be a scheme for people like us/me though. I dub this form: CleanShare. Social gatherings planned triggering spit and polish. Social gatherings developing tidy and tinsel. I would bestow gifts of beer and pizza and fags upon the humans and all the animals that pick up a jay-cloth casually, with their watching eyes pushing my hygiene ever forward. You’ve seen it in your own lives maybe. You’ve seen it on TV. Cleanshare. Not as much fun as reading the work of Wilde or Shakespeare between the group, or a night with guitars or movies. But CleanShare. Where is my Cleanshare? Gawddamn.

(Andy Luke is the author of Axel America, a novel set in the social media information age, were news is interactive, and type is movable. Most cursing has been edited out of it. It’s now up for pre-order on Kindle and Smashwords. Axel America Book Launch! is on September 5th at the Black Box Belfast  Free entry to free your minds, apparently)

Axel America’s Day Off

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Took yesterday off, with my niece, well the family; my niece did most of the talking. We ran around IKEA as secret agents – she does a wicked Bond villain impersonation on swivel chairs; I showed her Absence: a comic about epilepsy; we discussed ideologies of the left – she’s ten but remarkably astute; and she showed me Minecraft, which we used to map out some details of my next novel. Remarkably effective, and for where I’m at, quite liberating. Also half-day off. Mother and I liberated two pot plants from the reduced to clear Bargain Corner, somewhere plants should not be.

Axel America and the U.S. Election Race is up for pre-order on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. I’m not sure if the print-on-demand is up yet but it certainly will be within the week. It’s up on Neilsens registry and NI Libraries have mailed to confirm they’re taking copies. I’ve a few boxes of prints arriving later this week. In the meantime, we’re reaching out to reviewers, which is a bit challenging, though some big names TBA have stepped up to that. I’ll be featuring in Spotlight in the always excellent Writing Magazine, and on Sunday I’ll be recording with Downbelow: A Babylon 5 Intro-Cast, talking about Neil Gaiman’s Day of the Dead.

I’ve ditched a small SE England signing tour in favour of a virtual Election tour of podcasters and bloggers; low funds and mental/phys. stress really could put me at risk of seizure. Podcast spots will be more fun than chain-smoking at bus stations, and for play’s sake, Axel America won’t have to be The Sole Focus. If you’d like to have me on a show, or interview for a piece, I’m email-able at drewdotlukeatgmail.

This site now has an Axel America page where I’ll be linking to any podcasts or blogspots on the Election Tour. There’s some advance sheets up there, along with posters and bookmark designs mainly for the oohs and coos. Andrew at AG Publishings wants me to mention that we have a bookmark choice competition. Four signed print editions mailed anywhere, drawn from social media shares.

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• Design A – ‘The All American’. A juxtaposition of the US flag, Liberty and NWO, plus names of cast.
• Design B – ‘The Losing Horse’. This is the boring one. We expect this one to lose. Promotes the illusion of choice.
• Design C – ‘The Broken American Dream’. The publisher’s favourite.
• Design D – ‘The Cover Homage’. Could be a winner this one. Parchment paper background, stencil of cover, red,white,blue.
• Design E – ‘The Controversial One’. We don’t want this one to win, but it might. We can’t control everything. Unlike the US election.

Make sure we can put your name on the list by tagging #AxelAmerica or RT-ing one of the posts at @andrewluke or @AGPublishings

Axel Live: Writing & Editing Diary

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This week I’ve been working with Andrew Gallagher on his 2nd draft/my 7th draft of Axel America. Yes, novels are usually worked through with proofers and publishers and done six months or more prior to publishing. In this case, I didn’t begin talking with AG Publishings until two months ago. It’s not as if it can be put off either – the story of Axel America takes place between April and October of this year, and a release any later kind of robs it of some of it’s power. You’ll see. We’re in the very unusual position of altering the story up to one month before publication. I think the novel is more functional because of this error of mine and it’s a guilty pleasure too, where I’m able to include in references to current events. It’s also a double-edged sword. Mick Falk is a character obsessed with the European conspiracy, and with the Referendum gone the way it has, I’m currently re-writing Falk’s character in the second half. The second draft is gruelling. Positively stress-inducing aargh, because I’m letting go, delivering the bloody baby. The third draft will be a final check for typos, punctuations etc., should be a dawdle.

So that’s why I’m still writing about editing, when other writers had all this done moons ago.

The advance information sheets are just waiting for clearance, but the promotionals have begun.  I’ve been writing tweets for @TheAxelAmerica and @TruthLive_TV to coincide with the annual Bohemian Grove festivities which start today.

If you’ve been by @andrewluke on Twitter, you’ll see I ran a ’60 Great Small Press’ list of comics that have touched me. These are being collected on John Freeman’s Down The Tubes, and the first part went up a few days ago. 

The novel, Brexit, and the Aran Islands holiday

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Work carries on with ‘Axel America’. Unfortunately the previous copy editor didn’t work out, but on the plus side, it’s being done in-house at AG Publishings. Andrew Gallagher is such a joy to work with: thoroughly professional and a big fan of the book, his support fills me with confidence that we’re going to shift some copies when the novel is released two months from now. As it’s set >now< (now being just after Chapter 7), last minute re-writes are required under Brexit, but we’re getting there.

It’s been a lot of work, and so I took a long weekend away. I did consider asking social media for an update on post EU Ref / Brexit, all the political developments of my week away, but on second thoughts, I’d really much rather have an update on my friends and know they’re coping and surviving it. Westminster politicians aren’t far enough down my caring list, yet they carry on trying to make out this ever-shifting landscape is completely about themselves.

The weekend away began in Galway, and a reunion with Emmett Taylor, cartoonist behind Dope Fiends, and several Dublin Comic Cons. Emmett was one of the first comics creators I worked with, and it’s been fourteen years since we saw one another. Here’s us in a famous Salthill pub enjoying the craic.

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Sarah and I set off the following morning for Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands.

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I’d fun meeting the locals, including John, a talented muso seen here playing the bars.

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John and other musicians regularly hang out at this island cafe run by Roland and Angela, who make a mean morning smack-me-up brew.

Our B & B, Ard Mhuiris came as part of the Aran Islands ferry package, worth finding. A homely little place near the harbour run by Cait, who came over as very sweet, attentive and likeable. No pictures snapped but for this rather unusual 3d picture on the wall, which resembles both a horse and the face of a strange old man.

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Oh, right, you liked the ones with fields and sea…

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There’s no barriers or handrails up there. Beautiful? My legs were like jelly. Dun Aonghas is 300 foot cliffs.

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The fort from another angle. The Burren, the stone-field in foreground, is all over the island.

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The road to Dun Ducathair (The Black Fort), includes twenty minutes of walking on stones.

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Right, I have to get back to work now. I’ll leave you with a photo with less stones in it.

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