Final drafts, publication dates and monkey fur

Here’s a bit of a roundup of what I’m up to at the moment.

It’s getting quite confusing with book 3 of my trilogy, ‘Operation Storm City’, already published in the UK and France (autumn ’08), but still only poised to launch in America this May. Why? I have no idea, as these decisions are out of my hands.

Last week, I delivered a final script for ‘The Great Space Race’. This is my next book for Walker Books, but please note this is not connected to the Guild of Specialists series. Nope, it’s something new. The story is set in the present day and is a one off. It has been really good fun to write and I’ve now made the step change and moved into the illustration phase, so I’m making progress. At the moment I can’t give you a publication date, but I hope it’ll be next year (2010).

The first illustration job for Space race has been to build a life-size robot chimpanzee called Barry. That took up most of last week, and required the destruction of an old computer from the late 1990s to provide donor parts for his innards. Barry (now almost complete) is quite a character and is sitting in the chair opposite me apparently watching the tv with his webcam eyes – although the tv is switched off (I can’t write with too many distractions). My dear mother managed to source 7 types of monkey fur in Canterbury, for which I am extremely grateful. I didn’t think Canterbury was renowned for such things, but there you are. We believe the fur is fake. No animals were injured in the making of Barry, although an old Apple Mac most definitely was. More of Barry another time.

So what else? Yesterday, in amongst all the monkey fur and pieces of circuit board littering my flat, I managed to deliver the black and white versions of Operation Storm City’s artwork for the upcoming UK paperback version, publishing in June. Here’s a link if you fancy seeing the cover:

This was like old times! Converting colour photographs and illustrations to black and white and ‘balancing them up’ so they print is exactly what I did for my first proper job at The Mail on Sunday newspaper back in ’94.

So my old black and white Photoshop skills have been pressed into service to make the edition look sharp and lovely… and there I was thinking those early years in the newspaper industry had been a bit of a waste of time.