New year, future worlds …

Newsletter – December 2022/January 2023

First of all, apologies for mucking about with the newsletter day of the week again! It’s a bit all over the place at the moment. One of the reasons is that I’ve just added the second novel of the series, published only a few days ago, to one of these group promotion things. Alternatively, you could go straight to the Kindle Store to get hold of a copy of The Safest Moon! I think I mentioned in November that we were going back into space, didn’t I? You could probably also guess that from the cover. Enough said.

I originally intended to publish the book in time for Christmas, out of habit more than anything else. In the old days, whenever my band recorded a new album or EP, our deadline was nearly always ‘in time for Christmas’. But as everything becomes digital, we seem to be abandoning many of the old customs, and giving someone an ebook for Christmas just doesn’t seem the same.

Perhaps coincidentally, one of my brothers tried to get a debate going about presents in general last month. In recent years, we’ve been doing a ‘Secret Santa’ thing both here in Spain (with my wife’s family) and as part of our seasonal visit to my family in the UK. It’s much easier than having to buy presents for everyone, of course, even if I usually wish that my identity could stay secret during and after the grand opening.

It probably has something to do with being a last-minute shopper, and my brother’s message, shared with the family, reminded me that habits like that never seem to change. He described a Christmas Eve in Sheffield long ago. I was in the city centre (downtown), the shops were about to close, and I still hadn’t bought a present for everyone on the list. I was running desperately up the road from the Moor towards Fargate, two once iconic streets, and almost bumped into my older brother.

‘Anything that way?’ he asked.

‘No, nothing!’ I replied. ‘The other way?’

‘Nothing!’ he said.

Given that in those days the city centre wasn’t the ghost town it is now and there were big department stores in both directions, it’s hard to understand how there could be ‘nothing’ either way. I can only imagine we were both looking for a present for my dad, who was notoriously difficult to shop for. If you actually got him to open the present, once he had removed the festive wrapping paper, it was regarded as a success. I’m sure I’ve taken DVDs still in their cellophane from his bookshelves and given them to other people as birthday presents on more than one occasion. He would never have noticed.

It wasn’t that my dad didn’t like the idea of presents in principle, it was just that, when it came down to it, he wasn’t really interested in ‘things’. And by the time he died last year, he seemed to be well on the way to transforming happily into something ethereal himself, an essentially pure and benevolent spirit, finally letting go of his own life as if it were another gift that no longer held any special appeal without my mum to share it with.

But I digress! I was intending to explain why I didn’t do all this a week or two ago and say, ‘Here it is! Just in time for Christmas!’ Or perhaps, in a roundabout way, I did?

Happy New Year!

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