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Monday, 29 April 2013

The Next Big Thing #2

'The Next Big Thing' is essentially a chain of blog posts prompting writers to interview themselves. Kirsty has already taken part in the exercise. Now it's my turn.

I've been tagged by the editor of US online journal Toe Good Poetry, Jerry Brunoe. Jerry's post is here. I'll be answering questions not about my next collection, but about the anthology I've been working on since the publication of the Domesday Books.

Title of the book?
Coin Opera 2: Fulminare's Revenge.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
It's the sequel to Coin Opera, a micro-anthology of computer game poems, and mimics the form of sequel titles in 90s console gaming, where it's not unusual for an antagonist to 'return', 'resurrect' or 'revenge' themselves upon the heroes.

What genre does the book fall under?
Poetry anthologies and, to a lesser extent, gaming.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A massive collection of poems inspired by the lore, inhabitants, environments, limitations and rules of gaming titles and franchises spanning from the 1970s to the present day.

How long did it take you to write/edit the first draft of your manuscript?
I was soliciting for poems as early as spring 2011, and had a draft of everything ready to go in spring 2012. Since then, there's been a lot of careful tweaking, but most of the work has been on the design front, in particular the accompanying artwork.

Good grief. How come it's taken you so long?
Put simply, you blink and a month goes by. I don't think I've ever worked on editing a book quite this complex in terms of the balance and layout. Many of the poems employ unique shapes and forms and can't be just splashed across the page without due care. I also want to structure it in a way that makes it easy to navigate, and I've had to think carefully about what extra information readers might find useful.

Also, every single poet contributing is represented by a sprite in the style of Samurai Shodown for the NeoGeo Pocket Colour. I badly underestimated how long this would take me - the gradual improvement in handling the style meant that by the time I'd drawn everybody, the first dozen or so at least needed to be redone completely, since they were noticeably cruder.

What can I say? I've become obsessed with getting this book right, possibly out of an abundance of sensitivity to all the criticisms that could be used to dismiss it. And yes, 'right' does include the sprites, for reasons that I can only attribute to some kind of artistic instinct. At the same time, I've rarely been afforded the time to work on the project at full tilt - life has seen fit to land me with an endless conga line of higher priorities and exhausting distractions. I would estimate about a third of the time I've spent on it so far has been after midnight, when I barely even know what I'm looking at.

So when is it out?
I've given up on estimations and will update you on this when we finally get the pdfs safely to the printers! There may be a Kickstarter campaign before that to help with the initial costs.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Oh, it's incomparable. It's got that going for it at least. I mean, have you ever read a poem which is the result of two poets battling for control of the page? Or a five-page sensory exploration of the universe of Planescape: Torment patchworked from lines in pre-existing poems?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Over 40 poets contributed to the book, under the explicit instruction that they should be inspired by games. Not the generalised act of gaming or a broad overview of gaming culture, but individual games.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
There will be a special edition that comes with an extra pamphlet of procedurally generated 'core sample' poems - word-based imaginary imitations of the strata patterns unearthed in virtual environments.

The people I'm tagging ... well, it's a TBA, really. Would anyone like to be tagged?

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