Over fifty? Bursting with energy? Same here.

I’ve been doing some research on the surge of vitality and energy which I’ve been calling Indian Summer, but not getting very far. From what I can see, the people writing about it (especially those suggesting Fun Activities) are younger and haven’t experienced it, and I suspect most of those who are experiencing it are either successfully putting it to work, or quite rattled by their unexpected feelings of restless boredom. I’m in the latter group. Boredom is driving me nuts, but so is the lack of purpose. I know I want to be out there doing much more, but I can’t be bothered with what’s on offer  . . .

What’s round and bites? A vicious circle.

I actually have a theory about this unexpected energy boost, based on this being the first time in our history that people are hitting late middle age without being knee-deep in grandchildren. No, hear me out.  Until around 1960 the average woman was having babies fairly constantly, unless she abstained from all reproductive activity, between adolescence and menopause.  Soon after menopause, huge surge of renewed energy, because  now she was urgently needed by her offspring who were themselves increasingly drowning in lively children, active toddlers, one in the arms and one on the way. Her man, make no mistake, was as desperately needed by the harassed next generation, and had his own ability surge at a time when modern society tells us we have nothing left to offer.

The Pill, and effective contraception generally, changed the face of families forever. The average family, across the board, became 1.8 children, born at planned intervals in the seventies, eighties and nineties. That generation was raised to think extending schooling as far as possible was essential, which delayed the producing of grandchildren.

No-one told our bodies that everything had changed. Here we are, buzzing with renewed vigour, and – oh.

All that energy! How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use! (Ulysses, Lord Tennyson)

ulysses

Travel. Study. Paint. Write. Get restless, get bored, get stressed, fret, fume, rebel against being put out to grass or sidelined, restlessly start new lives.

I wrote a book (No Place Like Place) where future planets are initially colonised by the active energetic fifty-or-sixty-somethings and that’s probably the best solution, but we’re a bit stuck for something purposeful until those colonist-needing planets are, well, even discovered.

I want to be out there doing something amazing and challenging and yes, sorry, awesome, which will need every ounce of experience and learning accumulated over the last fifty-something years.  I want to travel, I want to explore, I want to make every year, every hour, count.  Tick tock. It’s frankly annoying me that my characters at Grasshopper Lawns are having more fun than I am!

So if anyone can suggest something a little more challenging than rambles and get-togethers and over-50 websites with photos of happy smiling people in their seventies who I suspect have been glued to their seats and told to look pleased with their lot, that would be very nice.

Thank you.

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Introducing Joanna Lamprey

I adore SF, but in a narrow vein. It has to be cheerful, and positive, and a bit exciting. Star Trek, Dr Who, the Stargate offshoots (but not the final gloomy one) had me riveted to my TV. A Town Called Eureka was my favourite series. I cut my teeth on Asimov, romped through Douglas Adams, but on a reading front nowadays lean more towards the Terry Pratchett type than heavy-duty SF.

It has taken a few years to build up recognition for EJ Lamprey and it wasn’t the lightest decision to start with a new name.  Sensible writers put out as many books as possible under one name, no matter what the genre, and let the readers sort it out for themselves, but any follower of this blog knows that I am unable to grasp the principles of sensible. I did try to write the new book as EJ and found myself establishing lively retirement villages on distant planets, with purple squishy Major Horace types now having additional hands to the alarm of the female residents. Tchah. It seems that for me, a separate genre needs a separate name.

Having a different name also affected my writing style. A year or so back I joined a monthly competition writing SF microstories, and Joanna Lamprey learned to compress ideas and concepts into a tightly-written 600 or 700 words. As all EJ Lamprey’s patient readers know, she has barely reached her first cup of tea in 700 words. I don’t mind them being known to be linked, but this way you know what you’re getting with each.

Enough idle chatter. Please welcome Joanna Lamprey to your Kindle. There is a book of stories (ranging from microstories to a darker and fast-paced novella) on free promotion for 5 days – click on the cover below to be transported to your local Amazon. Time has been out a while, but I have never promoted it: the title story was so very alien to EJ’s style, because the heroine is not very likeable. It was recently completely revamped, with the shorts added, and while Lucy is still a foul-mouthed self-centered piece of work, I’m happy with the collection. You know by now how I feel about free, but this is a good cause, because there is also a new launch of a new mini-series, and I’m really excited about that.

Time after time (2)

The new series is based on a newly-settled planet nicknamed Place, and the first book, The Talian Project, is lovely. Everything that I like about SF – engaging aliens, bizarre indigenous animals, exotic eco-systems – came into play, along with a community of settler types, some human greed and political machinations, and a cheerful love-affair.  I was originally enraptured by the idea of steampunk, so Place is decidedly retro, but there is not enough clockwork to satisfy the purists (well, none) and it is more of a space Western. Apparently. A sensible writer would pick a proper genre and work it, but we’ve already covered sensible.

The planned three books are novellas which will eventually be published in paperback as one novel, so Book One is short, breezy, and if you don’t love it I will eat my camel saddle. It is, to use a really EJ word, charming, and also nicely suitable for the Young Adult market (yes please) in a way the whodunits have never been. That’s available right now on a special pre-order price if you click on the cover below. Be quick – it goes up to full price* tomorrow night.

No Place like Place_revised (2)

*It’s a novella. Full price is only $2.99, but a bargain is a bargain.

Steampunk rocks

You know when you buy a new car and suddenly start noticing how many of the same colour or make are on the road? I own a Toyota IQ and would have sworn I had never seen one before I bought mine. Well, they aren’t all over the place, but I’ve seen several since. (The other ones are usually tidier. And cleaner.)

It was the same when I started writing my steampunk novella. It has pretty much grown organically, one of those books that wakes you up in the middle of the night with a must-not-forget idea, and I would have sworn there was hardly a book out there in the genre. Huh. Hundreds, that’s all.

The most frustrating thing about the genre is the number of people determined to put it in a box, label it, and give it rules. If I mention it, on Twitter especially, you may be sure at least two people will sternly tell me which guideline books I must read first.

Okay, my usual books are whodunits and there is most definitely a set of rules for classic detective fiction, but (a) that’s been hugely popular for a hundred years and more and (b) the rules are actually way more flexible!

Steampunk has to have Victorian clothing? Come on. Brass and clockwork? Surely optional. It just hasn’t been around long enough to have such dull restrictions. For my money, there is steam technology, there is exuberance, and there is an SF overlap that takes it out of the Victorian / historical era. THAT’s steampunk.  At its best it is absolutely joyful.

Anyway, Place is out with my wonderful, brilliant, long-suffering readers at the moment. So far so good, the feedback is very positive (albeit occasionally puzzled, especially with the regular whodunit beta readers).

Here’s the cover and the planned blurb. I’d love your comments. Just don’t tell me I broke the rules. I didn’t break my rules!

No Place like Place_kindleA laughing love affair was the very last thing Abby expected to enjoy on Place, an unfashionable planet with a tiny mining community. She’d been told the community had a decidedly retro lifestyle, the bugs were as long as your arm, the camels looked as though they were on steroids,  and the neighbours were stone-age goblins, but no-one had mentioned the rather yummy Brad. Her doctor had tried to offer a thread of hope when he recommended Place; life in a dead-and-alive backwater was her last hope of survival. Young, adventurous, not prepared to write off her only option without a fight, she reluctantly agreed. She hadn’t expected to find a life that would utterly delight her.

She also hadn’t been told about the Talia, because no-one knew about them. They were several thousand years away in space and time, and no-one in Place would ever suspect their existence, but the Talia were even more interested in Place than she was.

This light-hearted steampunk novel, first in a mini-series of three, introduces the eccentrics and absurdities of life set in a future our great-grandchildren will know, but lived in a way our great-grandparents would have found more familiar.  

The Talian story is entirely separate and the chapters headed with their spaceship can be skipped altogether without affecting the main story.  SF fans, though, should enjoy the double thread.