Tim Pratt
SF and Fantasy Writer

Archive for December, 2017

2017 in Review

Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

I like doing year-in-reviews. (Years-in-review? Year-ins-review?) This is long and self-indulgent, which is just how I like it.

Reading

This is my first full year tracking my reading diligently (on Goodreads, though I don’t use it for anything besides keeping a list of books I read and re-read). I read just over a hundred books, though there were lots of graphic novels in there. I’ve been reading a book or two a week since I was a teenager, apart from a period when I had a newborn and couldn’t brain well enough to read, and that’s stayed consistent.

My favorites were The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins, Gail Simone’s Clean Room comics, Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies, Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall, Sharon Olds’s Stag’s Leap, and Warren Ellis’s Injection comics. I recommend ‘em all. I also read all the Jack Reacher novels, which scratched my series mystery/thriller itch pretty well, clearly.

Writing

I published the last Marla Mason novel, Closing Doors, in the spring, and people really liked it. I think maybe I stuck the landing. My first space opera The Wrong Stars came out in November to great reviews (a star in PW! A rave from Liz Bourke in Locus!) and good sales (#5 on the Barnes & Noble mass market bestseller list last month!). I sold a couple of sequels too, The Dreaming Stars and The Forbidden Stars, so I’m gainfully employed as a novelist through 2019.

Heather and I did a Kickstarter for The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, and that’s newly out, with copies winging their way to backers through the holiday mails. Had my story “Impossible Dreams” optioned for a VR project; dunno if it’ll come to anything, but it’s neat.

I wrote about 150,000 words this year, which is, uh, about half as many as last year, and way down from my usual average; I usually do at least a quarter of a million. After years of hustling and writing two or three books a year, I was finally financially able to take a breather. I wrote almost all of The Wrong Stars in January, February, and March, and after that, it was just short stories (and some game writing for the Wolfire Games project Overgrowth), until I recently started work on The Dreaming Stars.

I did my Patreon all year, with lots of stories, including “Background and Foreground”, “Reaping a Whirlwind”, “Three Petitions to the Queen of Hell”, “Cascade Wonderland”, “Anna and Marisol in Time and Space”, “To Seek and Understand”, “A Door of My Own”, “Invidiosa vs. the Resurrected Man”, “Thankful”, and “The Gift of the Anthropophagi”. You should join, and get a new story every month: www.patreon.com/timpratt

Heather and I co-wrote “The Christmas Abomination from Beyond the Back of the Stars”, a sequel to “The Christmas Mummy.”

I wrote some essays and stuff too, but really, it was a very mellow year. I used my free time to, um, play video games mostly. I may attempt to be more productive as a writer next year.

I art directed a tiny bit: Aislinn Harvey did illustrations for my book Closing Doors and for The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, too, and she’s a delight to work with creatively.

People

My ongoing experiment with spending time with actual humans has been really good, and continues to contribute materially to my happiness. Obviously I see my family the most, and my wife Heather has done some amazing stuff this year, editing Persistent Visions, hosting Saturday Write Fever, dancing with the Someday Sweethearts, getting her name on the spine of a book for the first time with The Christmas Mummy and Other Carols, sewing zillions of things—she continues to astonish me with her creativity and her social adroitness is something I greatly envy.

My son turned ten this year, and he’s just the best. He’s into aikido now, and playing ukulele, and doing chorus—he’s finding things to be passionate about, which is so wonderful to see. We’re also still watching lots of TV and movies together, and gaming (I got sucked back into Magic: the Gathering after 20 years because of him, and I couldn’t be happier). We got his results back on the big state test from the spring, and he did great on the English section and got a perfect score on the Math. He’s such a great person. He’s also preternaturally beautiful, but he gets that from his mom.

I’ve got some wonderful people I see a lot who don’t live in my house with me, too. Ais lives right down the street, so we do lots of wandering and hanging out together, and I’m going to see her fantastic band Three Drink Circus tonight! We went to see Judge John Hodgman live at the Curran in January and it was great too. I see Amanda down in Palo Alto as often as I can (she’s the one I dedicated The Wrong Stars to), and we went to see the interactive theater experience Speakeasy together this summer, which was amazing, really unforgettable. I spent some time running around Sonoma with Emily (we swam in the Russian River, with a bunch of Russians!), and saw her up in Portland too, and got to show her around Berkeley a bit as well, and made lots of marvelous memories. I’m still getting together just about every week with Katrina to drink whiskey and watch horror movies (we just saw Sint, which is bad; Rare Exports is still the best Xmas horror movie we’ve found). Sarah moved closer a few months ago, so I get to see her way more often in general (yay!) and we drank all the beer and ate all the tacos in San Diego recently, in addition to lots of time drinking and dining around the East Bay.

I also got to see more farther-flung friends! Dawson came to visit us and stayed a few days before embarking on his world travels. I got to see Jenn and Chris up in Portland and at Norwescon, and hung out with Greg in San Diego for as long as he’d tolerate me too. It was a great year for being with people I love. I hung out a couple of times with my friend Katie, too, and while she isn’t far-flung, she’s busy, so she’s always a treat. I did a little writing with Erin, and had some awesome game nights with Liza and Daryl and Effie and others. I’m so lucky to have good people in my life.

Trips

I traveled a ton this year! I got some surprise reprint money in January when Heather was out of town, so me and the boy and Ais took a spontaneous trip down to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk. My wife and kid and I went up to Cazadero to stay in our friend Mark’s B&B (&B; the third B is for his bakery), and did a more traditional summer boardwalk trip together too. We road tripped as well, and went to the Winchester Mystery House and Hearst Castle and spent a weekend at an adorable cabin in Santa Barbara. Did a day at a water park, to my child’s eternal delight (“This is better than Disneyland!”). Took River to the beach to see tidepools and the secret beach near the end of summer too while Heather burning-manned.

Now that my kid is older, it’s easier to solo parent him, so his mom and I have both been taking little jaunts here and there in addition to family outings. I went up to Norwescon in Seattle, my first time in the city, and I really loved it. Drove to Sonoma for wine and swimming and beer. Flew to Portland and rode a tram and ate the best charcuterie of my life. Jaunted down to San Diego to do an appearance at Mysterious Galaxy for The Wrong Stars (and for tacos and beer and birthday fun). After years of not going places or doing things it’s a nice change to have the occasional adventure.

Various Things

We bought a van (the old Locus van; it has sentimental value), which has made road trips so much easier.

We had to hide in a nearby Air BNB for days while our floors got torn up and the pipes were fixed, following an interval of intense flooding. Now we have nice laminate floors instead of gross old carpeting!

Heather skipped the usual big birthday party this year (but thanks to Zoe for swooping in and bringing Heather’s favorite amaretti cream cake when I couldn’t pick it up; above and beyond.) Instead, she threw an amazing 20-years-in-the-bay-area barbecue in the summer.

Saw the Three Drink Circus anti-Valentine’s Day sing-along with my kid in tow. That was neat.

Went to the Milo protests at UC Berkeley, which by the end was less riot and more dance party than most media reports indicated.

We listened to Hamilton a lot (and I got Heather tickets to the show in San Francisco).

Saw Nalo Hopkinson speak at Stanford and got to chat and catch up with her a bit, and she led me to some thoughts that improved my space opera.

Bought my kid a new bike and we whooshed and rode around the marina and stuff.

Went to my beloved Cafe Pergolesi in Santa Cruz one last time before it closed.

Had a great launch party at Borderlands for The Wrong Stars.

My grandfather passed away; may his memory be eternal.

Money

Another year older and… not deeper in debt? Wait, that can’t be right. Huh.

After years of being crap with money (partly because I didn’t have any, partly because I never learned anything about how to budget, etc.), I decided now that I’m in my 40s I should get my house in order and try to pay down debt. I managed to get ahead of the rolling nightmare of using a given year’s income to pay off the previous year’s tax bill, which was ongoing for a long time, and that made a big difference. My Patreon has been the biggest factor here: my day job pretty much pays my bills (with help from writing income to cover shortfalls), and the regular Patreon income just all gets hurled at my student loan and credit card debt. Assuming things continue to go well, I should be out of debt by mid-2020. Of course, in the meantime, I still don’t have much money, because the extra is being thrown into the debt-hole, but it’s progress.

Happy new year, all. May it bring you joy and peace.