Here’s Johnny!

“Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space. Listen…”

So begins the introduction to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (conceived by the wonderful Douglas Adams). Growing up in Nottingham, England, I always thought it was an incredible waste that space was so big, yet I could never see any of it. Even if I’d been born American and enrolled into a NASA astronaut programme, I’d have been one of the luckiest guys on Earth if I’d made it as far as the Moon, or even Mars. It seemed so wrong that I’d never be able to go where I really wanted to.

So I made up stories – about creating faster-than-light drives, being abducted by aliens, winning the favour of the Emperor of the Galaxy and getting my own starship. Secretly, I’d be able to protect the Earth from marauding alien hordes, while its citizens quietly went about their business, oblivious to the danger. So the story of Johnny Mackintosh was born.

In exactly three months to the day, Johnny Mackintosh and the Spirit of London will be published in the UK. I’m embarrassed that, until now, I’ve not given my ink and paper offspring much of a web presence. To correct that, my publisher (Quercus) has sent me to an event with the very grand title of Independent Alliance Author Web Conference.

Here I am, sitting in the world’s hottest computer room with around twenty other Independent Alliance authors, imagining IA Stormtroopers training their blasters on us as they force us to blog. Once we’re done, in what could be a world first, we’ll all link to each other’s blogs and so a new virtual community will be born.

In reality, the Independent Alliance is a group of supercool publishers that includes my own Quercus and also the likes of Faber. But the name instantly calls up the idea of a collection of free-thinking worlds, defying an evil empire and keeping the candle of freedom burning so there’s still hope in the Galaxy. I feel that image is particularly appropriate as Johnny Mackintosh and the Spirit of London could be described as a little like Star Wars meets Harry Potter, only no one’s heard of it. But hopefully, that’s about to change…
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~ by keithmansfield on April 3, 2008.

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