An author’s biggest shame

The first time I discovered a spelling mistake in a book it was as if a piece of reality had suddenly cracked open, leading me to question everything I’d ever thought true. As a child I found spelling mistakes relatively straightforward to spot, and made few myself, and so the idea that a grown-up would make a spelling mistake in an actual book simply seemed ludicrous.

And then I tried writing a gamebook and discovered that spelling mistakes were a laughable inconvenience in comparison to trying to make the reader’s experience consistent, logical and simply possible.

When I hit publish on a book, every check I’ve performed gives me confidence that there are as near to no errors in it as makes no difference. But I’ve learned by now that my confidence levels are not to be trusted; the first published copy of The Altimer I held had been bought by a colleague; I flipped it open to a random page and immediately spotted the codeword written there was a placeholder, and so I created a quick note on the website and updated the published version.

Suffice it to say that The Altimer has now gone through several versions, and you’ll be able to tell how early yours is by how many errors it contains! So if you’ve not discovered it so far, you may find it helpful to know that there is an Errata page on this website.

The Altimer has plenty. New Gaia, so far, has none, but if you’ve found any please do let me know. Escape From Portsrood Forest has a couple, and disappointingly one of those lies on a critical path if you make a particular choice – there’s a two in three chance you’ll not need it but goodness me, that’s annoying.

But that’s not my biggest shame. Despite my early misconceptions about books being perfect, I’m happy to admit that those I write aren’t. No, my biggest shame boils down to my desire to put something out there that I’m truly happy with, and I’m not getting there with Solar War, the finale to The Entram Trilogy, yet. I’d committed to myself that I’d have it released this autumn, and that’s going to take some doing. The general structure is all in place, two-thirds of it is probably somewhat finished, and I’m really excited to get it to a point where readers of The Altimer and New Gaia can race around earth and engage in interstellar warfare…but it’s taking a lot more effort to get right than it would if I were in flow.

And so I’m wondering if I ought to explore one of the random ideas that I have in my book. The last time I paused Solar War we got Escape From Portsrood Forest, and I’m pretty pleased with that. So perhaps it’s time to discover a new place.