Seven months ago I signed up to edit a new project: a series of original anthologies that would contain previously unpublished stories by some of the best and brightest writers out there. The series was initially to be called one thing, and then it was to be called another. After a lot of discussion, and a great suggestion by Interzone’s Jetse de Vries, it became Eclipse.
The publisher, Night Shade, was sufficiently interested that they committed to publishing the first book in the series starting in October 2007, with future volumes following in October 2008, and October 2009. To make that October publication date, it meant that I had to get the manuscript to Night Shade by June 10 (the day before my daughter’s seventh birthday), which meant that I had seven months to get a bunch of great new stories written. That sort of deadline is always tight, so right away I knew that I couldn’t do justice to an open submission period. I immediately sent out about two dozen invitations to authors that I’ve worked with in the past, or have always wanted to work with, and about 20 of them said they’d like to be involved, if possible. Given that I figured I was looking for about a dozen writers to fill the 80,000 words or so of stories I wanted, that seemed about the right number.
There was always the possibility that some writers would drop out of the project along the way, and that has happened. It’s something you always allow for, and it’s almost always for reasons beyond anyone’s control. Certainly, there’s no-one who’s dropped out of Eclipse 1 that I wouldn’t be delighted to work with again on Eclipse 2, or any other project. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ve not started to see some great stories (though that deadline is close). I’ve bought the first few stories for the book – by Maureen F. McHugh and Lucius Shepard, amongst others(!) – and expect to decide on another couple today. I also have a bunch that, according to their authors, sit perched on the precipice of completion. Although I’m nervous about it, I think I’ll hand in a pretty exciting manuscript in a few weeks.
Of course, I had allowed myself to get fuzzy on my deadline, so when Jason (the publisher at Night Shade) reminded me this morning that my deadline was June 10th, I realised it was time to get on with things. So, story notes to write, introductions to consider, and line edits to get the heck back to the authors.
A busy time, then, over the next few weeks. And an exciting one. I’ve got about a dozen new stories coming my way, which is one of my favorite things about doing this stuff. I do love it when a new story comes in through the email. I’ve also got a wedding to go to this weekend in Adelaide. My dear, dear friend Sean Williams is getting married to the world’s great Keith Jarrett afficionado, Amanda, and I think it’s going to be an incredible time. We’ll get to dance (shudder), party (yay), and just have a good time. We’ll also get to toast Justine’s great Norton/Nebula win, which was fantabulous. It’ll also be the longest time Marianne and I have been away from the kids since Jessica was born in June 2000. Two mornings when we can sleep in! We’re also on the verge of the publication of two new books. Best Short Novels: 2007 is due out May 24 from the Book Club, and The New Space Opera hits North American book shelves on my mum’s 69th birthday, June 1st, and there or thereabouts here in Australia. I’m pretty damned excited about those. I’m also working up some new projects – always a sign that things are going well – and am pretty much keeping busy. I’m even finding time to read stories for the year’s bests. Of course, relaxing isn’t happening. But, that can wait.