Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

General sitrep – books and assorted stuff

Newsletter subscribers have now had a sneak preview of the cover for BLACK RUN, the sequel to GOING GREY. I'll be revealing it to everyone else next week, but if you want to be notified when the book's published, sign up to receive updates on new releases and other relevant stuff. The timetable is slipping because of family illness that requires my time. I'm sorry about that, but you're adults and you understand.

There won't be pre-orders for BLACK RUN because Amazon won't run a Kindle pre-order page for indie authors without a manuscript being uploaded. As far as I'm concerned, if it's in a fit state to be entrusted to someone else's servers, then it's in a fit state to go on sale, and there's no point in messing readers around by making them wait just so I can to try to get a little visibility on some new titles list for a fleeting moment. (There's no pre-order system for CreateSpace trade paperbacks, by the way.) Publishing companies can list a book for pre-orders long before the author ever starts writing it, and with no more guarantee of it ever being finished, but indies have to operate under different rules for whatever reason. It makes no difference to me, so I'm carrying on with Plan A.

Getting back to the real world, i.e. people with real jobs that actually matter, I'm going to do an unusual thing and post my thoughts on Kajaki in the next week or two. It's more to get stuff off my chest and to try to work out my reactions than to inflict an actual review on anyone, which it won't be. I think all professional reviews of books, movies, or anything creative are irrelevant at best and an exercise in smart-arsery at worst, whether they're good or bad or neutral. I used to review movies in my journo days, so as I know all too well what goes into the reviewing sausage, and how worthless and possibly toxic that sausage is unless it comes from someone you know personally and trust, I never eat the bloody things. I don't read any reviews (pro or otherwise) of my own books, either. I never have, and I never will. I've told editors never to send them to me. Well-meaning friends sometimes forward what they call "great" ones to me, but I after thanking them (because it's a kind gesture, and they genuinely have my interests at heart) I simply delete them unread.

To call Kajaki a movie is something of a slight: it's actually more like standing there and watching a situation you're helpless to solve or prevent, with all the accompanying heartfelt anxiety, and it indulges in none of theatrical froth beloved of even "serious" war movies. This is a glimpse of 3 Para in Afghanistan, God bless them, and it's not easy viewing. It's a testimony as far as I'm concerned. I would clip open the eyes of every politician in this country and force them to watch it. I would also make it compulsory for the general population to watch it before being allowed a vote. But then you know what I'm like.

This isn't insulting toss like Hurt Locker. (There are bad movies, and then there are insulting movies, and Hurt Locker was insulting. Don't even get me started.) I can't even classify Kajaki with other war movies I think are worthwhile and honest, because Kajaki is about real, named people doing and saying what they did on the day, and makes few if any concessions for artistic licence or civilian lack of knowledge. It's also the only film I've seen that depicts private security contractors fairly, too. It's extraordinary. I'm still at a loss to find the word to describe how I experienced it, and if a writer can't pick a word, that tells you a lot. Enjoy isn't appropriate at all, and moving doesn't begin to cover it, but whatever verb or adjective conveys the meaning that I feel changed, better, more committed, and angrier for seeing it, that's the word. Whatever it is.