2014: Going Pro and All That

For me, 2014 will be remembered as the year I became a professional full-time writer/journalist. I left my part-time job as a design engineer in late August, as my holidays were quickly running out and rather than paying to work, I decided to take the leap whilst I was ahead.

Despite planning for this shift in career, it was a step I took with no small degree in trepidation, which witnessed many long chats (not to mention long spreadsheets!) between Caelia and me about its financial viability.

In the end, it came down to the fact that I was having an increasing number of commissions accepted and by working from home I would be able to spend more time with my family. Also, train fares would be increasing (yet again) and there would be extra child-care costs with my little boy starting nursery.

So far, it seems to be working out, with my articles regularly appearing on the BBC and Computer Weekly websites. My most recently published articles were The surprising uses of games controllers and The creepy tale that launched gothic fiction for the BBC. The commute is brilliant (I do not have to wait for my train in the freezing cold) and I am always there to put my children to bed.

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Sancia Lux as The Fox by Decline Gothic, from my short story “Fox Hunt”

Despite journalism being the focus of this year, my spy-fi short story Fox Hunt was published in Adele Wearing’s Tales of the Fox and the Fae. I also continued to develop my sci-fi/thriller in whatever time I had left.

I attended this year’s SciFi Weekender as part of my article for The Guardian. I also the hosted panels at the Judge Dredd convention Lawgiver, which included Dredd co-creator John Wagner. Birmingham Comic Con was a great convention, but for me, Edge-Lit continues to be the best convention dedicated to science-fiction and fantasy literature.

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Meeting Charles Stross at Edge-Lit this year.

Read, Watched and Recommended

For my birthday, Caelia gave me Alpha & Omega, the beautifully written final volume of Joe Hill’s Locke & Key, which neatly resolved the multiple plot threads into a satisfying conclusion. Stephen King’s 11/22/63 blew me away with his time travel story of someone trying to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the repercussions of his actions. Meanwhile, Lazarus by Greg Rucka was a brilliant blend of Dynasty meets Terminator, where dynastic families fight over limited resources.

Caelia and I devoured a huge number of TV shows (usually during our dinner and date nights on Friday). It was great to see Kiefer Sutherland back in action as Jack Bauer in 24: Live Another Day.

Whilst I became bored of The Walking Dead and was disappointed with Homeland, Spooks came to suitably epic conclusion in the final season (looking forward to the forthcoming film Spooks: The Greater Good). The Almighty Johnsons continued to hit the comedic sweet spot with its brotherly bickering tinged with Norse references.

The stand-out hit has to be Person of Interest, an ongoing TV series that explores the implications of the mass-surveillance society we are disturbingly careering towards. Whilst the issues are lightly explored, it is the relationship-dynamic between main characters which makes this series such compulsive viewing.

As always, I do not see as many films as I would like, but of those I saw, Guardians of the Galaxy would have to be the one that most impressed me the most, mostly because I was not expecting to be impressed. Skyfall was another film that surprised me by how much I enjoyed it.

Games wise, Mass Effect 3 came to a satisfyingly epic conclusion. I was similarly impressed by the storytelling in The Witcher 2, as the branching narrative made for wonderfully disparate stories.

Life, the Universe and Something

Caelia and I finally decorated, furnished and moved into the attic-bedroom, a process which took nearly a year to complete, due to work and children. The views we now have every morning made it more than all worthwhile.

This year’s holiday was spent exploring the castles in North Wales. After a busy start to the year, it was great to relax and enjoy some much-needed quality with my family.

My little girl is continuing to enjoy school, and has recently started dance classes and swimming lessons. Meanwhile, my little boy is now at nursery, and despite his protestations each morning (resolved by promising to pick him up), he is enjoying the structured play and their numerous walks.

My warrior princess at The Gathering. Xena was not involved in anyway whatsoever...

My warrior princess at The Gathering. Xena was not involved in anyway whatsoever…

I took my little girl LARPing (live action role-playing) at The Gathering for the first time this year. The organisers have made a huge effort in making the event as family friendly as possible, and, despite being initially hesitant, she was soon gleefully chasing monsters in her princess dress with a sword.

2014 was not without its downside, as I spent much of the summer in pain after my little boy (accidentally) head-butted my crotch. As I pivoted forward so fast, I slipped a disc and trapped a nerve, which left me having to endure an intensive course of physiotherapy, which was thankfully successful.

Back to the Future

So far, 2015 is promising to be a busy year, with articles already agreed for next month. Ideally, I am looking to write regular columns for magazines and websites, as well as to finish writing my novel.

Peter Ray Allison,
December 2014,
Derby.

At Birmingham Comic Con in November

At Birmingham Comic Con in November

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