Amongst the Science Fiction and Fantasy writing community it is a rather big thing to make three professional story sales. What do I mean by professional? Well, SFWA (the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) specify particular markets as being qualifying professional markets. If you sell to three of them you meet the qualification criteria and can apply to join SFWA as a full, active member, and this would be, for me, a very big deal. SFWA is kind of the professional association for science fiction writers. Meeting the full SFWA membership requirements has been high on my dream list for a very long time.
I first discovered SF when my dad started borrowing Analog anthologies from the library. I was about ten or eleven, and in those days I wasn’t even allowed to set foot in the adult library until I was thirteen. There was a children’s library, full of picture books, and I had to make do with it. So I did what any child would do when faced with a strict prohibition, I defied it. In this case I smuggled my dad’s yellow-and-black covered Analog anthologies up to my room and read them. This is how I discovered Science Fiction. I couldn’t get enough. I encouraged my dad to go back for more, week after week. I had no idea, then, that Analog was a magazine. You couldn’t get it in the UK. In fact you didn’t seem to be able to get much of any SF in the UK in the sixties.
So, I’ve set the scene. Ten years ago three pro. sales was up there with walking on the moon or playing for England in a World Cup Final. Highly desirable but rather unlikely. In 2007 I won the first Jim Baen competition and the story appeared in Baen’s Universe, and I didn’t even realise at the time that this was pro sale number one. Then in 2008 I won Writers of the Future, and that was number two. Since then I’ve sold nearly two-dozen stories, but none of them have been to pro markets. Despite many encouraging rejections, three pro sales still felt farther away than the moon.
Until last week.
Pro sale number three, The Last Days of Dogger City, will appear in Analog! Forty-seven years since discovering SF between those hallowed yellow-and-black covers, reading under my bed covers with a torch, I make my third, and all important, pro sale to Analog. To say I was jumping and happy-dancing around the room is an understatement. I found the email at four in the morning, because I couldn’t sleep, and so I did what you do with insomnia at four in the morning, I checked my emails,
But it didn’t end there.
The next morning I had insomnia again, this time I couldn’t sleep because I was still excited about the Analog sale. So once again I checked my emails.
Pro sale number four, The Man in the Pillbox Hat, this time to Orson Scott Card’s Inter-Galactic Medicine Show.
I tell you, right now, joy has no bounds!