un-zooty looking spider-kids
          In between books is not a good place to be for a writer.
          I’m glad to have finished the first draft of Sterkarm 3 at last, but I have to let it brew before I start rewriting it, and in the meantime I don’t know what to do with myself.
          So I’ve started to think about the next book, and, because it’s going to be set in the future, I’m in search of zoot.  My brother – the cover-artist brother, not the Blott-drawing brother – introduced me to Zoot.  He’s a science-fiction reader (and writer) and zoot is something he looks for.  If a sci-fi book or film doesn’t have enough zoot, he’s disappointed.
The latest cover, in rough
          What is Zoot?  It’s one of those things that’s quite hard to define, though you know it when you find it.  I gather that it means something outrageous, surprising and imagination-stretching.
          It’s a science-fiction thing.  Now, I love fantasy and ghost stories, but they aren’t zooty.  Even when they’re scary, even horrific, they’re not zooty.  There’s a hard-edge to zoot.  It has circuit boards and shiny cases, perhaps even wi-fi.  It’s often astonishing, but not mysterious.
           Space-elevators are zooty.  Huge mirrors orbiting Mars, to reflect sunlight onto the planet's surface and terraform it - they're very zooty.
          The up-dated Dr. Who is often quite zooty.  The BBC’s wonderful, modern day ‘Sherlock’, with its text messaging and forensics, brims with zoot.  It’s not just the science and gadgets: it’s the audacity and panache.  In fact, zoot may be a kind of science-flavoured chutzpah.
          So far, I’ve got a few characters, and a future setting.  I’m going to set up some notes files for characters,backgrounds and ideas (because my head-space is already getting crammed.)  I shall use navigation pane (or document map) so I can leap about in the files, from note to note.
          And I’m on the hunt for zoot.  I aspire to it, though I don't know if I can bring it off.

A genetically engineered, flourescent cat. I want one!  It wouldn't get run down in the dark!
          I watched that Horizon programme the other night, the one about the spider-goats.  Spider-goats, I feel, definitely have a touch of zoot.  As do yeast colonies that produce diesel fuel. From, if I understood correctly (I was thinking of spider-goats at the time) the grease on the surface of apples.
          I’ve also been reading Roz Morris’ NAIL YOUR NOVEL.  She has nothing to say about zoot (at least not as far as I’ve read), but she has some great ideas for working out and shaping plots.  I’m always willing to give something new a go.
      Last week’s suggestions for the rewrite of Sterkarm 3 were gratefully noted. If anyone has any zoot - ?

          And, as I reach the end of January as fat as I began it, here's a timely Blott -