Okay, I’m doing this a little early, I know — but, given that I’m writing again and that my very atheistic Christmas is just around the corner, I thought it best to do it now, while I’m in the mood and have a few moments to spare.
So, welcome to my look back on the year. Or more especially, my look back on my year.
And what a year! It started off like many others, with me knuckling down to start a new writing project, still unpublished and, the economic climate being what it was/is, not really holding out much hope. In late 2008 I’d been working on a project tentatively entitled Tomorrow Will Come and It Will Be Just like Today. It was yet another attempt at finding something different, something more commercial and less likely to be rejected — and as such, it just didn’t feel right. I’d rushed into it without much in the way of planning, a little desperate to find a project that might stand a chance… and by the New Year I was completely convinced that this was a novel I didn’t want to write.
And, so, I resigned myself to the fact that getting anything published for the next eighteen months or so was even more unlikely than it had previously been, given the global recession, failing banks and so on and so forth. The prospects for a new author weren’t bright and so I decided to work on something just for myself — a long project that revisited an earlier novel I’d written and expanded upon it. Something just for me. Hell, if my work wasn’t going to sell, I could at least write something that I got a kick out of.
The planning of what was to become my current work in progress (As Morning Shows the Day — a huge, nostalgic piece that looks like hitting 200,000 words) went extremely well. I outlined in detail and was soon working on the novel itself, happy to be doing something just for me. I hadn’t exactly given up on being published, but it had definitely ceased to be a priority.
Fairly typically where such things are concerned, I suppose, I was a good few chapters in when I received an email from a certain gentleman called Tom Chalmers — the managing director of Legend Press and a man of unrivalled good taste! Tom had read one of my earlier novels, If I Never, and, sure enough, within a week or so I had the fabled publishing contract.
In retrospect — and with the benefit of a rather cooler head (okay, a slightly cooler head!) — it was quite possibly the most exciting and stressful time of my life. I was certain that something was going to come along at any time and throw a spanner in the works. After writing for so long, finding an agent, sacking an agent, submitting and resubmitting, it seemed impossible that I was finally there. And, yet, I most emphatically was. The editing went without a hitch, my relationship with the Legend team felt extremely promising (I actually liked them — and still do!), I was given a say in cover artwork and, all in all, it was and is an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience. On August twenty ninth, If I Never hit the shops without a single problem. The online launch (something I’d fretted about, as I was sure I’d set myself up for a huge fall) went remarkably well — Amazon.co.uk selling out within an hour — and early reactions (and, on the whole, those that followed) were extremely positive. I started the round of promotional work, doing interviews and generally annoying folk so much that they bought the book just to shut me up, all the while editing Children of the Resolution (my next novel) and continuing work on As Morning Shows the Day.
I don’t think I was overly stressed. Yes, I’d had the busiest few months of my life, but I felt like I was coping fairly well. So, naturally, it was a huge surprise to find myself vomiting blood couple of months later, this little episode resulting in a hospital stay during which I was quite convinced that the end was nigh!… I’m making light of it, but at the time it was pretty scary and, yes, for a good few hours, at least, I did think, with good reason, I’d written my last.
Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. Medicated and discharged, and after a few weeks of taking it easy, I found myself back on track — enjoying working again and looking forward to the publication of Children. Looking back, and based on what I’ve been told, I think the stomach ulcers they found whilst I was in hospital probably had more to do with excessive acid production (something with which I have always suffered ) rather than stress. Nevertheless, I took the whole episode as something of a warning. Yes, I’m working as hard as ever, but… well, I’m remembering to breathe! I’m still a control freak and obsessed with detail, but I do it with a less stressful efficiency these days 😉 Honest.
And that’s pretty much where I am as we approach Christmas and the end of the year. Children of the Resolution has been delivered to Legend and has a tentative publication date of August/September next year (this may change, so watch this space!) I’m happier and more motivated than ever before, halfway through As Morning Shows the Day and already thinking of the next project (working title, Out Of Season.) I feel pretty blessed, I guess. Not only did I manage to secure a publishing contract in 2009, but I also succeeded in getting out of hospital without MRSA! All in all, a pretty good year, I think.
So, it now just leaves me to wish you a happy holiday period — whichever particular brand you celebrate (or don’t, as the case may be!) — and a simply splendid 2010! Be good and remember: if you need a last-minute present, or if that annoying great-aunt who smells of wee has given you loads of book vouchers for Christmas, again, you could do a lot worse than If I Never!
A sample chapter of If I Never can be read here.
To buy your copy of If I Never, please click here.