Friday, 17 November 2017

On turning forty

I was forty yesterday - a landmark number, I suppose. A point in a person's life when you're apparently meant to be a grown-up, settled and all that. Whoever came up with this idea, it sounds like crap to me because we're all individuals and our circumstances are our own. While my wife and I don't have any kids, we've been in a happy relationship for seventeen years (married for eight). While we don't own a house, we used to and sold without making a profit to improve our life and our happiness. Owning your home is a great way to ground yourself while renting means waiting to see every six months if the landlord wants to renew the contract and hoping he does because you have two cats and finding a place that takes pets is a fucking nightmare. But for us, it's a million times better than where we were - and if UK house prices ever become sensible, we can buy a house again.

I'm probably no nearer to the dream/plan/imagination I've had for my entire life of making a living from writing than I was when I turned thirty, but I've had a few books published (and re-published in the case of one) along with short stories I'm really happy with. Horror as a genre isn't one many publishers or agents want to touch but it's a massive area (light horror, crime horror, OTT gore, spooky, funny horror, fantasy horror, SF horror to name a few) so that's not the end of my writing plans. It just means widening my subjects and exploring sub-genres. I'm happy with my dark tales whatever you want to call them because I'm (blowing my own trumpet) not too shabby at writing them. If I thought otherwise, there'd be no point in telling those tales to myself or anyone else.

I may not be grounded with a house, a car (never learned to drive, would you believe?), kids or a dog, but with my wife, my family and friends and obviously with my stories that I still enjoy telling and still believe showcase the best of people as well as their worst, I am the key word you may have noticed from this rambling post.

Happy.

Monday, 30 October 2017

London Comic Con

So, my Comic Con adventure is over - a weekend of trying not to sound like a dickhead when people asked me about Hometown, walking approximately eight million miles around the Excel, doing a panel with other authors much more articulate than what I am and counting the Harley Quinns and Jokers while being on the table literally next to the Red Dwarf crew.

Never having done anything like Comic Con before, I didn't really have a clue what to expect - happy to say it was a hell of a lot of fun with a great atmosphere in no small part because every person there attended for the love of their genre and to showcase their passion for it. I'm far too much of a lazy bastard to get that involved outside of writing and books in general, but it's nice to see the people who do. If I get the chance to go again, I will. And maybe if I'm on another panel, I'll think to tell the people who buy my book before the panel and not when I've just finished it.

Anyway, if I saw you and you took the time (and spent your cash, obviously) to get a copy of Hometown, thanks very much. Hope you enjoy it.


Friday, 27 October 2017

Latest guest piece now live

You lucky people - yet another blog update. Just a quick one today to let you know a guest piece I wrote for Lounge Books is now live. If you liked my most recent interview, then hopefully you'll like this piece, too.

Guest piece

And I'm at Comic Con in London this weekend with the people from Caffeine Nights to talk my usual rubbish and maybe sign a copy or two of Hometown so say hello if you see me (and if it's in the bar, mine's a Guinness and a bag of prawn cocktail).

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Me, over at the Horror Lounge

Remember a couple of weeks ago, I mentioned doing an interview/post thingy? You do? Fabulous. In that case, I'm sure you'd like to have a read and let me know what you think. And then take the opportunity to read the other interviews from horror writers much nicer than me.

Horror Lounge

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Comic Con panels

I probably should have mentioned this ages ago but cry your pardon, I kept forgetting, losing track of time and generally being a bit shit. Anyway, I'm at Comic Con in London this weekend and it turns out I'm on a couple of panels. Feel free to drop by and listen to intelligent, coherent people with something to say discuss writing and books. Also, I'm there.

Comic Con Panels

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Short stories, a guest piece and future novel plans

I've had a week off work so along with normal life stuff, I've really focused on writing for the last few days - two new short stories which I'm pretty happy with even if they're the usual messy first drafts. Working titles of She Waits For Me In The Snow, and The Whistler In The Woods. The second is 7k which is longer than my usual short tales (I wrote it over Wednesday and Thursday, pushing myself through 5k of it on the second day which meant I was totally knackered by the end of the session), and one I'll probably trim down a bit to get to the action sooner than later.

Short stories are a strange experience these days. While I obviously still enjoy writing them, the publishing side isn't so much fun. The market definitely seems to have shrunk over the last few years; many of the remaining publishers are closed temporarily or pay next to nothing. It's not an area a writer will ever make a pile of cash from, but let's be fair here: anyone who produces something should be paid for their work and time. You wouldn't ask someone to paint your kitchen and then tell them you'll pay them by telling all your mates how good a job they did, would you? So I stay away from markets that pay in exposure which does limit me a hell of a lot. Even so, I'd rather keep hold of a story until it finds the right home.

I've also done a Q&A and guest piece for Sam Missingham over at Lounge Books as Sam is doing a special on horror fiction near Halloween. Same great questions from Sam and as it's been a while since I've written a piece for another site, I enjoyed the chance to blabber on in a new place. Links to follow as soon as everything is up on Sam's site.

Novel wise, I'm chewing over the plots for two new books - one a linked series of pieces about characters faced with a certain Norse legend which will probably be 20 - 30k each and come together at a certain point, or an unreliable narrator tale set in the world of Anti-Social which you can read in the collection Die Laughing. Whichever idea shouts the loudest wins.

And then I write the next one.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Working on an old book

While my wife reads my latest book, pen and comments at the ready, I've spent the last few weeks going through an older book which caught my eye again for some reason. Almost immediately, it was obvious that while the story and concept are decent, the execution was pretty sloppy: repetitive terms, poor description and issues with the pacing. Funny thing is fixing all that stuff hasn't really taken a hell of a lot of work. Time, yes, because I'm reading through it carefully and literally checking each line, but the work has been fairly easy. Whether that means the overall book isn't as bad as I first thought with the new read or I've improved a lot since the first draft, I don't know. The latter, I suspect.

The original submissions didn't go too badly - several requests for the full book based on the opening and a contract from a small press which I passed on after spotting some flaws in the contract (missing clauses and terms that were much more for the publisher's benefit rather than mine) which is definitely more of a result than some of my other submissions. The plan is to finish going through it today, finalise the new cover letter (it's already got a new title) and then start a fresh load of submissions. Even if it goes nowhere, I've enjoyed the work and found it extremely useful. It's been a great tool for seeing what I get wrong or overdo in my fiction; I can take that with me into new books and  hopefully have more polished first drafts than I do usually. And maybe this one will find a home second time around.