For the record – how the Black Dawn became a series

I need to set this up first, otherwise shooting myself in the foot, which I plan to do in a minute, isn’t going to work.

When a writer needs to explain something about their work, whether before or after publication, it’s as though they’re intimating that the work is incomplete. In groups I’ve run and classes I’ve taught in the past, whenever writers read their material aloud, rather than giving everyone an introduction or preamble, I always encouraged them to dive in and let the writing speak for itself.

That’s the pure way, the artistic way – takes some courage but it was always worth it for the feedback from listeners hearing it ‘cold’ rather than prepped.

Ahem. Now then…

*aims Glock at tarsals*

Seeing as it’s been almost four years since the Black Dawn series was published, there’s something I want to tell you.

*squeezes trigger*

Between them, Black Feathers and The Book of the Crowman have close to a thousand ratings on Goodreads, which is lovely.

Keeping an eye on Goodreads reviews is a great way for authors to gauge how their work is received by a wide selection of booklovers.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Goodreads, I’d never have discovered that hardly any readers understand why these two books became a series.

Here’s the truth: Continue reading


The End = The Beginning. (Maybe.) :-)

Some weeks ago, I began a new novel, the details of which I posted here. Then I disappeared. Novelists do that.

This is me reappearing and saying, “Tada!” because the first draft is complete.

Having shown my agent the six-page outline in August, I felt confident to get on with the writing. I went at it daily for about eleven weeks, only missing days when it was unavoidable – perhaps five or six absences across the whole stretch.

The novel had to come in at under 150K so that it won’t be too long to sell (mss above this word count incur a significantly higher printing cost). I squeaked in at 146K, leaving some wiggle room.

There’s a good deal of editing to do before there’s a presentable draft, then it’s time to wait for a verdict from my agent. A thumbs-up means the piggy goes to market next year. A thumbs-down…well, let’s not talk about that.

Anyway, I’m back so, “Hello and hope you’ve been well!”

Tales of New Mexico – on sale now

While you’re waiting for me to finish my next novel, you can read two dark stories set in the south-west of America.

If you’re a Goodreads person, it’s ready to add to your shelves.

If you’d like to buy direct from Black Shuck Books, go here.

Or, if you prefer those other folk, who keep all their stock in a floating warehouse in the South American rainforest, you can go here.

Happy reading and keep a change of underwear handy!

A new book in the pipeline?

It’ll be several months before there’s much more I can really tell you about this, however, I thought I ought to let you know you that I am writing a new novel. So, if I seem a little distant or otherwise preoccupied, it’s because I am spending almost every hour of the day living in (and writing down in story form) a total and utter fantasy.

Rest assured, however, that less tweeting, updating and blogging is leading to something far superior to and, I hope, more enduring than, any links, pics or blather I might otherwise share online.

What’s the book about?

Well, all I’ll say at this very early stage is that it’s epic fantasy and by far the most unusual thing I’ve written. It’s ecological/environmental to a degree and is an idea that has been gestating for well over twenty years.

In fact, this was the first novel I ever tried to write and never came close to completing – there’ve been a few of those, though it happens less often these days, I’m glad to say. A few months ago, I was telling my daughter about the world I’d envisioned and the story that might have unfolded. She said, “Dad, you should go back to the beginning and write that story again.”

So that’s what I’m doing.

I may check in a couple more times before Christmas but, for the foreseeable, it’s head down and no distractions.

Even if I manage to finish it this time, there is, as usual, no guarantee that this novel will even see publication. But which writer ever let that stop them doing what they were born to do?

See you soon and thanks for your patience.

How to make a real book. (Hint: don’t ever do it this way.)

2016-08-31 09.12.06I’m delighted to see this novel make it into print after such a long time. We wouldn’t have planned it this way but steep learning curves aren’t such a bad thing. Besides, getting everything wrong is a defining clown trait and we’re proud to posses it in spades.

What underpins this post, though, on the day that Clown Wars finally becomes a real book, is a feeling of gratitude to my co-author, Jeremy Drysdale. This whole nonsensical shebang was his idea. More ridiculous still, I actually agreed to help him turn it from a spec script treatment into a novel.

This resulted in a cascade of preposterous absurdities, all of which revolved around one central irony:

Commissioning editors loved it but not one of them had any idea who the readership might be or how to market such a galactic genre anomaly. We came tantalisingly close to that ‘traditional’ publishing route several times, yet the final answer was always no.

But as all keen circus-goers understand, ‘no’ isn’t a word that clowns take very seriously.2016-08-31 09.12.42

Not everyone loved the book, of course. A few had a fear of clowns and couldn’t stand it. Frustratingly, they were all industry gatekeepers – among them, the producer at Aardman who first saw the idea and politely told Jeremy to get lost. A few agents and editors had similar feelings.

We had to accept the facts: if we didn’t publish it ourselves, the readership would remain steady at zero and all marketing would remain hypothetical, a realisation that took five years to sink in (clowns don’t take hints too well, either).

I know I speak for Jeremy when I say that believing in a book this…leftfield…has been trying, especially after so many extremely positive knockbacks. But that’s another thing about clowns; every time you knock ’em down, they bounce back up again. Kinda creepy, actually.

So, back to that feeling of gratitude:

Jeremy Drysdale brought me this curiosity. We’ve had no end of fun and heartache developing it but a worthwhile existence is full of fun and heartache, I think – it lets you know you’ve lived. Bringing Clown Wars into the world has informed us, loud and clear, that we’re very much not quite dead yet.

2016-08-31 09.12.57You can help!

If you feel any of the same kind of gratitude after reading the book, you can help us.

Tell someone about the book. Tell your therapist; you never know. If you can’t think what to get for a weird relative this Christmas, buy them a copy of Clown Wars – it’s a steal at £7.99 and guaranteed to be unique. Get on Amazon and leave us a rating and review – it really does make a difference – and do something similar on Goodreads and Librarything or your blog.

And here’s why we need your help:

We have no marketing budget. We have no publicist. We’ll never have a poster campaign or be in a well-known book club. We won’t be reviewed in papers or magazines. There’s only you, our readers, and what you say about the book. So, if you love it, we hope you’ll share that love.

The weirdest book I’ve ever written – The Village Emporium

Six years ago, screenwriter Jeremy Drysdale asked if I would novelise a movie treatment for him. He’d read my debut novel MEAT and loved it. Nevertheless, it struck me as an odd request – films from original scripts are often turned into novels after they’re successful but Jeremy’s idea was basically still in note form.Read More

Source: The weirdest book I’ve ever written – The Village Emporium


Critics are calling Clown Wars:

“Majestically crazy…”

“Like nothing else you’ll read this year…”

& “Harry Potter on laughing gas…”

For the next 48 hrs, you can decide yourself for FREE!