*switches brain off*

I’m not kidding; sometimes I wish I’d been a plumber. Endless work, a predictable and reasonable wage, instant reward for effort expended: the laws of the universe unfolding harmoniously on a daily basis.

It’s not like that with writing. Apart from the endless work, obviously.

Last count, I’ve written fourteen novels. I think half of them are published. Years of work, as yet unpaid, and people in the business ceaselessly telling you why your latest creation can’t sell, won’t sell, is of no interest to corporate publishing – such as it mostly is today.

I could really moan if I let myself get started but that’s not the point of this post. The fact is, today is a good day. A hopeful day. A day upon which the work feels worthwhile.

It’s taken fifteen months to bring my most recent novel from first line to submittable draft, but a few hours ago I got the nod from my agent that we are finally good to go.

I almost gave up on getting this far but, on Monday, Gallashan will go out to a select group of editors and the waiting game that authors constantly play – as though we love it or something – will begin in earnest once again.

It’s still a little early to share a synopsis. After all, we may get nothing but knockbacks. But if it becomes the case that someone wants to turn this other-world fantasy into a real book, I promise I’ll say a little more about it then.

Wouldn’t it be lovely if that happened sooner rather than later just this once…

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A year has passed since setting down the opening lines of a new work; the windblown seeds of which first drifted into my consciousness more than twenty years ago.

At the time, I’d fasted for four days and nights in a grove of moss-cloaked, lichen-fronded oaks, nestled in the hills overlooking Barmouth, North Wales. The surroundings became a looking glass, a scrying vessel and a wireless connection, through which the voice of the landscape spoke; lyrical, clear and potent.

I left Wales, much healed, and those new seeds came with me. I tried to write the story gestating within in their nucleii but, having only set down poetry before that moment, I lacked the maturity, both psychologically and authorially, to do those mystical kernels justice. That work, much of it hand-written in a spiral-bound notebook, became my first unfinished novel – a failure at the time.

But I had detached myself from among the wallflowers on the side-lines and joined the writers’ ball; committed myself to those reels of joy and disappointment, wherein every dancer turns and stamps alone.

Their germination unsuccessful, the seeds re-entered cryo-sleep for well over two decades.

Until, in 2017, two things happened:

First, on the way to school one morning, I happened to outline the unfinished tale to my daughter, aged nine at the time. She said, “Dada, you should go back to the beginning and write that story all over again.”

And, I thought, yes, I really should…

Second, an inspiring meeting with the gentleman who became my literary agent gave me a reason to begin a new work of Fantasy. The dormant seeds re-awoke and I began to make pages and pages of notes and drawings, determined, this time, to find a way through to the end without getting lost.

Creating a new world over the intervening months has involved all the usual heartaches. This second attempt, however, has resulted in a work commensurate with its mystical genesis among those gnarled, ancient trees. Regardless of whether it makes the hyperspace leap from manuscript to book, it has become a magical artefact; worthy of a reader or two.

For now, as ever, I wait on the opinions of others to find value (of a marketable, monetary nature) in the work that flowed through me between August 2017 and August 2018. Should the gatekeepers find the novel acceptable, I hope you’ll be able to share in the enchantments that came to me in that solitary vigil on a Welsh hillside all those years ago.

Cover reveal!!!

Five years ago, Jeremy Drysdale and I finished a manuscript; possibly the strangest manuscript I’ve ever worked on.

We got into the submissions process and it only served to reinforce just how unusual the material was. Many agents and editors came back to us saying they hated it. Others liked it but had no idea how to market it. Either way, the answer was ‘no’.

They say nothing ever happens fast in publishing but, after five unsuccessful years of trying to get this novel to a readership in the traditional way, we decided to take matters into our own hands.

So, without further tantalising, teasing, taunting and being generally mean, feast your eyes on this: Continue reading