An odd title for a post, but I think it’ll make sense in the end. Bear with me. And bear with me also because this is likely to be a longer and more personal ramble than usual (though there’ll be a book-related announcement later, so it’s worth sticking with me to the bitter end).
I’ve been relatively quiet (for me) recently, and I’ve already explained why – I’m working on a number of different projects which I hope will see the light of day over the next year or so. I talked about a few of them recently.
When you’re not spending as much time online talking to people as you’d like, it’s easy to lose a little focus and to start to doubt anyone is still listening. I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about my career – how far I’ve come, how far I want to go, and how I intend on getting there. There’s no great plan or roadmap and there never has been. I just do what feels right at the time, and I hope people like it. It’s those people I want to talk about today. As you’re reading this, that means you!
A few weekends back I had a couple of great experiences which helped put a lot of things in perspective. The first took place over three nights in Wolverhampton. If I mention the band Marillion, I generally expect one of two usual reactions: many folk in the UK usually say ‘ah yes, Kayleigh!’, and many folk outside the UK usually say ‘What? Who?’
For those who don’t know, Marillion are a unique band who, for more than twenty-five years, have produced some exceptional music. I got into them in the early 1990’s and have slavishly lapped up every release as well as seeing them live almost thirty times. They might not be to your tastes, but give them a whirl. You can take a crash course here (click here if the widget below’s not working or, if you’re new to the band, visit this page and get a free CD sent your way):
But you’re here to read about my books and films etc. So why am I telling you about my musical tastes? Click the link and I’ll explain (and don’t forget that book announcement…)
In 1999, the year I went online, Marillion released Marillion.com. I was fascinated by the inner cover of the album, which was made up of a mass of fan-submitted passport photos. And having your web address as your album title? Well, I thought that was nothing short of genius. It occurred to me that this new-fangled Internet-thing might prove to be quite important… Fast forward a couple of years, and the band announced they were to start work on a new album. Working outside the restrictions of the traditional music industry (and pre-empting Kickstarter by about a decade) they asked fans to pay up front for the next record before a single note was recorded in return for a). getting a deluxe version of the CD and b). getting their names in the credits booklet. I was more than happy to part with my cash, and have done so whenever the opportunity has since arisen – if you have the campaign editions of Anoraknophobia, Marbles, Happiness is the Road or Sounds That Can’t Be Made, you’ll find my name in each of them.
I was blown away by the way the band was effectively cutting out the middle-man and talking directly to their listeners. It made me think I could do something similar with books, so I did. I applied the ‘Marillion approach’ to AUTUMN, and managed to shift half a million free books in the process. If I hadn’t done that, I doubt I’d be doing what I do today. I thanked the band in a subtle way in 2007 with my story ‘Grandma Kelly’ in 666: The Number of the Beast which name-checks each band member.
Fast-forward to now, and my love and admiration for Marillion has continued to grow. Last month I attended the three night UK convention in Wolverhampton where the band played to the most appreciative audience I’ve ever had the privilege to witness/be a part of. The two-way adoration was quite something. At the risk of sounding overly pretentious here, at several points half the audience (including me) and most of the band were in tears. It was remarkable to behold and, as I drove home, it struck me how important that kind of connection is to anyone working in the media right now. We live in a highly-connected world, and more than ever it’s crucial for people who make/write/record independently to keep in constant contact with their viewers/listeners/readers. It’s a peer-to-peer thing now, a community. It made me realise again how fortunate I am to have a decent-sized readership, and how important it is to a). keep growing that fan-base and b). keep you all happy!
I said at the beginning of this long, rambling post, that I had a couple of great experiences recently. The day after the Marillion convention I had the pleasure of meeting up with Jami Sroka, a longtime reader and a key member of Moody’s Survivors. Jami lives just outside Pittsburgh, and regularly sends me awesome George Romero and Night of the Living Dead related memorabilia. So what was she doing three and a half thousand miles from home in Coventry on a miserable Monday evening last month? I’ll tell you what she was doing – she was on a road trip. Jami spent two weeks in the UK, meeting up with other members of the Moody’s Survivors group: Edinburgh with Iain McKinnon, Lowestoft (Them or Us land!) with Emma Bunn and Jenny Jackson, London and Coventry with Clare Allington… It was humbling to think that the initial reason she’d travelled halfway around the world was because of my books and the people she’d met online through talking about them. That’s amazing. That kind of thing really puts things in perspective. It makes you realise that the stuff you write can genuinely affect people and have an impact on them in all kinds of ways.
Where am I going with all this waffle? I guess it boils down to this: I just wanted to say a public thank you to everyone who has read and who continues to read my books, and to assure you that though I might be uncomfortably quiet at the moment, there’s still much more to come. I wanted to say that I hugely value your support, even though I probably don’t say it regularly enough.
So, finally, we get to that book announcement. After the new edition of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION is released (any day now), I’ll be working on another book alongside the current novel I’m writing, STRANGERS. By way of thanks I’m going to be serialising the next new book free online as I write it. My plan is this: finish the first draft, then publish the second draft online as it’s completed, two chapters per week, probably from early July. And the book in question? The oft-promised, long awaited, brand new version of STRAIGHT TO YOU.
Enough talk. Back to work. But let’s finish with a tune. Last word to Marillion. Here’s Go! – a beautiful song which was one of the inspirations for my forthcoming novel, 17 DAYS.