The world’s getting hotter, Steven’s situation’s getting harder to handle… the first of this week’s new chapters has been added to STRAIGHT TO YOU. Start reading the novel now (for free).
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I’ve been bowled over with the response to the new version of STRAIGHT TO YOU. Sales have been strong, and folks have been really positive with their words. To celebrate, until March 21 you can pick up signed copies of STRAIGHT TO YOU, TRUST and AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION at a 10% discount from www.infectedbooks.co.uk. And don’t forget, complementary ebook versions are included with all those titles.
Alternatively, you could try and win a copy of the new book. There’s a giveaway running over at SCREAM MAGAZINE!
Exciting times! STRAIGHT TO YOU is officially launched today. As you’ll no doubt already know if you’ve been following my posts over the last few months, this is a completely rewritten version of my debut novel from 1996, and at last I feel like I’ve done the story justice. You can read the first chapter at Wattpad by following this link.
Signed copies of the book are available now from Infected Books, ebay and Amazon.co.uk. Want to see how the old and new versions compare? Check out this offer. Paperbacks are also available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide), Hive and Indiebound.
Looking for an ebook version? The relevant links are below, but please remember my objection to people paying for the same thing twice – if you buy the paperback edition of the book, you can download a complementary ebook. Also, buy the ebook first and you can claim a discount on print editions purchased from www.infectedbooks.co.uk.
- Kindle US / UK / Canada / Germany / France / Spain / Australia / Italy
- iBook US / UK / Canada / Germany / France / Spain / Australia / Italy
- Smashwords (all countries, all formats)
For some reason the Kobo links haven’t yet appeared… I’ll update when they’re available.
I hope you enjoy STRAIGHT TO YOU. All reviews, feedback and thoughts are gratefully received. I’m particularly keen to hear from folks who read the original version back in the day – how does the new book stack up?
Enjoy a little gloom-laden apocalyptic romance this Valentine’s Day!
My dad recently asked me why I’d rewritten STRAIGHT TO YOU. A perfectly valid question, to which I had two immediate answers…
- I still love the story but I hate the original version of the book.
- I think I’m a much better writer now than I was twenty years ago.
…but there’s more to it than that.
STRAIGHT TO YOU is the last of my pre-AUTUMN and pre-HATER novels to be brushed down and re-released. You might remember I did the same with TRUST a couple of years back, but STRAIGHT TO YOU is a different kettle of fish altogether. When I re-wrote TRUST I worked, to an extent, from the original manuscript. With STRAIGHT TO YOU, however, I didn’t go anywhere near the 1996 book. In the introduction to the 2014 edition I’ve written that ‘the title, the premise, a couple of scenes and the characters’ names are all that remain from the original,’ and that’s pretty much it. One of the beta-readers who’d read the original described the new book as ‘an impossible sequel’, and I think that’s an interesting way of looking at it.
The biggest thing that’s changed between the two versions of the book is me. As well as having a load of books under my belt, I’m a very different person from the dumb young bugger who started writing STRAIGHT TO YOU back in January 1994. I’m a husband and a dad now, I write for a living, I have bills and responsibilities, I’ve been through some great times and some very shitty times… When I look back at the original version of the book I’m amazed at how naïve it now feels. The characters are as flat and two-dimensional as I was back then, the relationships between them less plausible than the end of the world scenario they’re supposedly living through. I think that’s down to the fact that when I first wrote the book, I hadn’t really lived.
So what can you expect from the new version? Well, this time around, Steven and Sam are far removed from the sickeningly clichéd young, star-crossed lovers of the original. They’ve been around the block a few times. They’re married, and they’ve just lost a baby. They’re not in a good place. They have problems which feel more pressing than the impending end of the world. I’m not giving anything away when I tell you circumstances drive the two of them apart at the worst possible moment, and that the bulk of the book follows Steven’s journey to reach his wife before the very end of everything.
But that journey, for me, is the key reason why I’ve rewritten the book after so long. Steven now has a real purpose to his quest; it’s not just some gallant (and probably misguided) mad dash across the country to spend time with a woman he’s just met. There are tangible consequences to his every move – what he gains with one hand, he loses from the other. To me, STRAIGHT TO YOU now feels more realistic and much more emotional. It feels firmly rooted in the real world. I think it packs a real punch, and I can’t wait for folks to finally get to read it.
So there you go, Dad. There’s your answer.
Very few words are needed here. Once again I’ve been blown away by the talent of the mighty Craig Paton. Here’s the cover for the new edition of STRAIGHT TO YOU, out on 14 February from Infected Books (pre-order information below).
The book – both paperback and ebooks – will be appearing online at all the usual retailers over the next couple of weeks. You can, however, pre-order signed copies now from Infected Books. Pre-ordered copies will be posted out before the official release date and don’t forget: with any Infected Books title, if you buy the paperback you can claim a free ebook version and, likewise, if you buy the ebook you can claim a discount on the price of a signed paperback. There’s more information here.
Straight to You will be released a month from today. By now I’m sure you know it’s a complete re-write of my debut novel, so the story has been around a fair while. I wanted to tell you about the time the book almost became a movie…
I was in two minds as to whether or not I should post this, but why not. I’ve removed all the names and other identifying details to protect the innocent (more to protect me, actually), but you’ll still be able to get the gist of this cautionary tale. This is an example of how the corporate entertainment machine can ‘acquire’ ideas. Though it’s probably all just coincidence (he adds quickly for legal reasons).
Given how much information I’ve deliberately missed out, I wasn’t sure how best to tell this story. I decided to use the power of Bitstrips.
It all starts back in 2007. When the film rights to Hater were sold, I suddenly had a lot of people very interested in my books.
I received an email from the production company behind some very famous films. They were asking about Hater initially, but then they started looking at my lesser-known books. As you’d expect, I was really, really excited.
Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed the holidays. I’ve a huge amount planned for 2014, lots to get through, so I thought I’d dive in with the first in a series of posts about the re-release of STRAIGHT TO YOU in February. Today I wanted to explain why I’ve re-written the book.
Incredibly, it’s twenty years ago yesterday since I started work on the first draft of the novel. If you’ve read any of the interviews I’ve done over the years, you’ll inevitably have heard me say I’m a frustrated film-maker at heart. When I left school I wanted to make movies, but with no relevant experience or qualifications, and no immediately obvious way of getting any, I ended up working for a high street bank (something which, though I enjoyed aspects of it at the time, I’m less than proud to admit now). I saved up and bought a video camera, but the quality was poor and editing footage was next to impossible, so plans to break into the film business were put on hold. But I was left with a number of stories rattling around inside my head, and I knew I had to do something with them. I tried my hand at writing screenplays before deciding I was better suited to writing more conventional prose. After a number of false starts, I sat down on 1st January 1994 and set myself a few ground-rules for writing. I told myself it was my last chance.
- I decided I’d plan the full outline of the story first;
- I’d write at least a page a day;
- I wouldn’t go back and re-read or edit anything until I’d finished each full draft.
Six months later and I’d written my first novel, STRAIGHT TO YOU. I reluctantly began showing it to people, assuming they’d hate it, and I was relieved (and shocked and surprised, if I’m honest) when they didn’t. In fact, they seemed to actually enjoy it. Then someone got really angry with me because the ending of the book made them cry, and someone else told me you can’t finish a story like that, and another friend said they couldn’t stop thinking about it… and I realised I might actually be onto something.
After a relatively brief search, the book found a home with a very small British publisher, and STRAIGHT TO YOU was released in September 1996. You probably know the rest of the story from here… I sat back and naïvely waited for the cheques to come rolling in, but they didn’t. I waited to hear from readers and other publishers, but heard nothing. I checked the shelves of all the bookshops in Birmingham, and found it stocked in only one… The initial print run of just 500 copies failed to sell (and I still have a box left in my garage…). Looking back, it would have been easy to throw in the towel, but I took another option instead. I finished writing AUTUMN and made that book available for free online, and that was probably the single most important decision I’ve taken in my writing career so far.
But STRAIGHT TO YOU wouldn’t go away. People seemed to really respond to the story which, in essence, is very simple: the sun is dying, the end of the world is fast approaching, and our hero is separated from his lover by hundreds of miles – will he reach her before all life on Earth is annihilated?
In 2005 I re-released the novel through Infected Books, though with a number of reasonably successful novels under my belt by that time, I was growing to dislike my debut. Not the story, just the way it was written. Looking back at the original version now I cringe. Twenty years ago I was a single man with no kids and hardly any responsibilities. I also had bugger all writing experience, bugger all life experience, and it showed. The characters were flat and two-dimensional, the dialogue was awful, you couldn’t move for clichés… Perhaps I’m being overly harsh and critical, but I don’t think so. And as time progressed, so my hatred (and that’s not too strong a word) for the original novel continued to grow. But still the story wouldn’t go away…
Fast-forward to 2011, and when I delivered the last AUTUMN and HATER novels to my publishers, I decided to go back and revisit my other Infected Books releases, to try and bring them up to the standards of my subsequent books and give the stories the treatment I thought they deserved. TRUST, as you probably know, was released in July 2012, and AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION came out last year. That just left STRAIGHT TO YOU, which I rewrote from scratch last summer.
I’m over the moon with the way the book has turned out, and initial feedback has been very positive. I’ll talk in the coming weeks about the inspirations behind the novel, the differences between the original and new versions of the book, and remind me also to tell you about being shafted by Hollywood (because, at one stage, the book was on the verge of being optioned by some very famous folks… and no, I won’t be telling you who, because I can’t afford to sue them and, more to the point, I can’t afford to be sued).
All I’ll say for now is that despite being very, very different, the 2014 version of STRAIGHT TO YOU still retains the same atmosphere of that little book I started writing twenty years ago yesterday. In some ways it feels like an impossible sequel. I guess if I had made it in the movie business, I’d be calling it a reboot or a reimagining. Whatever it is, I can’t wait for people to read it.
We’re on the last leg of STRAIGHT TO YOU now. Steven’s nearing either a). his destination, b). the impending apocalypse, or c). both. Post-apocalyptic movies and fiction are often filled with big, spectacular show-stopping moments, but it’s often the quieter, more personal scenes which affect me most. I remember feeling desperately sad when I wrote the chapter of the novel which has been posted over at WATTPAD today.
You’re hundreds of miles away, with no hope of ever getting back to the people you love that you’ve left behind. Imagine the pain of your last phone call home.
I was really pleased to find out just now that the Freedom Book Club have selected HATER as one of the four finalists for their Book of the Month for October. It’s a straightforward vote which decides the winner, so can I ask for your help please? If you feel so inclined, would you head over to this page and vote for HATER? Thank you!