Welcome to my office, which became noticeably smaller yesterday following the delivery (at long last) of the limited hardcover edition of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH, published by Infected Books in collaboration with Gollancz.
Nine hours (yes, really) of signing and packing and the whole lot was delivered to a very understanding chap at the post office late last night. All orders have now been dispatched, and I wanted to take this opportunity to once again thank everyone who pre-ordered the book for their support and their patience.
It’s hard to believe, but it’s five years today since HATER was re-released by Thomas Dunne Books in the US and Gollancz here in the UK. It’s no exaggeration to say that little book changed my life. Before its release I’d been doing fairly well for myself publishing the first three AUTUMN books through Infected Books and I’d been planning to expand. I launched HATER with the intention of kick-starting a new series, but I had no idea what would happen next.
Within a couple of months, with less than a thousand copies having been sold, I was approached about the film rights. That deal went on to see Guillermo del Toro, J A Bayona (director of The Impossible and the forthcoming World War Z 2) and Mark Johnson (producer of Breaking Bad, amongst other things) involved with my book, and led to the HATER series being picked up for publication in many countries around the world.
So please join me in saying Happy Birthday HATER! If you haven’t read the book, visit wwwhttp://davidmoody.net/books/hater/ to find out more. And here, for old time’s sake, is a viral video released by Thomas Dunne to support the original release.
And no – I don’t have any news about the movie (I’ll update here if I do). But yes – one way or another I’m determined there WILL be a HATER film eventually!
My last What Works For Me article went down really well so, whether you want it or not, here are a few more words of dubious wisdom. This time: the generation, gestation and harvesting of IDEAS.
When you write, there are a number of things you inevitably get asked over and over. One of the favourites is where do you get your ideas? For me, that’s a really interesting question. The easiest answer is something glib like dreams, or they just appear out of the ether, but that’s no help when you’re sitting in front of a classroom full of kids or when you’re on a panel at an event in front of an audience that’s expecting you to say something enlightening/witty. There’s more to it than that.
My last piece talked about the process I follow to turn an idea into a book, so I thought it would be interesting to go back a stage and look at how those ideas appear in the first place and what I do to nurture and develop them. As always, this is what works for me. If it doesn’t work for you or you have alternative suggestions, let me know and I’ll put together a follow-up post.
Firstly, what do I mean by ‘idea’? It’s a pretty bland and unscientific word. I guess it would be more appropriate to talk about ‘inspiration’. I’m talking about something that stimulates you… something that makes you want to know more, that makes you ask what if…? What’s important is recognising when this inspiration strikes, and doing something about it.
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.
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.
The original 1996 release of Straight to You
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?
2005 Infected Books re-release
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 CONDITIONcame 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.
I did say at the beginning of 2013 that you probably wouldn’t hear very much from me this year and I was right. Apart from the re-release of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, I feel like I’ve hardly put my head above the surface. That’s going to change in 2014. Remember this image I posted in September?
Left to right: the 17 DAYS, STRANGERS and STRAIGHT TO YOU manuscripts in various stages of completion!
These three manuscripts have taken up most of my year, but I’m pleased to say they’re now finished. STRANGERS has been through the beta-read process and come out the other side (thanks to those who read it and provided feedback), and 17 DAYS is currently with my agent. But it’s STRAIGHT TO YOU that I want to talk about today.
One of the things I’ve been doing since I finished both the HATER and AUTUMN series last year has been revisiting my older work to try and bring it up to scratch. I felt a real need to clear the decks of older material before moving onto anything new. When I signed with Thomas Dunne Books back in 2008, these novels fell through the cracks and I didn’t want them to be forgotten. The rewritten version of TRUST was released in July 2012, and this year saw AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION back in print in a completely revised and newly expanded edition. Now it’s the turn of the final ‘missing book’ – STRAIGHT TO YOU – to get a lick of paint, except on this occasion the changes are more than just cosmetic.
I’m planning several posts about the book over the coming weeks. I’ll tell you about the substantial differences between the old and new versions, why I’ve rewritten the book, the adventures I’ve had with approaches for the film rights, why I’m re-releasing it now and how that’s going to happen, and more besides. But for today, I guess all you need to know is this: the re-written, re-edited and repackaged STRAIGHT TO YOU will be released through Infected Books on 14 February 2014 (yes, I’ve gone for Valentine’s Day… what better date for a heartbreaking apocalyptic romance?). It’ll be available as an ebook and trade paperback.
“The sun is dying. The temperature around the world is rising by the hour with no sign of any respite. It won’t be long before all life on Earth is extinguished. It might be weeks, it might be days… we may only have hours. Society is crumbling. The burning world is rapidly descending into chaos.
Steven Johnson’s wife is hundreds of miles away and all that matters is reaching her before the end. He has to act now, no time to stop and think. Every second is precious. Tomorrow is too late.”
If you’re a fan of the original book, don’t worry. The spirit of the story has definitely been maintained. Even though it’s very nearly twenty years since I began writing the first version of the book and it’s my lowest selling title by some margin, people still regularly stop me to talk about STRAIGHT TO YOU. The story still holds up today, perhaps even more so than back in the late nineties. I don’t mind admitting that I still cried like a baby when I typed the final scenes this time around! I’m looking forward to giving the book the release I think it deserves and bringing it to a much wider audience in early 2014.
After a series of unavoidable delays, I’m delighted to be able to announce that the long-overdue limited edition hardcover edition of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH is about to become a reality. The ink is drying on the contracts, and pre-orders will be opening on Monday 9 December. All those folks who’ve registered their interest will be contacted directly on Monday, and a further announcement will appear here on davidmoody.net. Until then, here’s a brief summary of the important points:
the book will be published by Infected Books in arrangement with Gollancz
it’ll exactly match the look and feel of the previous Gollancz AUTUMN hardcovers (the same printers are being used)
it’s envisaged that the book will now be published in late January 2014
it’ll cost £20 plus postage, though there will be a loyalty bonus/discount of 10% for those folks who’ve bought the Infected Books hardcover of AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION (see below)
everyone who pre-orders before 10 January 2014 will have their name included in a special thank you section in the book, exclusive to this edition
Again, huge apologies for the long delays in making this book a reality and rounding out the series for those of you who’ve been collecting the UK hardcovers. Thank you for your patience and support.
Want to spoil a friend or loved one’s Christmas with a little end of the world misery? Looking for something apocalyptic to usher in the new year? Or maybe you’re not a festive person yourself… are you happier in the company of Haters, aliens and the living dead than snowmen, reindeers and Santa Claus? If so, www.infectedbooks.co.uk is the place for you.
Today sees the launch in the UK of two new AUTUMN releases from Gollancz. First up is THE COMPLETE AUTUMN – an ebook only collection of the five AUTUMN novels (Autumn, The City, Purification, Disintegration and Aftermath) available in all major formats: Kindle / iBook / Nook / Kobo / ePub (Waterstones) / ePub (Hive). A great way to get into the series if you haven’t yet read the books. And don’t forget, for full completeness you can also pick up THE HUMAN CONDITION for the bargain price of £1.99!
On 15 October, a little later than originally planned, MKrug Verlag will release HERBST: AUSKLANG – the German translation of AFTERMATH. It’s been a long wait for German readers, so I’m really pleased the book will soon be out.
And then in December, I’m very excited to announce that Delos will publish AUTUMN in Italian as AUTUMN, L’ATTACO DEI MORTE VIVENTI (which translates to Autumn, Attack of the Living Dead). More details and cover art etc. as I get them.