I need to get something off my chest. Right, here goes… I once took literary inspiration from E L James, author of the unfeasibly popular Fifty Shades series. I don’t mean to offend fans of Fifty Shades with that comment, but you have to admit, those books are unfeasibly popular. Something like 150 million copies sold? That’s incredible.
So, on one hand, it’s hats off to Ms James, because she’s found a formula people clearly like and she’s sticking to it. You could argue that I’ve done exactly the same (though I do at least try to experiment – the book I’m currently writing is nothing like anything I’ve released previously). On the other hand, though, from what I understand of the books in the second Fifty Shades series, they’re pretty much a scene for scene rehashes of the first, just with the internal thoughts of an impressionable young student replaced with those of a complete fucking pervert.
And I’m claiming I was inspired by this series? Let me explain…
I’ve said before that the second HATER trilogy came as a result of discussions I’d had with Ed Barratt, producer of the upcoming HATER movie, about a potential TV adaptation. The original books were told exclusively from Danny McCoyne’s perspective, and whilst that worked well on paper, it would have been hard going on screen. A TV series would need to dive deeper and fill in the blanks, following different characters and situations to ramp up the drama and keep the viewers’ interest. And for a while I was struggling to work out how I would do that.
Well that was interesting! A few weeks ago I asked an obvious question on my website, Facebook and Twitter. I wanted to know which side you’d choose: HATER or UNCHANGED. The results are in.
I thought it would be interesting to just ask the one question with no follow-ups. I could have asked whereabouts in the world you live or any number of other questions to see if what factors affected your allegiance, but I didn’t. In the HATER books, the Hate ignores all our existing differences, so it made sense for this very unscientific poll to do the same.
369 people voted across this website, Facebook and Twitter, with 59% of people picking Haters over Unchanged. Interestingly, this varied between platform. On my website the split was 49% Hater, 51% Unchanged, on Facebook it was 62% Hater, 38% Unchanged, and on Twitter it was 58% Hater and 42% Unchanged. Does that mean people feel more Hate on social media sites than here on my warm and welcoming website? I don’t know, maybe they do. Interestingly, Haters were far more vocal, with around 60% of comments being from Haters and only 40% Unchanged.
So there you have it. Totally unscientific and little more than a ‘finger in the wind’ exercise. Still, if you’re in the UK like me, I hope this has taken your mind off the other votes we’re currently having to contend with for a couple of blissful minutes!
One last thing. I was interested to read a comment on this poll where the commenter said their allegiance had switched now they’re reading the second HATER trilogy because it tells the story from the Unchanged perspective. If I’m honest, the same thing happened to me while I was writing the books. As I worked my way through HATER, DOG BLOOD and THEM OR US I was Hater all the way. But having spent the last few years writing ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING, ALL ROADS END HERE and CHOKEHOLD, my loyalties seemed to switch. I wonder if, by the time you’ve read CHOKEHOLD, you’ll have come to the same conclusions about the state of the human race as I did…
I won’t say too much because I don’t want to spoil things for those who haven’t yet read the other novels, but CHOKEHOLD deals with a whole new chapter in the overall HATER story. It takes place in the aftermath of DOG BLOOD and ALL ROADS END HERE and, in many ways, is also a prequel to THEM OR US. More familiar characters will be returning, and I think you’re really going to like it. Especially the fact that this is the first time… No. Shut up, Moody. I’m not saying anything else. You’ll just have to wait and see.
All my recent talk of book launches and anniversaries has left me thinking about what I’ve achieved as a writer and what I still want to achieve. If I think of my career in terms of how a farmer manages their fields, then I’d say I’m currently in a fallow period after a couple of pretty decent harvests. I caught the crest of two waves originally when I a) started publishing independently before most others, and b) wrote about zombies just as the living dead became massively popular. And then, a few years later, I enjoyed another prolonged purple patch when Guillermo del Toro somehow stumbled on a copy of HATER and, for a time, everyone wanted a bit of me.
For those of us who just happen to love writing and who hate self-publicising with a passion, being an author is not the easiest of career choices. You keep doing it because you can’t stop, and with every page you write you convince yourself that this could be the next big thing, even though you know that competition to actually be the next big thing is impossibly fierce. And then when you’ve finished writing and you hand your work to someone else to read, all the confidence you’ve built up evaporates and turns to crippling self-doubt. Well it does for me, anyway.
A frustrating amount of this is completely out of the writer’s control. You don’t control the market, you have no influence on current trends, you can do little to make sure yours is the right book seen in the right place at the right time… and yet, we keep at it. Sometimes even the very thing you’re trying to write can conspire against you.
I’ve been running polls on Facebook and Twitter recently to ask this most basic of questions that I’ve never asked before, but because it’s increasingly difficult to keep something visible on social media without paying through the nose, I’ve decided to ask the same question again here. I’ll keep this poll open for at least a week, then I’ll report back with the final summarised results.
The magnificent Gerard Doyle has narrated the audiobook adaptation of ALL ROADS END HERE, and it’s out now from Macmillan Audio. You can get it from Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Here’s a sample:
I’m getting a lot of queries from folks at the moment about audio versions of the first three HATER books. They are available, but only in the US at present. I’m currently asking questions to see if anything can be done to make them available elsewhere. Please bare with me.
Hard to believe that HATER IS TEN YEARS OLD TODAY! The book was actually published back in 2006 through Infected Books, but after Guillermo del Toro became involved and I signed with Thomas Dunne Books, the Infected Books edition disappeared from the shelves. HATER was a bigger success than I could have ever expected, and the Hate shows no sign of slowing down. The reaction to ALL ROADS END HERE (published last week) has been great, and we’re still working on the movie. I’ll have news about the release of CHOKEHOLD, the absolute final book in the series, in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, just to whet your appetite, I thought I’d share the first chapter of the book with you. WARNING – CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR ONE OF US WILL BE DEAD BY MORNING! DON’T CLICK IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE FIRST BOOK!