The AUTUMN: AFTERMATH hardcover I’ve recently been talking about took a huge amount of time and effort to organise. All that work just so one hundred or so folks could complete their UK AUTUMN hardcover collections. You could say the effort involved was disproportional to the gains (losses, actually… I’m still in the red with this project), but I’d disagree. Whether ten people had wanted the book or ten thousand, I thought it was important to make it happen and I’m glad that I did.
I’ve loved all the positive feedback I’ve received since the books have started to arrive… people commenting on Facebook and Tweeting photographs of their name in the back. I have to say, though, Ren Gaming’s YouTube clip was the coolest thanks of all.
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.
A few folk have asked the question recently, so it’s good to be able to confirm that signed copies of TRUST – my anti-science-fiction novel – are now back in stock. This is the book that relaunched Infected Books back in 2012 – the book that Starburst Magazine rated as 10/10 and said “Trust is a slow-burner and all the richer for it. The layers of characters and details of the story play out perfectly when matched with an ending you’re not likely to forget. It’s also an outstanding novel, delivers in more ways than one, and is worthy of a place on the discerning fan’s bookshelf.”
Ebook versions will be available from the 14th (you can pre-order the Nook and iBook versions already). You can read the first chapter of the novel over at Wattpad. Also, there’s a Goodreads Giveaway running. Use the widget at the bottom of this post to enter.
In case you’ve pre-ordered but you missed the email I sent earlier in the week, the much-delayed limited edition hardcover of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH has been delayed again. Only slightly. The book is with the printers at the moment and should, fingers crossed, be heading out to readers a week today.
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.
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.
You’re probably sick of hearing me banging on about this by now, but I want to make sure everyone has chance to get hold of the (very) limited edition hardcover of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH which will be released at the end of January.
As I’ve said before, I’m releasing this book primarily for those folks who were collecting the UK hardcover editions from Gollancz and who were left in the lurch when Aftermath was released as paperback only. As such, numbers are going to be very, very limited. I expect to only have somewhere in the region of 150 copies printed.
I’m not planning to make any money from this. In fact, right now I’m looking at making a healthy loss! To try and mitigate my financial pain, I’ve cleared out my shelves and am selling a number of very rare advance uncorrected proofs. These are bare-bones paperback editions of my books which were produced by Thomas Dunne Books ahead of release. Find out more by visiting www.infectedbooks.co.uk or clicking the image immediately below.
And as a New Year treat for 2014, anyone who shops at www.infectedbooks.co.uk this week can help themselves to a 10% discount on their order (even on the rare proofs I just mentioned). Simply quote code ZOMBIE2014 at checkout (original, eh?!).
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.