Man, I hate the Beatles (sorry, folks), but that seemed like an appropriate title for this post because, on 26 September, it will be exactly twenty years since the first version of my first novel, STRAIGHT TO YOU, was released. My dislike of the original and my love of the rewritten version has been well documented, but I thought I shouldn’t let the twentieth anniversary of the book pass unmarked.
Why Wattpad? Quite simply, because I love it. It’s a great platform that’s growing with real speed in terms of audience and impact (you might remember the 5th Wave story I wrote for them last year). You can still read TRUST on the site – more than 200,000 people have already done so!
Enjoy STRAIGHT TO YOU. It’s a book I’m (finally after twenty years) insanely proud of.
I’ve been really pleased with how well the Voodoo Press German edition of TRUST has been received, and today the book hit a new milestone. We’re number one! Congratulations to Michael Preissl and his team. I’m looking to the Voodoo Press releases of THE COST OF LIVING, ISOLATION and STRAIGHT TO YOU coming soon.
UPDATE APRIL 2017: Bitlit (which went on to be renamed Shelfie) sadly closed its virtual doors in January 2017. The service has since been acquired by Kobo. Visit www.shelfie.com for more information.
By now I guess you know my philosophy – I only want people to buy the same book once. If you buy a paperback, I want you to be able to download the ebook version for free. Similarly, if you buy an ebook then wish you’d bought a print edition, I think you should only have to pay the paperback cost less the price you originally paid for the ebook.
Economics and practicalities sometimes make achieving these aims difficult, but I’m always on the look out for ways to simplify the process. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce Bitlit.
Bitlit is an app, available for iOS and Android. It’s beautifully simple: you take a shelfie with your camera (ie a picture of your bookshelf), and the app scans the titles you’ve got, identifies them, and directs you to free or low price versions of the books you already have in print (where available). I’m pleased to say that we’re making Infected Books titles available free via the service, and you can now download STRAIGHT TO YOU, AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION, TRUST and STRANGERS for free from Bitlit (as long as you own a print version, of course).
I’ve been intending to write this piece for a while, but I didn’t know how to start or when to post it. Today’s the day. Today, if you didn’t know, is Time to Talk day and like thousands of other people, I’m taking five minutes to talk about my experiences with the aim of breaking the silence (and stigma) around mental health. Please don’t switch off. Please read through to the end.
You see, last May, my world fell apart. My personal life, my relationships, my health, my career – everything crumbled and collapsed. None of it made sense anymore, and I couldn’t see a way to start repairing the damage. Hell, I didn’t even know if I wanted to fix things.
That might sound overdramatic, but that’s exactly how it felt. One day everything was fine, the next… Well it still makes me go cold thinking about those days. I’ve spent hours, days, weeks and months since then trying to put everything back together and make sense of what happened, and if there hadn’t been such a stigma about mental health, I think that perhaps my meltdown could have been avoided or at least lessened.
I’d always been the big man. I’d done pretty well in everything I tried to do. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, it’s just the way I am. I work hard. Sometimes too hard. Five years ago I felt invincible with a great family, good health, a lovely home and a career that felt like it was skyrocketing. A couple of years back, though, something changed. We moved house, and I fulfilled my writing obligations. Then, all of a sudden, nothing. Bigger bills, no book deals. I felt increasingly disconnected from everything and everyone, and became increasingly reclusive. My mood changed. I was banging my head against a brick wall. The words didn’t stop coming, but the flood of books I was producing reduced to a slow trickle. I stopped being excited by writing, and it began to feel like a chore. Stories remained uncompleted. Ideas were shelved. I spent more time thinking about what I should have been doing, than actually doing any of it.
I’ll cut a long story short: I was pretty seriously depressed, and I had no idea at all. Or maybe I did know, I just didn’t want to accept it…
Last summer everything came to a head. And contrary to how it felt at the time, being diagnosed with depression wasn’t the end of my world; instead it was a chance to press reset, to get myself back on track, and to learn to love myself and my world again.
Forgive me if that sounds a little saccharine and cliched, because it happens to be true. Thanks to an incredible family, a great GP, and a bunch of other wonderful folk, things are moving in the right direction. I’ve gone back to non-writing work to make sure I mix with other people, and I’m loving the buzz of spending time with folks again. I was worried it might have meant the end of my writing, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve written the first draft of a new novel since 1 January. There’s progress on a number of long-gestating projects. Infected Books is growing exponentially. I’m more excited by writing than ever.
As I said at the beginning, it’s Time to Talk day today (find out more about it here and here), and the aim of the day is to reduce some of the stigma around mental health. Lots of people suffer, and a large number continue to suffer in silence. I think I’d known for a long time what was wrong, I just didn’t want to admit it. Bloody hell, I wish I’d been more honest with myself. It would have saved me (and the people I love the most) a heck of a lot of pain and heartache.
I’m a writer, and this site is supposed to be about my books and films, so I’ll finish this piece by bringing it back to the business of writing. Regular visitors here will remember my series of writing articles ‘What Works for Me.’ You might have noticed they dried up around the same time I imploded last spring. It’s been incredibly interesting to look back at the books I’ve written over the last two years or so in light of what I’ve discovered about myself, because if I wasn’t outwardly honest with myself about my health, I definitely had some inkling of what was going on as I’d been writing about my problems all along. I only have to look at the male characters I’d created… there’s Steven Johnson from STRAIGHT TO YOU – a man who is on the verge of losing absolutely everything because he can’t bring himself to face his own demons. There’s Stuart from THE COST OF LIVING – a belligerent, stubborn bugger who’s set on his course and who won’t listen to anyone else, even when they’re clearly right and he’s so very obviously wrong. And then, finally, there’s Scott Griffiths from STRANGERS. I’ve had a huge reaction to Scott, not least because he’s an absolute shit: a total, wretched scumbag who outwardly appears to be dedicated to his family, but who has a seriously warped view of right and wrong and no appreciation of how his behaviour affects those around him. I was terrified and stunned when I read the book back just prior to publication and realised I’d been writing about aspects of myself.
Things are good today. Thanks for sticking with me. There’s some really exciting stuff on the horizon.
Happy New Year to you all. I thought I’d kick off 2015 with a quick look back at my 2014 releases (just in case you missed any), and a peek at my plans for 2015. Despite being a pig of a year for me on many levels, I was surprisingly productive, releasing two full-length novels (STRAIGHT TO YOU and STRANGERS), a zombie novella collection (LAST OF THE LIVING, which included ISOLATION and THE COST OF LIVING along with a number of other shorts), and the long-overdue limited edition hardcover of AUTUMN: AFTERMATH.
So what does 2015 hold? There’s a lot being planned behind the scenes, and I thought I’d pile the pressure on myself by announcing the major projects I’m working on this year. Notice there are no timescales quoted here (I never seem to keep to them anyway!) but this is the order I’m tackling these novels.
My first middle-grade novel. Think ET meets GODZILLA and you’re halfway there.
THE SPACES BETWEEN: ELYSIAN FIELDS
The first book in my long-teased horror/ science-fiction/ noir crime series. If you’ve not heard me talking about this one before, here’s a quick tease: Several years ago London was destroyed in a white-hot nuclear haze. Millions of people were displaced, and huge numbers ended up in rapidly constructed newcities like Elysian Fields. Designed to house around one hundred thousand, the population of Elysian Fields is several times that. It’s a dangerous, sprawling hell-hole of a place ruled by gangs, violence and fear. When a prominent business leader’s son disappears, social worker Greg Dawson becomes embroiled in the mission to snatch him back. But the more Dawson discovers about Elysian Fields, the more he comes to realise there’s a huge gulf between what we’re being told and reality. In the spaces between the two, absolutely everything changes.
Yes, I know… I’ve finished this book twice already, but I’ve still not got it quite right. I had a rollercoaster year last year, and in the midst of all the ups and downs, I’ve realised where I was going wrong. Mark Thane is a downtrodden and overlooked nobody. When he discovers he only has 17 days left to live, he’s forced to question everything. The country is on the verge of revolution, and Mark unwittingly finds himself at the eye of the storm. This time last week no one knew who Mark Thane was. By the time his number’s up, the entire world will be watching his every move.
A sick and twisted love story. Adam’s wife died last summer. He’s not going to let her die again.
So there you go. Plenty of work ahead. Add to this more signing events and the continued expansion of the Infected empire (Infected Films and Infected Audio, anyone?) and that’s more than enough to keep me busy. I hope you’ll stick around, because 2015 is going to be a cracker!