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.
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.
I finished writing the new version of STRAIGHT TO YOU yesterday. Just edits, beta-reads and (I hope) a little subsequent re-work to be done now, and then my project to get all my older books re-released will be almost complete. I’ll tell you more about the updated version of the book and my plans for it in the coming months.
All this looking back got me thinking about TRUST again. I’m very proud of the book, but I don’t think I’ve shown it enough love in the year and a half since it was re-released, so here’s a little blatant self-promotion to boost its profile.
Starburst magazine rated it 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.”
Booklist Online said “The writing is not as visceral as Moody’s popular post-apocalyptic novels, but that isn’t a bad thing: this story, with its slowly building sense of unease and multiple thematic undercurrents, needs a more delicate touch. Moody’s many fans will absolutely want to read this one.”
Same content really, just given a fresh coat of paint and a better address in readiness for the new books (and more regular updates) which will soon be forthcoming. I thought I’d take this opportunity to let you know how the new novels stand…
Is with a crack team of beta-readers, who are currently beta-reading. I’m nervously awaiting their feedback…
STRAIGHT TO YOU
I’m well into the second draft, and on course to have this new version of my debut novel ready for January 2014 (terrifyingly, that’ll be twenty years since I started work on the original book).
Revamped, revitalised, and ready to start rewriting. The target is to have the book finished by the end of October.
Proof of work being done… on my office floor from left to right, 17 DAYS, STRANGERS, STRAIGHT TO YOU
I always find it difficult to keep this site updated over the summer. I have a large family, and with the kids on holiday from school and university, finding time to work becomes frustratingly hard. Writing has to take precedence, so the website and Facebook, Twitter etc. inevitably suffer. The girls are all just about back studying now, so expect to hear from me more regularly again.
I thought it was time for a quick update to bring you up to speed with a few projects I’m working on now that AUTUMN: THE HUMAN CONDITION is done and dusted. You should know me well enough by now… everything here is subject to change and nothing’s set in stone. The first part of this update will give you an indication of why that’s true.
The Ups and Downs and Ups of Writing. Weird name for a post, I guess, but I think it’s quite apt. You see, I reckon this is one of the best jobs in the world. In fact, I love it so much it feels wrong to call it a job… most of the time. Things don’t always go to plan.
You’ll probably remember me posting about this novel earlier this year – round about the time I’d put the finishing touches to it and sent it to my agent to hear his thoughts. Well, those thoughts came back, and after another couple of reads, I added a few thoughts of my own too.
The book’s not right. It needs more work. The themes are there, the story is there, but it’s not quite working. There are a couple of reasons why which I won’t go into in detail here because they wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense out of context. Suffice to say I’d made a huge character misstep along the way, and had also misjudged the tone of parts of the book.
Up. Down. Up. I was on a high when I delivered the manuscript, followed by a crushing low when I realised it hadn’t hit the mark. But now, with the benefit of discussion with my agent and a couple more months thinking about the story, I know exactly what I need to do. Up. Down. Up. Strangely enough, I’ve done this once before. The exact same thing happened when I was writing DOG BLOOD, and that turned out okay…
I remain insanely excited about 17 DAYS, more so than ever in fact, but the rework is inevitably having a knock-on effect on other projects as I’ll be giving it priority over the coming months.
I’m about 40,000 words into the third and (hopefully) final draft of this book, and hope to have it done by the end of July. I’ll then start thinking about how best to release it. Expect to hear more about STRANGERS – the closest I’ll probably ever get to a vampire novel – later this year.
STRAIGHT TO YOU
Is going really well… first draft is done, ready to start work on the second. I’d previously talked about serialising the second draft online from this month as the book was being written, but I’m putting that on hold temporarily for a couple of reasons. Firstly, because I need to work something into the second draft which I don’t want to do ‘live’, so to speak. Secondly, because the additional work on 17 DAYS means STY won’t be touched again for a while. At the moment, if I can get some work done on the second draft of the book over the summer, I’d hope to serialise the third draft online as I’m writing it from September/October onwards. I’ll tell you more about this completely new version of my debut novel in the coming weeks to whet your appetite. Incidentally, I started writing the original book on 1st January 1994 – I want to properly release the new edition in January 2014 to mark its twentieth anniversary. Bloody hell, twenty years. Now that makes me feel really old…
An odd title for a post, but I think it’ll make sense in the end. Bear with me. And bear with me also because this is likely to be a longer and more personal ramble than usual (though there’ll be a book-related announcement later, so it’s worth sticking with me to the bitter end).
I’ve been relatively quiet (for me) recently, and I’ve already explained why – I’m working on a number of different projects which I hope will see the light of day over the next year or so. I talked about a few of them recently.
When you’re not spending as much time online talking to people as you’d like, it’s easy to lose a little focus and to start to doubt anyone is still listening. I’ve spent a lot of time recently thinking about my career – how far I’ve come, how far I want to go, and how I intend on getting there. There’s no great plan or roadmap and there never has been. I just do what feels right at the time, and I hope people like it. It’s those people I want to talk about today. As you’re reading this, that means you!
A few weekends back I had a couple of great experiences which helped put a lot of things in perspective. The first took place over three nights in Wolverhampton. If I mention the band Marillion, I generally expect one of two usual reactions: many folk in the UK usually say ‘ah yes, Kayleigh!’, and many folk outside the UK usually say ‘What? Who?’
For those who don’t know, Marillion are a unique band who, for more than twenty-five years, have produced some exceptional music. I got into them in the early 1990’s and have slavishly lapped up every release as well as seeing them live almost thirty times. They might not be to your tastes, but give them a whirl. You can take a crash course here (click here if the widget below’s not working or, if you’re new to the band, visit this page and get a free CD sent your way):