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.
But writing is a fickle, unpredictable business. Just ask my friend Joseph D’Lacey who recently posted this brutally honest piece about his career.
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’m sitting on a pile of unfinished projects, and if I’m honest, they’re stopping me from moving on. There’s 17 DAYS which I spent years writing and which genuinely fried my brain, and there’s KAI, a YA monster novel which ticks all the plot and action boxes but which currently misses the mark in terms of characterisation and voice. And there’s THE SPACES BETWEEN – a huge science-fiction/horror series which I first pitched to my agent in 2010 but which I’ve so far made no progress on other than two drafts of the first book. I swear, that one in particular is waiting for this Brexit bullshit to be concluded (so it might take some time). It’s set in a fiercely independent, totally corrupt, totally money-orientated, totally fucked UK, so I’m guessing it’ll pretty much start writing itself any day now!
So, what’s the point of this post? I guess it’s both a type of therapy in confessing all of this, and also an explanation as to why some books I’ve announced haven’t yet appeared. But they will. I’m still actively working on ALL of the projects I’ve mentioned above, and I intend on seeing them ALL through to completion. You see, going back to the farming analogy, the first signs of a new crop are beginning to peek up through the soil. It just takes a little patience, persistence, and time.
In January I released THE LAST BIG THING, a collection of odd tales which seem to have gone down really well with readers. I wrote three new stories for the book including WE WERE SO YOUNG ONCE. Quite a few readers have mentioned how that one in particular has affected them, and that’s really gratifying. I can clearly remember where I was when I first had the idea for it (running through Halesowen, February 2009), and it took a decade for me to be in the right place and the right frame of mind to actually get it written. The same was true of AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES, which I couldn’t have written if I hadn’t spent endless hours with my Dad in hospital just before he passed away in February 2016, and then my mother-in-law before her death in October 2017. Both events helped shape the story from the germ of an idea to something complete (and, I hope, unsettling).
You can’t force these things, I’ve learnt. You just have to keep sowing and ploughing and fertilising and reaping etc. This has been an extremely long-winded way of saying two things. One – there are loads more Moody books on the horizon: a bumper crop on the way. Two – please buy THE LAST BIG THING. It’s cheap, beautiful, and I’m very proud of it. I think you’ll have a lot of fun using it to try and piece together the inner workings of my frazzled brain.