My dear friends,
It’s blog time. A very rare event, I know.
Firstly, an apology
Sorry it’s been a while, I’ve been busy as you all have, I suspect. I won’t dwell too much on the strangeness of recent times, other than to say it’s hard for lots of people, I’ve found it hard too, but I know I am very fortunate.
So my thoughts are very much with those that are struggling more than I am.
A quick update
You will know that my writing course at Cambridge is drawing to an end, and this has sucked up nearly all of my writing effort. It has been an amazing journey and I have been truly blessed with the cohort, these people uplift and inspire me every time I see them. I will miss them greatly and I hope my Masters at UEA replicates and builds on my amazing journey so far.
The difficult second novel
So, about four years ago, when the world was a very different place, I started to write what I thought would be my second novel, called Metropolitan Fear. Since then it has been a journey even harder than the first novel (which was plenty hard enough).
It turns out that writing about three separate characters, from unique points of view, in a modern New York City setting wasn’t easy. Add on angels, demons, terrorism, inequality, trees of creation, pyres of burning souls, a magic teleportation pencil and linking them all up to another story which stretches from the big bang to 2020, while finding backstories for my first novel, was probably a bit ambitious for one book.
It turns out that it was two novels instead of one.
The new novels are spilt into three parts, linked to the elements needed to create a fire.
The novels will be called:
Mother of Exiles (part one: oxygen)
Mother of Exiles (part two: fuel and part three: heat)
In case you were wondering, the name, Mother of Exiles, is taken from the wonderful poem by Emma Lazarus, which sits below the Statue of Liberty. I have included a snippet in the epigraph (and another epigraph snippet from China Miéville’s glorious Perdido Street Station).
Many great albums, books and films have come through some tough times, so I am hopeful that I have achieved something special, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be shouting from the rooftops (see below).
I have some beautiful cover artwork from Tam Rogers, who has done an amazing job – as she does with everything she touches.
I am in the final stages of editing, which has been long, painful and tortuous. With luck, I hope to be able to release the two novels in the next four to six weeks.
Marketing and promoting my next two novels
After talking to many writer friends, I opted not to go down the traditional publishing route. I wanted to move from flash and short fiction to challenge myself in writing a unique novel. I didn’t want to fit into a flat genre, which also made it challenging to seek agents or publishers (and as it turns out, readers, who tend to be more attracted to books that fit strongly into a single genre).
I don’t churn out books with great frequency, so any income I have earned from the book sales has been much less then the amount it has taken to get them them published. So, as well as time, I am financially losing money with each book. I am not moaning, I am incredibly privileged and fortunate that I can read, write, have a job, food, income and safety – but I am simply pointing out that many self published writers work hard for very little reward.
I am blessed that I can do this, and do it for the challenge and for the learning process. It has been an extreme multi-year endurance race, which I will feel incredibly grateful to finish.
These are some of the stats showing some of the effort (so far) on this project:
- I have written somewhere in the region of 300,000 words
- I have re-written the book/s, entirely, twice
- I have edited the books down to approx 80,000 words each
- I have typed somewhere in the region of one and a half million keystrokes
- It has taken many thousands of hours to get this far
While all the reviews (bar one) for the first novel, Metropolitan Dream, were incredibly positive, I am not going to be attempting to sell the new books to lots of people for free or for a very low price, only to allow someone (who, let’s be honest, probably has never gone through the pain of writing a book or been brave enough to publish it) the chance to fill their troll quota for the day.
So, in short, I’ll be pricing them ridiculously high, not with the intention of selling, but not selling. So, if you want to read them, get in touch, and I’ll send you an Advanced Reader Copy when it’s ready.
Those closely involved with the amazing vss365 project will know that it doesn’t matter how much you care, how much you are selfless, how much you give of yourself–there are some very strange people out there. And given just how difficult the second (and third) novel was, I’m not prepared to take any crap from strangers that think you have a team of people working for you and have earned thousands of pounds so you’re fair game for them to release the poison in their hearts. It hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen it happen to others that I care for and it truly turns my stomach.
I might change my mind in the future, but I need some decent space between me and the work first. With future books, it’s likely I will revert to normal practice.
Sorry if that felt like a rant, it wasn’t meant to be. Just trying to explain my highly unusual marketing strategy 🙂
I hope you, and all those you hold dear, are (and remain) safe and well.
Lots of love – M x