I am blown away by the number of readers who have reached out to me, checking in to make sure I am okay. It is very touching.
I’ve been burning candles at both ends for a bit too long – this year in particular because it was the year I immigrated.
I know it is immensely frustrating to many that Cursed Land did not launch globally, in a single go. And that the website is down for upgrades.
They say you shouldn’t do this. They say you should stick to schedules, and always be available, and be active on all the social media platforms, and put readers into sales funnels as if they are cows to be milked.
I never really gave a shit for that kind of corporatism. I spent decades doing the money thing. Won my awards. Built my infrastructure. I left all that to tell stories. Turned my back on all of that because I – sincerely – believe in my soul that telling stories is my calling. Like some people join the priesthood, I tell stories. It is the most challenging, the most rewarding, and by far the most important work I have ever done.
I am making it up as I go. My stories seldom fall into the copy-and-paste formulaic fodder that passes for creativity in the mainstream. Under Fire was told in fragments, a series of staccato takes, to lay bare the ideological nature of the thriller. It wasn’t perfect, no book is ever as good as you want to make it, but it was correct for the story it wanted to tell. It had points to make. It had a ride to give. I do believe I succeeded in that, even if there were little imperfections and birth pains along the way. Readers responded well – and that was the only thing I really cared about. My readers liked it.
That right there is the sum total of my job description.
Brimstone was also risky. After writing a book about gay and lesbian lives that didn’t touch on sex at all – but laid bare the cultural, social, political, even theological aspects of their lives – Brimstone went full on X-rated.
But it was neither an erotic book, nor a love story. The sex – as racy as it might have been – wasn’t the point. Instead, Brimstone was the story of the same situation told through two different pairs of eyes. One thought it was a romance. The other, revenge. Paul Draker made a mistake many LGBT people make. Hell, a mistake many straight people make. People are people, once you scratch any deeper than the cosmetic surface differences. I believe that, and don’t give a shit if a mainstream editor, blue tick Twit, critic, or academic disagrees. My readers know it. Because they are real human beings, and I only care about them.
Cursed Land is coming, soon, and the story will speak for itself before I opine about it here.
If that was the sum total of the writing life, it would all be so easy. But there’s more to being a writer than writing books.
I’m learning as I go along, and I’m building something from scratch. Possibly, very possibly, I’m reinventing wheels I could have just as easily copied from elsewhere.
But there is a vision, and some methods peaking out from all the madness.
I want to build the best reader experiences, in my books and off the page, for my readers. A lot more work goes into these peripheral things than people see. But it is important. Because the honesty of my work demands that I’m never dependent on a platform other than that which I own and control myself.
My livelihood is not the issue. That, I’ve handled.
Getting my stories out there, and ensuring they are available, long term, whether right wing nuts or left wing nuts like it or not, approve or not, agree or not – is an important driving force.
I’ve been working hard setting up infrastructure – and honestly folks, all I need is a rest. A long, good, family time, take my eye off the ball, rest. I don’t need long. Just want December, really.
In January the website will be up. The media manager function will be handled by someone who does that. The storytelling can continue, and the books can be launched with the care and ceremony and attention they deserve.
I got this, understood this, I mean – and went to work. I expected the road to be exhausting, challenging, sometimes confusing, often lonely, often frustrating. But I bought into it and I went ahead and made a start.
Here’s what I did not expect…
Within days of the site having a maintenance notice on, readers waiting eagerly for Cursed Land reached out to me with concern. No one was ‘hey, asshole, where’s the book?’
From Australia. And Ireland. And the UK. And the US. Readers reached out and they cared about me.
I was moved to tears.
I knew they liked the books, I’ve been selling. I knew they cared about the stories, because they’ve told me, in letters, at book fairs, in messages on social media. That’s the only deal I could have hoped for, that, in my head, was as good as it would ever get.
The storyteller is secondary to the stories. The stories have lives of their own, and despite branding tricks and publishing practices and the cult of celebrity that seems to have convinced everyone that the Illuminated walk among us… the truth is that the stories matter. I’m pretty boring, actually. Bland, even. Most of my time is spent behind a computer, typing away. All the shock and awe, all the sexy, is on the page.
But they cared about me.
Not my books, or stories – they asked about that, they commented on that. But each and every message I received expressed genuine concern for my person.
I was very moved by that. Didn’t see that coming. So I cried a bit.
I’m taking a break. That means Cursed Land is coming out next year and not this year, for most readers in most places.
It will come out. And some readers already know they will get signed copies. And we’ll have a little launch when its underway. And the workload is better distributed and made more manageable for the long term marathon.
I wish things were smoother from day one… but I am relatively new to this thing I’m building, because its being built from scratch.
To my readers… THANK YOU. I truly am blown away. Particularly Australia and Ireland – where I have many readers. You guys reaching out made me feel warm and fuzzy, not something I’m particularly used to. I love you guys, too.
Website. 3 Jan. Social Media. From now till then, slowly becoming new and vibrant and its own thing. Newsletters. As scheduled, next week Friday being the next issue. Cursed Land. Global availability, end of Feb latest. Signed copies. If I told you you’ll get one, you will. Sci Fi. On its way. Stories. Hundred of them, waiting to be told.
Love, respect and a lot of kind thoughts to all of you.