How I Ended Up Producing 23 Books In One Year
…four of which are BRAND SPANKING NEW! Your friendly neighbourhood author is about to attempt the impossible, and I don’t mean watching an entire episode of ‘Gogglebox’. I’ve been writing up a storm for your delectation, partly because I love challenges and also because I feel that right now I’m doing some of my best work in a while.
In an old Tony Hancock show, Kenneth Williams says to Hancock; ‘I think you were at your peak five years ago. You were very funny in those days.’ It’s something all authors get. People still come up and say they loved my first book as if it was a compliment, but many authors start with relatively unsophisticated novels. The paradox is that as they gain experience, they lose the readers who prefer simpler writing.
Back in the day, my first novel, ‘Roofworld, got some very nice reviews, two of which mentioned my great hero, Jim Ballard. I was thrilled to be allowed to touch the hem of his gown but felt my mention was undeserved; I could only aspire to his heights and fall somewhere far short.
Years later we corresponded. He was kind and thoughtful and filled with encouragement. We talked about books and movies. Looking back at my gushing letters I felt so callow and dumb that I threw all the correspondence away. One day, I was invited to meet him.
It was at the screening of ‘Crash’, David Cronenberg’s unsubtle travesty of Ballard’s masterwork, and the producer, Jeremy Thomas, waved at me, beckoning me over across the room to meet Mr Ballard. I was faced with a dilemma. Ballard had made it known that he liked the film, but I think this was because he loved cinema and loved the idea of Hollywood adapting his subversive works.
I couldn’t walk across the room and say I hated the film, and I couldn’t lie. So – to my eternal regret – I turned away and left. I’ve spent years thinking about him and trying to work on a novel that would capture just a smidgen of his essence.
This summer the book comes out. It’s called ‘The Sand Men’, and will be published by Solaris in August.
Wow, I thought, two books out this year – the fourth year in a row.
Then my main publisher green-lit several other projects. The problem was that an available window had come up and it seemed churlish not to take it; opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.
Meanwhile, I had been adapting my backlist – those volumes not already available – as digital downloads. I didn’t like the design service offered by Amazon, so I commissioned one of my oldest friends, a very good art director, to find a way of making them work as e-books. He came up with a visually stunning approach that my publishers liked so much they came on board.
I now find myself in the extraordinary situation of having nineteen volumes coming to e-readers over the year, plus four brand-new volumes, the first of which is ‘Bryant & May and the Burning Man’, followed by my first new collection of short stories in several years, ‘Frightening’, and the thriller ‘The Sand Men’ – then in November comes a Christmas book. What is it? I’ll tell you a little nearer the time.
All of this means that my average working day is now fourteen hours long. I’m loving it.