Wait, Who Am I Here?
This year you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d gone into hyperdrive with my writing – a new Bryant & May novel (the longest yet), a new collection of short stories (‘Frightening’), a non-fiction book, ‘The Book of Forgotten Authors’ – and a psychological thriller.
Wait, you didn’t know about that last one? It turns out you didn’t know for a very good reason. Let me start at the beginning.
I’ve always had a problem; I can pretty much turn my hand to any form of writing. When I was you get I was employed as a literary mimic, writing for many different performers including Morecambe & Wise, several of the Pythons and comic actors like Leslie Nielsen.
This is not as good as it sounds. It took me a long time to find my identity as a novelist because on the page, I didn’t have one. I started with comedy, writing for the BBC, then humour books, horror stories, a quasi-SF novel, a supernatural thriller, a weird romance, anything that took my fancy – and much, much later, a crime series.
Although I absolutely love writing the Bryant & May books, part of me always wants to do something else, so I continue with independent novels and collections, some of which sell well, some not at all. These sale are down to the vagaries of distribution more than readers choosing subject matter, so that the three books for which I had my best critics’ reviews are paradoxically the three books that sold worst of all.
With the arrival of e-books a new reading pattern has emerged. Readers will take a chance on a low-cost e-novel and dump it if it’s boring, or buy it in print to keep if they enjoy it. And because of this new purchasing pattern, it’s possible to find whole rafts of new readers. So forward-thinking publishers are trying authors out in e-formats prior to moving them to print.
I’ve agreed to become part of this new system for one book (at first; if it works there will be others) so new readers can try me for a low outlay. But we decided not to use my existing name. Not that I’m big enough to be called a brand, you understand, but because it’s crucial not to confuse people. I get readers who say they love ‘Plastic’ and didn’t know I wrote mystery novels, and vice versa – so the idea is to go out there with something fresh and test the waters.
Which creates a problem of its own. How do the people who like my work (yes, both of you) find this new book?
It’ll be out later in the summer, and you’ll have to trust me on this – I’ll make sure you can find it. Quite how I’ll do that is something I haven’t cracked yet, butI have a team behind me and rest assured we’ll be working on it!
PS A bonus point to anyone who gets the movie quote in the headline.