How I Ended Up Producing 23 Books In One Year

Reading & Writing








…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.

10 comments on “How I Ended Up Producing 23 Books In One Year”

  1. Jo W says:

    On to more and more success! At first sight of this post I thought another visit to a diy shelving shop was called for-but phew -e book versions. ( Btw -watching a whole episode of Gogglebox impossible? Watching the opening titles without breaking the all comers record for finding the remote-that’s tricky!) Only two weeks now to the new B&M , b s m b h!

  2. C Falconer says:

    Those frontboards are amazing. That’s certainly the way to do a series style – well – stylishly…

  3. Claudette says:

    Leave time for love.

  4. Matt says:

    14 hour days and still have time to post to your Blog, you are amazing… shame I won’t have the shillings to buy all the new books being offered this year….I have saved up and have B&M on pre-order from Amazon. As for the rest I will have to get the piggy bank out and check if I have enough white fivers to get them. 😉

  5. Chris Lancaster says:

    Fantastic news. Are The Sand Men and Frightening both physical books, or only e-books? Hopefully the former.

    Also excited about the Christmas book. Having stumbled across its title on-line (purely by accident), am greatly looking forward to it. I won’t say any more, though!

  6. m says:

    I am so excited about all the new books. Will the ebooks be available for the US?

  7. Stephen Volk says:

    I think Crash was a great film. I think Crash was a great book. I think of them as entirely separate ventures. (Though the film has a flaw: it needed an “Elizabeth Taylor” role – I would have had Debbie Harry, who’d been in a Cronenberg film before, playing herself). The whiff of celebrity death was absent. But the cold lack of sexual titilation and the absurdist obsession was intact, I thought. There could be no equivalent for the linguistics on screen, obviously. So the one is only a riff on the other. I delighted in the thought of audiences going to see it because it was “sexy” but in fact the film was anything but. Anyway, nowadays Ballard would have had to sign a contract saying he wouldn’t publicly badmouth the film. Nobody takes an option on as book with the possibility that a novelist can slag off the film at a later date – why would they? (This is post Anne Rice and the Interview With A Vampire debacle.) Though why anybody wants to go up to anybody to tell them they hated something is beyond me.

  8. admin says:

    It’s interesting, Stephen – we think of books as presenting the correct view and then rail against the film for presenting a different perspective, but to me Crash was far more slippery a creature than Cronenberg made it, almost as if he shied away from it, presenting weirdos for our delectation without ever allowing us to think of them as us. Particularly the casting of James Spader, who usually played slimeballs, was alienating.

    Chris, ‘The Sand Men’ is a physical book. The ebooks will be available for the US a bit later.

  9. John says:

    Would that TALENTED art director be one Mr. Martin J. Butterworth? And congratulations on all the work. Great job.

  10. Donna H says:

    A good many years ago I attended a book signing for Terry Pratchett. The long queue wound round a large display of a book called “Psychoville” by some guy you might have heard of. I didn’t buy the book then but later brought it, “spanky” and “darkest day” on the same day and never looked back. So, thank you Terry for your books and for introducing me to Christopher Fowler, Neil Gaiman and others.

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