Friday, 5 November 2010

Successes and failures...

....I say failures, but in all honesty, there haven't really been any this week.
OK, so I didn't finish the 1st draft of book 2 (despite the finest intentions), before the arrival of young Stanley Edson, but frankly I'm not going to give myself the hardest time about it.

Having spent the past couple of months bricking it about our ever-expanding brood, it was frankly a relief to see the wee man arrive safely. And now that he is here, the fog has lifted a bit. I've managed to read and enjoy some of a book for the first time in ages (Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin). Ridiculous I know, but I've really missed being able to just concentrate for a few minutes.

The writing has felt similarly enjoyable. I've not covered myself in glory, but I've chipped away at a chapter, come up with an idea for a school event and had some really positive feedback on what I have written of the new book.
It's really nerve-wracking letting someone read what you're working on, and a lot of authors don't let anyone in until draft one is complete and polished, but for me, a bit of a confidence boost mid-draft really helps, even if the feedback is 'it's a bit sketchy'....

So, the sleep patterns are going to be a bit out of kilter the next few weeks - did I say weeks, I mean months, but I'm well set to push on and deliver in time for Christmas.
I didn't just promise that, did I?
Ask me again in a month.......

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

In the words of the great Ice Cube....

...Today was a good day.

Or rather yesterday was.
You see I meant to write this last night, but then the divine Mrs E ruined it all by inviting lovely friends round for a monkfish curry....not that I'm moaning, about the curry or the friends. Both were absolutely spot on. As was the day as a whole, as I turned thirty-six yesterday.

I think I'm enjoying birthdays more as I get older. I don't buy into feeling maudlin about nearing 40, it doesn't bother me. Maybe as it gives me an excuse for being grumpier, increasingly agrophobic and a little wider around the word, how lucky my missus is.

I got absolutely spoilt rotten. Presents included;
A digital radio
Where the Wild Things Are (DVD)
The new Paul Heaton CD
A subscription to Empire mag

and my 3 favourite gifts;

'Ostrich Boys' by Keith Gray (which I read in manuscript - more to follow on the great Mr Gray in the future) - a brilliant novel for any age group

the complete box set of one of the finest dramas ever made (forget '24' box sets, this is up there with 'Six Feet Under' and 'The Wire')


a couple of brilliant vintage world cup posters. The one above is just fabulous.

I was also in bed by ten o'clock...another sign of getting old, and one I don't object to either!
After all, with the baby due in two days time, who knows when the next proper kip will come.....

Monday, 11 October 2010

For goodness sake, concentrate!

Do you ever have periods when you can't concentrate on anything?

At present I seem to have absolutely no staying power whatsoever. Whether it's the impending doom, sorry did I say doom?...I mean excitement of our new arrival  (17 more days at gas mark 5), or the fact that publication date is less than three months away, I can't tell. But whatever it is, it's all a bit of a struggle.

The biggest telltale sign is that I am completely unable to finish a book at the moment. I've been reading something for about 3 weeks now, it's a book that everyone in the trade is excited about, and I can see why.
It's really strong. Everything about it says, yep I'm going to sell. But can I get to the end of it?
Can I buggery. I wouldn't mind but it's not even 300 pages long!

It's verging on the embarrassing. Especially when folk at work ask what I'm reading and I have to admit it's the same thing as last time they asked....publishing folk read fast you see, there's no time for shillyshallying around....

Book number two, however is progressing ok, although I wish I could think of a title for it.
"Being Billy" started out life as "Never Tear Us Apart", until no-one liked it.
I can see their point, I suppose it was all a bit 'INXS'...
At the moment book 2 is just "Daisy,"which of course will never do.
If book 1 does ok then perhaps "Being Daisy" will make commercial sense, but it's a big 'if'....

It feels like the content of it is going well though. I've written about 66,000 words now, which is about the length that 'Billy' ended up at, and I'm nowhere near the end.
It's round about now that I scratch my chin, shake my head and think that perhaps a chapter by chapter plan might have been a good idea.....

And finally, in news just in, I just wanted to say a big thank-you to my friend Danny Bree, a fine fellow who I've known some thirty years.
Bree has saved me the shame of seeing a proof of "Being Billy" going unsold on ebay. He paid a princely sum for it, and I hope that it's worth every penny.
Bree - I salute you. Oh and I owe you 99p plus postage...cheers buddy xx

Right...back to Daisy....bye for now

Monday, 27 September 2010

Word gets around...

I've banged on before about word of mouth and how important it is to the success of any book, so it's been really lovely these last couple of weeks to start hearing back from people who've given the proof copies of 'Being Billy' a whirl.

Most of the feedback has come via librarians, people who I guess picked up a copy whilst at the YLG conference in Cardiff, and so far their responses have been incredibly encouraging. I've had a couple of invites to go and speak to both book-groups and attendees at a conference. What will make both of these events really interesting is that I'd be speaking directly to children in care, a prospect that both excites and terrifies in equal measure...

Obviously, it'll be fascinating and humbling to talk to kids in the midst of similar situations to Billy, to hear their stories, to see how much life in homes has changed since I worked in them in the late 1990's, but at the same time, what if they don't relate to what I've written at all?
I've never lived through the things they have. I was a carer (or as Billy calls them 'scummers'), on the other side of the fence, someone who was lucky enough to have a family to go home to at the end of the shift, so how can I possibly imagine what it must be like to live their lives?

I suppose this is the biggest challenge for anyone writing, to capture a level of authenticity, to enable the reader to say 'yep, that's exactly how I feel'.
And that's why writing for kids or Young Adults is such a fantastic challenge, because they are the harshest critics. Why would they waste time wading through a book that they aren't enjoying or can't relate to, when there a hundred other things fighting for their attention...the simple truth is, they won't, and this thought always keeps me on my toes when I'm writing.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I spend too much time worrying, my old boss even nicknamed me Eeyore for that very reason, so I'm keeping all this in check, trying not to let the worry take over, remind myself that I have got inside Billy's story after all.

I got a message this week from a lady I've never met. She got in touch via Twitter, and her message really made me smile. She liked Billy enough to get in touch and tell me. She even went as far as posting a review on the Puffin website, and I've decided that whenever I worry about whether I've got inside Billy's head, I'll just give it a read.

Her review says.......

'Borrowed this pre sale book from my daughter who is doing a review for her local library. I didn''t expect to like it but quickly found I couldn''t put it down. Having fostered a child in a similar situation several years ago this story really hit a cord. The whole book is compelling and the characters totally believable full of strength and dignity. If this is the first, I can''t wait for the follow ups. Well done Phil for tackling such a difficult subject.'

Friday, 17 September 2010

Getting Over The Line......

There are approximately forty-five days left until the new addition makes an appearance.
In fact as it’s bubba number three, it could be a lot less…..but I’m banking on the forty-five days, if not forty-seven, as both Albie and Elsie were two days overdue.

Now I know this all sounds like splitting hairs, but two days is two days, and at the present rate of writing, it equals about three thousand words, or a chapter and a half.

I haven’t been on a deadline since university, so that’s fourteen years since I sat scrabbling around at , looking for a non-chewed pen to start my essay with.
Back then, I knew where the time had gone, how I’d frittered it away - it had gone in the bar drinking snakebite and black, or in the Asian Kitchen…ah, happy days.

I’m not sure this time though, where the year has gone?
I mean, between signing the deal with Puffin and having to deliver book two, I’ll have had the best part of eighteen months to write a second story, and in that time I’ve got through nearly 60,000 words, but it’s still nowhere near done.

It makes me wonder if I should be a bit more regimented about it all.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve chatted to a couple of very talented, successful authors, and its interesting (to me at least) to hear how differently they work…..

One of them is a full time writer who works to a daily word count.
1500 words.
Not a lot, granted, but that is his magic number.
He writes, largely in coffee shops, plundering the wifi at the same time, and as soon as the word count is hit, then bang, the work day is over and the fun begins. What that means basically, is that within two calendar months, he has a full draft completed. Broken down like that, it makes perfect sense….and think of all that free time……

The other writer told me about his old regime (before he gave up work), which meant storing up all his writing time into a block, in his case one day a week. That day was put aside for nothing but writing, no distractions or TV or friends, just him and his laptop. The days in between he didn’t really have time to pick up his pen, and would instead use the free minutes to think about where the story was going next……

I’m thinking I’m going to have to get my arse in gear and work to a better schedule. I reckon I’ve another 40,000 words to crack until this first draft is done, and after that there’s the inevitable (and more than likely, lengthy) re-writes……

I’m determined to get it done though, in fact I’m quite up for the challenge. I might even have the occasional snakebite and black to oil the cogs and help me on my way….

Sunday, 12 September 2010

"Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be....."

Yesterday, between 11 and 11.30 am, I felt like a rock star.
Well, I say a rock star, maybe not Keef Richards or Mick Jagger, probably more a northern Chesney Hawkes who’s had one curry too many, but I was a rock star all the same….(cue chorus of ‘One and Only’)

I spent Friday and Saturday at the Youth Librarians Group Conference in Cardiff. Now you might think this isn’t the place that rock stars congregate, but you’d be wrong, as a lot of the most important and revered kids writers and illustrators were present to talk about their work, good folk like Cathy Cassidy (the newly crowned Queen of Teen), Chris Riddell and Helen Oxenbury, legends all.

I was there primarily to work, manning the S&S stall, pressing our books into the librarians hands, but as I was already there, the good people of Puffin very kindly organised for me to sign copies of ‘Being Billy’ in one of the coffee breaks.

Now the book isn’t out until January, so we were using the proof copies of the book created for this type of occasion. To get people reading and hopefully loving Billy now, so that when it finally appears on shelves, they’re primed and ready to recommend it.

I was a bit nervous about it, still felt like a bit of a fraud amongst these established writers, and of course there was a very strong chance that I would end up sat for half an hour with a pen in hand, a pile of books in front of me, and no-one interested in having one….

But the brilliant thing was, the books were free, so I needn’t have worried, of course people would take one off my hands.
It was a surreal and fantastic way to spend half an hour, scrawling my name in my cack-handed way in the front of my book, and the really terrific thing was a number of the librarians had already read it, loved it, and so wanted a copy for their colleague, or with one of their customers in mind.
I don’t think I’ve ever grinned as widely, or for as long as I did.
I’ve worked so many signings over the years, so to be sat at the table instead of managing the queue? Well it felt like a bit of a defining moment really, like maybe I am a proper author after all.
Time will tell, but for now, I’m still grinning….

Monday, 6 September 2010

ways of working.....

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about what I’ll say when I start school or bookshop events in January.
Working at Ottakar’s for as long as I did, I saw a lot of authors talk brilliantly about their books, or how they wrote them.
It’s funny, but there’s a lot of pressure on authors now, in particular kids authors, to not only be good writers, but performers as well. There are some extraordinary characters out there entertaining kids, people like Philip Ardagh and Darren Shan, who can hold two or three hundred kids attention just like that (*snaps fingers*), and who are so inspiring.
There are canny authors as well, who know that regular contact with schools across the country will do wonders for their sales, as well as allowing them to earn a living between advances.
I have to admit I’m really excited about getting out there. The bit of my job I enjoy most is waffling to customers about books, so to be able to do it about something of my own is going to give me a massive high….

But what to say?
I’ve listened to many writers speak about the hours they pore over their computer or notepad.
How they banish the internet or telly between 9am and 5pm.
How they can’t work with background noise, or unless the temperature is bang on 20 degree celcius…

Next to that sort of dedication or intensity I feel like a bit of a fraud.
I’m not worried about it or anything.
Can’t afford to be.
I have to write on the go, don’t have a choice about it.
As I write this I’m sat on the X68 bus, just about to go past ‘The Old Vic’ Theatre, and I should, London pile-ups permitted, be home in about 40 minutes.
Just enough tie to get this blog written…..

I don’t know how many writers have jobs, part-time or otherwise, I’d imagine plenty of them, but I do really enjoy having to find time to write.
When I was writing ‘Being Billy’, it was all about 8 to 9pm, Monday to Friday.
As soon as the kids were asleep, that was my time.
Alright, it wasn’t a sustained period, but it was usually enough to bash out 750 or 1000 words, words that I’d revisit the following night before cracking on again. Either that or I’d print them off to read on the bus or tube the next day….

I’ll happily write on the move, but if I’m at home, then it’s always in the lounge, in my chair (my beloved reclining, increasingly tatty Ikea chair), and often, more often than not, with the telly on.
I know, I know, I can hear the tuts of disgust, but I can’t help it. I’ve always liked background noise, even when I was a kid doing my homework, I’d do it with Eastenders on or something.
The weird thing is though, is that I can’t write with the radio on. Telly yes, radio no.
It doesn’t distract me if Man Utd have just conceded a penalty, I can write through that, but if Mark Radcliffe is cueing up a new obscure bluegrass track, then it stops me in my tracks….

…weird, I know.
One for a psychiatrist I think.

It drives my missus mad.
I tried to put it to her that she should be proud of having a husband who can multi-task, that it’s not everyone who can write and watch at the same time.
I got short shrift with that theory, funny that eh?

So what do I say when I’m stood in front of class of year nine’s in January?
How do I make my writing foibles palatable or acceptable?
I’ve ‘hummed and ha’d’ about it and have come up with this theory, which is a bit of a cop-out, whilst being entirely true at the same time.

‘Find what works for you and stick with it.’

If writing one hour a day is all you can do, then commit to it.
If background noise helps channel your brain then embrace it.
Don’t be told that there’s a right way or a wrong way, because it simply isn’t true.

Just make sure that whoever you end up living with or married to, knows you’re a fruitloop before they unpack their bags…..

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Word of Mouth……

….there’s nothing like it.

Publishers have spent years in windowless meeting rooms talking about how to get the buzz going on new or established authors (I feel like I’ve sat in on my fair share of them…).

It’s the most discussed subject in books, apart from ‘how do create a crossover sensation?’(grrrr, the hours wasted on that little gem..), but it’s talked about for a reason, because you can’t beat it.
There’s nothing more gratifying than watching a book that you absolutely love fly off the shelves, and when it’s flying because booksellers are hand-selling it to customers, who in turn are raving about it to their mates, well it’s a magnificent feeling. Better than…(fill in your hedonistic pleasure of choice here)

Don’t get me wrong, a well-placed ad campaign can work wonders, but these are few and far between on debut novels, and quite rightly too.

I like the idea of a book going out on the shelves without that sort of fanfare. Love the thought that your proof copy has landed in the right hands, and that the story has been enough to persuade booksellers or librarians that this is the next book that their customers have to read….

It’s a risky and romantic belief this. I remember our staff room at Ottakars being jammed full of unread proofs, each of them raved about by reps as the next big thing. 90% of them would sit there for a few months, until we couldn’t open the door anymore, leaving us no option but to fill the skip with them (even the charity shops didn’t want them…).

But I’m not going to linger on that thought. I’m just going to have faith that the jacket and the copy will be enough to entice booksellers to give ‘Billy’ a whirl.

The other thing that I hope will help are the quotes.

One of the many great things about working in bookselling, or publishing, is that you get to meet people, people whose opinion counts, and so when I got the deal with Puffin I wrote to some of these good folk and asked them if they had time to read my book.

And do you know what, they did.

I fretted like mad whilst waiting to hear. Worried they’d hate it, or even worse, that they’d feel compelled to say nice things out of a weird sense of loyalty, even though they owed me nowt…
…But I needn’t have worried, because these good people came up trumps, and it was the most brilliant confidence boost you could ask for.

What’s even better is that they said I could tell other people what they thought, and so, the good people of Puffin have put some of the quotes together, laid them out snazzily, and will put them on the back cover and inside the book.

I really hope that these kind words do the trick. I hope they entice people, booksellers, librarians, Joe Public, whoever, to give this a whirl, and spread the word. Have a look below and tell me what you think…would you read this book??

Friday, 27 August 2010

The Clock is ticking…..

….and a bloody loud alarm is going to go off on October the 28th. Or thereabouts, as that’s when the newest Earle is due to arrive.

It’s fair to say it was a shock. The prospect of going from one to two was scary enough, but three??!?

They say it’s the magic number. But they also say it’s a crowd, especially when all three of the little beauties will be under five years old.

Pray for us….(if that's your bag)

The news threw us a decent sized curveball. It meant the two bed flat had to go, to be replaced with our lovely new three bed abode (WE HAVE STAIRS…IN LONDON!?). And as with any house move, it had its stresses, ones that I dealt with in a supremely ineffective manner. But it was worth it, as the new gaff is brilliant.

The baby also means a new car, one big enough to fit three kid seats in the back, plus the unlimited paraphernalia of buggies, scooters, travel cots ….but to be honest, that’s ok. What’s a bit of debt between friends?

The biggest pressure (because I’m still in denial that the bump is anything but a doughnut overdose on Laura’s part) is getting the second book done before the madness ensues.

Ah yes, the second book. That difficult second book.
I always thought that saying was a load of old arse to be honest.

You read about authors, or musicians who take years to follow up their first offering, and that always seemed a bit self-indulgent to me. I mean, how hard can it be? You’ve done it once already, take your head from up your derriere and get on with it…

So that’s what I’ve done.
Kind of.
In a fashion.

Except it’s been, well, difficult the second time around. Not because of the genius of what I wrote first, as after all, ‘Billy’ isn’t even in the shops yet. It hasn’t sold a copy and wont do until January.

No bugger has even put a proof copy on ebay yet! Booksellers aren’t what they used to be...are they paying you more these days?! (joke! Please hand-sell my book…)

I’ve thought about why I’m finding it more tricky this time, and part of it is due to pregnancies, and house moves, and all that jazz. After all, it’s hard to be creative when you’re absolutely bricking yourself about where the next nights sleep is going to come from.
But part of it is a lovely dilemma, and one I am absolutely not complaining about, as I’m so lucky to have a deal that allows me to write a follow-up.

But the dilemma is this. When I was writing the first book, I was writing it for me.
Alright, I daydreamed about finding an agent and a publisher, but it was just a fantasy at the time. So a result, there was no pressure. I wrote it for me, to occupy myself, and I was the writer as well as the editor, agent and audience.

This time around, there’s already people waiting to read it, willing it, as well as needing it to be different, and better than ‘Being Billy.’
None of these people put pressure on me, none of them have been anything but magnificent and encouraging, even when I asked them to read tiny chunks, just to put my mind at ease.

The mistake I made I think, was paying too much attention to the worry. As instead of chipping away, and doing what I did with book one, an hour a day, at least 5 days a week, I buried the book and ignored it. Wrote nowt. Which just made the paranoia worse.

In the end, the due date of the baby has done me a favour, as it’s forced me to get back to good habits, to get back to the daily routine of me and laptop, and to tapping out at least 750 words, 5 days a week.

And it’s worked. Alright, I’m still paranoid about falling short and letting folk down. But seeing the pages fill up quicker than they have in months, has given me the buzz again, and helped me to create the book I wanted to write in the first place.

I think Daisy’s story is going to be harder to write, after all, I’m not a fifteen year old girl (no comments at the end of this blog please!), but I’m absolutely determined to enjoy the process as much as the first time around.

And if I enjoy it, hopefully it’ll rub off on whoever reads it afterwards……good theory, eh?

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

"What's it all about...Billy?!"

The two line pitch.
It’s what I’ve been trained to do.
To find a way of selling a book to customers in two lines…or twenty seconds -  whichever comes first.

I’ve been thinking this way for so long that I thought it would be a piece of the proverbial to knock one out for ‘Being Billy’.

But when I sat down to think about it? Well I sat there looking at a blank piece of paper for a long long time.
It’s even more embarrassing when people ask you in conversation what your book’s about and you falter, mumbling something that sounds as riveting as, well, reading this probably….

But I shan’t give up. I’m still confident that I’ll come up with something pithy before the 6th of January. And in the mean time, here’s a slightly longer idea of what ‘Being Billy’ is all about….

I was fantastically na├»ve at the age of 21. Yep, even greener than I am now. So when I started work in a children’s home in Hull, I honestly thought that the greatest thing that could happen to a kid in care was to finally be adopted. And for some children, it was.

For others though, it wasn’t the fairytale ending it should’ve been.
Some had been in care for years, living with eight other kids and a constantly revolving roster of carers. It was an existence that left them institutionalised.
A lot is made of jailbirds struggling to adopt to life outside the prison walls (anyone remember that scene in ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ when the elderly ex-lag hangs himself?), and I always thought it must be the same for these kids.

I mean, how do you cope, at such a young age (when all you have known is this communal, regimented upbringing), with suddenly being part of an ‘orthodox’ family, where it’s just you, a mum and dad, maybe a sibling or two?
How do you adjust or learn to trust the same two people putting you to bed or getting you up in the morning when for as long as you can remember, you’ve had half a dozen people a day looking after you in shifts. Adults who tell you they care deeply for you, before clocking off to go home to their real family?

It was heart-breaking seeing fostering or adoption placements breaking down as a result.
How do you recover at the age of ten, when you’re told by the second family that promised to look after you, that it’s not working out, that you’re going back to the home you spent years trying to escape from.

That’s the situation Billy finds himself in at the start of the book.
And understandably, he’s angry, violent, and disillusioned.

The one positive thing in his life is his younger siblings, nine year old twins, who live with him in the home. Billy is both a mum and a dad to them, and fights daily to give them as ‘normal’ an upbringing as he can.
But when their mum, a recovering alcoholic, starts to get her act together, and makes noises about taking the twins home again, but not Billy, well his world really starts to implode.

As you’ve probably guessed from reading this, the book is a comedy….influenced by movie classics like American Pie….
…the weird thing is though, despite the edgy, emotional things that happen throughout, there is humour in the book, honest. Because the kids that made me want to write it were funny, not maudlin.
They certainly didn’t sit about and mope about how crappy their life was. Many of them didn’t know any different, after all.
They were certainly mixed up, many felt displaced or unloved, but they had a spirit, a resilience that no-one, not even an abusive parent, could kick out of them.

During any given shift (which ranged from eight to about thirty hours) I could be swore at (and I mean creative cussing from a six year old that would make Chubby Brown blush), punched, kicked, scratched or spat on. There were days when I’d be on the end of all of the above, but the amazing thing was the same kid who’d inflicted all these things on you, was as likely to come up to you at some point in the same day and ask to talk to you, or want a hug, or to share something with you.
These kids were a brilliant bag of contradictions, and working with them was just humbling.

That’s a big reason that I chose to write about Billy. I wanted to take this kid, the kid who you’d cross the street to avoid, and I wanted to try and show why he behaved like he did. To show people that no matter what crap flew at him, he had the bottle and the desire to fight his way out of it. That in fact, he had more spirit and desire than many of us combined.

Whether I’ve managed to achieve this in a way that makes for fun reading, or whether it’s a subject people will want to read about, remains to be seen.
But I had a bloody good time trying…..

Friday, 20 August 2010

Just the basics....

A year ago, almost to the day in fact, something rather bloody marvellous happened.
I managed to land a book deal.
With Puffin.
And I’ve been trying to get my head around it ever since.

I could lie to you and tell you that it was a lifelong dream, and that I’ve been writing ever since I was old enough to pick up a wax crayon, but that would be a porkie of epic proportions.
I spent most of my childhood trying (and failing) to be as good as my brother at sport, and had a bloody good time doing it.

I must have liked books (Flat Stanley was a standout) as I chose to study English Literature and Drama at Uni, but I mostly read utter crap as a teenager, film-tie-in novelisations - ‘Predators’ anyone? I even read an adaptation of ‘Auf Wiedersen Pet’! Don’t judge me, I’m not proud of it.

It wasn’t until I got a job in a bookshop though at the age of 26, that I realised what I wanted to do.
I was given the traditional ‘new-boy’ sections to look after at first, sci-fi, true crime, erotica, but after about six months I got moved over to kids books, after everyone else had said no to the chance.
But I loved it.
And was lucky to have a boss, Lesley, who completely lit the fire under me, and fed me the right books to read. I can’t remember what the first book was, I think it was either ‘Skellig’ or ‘Holes’, both obvious but essential, but that was it, I was sold. And I’ve not stopped since. I do read adult stuff sometimes – I’ll drop everything for a new George Pelecanos novel, but largely, 95 percent of the time, it’s kids stuff, Young Adult in particular.
I’ll bore you with the titles I really love some other time...

It was while I was working at Ottakar’s that I decided to give writing a whirl.
I was watching Celia Rees do an event in the shop (she was talking about ‘Witch Child’) when I had an idea, the greatest plot ever dreamt up, and spent the next three years writing it on a battered old laptop during my lunch hour.
It was brilliant, everyone said so, well, everyone except all the agents and editors that I begged to read it. They were very kind, and gave me good feedback, but it was clear it wasn’t good enough.

So I did what any proud wannabe writer does. I stopped writing. Completely. Didn’t write another word for about five years. Went back to reading and selling them instead of embarrassing myself by trying to copy the people I admired.

Loads of good stuff happened then. I got married, got a job in kids publishing, put on some weight, and had two beautiful insomniac children.
It was about three months after Elsie was born that I got the itch to write again.
We weren’t getting much sleep, and were feeling pretty brain-dead as a result. Evenings consisted of getting the kids to bed before slumping on the settee with a bottle of plonk and a box set of 24. This was all well and good, but after 72 hours with Kiefer Sutherland, something had to give.

I’d been carrying an idea around for years, about an angry kid, abandoned both by his mother and the family who adopt him years later, and decided, on the spot that I’d give it a whirl.
It took me about 5 months to get a draft done, and by that time I’d harangued an old friend, who was now an agent, to take me on. With a lot of spit and polish, the removal of a hell of a lot of swearwords, and a month of the most painful waiting ever, I had two offers to choose from…and Puffin it was.

I’m a lucky, lucky man.

I want to use this blog to talk about writing, but not just my own, god that would be dull for me, never mind you…but about good new stuff, a bit about the process of getting published, and general excitement as and when it happens.
Come back and have another read, there’s nothing more depressing than writing for an audience of one…..