Hello, and welcome to the third stop on my Piece of Cake Blog Tour. I’d like to thank Gill for giving me this opportunity to chat about my writing career in the wake of my debut novella, Cake, which will be released this week.
I was always the boy who wrote. I grew up in Moreton on the Wirral, and attended Sacred Heart Primary School. I was the kid that would go up to the teacher’s desk, midway through a creative writing assignment, and ask for extra paper, because I’d already filled mine – front and back, baby! Sometimes we were told that we had to limit ourselves to a certain number of pages, which is why my handwriting, to this day, is a cramped, near-illegible scrawl; just one of my literary battle scars.
But this isn’t meant to be a retelling of Tom Brown’s Schooldays. Here I am, at the ripe old age of thirty-four, and I have just released my first novella; so what happened? How come the boy who wrote, became the man who didn’t?
It boils down to a lack of discipline. I found it all too easy to put things off, in lieu of something else. Maybe it was a night on the tiles with my beautiful wife; perhaps it was putting together some flat-pack furniture – both very worthy reasons to put off the writing for a night. That was the crux of the problem, of course; once I’d opened the door to a good excuse, it paved the way for bad ones. I think things reached their lowest depths when I traded a night of writing for an all-day marathon of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Indeed, in the ten years since leaving university, I penned a total of six stories, none of which were suitable for publication, largely because I had spent so long writing them, I no longer loved them the way I should.
In January of 2009, I decided that enough was enough. I was thirty years old, I was married, and we had our wonderful son, Kieran; the time had come to buckle down, and make a go of this dream I had pursued so erratically since childhood. I penned a drabble (that’s a story consisting of exactly 100 words, fact fans) called ‘In the Darkness’, and submitted it the same day to the now-defunct Micro 100 e-zine, edited by Dustin LaValley, who is a phenomenal writer in his own right, and well worth your time reading. It was my first submission and, a few days later, became my first acceptance.
It is difficult to put into words how I felt when I opened Dustin’s e-mail. Objectively, I knew it was only 100 words, that it was only going to appear in an online magazine, and that I wasn’t even going to get paid for it, but none of that mattered. Aside from the birth of my children, and my wife agreeing to marry me, nothing even comes close to the elation I experienced upon receiving that first acceptance e-mail. Not getting a job, or a promotion; not buying my first house … nothing. The best thing about it is that the feeling never goes away. I don’t know how many readers of this blog are also writers, but every time I have one of my tales picked up by a publisher, I still get that same buzz. Here is something I have created from whole cloth, with nothing more than my imagination, and the words in my vocabulary, and now anyone in the world can read it, if they have the will to do so.
Since then, I have written about sixty stories, over half of which have seen the light of day in anthologies, magazines and websites across the globe. I have been the editor for a small publishing house, Cruentus Libri Press, which has brought me in contact with a huge number of talented authors, many of whom I am pleased to be able to call my friends, including the lovely Gill Hoffs herself. With regret, I have been forced to end my time as an editor. Just as it was in the past, I found that I was giving up my writing time to another pursuit and, whilst editing an anthology is probably more noble than sitting down in front of Melissa Joan Hart for six hours, it’s still not what I was put on this Earth to do.
Cake marks the pinnacle of my achievements as a writer, to date, but it is really only the beginning. An eighty page novella, clocking in at around 20,000 words, it is the longest single piece of fiction I have ever written, and I am immensely proud that I managed to get that far with it. However, even though it will only be released this week, I’m already looking ahead to my next project.
I’ve compiled a collection of my flash fiction, which will see its release before the end of the year. I’m also writing a collaborative novel with American horror author, Roger Perry, which is a uniquely satisfying experience. Those six stories I mentioned, that never got anywhere? I’m polishing them off, revising and, in essence, rewriting them, for a mini-collection. And then there is my next novella, Ancient Wings, which I hope will see the light of day around August this year.
So much writing to do, and so much time and energy to commit to it, but I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going.
I guess, when all’s said and done, I’m still the boy who writes.
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