Predator X vs the Parentals.

It’s a Saturday. I have wine and a bar of Galaxy Caramel (seriously, I know how to party. And yes, that is me using the word ‘party’ as a verb in this shop). Therefore, I am in a whimsical mood and wish to tell you a story.

A story about my Mum (who hates the internet and would probably frown at me if she read this, but since she hates the internet, I win. Sort of. If anyone could ever win against my Mum, that is. I dreading her turning into a little old lady. She’ll make Father Jack look like a kindly old man, I’m sure of it).

Anyway. A little while ago, I had a book published. It was a little book, full of bonkerness and it sold rather well, which both thrills and terrifies me (and has been discussed in other blogs and shall not be uttered here again). My Mum, as mums are wont to, bought a copy, even though she hates horror, and hates swearing even more.

So, a few days after publication, I get a phone call. “I’m not happy with you,” she says.

Now, this is familiar territory, and about a million minor transgressions are flitting through my mind when she says this. Have I forgotten an obscure birthday? Said something on Facebook that my Mynah-Birdbrained little sister has parroted back to her? Been in a pub where one of her myriad spies (EVERYONE knows my Mum) has seen me, despite me being 37 and a mother of two and therefore entitled to get off my tits on cider and my mate John’s jokes every now and again?

Nope, it was none of these things.

“I did NOT bring you up to use language like that!”

….Aaaahhhhhhh. So, she’s read it.

Oh crap…

Yes, there is swearing in PredX. Yes, I know some people didn’t like it. I promise, there’s much less in Canter’s Leap, simply because Canter’s Leap is structurally very different, in that it is a 3rd person past tale, as opposed to a stream-of-consciousness 1st person present tale. And the thing with stream of consciousness is that everything that goes on in that character’s head gets written down, so everything Meg thought, I wrote – and since I swear like a Navvy on a rum bender when I’m scared, so does Meg.

“Mum – they were going insane 3 miles underground, trapped between a ravenous ancient marine reptile and a millions-of-years-old alien entity of indeterminate motive. I think anyone would swear a bit in that situation.” A bit like Dad says ‘cunt’ when he’s in the garage, but says it quietly just in case you might be within earshot.

“Well, I don’t like it. You don’t know language like that,” (ummm… yeah… okay…) “why couldn’t they say something else?”

“What, like ‘oh deary me, my friend seems to have been eaten. What a bother’?”

“Don’t be facetious.” (That’s Mum’s favourite word).

Upshot is, I had to go round and write a formal apology in her copy. I bet Stephen King never had to do that for his mum…

o0o

Her latest one? “I won’t really be proud until you win the Booker.”

“Umm… the don’t give the Booker to people who write pulp scifi horror and fantasy, Mum.”

“Well, they gave it to The Goldfinch, and that was the biggest pile of crap I’ve ever been forced to read, and if that can win it, so can you.”

… Sometimes, my Mum is awesome, too.

I think I think I’m going to write some hardcore erotica next, just to see what she does…

^^D

(PS: I am in so much trouble if she ever reads this. Good job she hates the internet, really. Just, no one ever buy her a tablet. She might like fondling that slab, and then I’m in BIG fucking trouble…)

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A Steep Learning Curve

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a proper blog here, which is bad of me. I should be posting regularly and doing all those professional things indie writers are supposed to do, but instead, I suppose you could say I’ve been hiding. Yep – I’m admitting it here and I’m admitting it now: I am a Grade A Coward.

Once upon a time, having a book published was a big ol’ pipe dream. Now, to put it bluntly, it isn’t. Predator X has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams; I thought a handful of people might read it and that would be that, but instead it has reached the dizzying heights of the #1 horror spot on Amazon.com, #74 in ebooks overall, and#6 in horror on Amazon.co.uk. It still sells well to this day, and to say that baffles me is a bit of an understatement.

It’s also pretty terrifying. Before this happened, I’d never really given the actual reality of having a book out there in the big, wide world a second thought. It turns out, though, that suffering from clinical anxiety issues is not hugely compatible with doing public stuff (I know, who would’ve thunk it, eh?!), and the curve in learning how to deal with this is hugely steep. I know there’s a lot of people out there who will be thinking ‘wtf? You’re published, I’m not – stop whinging!’, and yep, I get that – but take it from me, it isn’t all roses and Maltesers. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I’m not joking when I say the old heart from goes from ten-to-the-dozen each and every time I even think about checking rankings and reviews. I know some people relish in it all, but I personally find it very hard. Not because I can’t handle what is being said (I was a teacher – believe me, I’ve heard it all before, in glorious technicolor!), but simply because it makes me feel incredibly exposed. I struggle with the whole ‘putting yourself out there’ thing; not because I’m lazy or arrogant, but simply because it’s scary to open yourself up publicly like this (seriously, if anyone has any techniques in how to deal with all of this without going insane, please let me know!).

PredX is now public property. Some people liked it. Some didn’t. Some even loved it. Others completely loathed it. And I’m actually all right with that, because people are all different and are allowed to have different opinions. As it happens, I have learned *loads* from all of these people, from all sides of all the fences, and I am grateful for that. One of the most fundamental things I have learned is people don’t know me. In the past, I wrote for pretty tight-knit communities, where everyone knew me as the Lovecraft-inspired SFF nut who will shoehorn a shoggoth into everything if she gets half a chance, and so my twists off into the realms of cosmic horror/scifi silliness didn’t come as a surprise. I’ve now learned that when it comes to wider audiences, I really have to make that clearer. I have also learned that what writers like, readers don’t necessarily get on with. That came as bit of a shock – after spending years being told overwrite, I spent ages paring back the writing, getting rid of backstory, getting rid of all but the most necessary descriptions… only to find that’s what a lot of readers want. Which only goes to show that no one, no matter how confident they seem to be, no matter how loud they shout about the so-called ‘rules’, they aren’t necessarily right.

So, what next? I’m currently writing my next book for Severed Press, an occult / horror called Canter’s Leap. It’s different from PredX despite the lake monster theme (which is why they commissioned me), and that’s both a joy and a worry. Because now I’m a known entity, and I have everything to lose… but also everything to gain. I just hope those of you who enjoyed PredX like Canter’s Leap. I’m enjoying writing it (just about to write a good old body-horror scene – got to love a good bit of body-horror), and I hope that you do, too. Because the thought of disappointing you lot… yeah, that’s heartbreaking (and terrifying. Like I said, I’m a coward… ^^D).

How to write when there’s no time to write – part two

Some absolutely sterling advice about finding time to write (and some I need to follow myself!)

The house of crooked sisters

Oh, the irony in taking my time to post the second part in my series about how to write when there’s not time to write. My only reason has been, yes, really, lack of time. In my defence I’ve just been through some icky personally stuff I won’t boar you with, but this does, in away, lead onto the start of part two of by blog.

Don’t be guilty.

When you’re trying to find time to write, the wist thing you can do, or one of them, is to blame yourself when you don’t. Yes, I am going to go on to describe ways to keep the momentum going, but leaving all those aside, if you don’t keep to your schedule, if you find you miss writing sessions and so forth, whatever else you do, don’t beat yourself up about it. I say this, because blame and guilt leads to…

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A Seeming Glass – Arriving on 7th August

It’s going to be a stonking collection – got my order in already 😉

Martin J Gilbert's blog of writing and thinking

A beginning: birth.

Breathing – deep heaving breaths. Sounds, lights, words – sensations on skin and time that passes so quickly too quickly to feel.

Less than a year ago – less! – I met some wonderful people at a writer’s conference in York (the old, English one). I had never been to anything writerly before – never thought of myself as a writer, despite doing plenty of writing – but I realised that they were people like me, who had day jobs and troubles and worries and hair and noses, who sat up late at night thinking of strange worlds within worlds, who tried to find the words to turn those ideas into visions and music and rhythm, trying desperately to communicate them with the world outside. Who couldn’t stop even if they wanted to.

And words – heard, understood, learned. Spoken, written, read.

And from there, I found…

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What happens when it all goes right?

I woke up this morning to this email from my publisher, Severed Press:

 

“Looks like the promo is going well. Congratulations on being the #1 best seller in horror on US Amazon!
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

 

This came, as you may well expect, as a huge surprise. No, scratch that – a *massive* surprise. And it’s a surprise I’m not sure how to deal with. Of course I’m happy – more than happy! – but I’m all also quite, quite terrified. I’ve kind of managed to do something I’ve always dreamt of, almost by mistake. I never, ever expected Predator X to cause this kind of a stir, which means I am 100% unprepared. I’m even struggling to write this blog. It’s just mad. I made it to #1.

Fuck.