Okay, so here is my first blog. After all, I’m big enough and ugly enough to do one all on my own.
So, what should I say? What should I write about?
I guess I shouldn’t just blog on and on and on and on about the books I write, although I guess I will dabble here and there about what I’ve written.
But, I thought I’d get things going and perhaps muse over what got me into writing in the first place. After all, it wasn’t very long ago I started.
My first book, The Hill, came out in January 2015. It took me about a year to write. I was born in 1964. So do the sums and you will work out that I was a late starter.
What got me into writing?
Like most everybody else, I read books. I love them. Biography, Fiction, How to books etc. I’ve always loved fiction writers like Stephen King, Jack McDevitt, Isaac Asimov. I think Dan Brown is pretty brilliant too.
I liked real books, you know the books with covers and paper with words written on each page, plus a picture or two thrown in for good measure.
In Christmas 2013, my wife Kerry, bought me a Kindle. I tried to look pleased, but truthfully, I was anti eBooks. I knew a few people who owned them and had seen passengers on the bus reading them. But they weren’t for me.
Around the same time an old friend of mine, Michael Lewis (Louie Lewis) had self published a book called Memoirs of Mr Average. It was a book about his life. I’d known Louie for many years because we’d both been in bands. Louie had taken to promoting bands and had often booked my band called Lux.
So when I’d heard he’d actually written a book I decided to make it my first Kindle purchase. It was a good book and it actually was actually pretty damn great to read something on a Kindle. I loved it. I’d become hooked on Kindles. Which was something I didn’t expect.
Kerry’s Kindle purchase was a great idea. I was just stubborn.
The final paragraph of Louie’s book was ‘So, how good was your life? Good enough to write a book about?’ So what are you waiting for?
I don’t think my life’s been that remarkable, certainly not remarkable enough to write about. But that last paragraph in Louie’s book stuck in my mind.
Next, I stumbled across an eBook by an author called Ian CP Irvine. I read his book called Haunted from Within and thought it was brilliant. I wrote to Ian to tell him what a great book it was. I assumed he was a published and successful author as he had loads of books available to buy on Amazon and had hundreds of reviews saying how great his work was.
I remember Ian’s reply. He told me he was a ‘nobody’. He didn’t have a publishing deal and self-published all his own work. Like the last chapter in Louie’s book, what Ian said stuck in my mind.
In May this year Ian has achieved over a million downloads.
Around the same time, I had been getting worried about my memory. I had difficulty remembering people’s names. I’m talking about those I see every day, not those I’ve not seen in years. I was repeating myself with no idea that I’d had the same conversation with someone a few minutes earlier. I would walk into the kitchen and have no idea what I was there for. I was concerned that there was something wrong with me.
I went to the doctor who asked me about what was going on in my life. Our conversation lead to how busy things were for me. I had tons of things going on (which I won’t trouble you with) and was struggling to keep up with everything. I didn’t have time to do the things I used to love. My leisure time used to be spent playing my guitar in bands or painting pictures and selling my art on Ebay. But I just didn’t have the capacity to do such things anymore. For some this was a blessing, as to be honest I’m not that great at art and my style of guitar playing is only appreciated by a select few.
The doctor said that I was so busy my mind was compensating by forgetting things that weren’t important. I think he referred to it as ‘low level depression’. I didn’t think I was depressed, but I had to agree, my life was stupidly busy. He said there was no cure, but he suggested that I go along to Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) sessions. Reluctantly, I attended group sessions and got nothing from them. I thought I had wasted my time and was even annoyed when the therapist told the group that we would benefit by taking up a hobby. He reckoned by taking up a hobby we would take our minds off what was worrying us.
Take up a hobby?
TAKE UP A HOBBY?
TAKE UP A HOBBY?
Didn’t he know I had no time for hobbies? I’d not played my guitar in anger since 2011.
What hobby could I fit in to my over-stretched life? There were no hours left to fit anything in. I would collapse in the chair at 9.30pm with a whiskey and have no time to do anything.
Then I remembered Louie’s final paragraph. And I thought about Ian. Both had written books, and in Ian’s words, ‘he was a no one’.
Over the next week or so, the words of the cognitive behavioural therapist we’re lingering around the back of my mind. ‘Take up a hobby’. Then it occurred to me that there was something I could do, which I could squeeze into any spare minutes I had. It wouldn’t mean spending ages setting up an easel and mixing colours like painting does. And it wouldn’t mean hauling a load of musical equipment around the place in the back of my car and coming home past midnight. But, it was something equally creative as painting and playing music.
It was writing.
But what the hell should I write about?
I’ve already said that my life’s not remarkable enough to write about it, but a few things had happened. Perhaps, with a splash of artistic license, I could use a few of the things that had happened to me and weave them into a story? After all, a story is just the truth that tells a lie.
I won’t tell you which bits of The Hill are about me. I’ll leave that for you to ponder over.
Around the same time, I was thinking about reincarnation. Those who have undergone regressive hypnosis and tell their stories on TV and Radio are never people reincarnated as everyday folk like Colin the Fishmonger, or Bob the Lolly Pop man. They’re always someone you’ve heard of like Napoleon or Genghis Khan. Then I thought what it may be like to be someone who was reincarnated and trapped in someone else’s body and mind.
Someone who’s average. Just an everyday person.
I had just read a book called Children Who Have Lived Before: Reincarnation today which was pretty amazing and had me all fired up.
If reincarnation is real, what’s it like for the reincarnated person who lingers inside someone and then only comes out to play when under hypnosis?
Then it came to me. What if someone was murdered and could help the police find their killer?
Now I’d found the hobby that I was told I needed and I had something to write about.
I threw myself into writing and couldn’t get enough of it. I had no idea whether my story was any good, but I was enjoying it and that was all I cared about.
I had kept in contact with Ian, the author I mentioned earlier, and he offered to take a look at my first chapter. He was very supportive and gave me some good advice.
So that was It. I wrote and I wrote. I found time that I didn’t know I had. I got up at stupid o’clock to do it and stayed up late too.
I didn’t tell many people what I was up to. After all, it was only a hobby, to help my memory come back. But there was one person I did tell. My friend Penny (who I now use to proof read my work). She asked me to send her what I’d written so far. She’s not into my kind of stories, she’s more Rom-Com than horror, but she found my story intriguing and asked me to keep sending her chapters as I wrote them.
Eventually, after about 9 months, I’d finished The Hill. Then came the hard part. Ian had suggested that whatever I’d written would be too long. There would be loads of stuff that shouldn’t be there. He was right. It was much too wordy with loads of stuff that was surplus to requirement. I spent the next few months making it more compact and taking away stuff which was just padding. Even with extensive editing It still weighed in around 180,000 words.
Up to this point I hadn’t decided what to do with it. I had written purely to improve my memory. And guess what? It seemed to have worked. I’m still a little forgetful, but nothing as bad as I was. (Although I can never remember the name of the main character in The Third Skull. I have to get the book off the shelf and find his name).
Should I be brave and publish The Hill, or should I keep it on the memory stick and let it collect dust?
Penny said she enjoyed it. At that time, she was the only person who’d read it. If she liked it, then perhaps others would too.
So I decided to be brave, face possible ridicule and bad reviews and go ahead and publish. After all, no one was probably going to buy it anyway.
So, on January 4, 2015, the evening of my son’s 4th birthday, I published.
I posted on my Facebook page (not my author’s page, I’d not created it yet) that I’d written a book and left it at that.
A few mates, family members and friends of friends downloaded it and I thought that would be that.
By the end of the month I’d sold around 100. I was quite surprised as I don’t think I know 100 people well enough for them to spend a couple of quid on my book.
Then I saw a few reviews coming in on my Amazon page. The first 2 or 3 were from friends who’d read it. But after that reviews came in from people I didn’t know. Strangers had bought it and were kind enough to give it favourable reviews.
Downloads of The Hill increased and the reviews continued to come in. (Both good and bad).
In the summer of 2015, Book One, (Ben’s Story), was the number one download on Amazon in the USA in its genre. The Hill continues to sell well around the world.
I really didn’t see any if this coming.
So, the dust settled and The Hill continued/continues to sell. I still find it hard to believe.
So what did I do next?
I started another book.
So, that’s my first blog out of the way. Perhaps I’ll do another one. I hope you enjoyed this brief insight. Please feel free to leave a comment or two.