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"Intelligent, complex and wholly satisfying, Dark Heart is a cut above the average horror novel." - Words With Jam magazine

Friday, 28 March 2014

SHENANDOAH to publish The Pig Farmer's Burden

I’m absolutely thrilled to share the news that my Southern Gothic short story The Pig Farmer’s Burden is going to be published by none other than Shenandoah Magazine.  For those of you (Brits) who are not familiar with the publication, Shenandoah is the Literary Review published by Washington and Lee University in Virginia.  It was founded in 1950 by a group of faculty members and undergraduates, among them a certain Tom Wolfe, and names National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners among its list of contributors, names such as Dylan Thomas, W. H. Auden, James Merrill, Ezra Pound, William Faulkner and Flannery O’Connor, and more recently, Joyce Carol Oates, Rita Dove, and Claudia Emerson.

To have my work published in such a prestigious journal along with these titans of the literary world naturally fills me with an immense amount of pride, and as career moments go (if indeed I can call it a career at this early stage), will always remain one of the very brightest highlights.   

The Pig Farmer’s Burden won’t be appearing until October, but if you head over there now you can check out some of the wonderful stories already published in Shenandoah, for free.

 

 

 

 

 

Monday, 3 February 2014

Damn, he was good...


It was very sad to hear the news of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s passing last night.  From a fan’s perspective (which is the only perspective I have other than being a lifetime member of the same club as he: the Human Race), it’s a gutshot to an industry I love.  As a writer this is hard to admit, but it’s a truer love than I have for books.   

I love literature, but in my pursuit of becoming a better writer I have had to make certain sacrifices to my enjoyment of it.  I’ve had to study style and tone and pace and structure and characterisation and all the stuff that combines to make a great book.  When I read nowadays, it’s rare that I can switch off the analytical side of my brain and just enjoy the story for what it is.  I can see the mechanics – the author’s cogs turning beneath the surface.  The truly great writers can sometimes make me switch this side of my brain off, and in those rare and beautiful moments I am regressed back to when I had no aspirations about writing, and I can just enjoy the story.  But it’s rare.

Films are different for me, and I’ve tried very hard to keep it that way.  I know there are certain directors that I like, but I don’t want to go out of my way to know why I like them.  I don’t want to recognise their styles and habits or know too much about their influences other than what I pick up naturally, just by sitting down and watching the films and letting them seep into me via osmosis.  I don’t want to be conscious of the mechanics.  I just want to escape.

With the actors though, it’s a little of both.  I’m an unabashed movie fan, and I have unabashedly bought into the allure of movie stars my whole life, but I’m not talking about the glitzy stars, I’m talking about the purists, that rarer breed that treats his or her work as an art form.  I like them serious and uncompromising, and above all I like them to be good.  Like literature, ‘good’ is a subjective thing, but you’d have to be in a coma not to see that Hoffman was very, very good.  When you’re watching a Bruce Willis movie, you’re watching Bruce Willis.  When you’re watching Hoffman, you’re watching whoever it is he wants you to see, be it a New York drag queen, an eccentric southern writer, or a sleazy tabloid journalist.  When you’re there and in the moment with him, he’s like one of those great writers who can hide the process, but when the film is over you can look back on what has just passed and say, ‘Damn, he was good...’ 
 
July 1967 ~ February 2014
 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Resolutions...

I’m a slow reader.  On average I read a book a month, which if you are not a math wizard equates to a measly 12 books a year.  I’m 43 years old, and if I give myself an optimistic 40 more years on this earth, I’ll have read another 480 books, approximately.  480 sounds like an okay number.  It’s a lot of books.  A lot of stories.  But look at it from a different perspective. 

Of the 12 books I read a year, only 1 or 2 are great.  3 or 4 perhaps are better than average, and another 3 or 4 perhaps are good solid reads but nothing special.  What’s left is 3 or 4 books that were, to my mind, a waste of 3 or 4 months of my reading calendar.  I’m never getting that time back. 

As a writer I could say that those terrible books were a necessary evil, and that in order to become a better writer I needed to experience the bad along with the good.  In fact, I know this to be true.  I’ve learned without question as much from the bad books as I have from the good ones, maybe more.  The problem now is that I’ve read all the different shades of bad; a quarter of my reading life thus far has been devoted to terrible books.  Back then I wasn’t experienced enough to recognise them as quickly as I do now, and so kept reading to the end.  Now I just ditch them because life’s too short and I can only read so many books, so why waste time on the poorly written ones? 

There’s another reason why I am a slow reader: I read attentively, and read as though I am reading to somebody else – as though I am speaking the story to somebody else.  This means I read at a pace I believe the writer intended his or her text to be read, because the writer was concerned with tone and cadence and atmosphere and all that other writerly stuff, as I am.  I mention this because I know a few booklovers who don’t read this way.  

I have a friend who is a devourer of books.  He can read a book in an evening and often does, but he can do this because he skips the descriptive passages and concentrates on the dialogue.  I’ve told him many times that the writer has spent as much time on the descriptive passages as any other.  The writer has considered every word that goes down on the page because each passage is an interlinking thread in the tapestry of the whole.  A song wouldn’t be as emotionally effective if all the instrumental bridges were taken out, even though you’d still know what the song was about by the end. 

Another friend recently told me she reads two or three books a week and that she can read 100 pages an hour.  I asked if she skimmed the text or speed read, and she said she did both.  Who am I to say if she’s getting the full story reading in this way, but I’m pretty sure she isn’t getting the full experience.  Try speed reading for yourself and see if you don’t slip into monotone.  Is all the info going in?  I’ll be generous and say probably.  Is the tone, cadence, atmosphere, and the musicality of language being allowed to have its desired effect?  I’ll be generous again and say possibly. 

I talked with a different friend about this, and he agreed to a point, because he reads at the same pace as me, but he also didn’t have a problem skipping the slow parts of a story to get to the action. 

Who’s right and who’s wrong here?  I think the answer is nobody’s right or wrong.  We each read for different reasons and seek different things from writers and their stories.  I’d rather quit on a book I thought was poor or wasn’t enjoying rather than skim or skip passages, but I do want to read a greater number of books before I leave this earth, and certainly more than 480 if only a tiny percentage of these will be great.  But I can do no better than 20 pages an hour before the text starts sounding flat and monotone and the full experience is diminished, so what is the answer? 

The answer is finding more time to read, so I’m making that my New Year’s resolution. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

What?  I don’t smoke!
 
 

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Southern Comfort...


After a little tweaking I resubmitted my short story The Pig Farmer’s Burden to the Bridport Prize.  It was shortlisted last year and so I’d hoped it might fare better this year, but alas, it was shortlisted again.  I’m still thrilled of course, to have a Sothern Gothic horror story recognised in such a prestigious literary prize is encouraging for me and horror in general, but I think next year I’ll submit something different, and try and find a home for my Pig Farmer elsewhere.  Here’s how it starts: 

The first time I set eyes on Lloyd Toomey was on the far side of my north field.  From a distance he didn’t look much thicker than the fencepost he was stood next to, and as I neared, he didn’t flesh-out none, either.  A dozen or so of the larger sows was gathered at the fence, all pushin and shovin to get their turn at the somethin-or-other Lloyd was dealin from a cloth bag.  The pigs seemed to like whatever it was, but I didn’t.  Not a bit. 

Whatever happens to the story, the experience of writing in this style has been invaluable.  The novel I’m planning to write after my current work in progress (The Thespian) is going to be a Southern Gothic, and although the story will be framed in the present day, the bulk of it will be set in 1920s Deep South.  And in a world in which things are often gene-spliced to compare with other things, I can say that A Wish for Connie Harris will be something like The Road meets Big Fish, without being anything like either.  Make sense?
 
My agent liked the outline, and The Bridport Prize seemed to like the style, so I’m hoping a publisher is going to like A Wish for Connie Harris when I finally tie it all together.  We shall see…

 

 

 

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Adam Nevill interview





Firstly, congratulations on this year’s August Derleth nomination for Last Days.  You won the award in 2012 with the very fine The Ritual, and had Apartment 16 nominated the year before that.  Do you feel like your getting the hang of this writing malarkey? 

Adam: Thank you. I’m pleased with how things have gone for my writing since 2009. In total, I’ve written five horror novels across 16 years that I am very pleased with (give or take the odd scene, sentence or description); to have had them published at a level in which it is possible to find a wider readership is nothing short of miraculous for a writer in this genre. But the colossal fear of failure, the self-doubt, and the notions of futility blended with occasional despair, have all yet to abate. 
 

Tell us a little bit about the new novel, House of Small Shadows? 

It is the first time I’ve really focussed on the first few years of my life, that I can remember, in England during the first part of the 1970s – imaginings, curiosities, fears. So some of the things that frightened me, but also enchanted me, were the inspiration for the book. Around that I have created a kind of alternative British history of the grotesque. 

I found the writing style in HoSS very different to your previous two novels – was this a conscious decision or did it emerge organically as a result of the material?  Does each book dictate its own path to completion?
 
The latter. It takes a writer to ask that kind of question! Some facets of writing my five horror novels have been the same, but other features have been unique to each book. The story always determines how I actually write the book. I worried for a while that I was still so fledgling I hadn’t found my voice or style, because all of my books are quite different to each other. But I have subsequently acknowledged that all of my stories needed to be told differently. I now find that an exciting prospect. I’m curious about what I may come up with and how I may write future books; if I saw this as a job in which my writing was regimented purely by the expectations of others, I would look back at myself in anger.  

To be more specific about the writing process, in House of Small Shadows, I did the usual amount of secondary reading, particularly on taxidermy, Victorian architecture in the Gothic Revival period, the Great War, and the history of puppet theatre. But as the actual story really made me dredge the deepest fathoms of my own memory, the story itself became a kind of narrative of dream and memory, an effect I then needed to maintain in nearly every scene. It’s probably the deepest I’ve gone in an exploration of consciousness since Apartment 16.  So this story came out of that tone once I’d stepped into it, and I’d not envisaged that happening to such an extent, and I also wasn’t sure how the book would end, or could end, when I started along that path. So it’s quite different to Last Days, which was a novel in which the writing was sublimated to plot, and could only range so far into flights of pure imagination: locations told part of the story, the practicality of making a film intruded, the eye witnesses told other parts of a long story, the broader cast all had a function in respective parts of the story. I was very conscious of plot in Last Days and very disciplined – definitely my most conventional narrative yet – but I was more interested in driving a story through pure imagination in House of Small Shadows. Writing Apartment 16 was the most similar experience. 

Given this, if I was a betting man, I would say that readers who like Apartment 16 more than my other novels, will like this book. Those who favour The Ritual and Last Days may tut through their beards. Though I hope they also find things to like. 

What’s an average week in the writing life of Adam Nevill? 

A carousel of childcare, part time editorial work for a major publisher, writing (allegedly four whole days each week), household management, cooking, about two hours of Dad time each evening when I tend to read or watch a film until midnight, some sleep, mostly interrupted … that schedule restarts every morning when my nipper shouts for me, and its downstairs for toast and cartoons, juice and snuggles … and then another week has gone by. Somehow I have to find a way of getting my exercise regime back into all that. 

But I asked for, and was granted, a year to write each novel, and it’s a great period of time in which to write a novel, as well as having time to rewrite the book across numerous drafts. I begin researching the next book while rewriting the current book. 

What kind of things are you looking out for in the rewrites?
 
Oh Lord, where do I start? I’m probably looking at everything involved with writing a novel. But I can only see the inconsistencies, the clumsiness, the slumps in pace, the flat portions, the poorly described things that I fail to actually visualise or hear in my mind, after a break from the text.
 
At what stage do you let the beta readers in, and what is their remit? 

It varies: either around the same time I deliver the book to my editor, because I have run out of time, or just before the very final draft. It’s a good process because my beta readers don’t read it in the same way as my editor; they just experience the books like readers, so I get two different perspectives.

I thought the ending to HoSS worked exceptionally well, but I can see how it might divide opinion in your readers.  Did you have this ending planned from the start or did it come to you during the writing?  I could see how you could’ve gone a few different ways. 

In every book so far, the safety catch has come off about halfway through, so each ending has generally supplanted the direction I thought I’d originally go in. Again, when immersed in a story, I won’t be afraid of where my imagination takes me, despite the prospect of criticism (and outright spleen in some quarters).  But I’m glad you liked the ending. It was an ending that overwhelmed me and got me so excited, that not going with it would have been a regret. Through the many revisions it still gave me the same sense of giddy excitement. When I handed it to my publisher, I thought: here we go. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I hope readers will also confound my expectation of universal condemnation. 

But I’ve taken so much flack from reviewers on Amazon and Good Reads – I’d say Apartment 16 is now disliked more than liked. But here’s the thing: a great many readers are unimaginative and conservative; a great many more have not read widely and just read the same books and expect the same thing from every book; others suffer from a kind of narcissism in which they believe they are arbiters of taste and quality, often while hiding behind pseudonyms, and as a consequence of this they overrate their opinions, which only have any value as their opinions; many more are often embarrassingly immature and believe their unpleasantness is an effective method of drawing attention to themselves. So I’m giving those readers a one star author review of their taste and judgement (that I’d rather be without). Afraid, I don’t think I will be reading many of the bad reviews of House of Small Shadows; you know, it’s just that kind of book. But I am so pleased that I have written it. It is a book on the borderland. 

I just checked Amazon, and Apartment 16 is on par with The Da Vinci Code in review stars, and way, way ahead of Christopher Ransom’s The Birthing House – both good sellers, and both writers who’ve come under fire for one reason or another. Do you think there’s a time when an author should take heed of his/her readers’ criticism? Have you ever read a bad review (for your books or anybody else’s) and thought, hey, they have a point?  
 
If the reader is informed and experienced, I remember criticism. Whether I act upon it or not, is
something else (that’s up to my inner reader), but I definitely consider the criticism. I had one review recently, in which the reviewer made the very same comment as one of my beta readers: my protagonists are often creative outsiders, or loners who feel excluded, and are anti-authoritarian, and have had a bad experience in a big city. They were deliberately depicted as such as I find these characters easier to write about, they are natural creators of tension and inner conflict, and I can readily imagine their motivations and responses. If I am honest, though, I think most writers use the same lead character type over and over again; even if the background and profile of the lead character changes, it’s still the same personal archetype cropping up in nearly every book. I don’t endorse that characters are biographical, but they do come from us. Both critics wanted me to try and write a completely different type of point-of-view character. Coincidentally, I am currently trying to think my way into new characters in my next two novels, as I had also become worried about repeating myself anyway. That is probably the best example I can give.
 
I can’t remember reading a really bad review and thinking the reader had a point – “of course I’m shit. I should give up right now! They’ve done me a huge favour”. I’ve had a lot of bad reviews from what I sense are impatient readers singularly interested in pure story; they find my books slow and too descriptive. I’d contest the first criticism, because they are not slow. Compared to most popular fiction, yes they are descriptive, but I didn’t get into prose writing to write glorified screenplays in which characters are constantly slamming doors, spouting one-liners, being heroic, drawing guns, capping off rounds, with zero attempt to transport the reader. That is the crux for me; I want to transport the reader, not just entertain with a spooky story. I may not succeed, but my ambition won’t change. I’m as much interested in consciousness and language as I am in plot.
 
Ultimately, I’m lucky to get so many reviews so I am not hoping to skulk back into the shadows. But have writers ever had to weather so much criticism as they do now? It wasn’t so long ago when you were lucky to get an indifferent review in one newspaper.
 
After really bad reviews I used to look at what the reviewers thought were 5 star books, and that usually satisfied my curiosity as to what I was being compared to and why they hated my book. The ones I really object to are the “campaigners” who become evangelists to tear the scales off other reader’s eyes and prove that my books really are shit. In some of these cases I have to suspect the work of aspiring writers convinced of their own genius who see me as some kind of pretender. I’ve come across a great many in my time in senior editorial roles and have learned to read the signs.
 
I don’t tend to read the one star fistings anymore. I do read mixed reviews though; had a good one for Last Days recently in the US in which the reviewer enjoyed the book but accused me of “gay panic”,“objectifying female sexuality”, and being very “white and male” in my outlook. I’m afraid I am a white male from a western European background, but I certainly don’t suffer from gay panic (in fact, I’d never heard of the term before but it made me laugh), and I am pretty sure I didn’t objectify female sexuality (though I would through the eyes of a character if their character required that). But who says my characters are biographical or mouthpieces for me anyway? I’ve spent ten years publishing erotica so I’d be surprised if I was judgemental about anyone’s sexuality. I think it’s because a character refers to Max as “an old fruit”; but that’s the character, not the author making a judgement on sexuality. I had another bad review because I “stereotyped bisexual men”.See what I mean? You just can’t afford to take this stuff on board or you will reach paralysis. The air is a never ending flurry of opinion and value judgments – I find it claustrophobic, so restrict my time in social media, in case my imagination is infected by “the right way” to think by someone who has assumed a moral high ground.
 
I only mention this because I am wary of public opinion that verges on an attempt to create self-censorship in writers. Must every character, that isn’t a villain, toe the line on a soft liberal perspective? Which nearly all fiction does, but do all people have such a world view? No, their views are mixed. I want to create an authentic model of the environments and people I have experienced first-hand, and also be true to a character’s point of view, and that may often be at odds with the prevailing consensus. I didn’t start writing to endorse a status quo. But it’s also incredibly na├»ve to read a third person narrative as if it’s a statement given in court under oath by the author about their own politics.
 
You touch on several themes in the novel, but the overriding theme for me is the relationship between adulthood and childhood and the dreamlike link between the two.  How important is theme, metaphor and symbolism within your work?  Are you conscious of these elements as you write or is it something you evaluate from a distance, when you can see the completed work as a whole? 

To answer the first question, I think all of my stories have initially come out of images, or scenes, that are actually loaded with meaning for me. As I begin to describe those images and scenes a story begins to unravel the deeper significance of the images and themes. They are like seeds. Some books have grown purely from a handful of images, or from a feeling in a certain place, a location. What lies behind these images or metaphors and feelings is something that’s obviously important to me, that won’t go away.  

Probably for decades, House of Small Shadows has been a formless collection of memories and images, and an occasionally engulfing feeling triggered by the sight of these images, or the sound of certain kinds of music that I remembered affecting me as a child. Maybe it should have been my first horror novel. But I had to wait because I wasn’t sufficiently equipped to write the book in my twenties, when I began Banquet for the Damned (I’m now 44), and I didn’t have enough of a vehicle, a story, for the images to live through. So theme, metaphor and symbolism is the DNA of every completed story I have written, no doubt. At the deepest imaginative level, those things are the building blocks, the life source. I don’t think I’ve ever begun a book thinking, ‘there’s this character, and he’s in this situation because if he doesn’t do such and such, he’s going to get killed, or his family will get …’ It would be more like, ‘a man dreams he is a naked boy inside a stone mausoleum abandoned within a forgotten wood, who can’t remember why he is inside there, and his family speak through the bars of the gate, but feel uncomfortable as if they don’t recognise him anymore’ which is how Apartment 16 started, I seem to remember, while I was working a nightshift. 

To answer the second question, I am always delighted and mystified as to how the hell it is possible for the initial seeds – the handful of images and ideas and themes that compel me to start a book – somehow grow and synthesise into a complete novel, with all kinds of connections and symmetries that I was not consciously aware of producing at the time of writing. It makes me aware of how the most interesting part of consciousness is probably far beneath the surface.  

It’s a fact that reading occupies all of our brain – on a neuroscientist’s scan, the entire organ glows orange-red like a sun – I guess the same reaction is produced by writing when we are in the zone. I’m biased, but I think literature is the most important part of our culture, it’s not just good for us, it’s necessary; and everyone should make the effort to appreciate it. We should also think long and hard about how it is currently being dicked about with by the same impetus that created the dotcom boom, and crash, and any number of financial booms and crashes.
 
 
Now, anybody who’s a fan of film will probably be aware of Inside the Actors Studio and the questionnaire that has been popularised by the multi-talented James Lipton. The questionnaire up till now has been unfairly reserved for movie stars, so I thought it was time that writers had a crack at it. Here’s how Adam did:
 

The Lipton Questionnaire
 

What is your favorite word?  

My daughter’s nickname. 

What is your least favorite word? 

“Leadership” is in a dead tie with “cancer.” 

What turns you on?  

Some thing’s should not be in the public realm. And it would take me a year to finish the novel-length list. 

What turns you off?  

Narcissism. 

What sound or noise do you love?  

My daughter’s laughter. 

What sound or noise do you hate?  

Polystyrene on glass. Or the satisfied snigger of a shit bird who has insulted me. It’s a tough call. 

What is your favorite curse word? 

Shitbird. 

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?  

Forensic psychiatrist. 

What profession would you not like to do?  

Telesales. 

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?  

I’d rather it was an all-consuming joyous feeling in which everything suddenly made sense, rather than a verbal judgement.
 
 
Adam, thanks for your time...


 

Monday, 12 August 2013

Chaplin, the elegant writer...

I watched the film Chaplin last night – the biography of the silent-movie legend Charlie Chaplin, starring Robert Downey Jr.  It was all very interesting, but there was one scene that struck a chord with me in particular.   

Chaplin (the director, not the tramp character), is struggling with a scene he’s directing.  The female lead has to mistake Chaplin (the tramp, not the director) for a well-to-do gentleman, only the woman is blind and the movie is obviously shot in silence.  A problem.  Now, because the whole plot is hinged on the incorrect assumption made by the female lead, Chaplin (the director) feels he cannot cheat the audience with a flimsy incorrect assumption, or ask them to turn a blind eye (no pun intended) to the implausibility of the mechanics.  Chaplin doesn’t want the audience to say, I don’t believe that.   

He not only solves the problem, but solves it with elegance:  The blind girl is sitting on a busy street corner selling flowers, and Chaplin, trying to get to the obstructed pavement, steps through the back of a parked car to emerge on the street in front of the girl.  The girl thusly assumes he has exited the car, and therefore must be a gentleman of some standing, etc… 

It needn’t have gone like this.  The dialogue card has the girl address Chaplin as Sir, anyway, so he could have just been walking by for the incorrect assumption to be made, but it’s lazy, and even if it’s only on a subliminal level, the audience will know it’s lazy, and the story will be weaker for the, I don’t believe that, moment. 

It’s the same in written fiction.  Plot-heavy genre fiction more specifically.  A carefully contrived plot can be softened with elegance.  Characters needn’t be shunted around with a cattle prod but subtly directed by a conductor’s baton.  Chaplin’s way is elegant because the path he takes through the back of the car is in keeping with his cheeky-chappy characterisation, so it feels like the plot is following Chaplin and not the other way around.  It’s all device of course, but it should be artful.  The actor’s goal is to hide the performance within the performance.  To give the illusion of spontaneity.  To not be seen to be acting. 
 
The writer’s goal is the same. 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

The slut and stuff...

I haven’t updated the blog in a while, but there’s a good reason for that: I’ve been writing… although not on The Outcast Gully Morgan.  

Most writers will agree that moving onto another story before you’ve finished the one you’re currently writing is a bad idea.  So why, at almost fifty thousand words into Gully, did I do just that?  Well, as you may or may not know, I’ve recently signed with the John Jarrold Literary Agency, and after a discussion about future projects, both John and I agreed that Gully (which is not only a post-apocalyptic, historical sci-fi fantasy, but also the first book in a trilogy) wasn’t the ideal companion piece for Through the Eyes of Douglas, which is a supernatural chiller. 

The novel taking Gully’s place for the time being is a ghost story called The Thespian, and all I’ll say right now is that it’s about a young actor’s journey into discovering his craft.  This story has been spreading its roots inside my head for a few years now, and grew from the seedling question: What would happen if an actor put on a huge amount of weight for a role and then couldn’t lose it?  It was more of a daydream than a question, but from that daydream I started to imagine scenarios to support it, and so was born the story.  I’m just past the 30k mark at the moment, and it’s moving along more quickly than my previous two and a half novels, and I think there’s a good reason for that. 

When you don’t have an agent or publisher waiting to look at what you’ve written, the need to get the writing done is based solely on your desire to write, not to finish what you’re writing.  My first novel Dark Heart is a slim 80k, but it still took me years to finish – partly because life getting in the way wasn’t an issue, partly because I was learning how to write, but mostly because if I didn’t want to write, I didn’t.  Don’t get me wrong, my head was always in the story (it always is in the story, and apologies go to whoever I fade out on during a conversation, I’m just passing through), but if I didn’t have a clear way forward in a scene or passage, I wouldn’t sit down in front of the computer and force it.  I was a ‘wait for my muse’ kind of writer.  Unprofessional is another way of describing it.  

I still have no publisher waiting for the new book, but having an agent (one of the best, I might add) has instilled that missing professionalism within me.  It’s amazing how sitting your arse down and staring into the wordless white void can spark an opening sentence that leads to a paragraph that leads to a page.  And from there it’s like a telegram’s been sent ahead to my muse, because she’s always waiting for me, leaning up against a lamppost in a fur coat, sucking cigarette smoke through her dark red lips and a What took you? look on her face (yeah, I have a slutty muse).  

The Outcast Gully Morgan will get written.  It must.  It feels big, epic even.  But because it feels so huge I think I’m a little relieved to be stepping away from it for a while.  I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, because it feels like a book I’m writing only for me, so if I want to take my time with it, I can.  My slutty muse will just have to light up another cigarette and wait for me.