Monday, 25 July 2016

Will Write For Food

Writing for a living is precarious.

When you’re working full-time, the extra money that comes from selling a book seems huge. Before I took the plunge as a full-time author, I had a stable job – one I enjoyed – as a games programmer. With a stable job, you know what you’re earning; you know what you get each month; you know that it’ll keep on coming.

Every year you hope for a raise, that little salary bump which, spread over twelve months, is a pittance – but it’s a pittance that means far more than the actual amount. Because it’s extra!

Just imagine what selling a book is like! It’s bigger than any bonus you’ve ever had, sums of money that mean you can afford the luxuries like, er, paying off your credit cards, having a decent holiday, finally getting a new car, or simply having a financial cushion you’ve never enjoyed before. Selling a book – and I mean the less-than-your-annual-salary reality, rather than the buy-an-island dream – changes your life in many ways. Your hard work is rewarded. Stick on your slippers, pat yourself on the back.

Taking the leap into writing full-time turns it all on its head. The money from writing isn't a bonus any more - it's all you get. It's food, it's rent. Payment is irregular. The schedule isn’t under your control. Things you rely on get delayed. Things you hope for don’t materialise.

Everybody – agent, editor, publicist, neighbour – warned me it would be hard. When I decided to do it, I only had the courage because I knew I could get back into programming if I had to.

Since Reviver came out in 2013, I’ve had a book published each year. Not this year, though, and that makes for some difficult choices – especially as, after much to-ing and fro-ing, the movie option for Reviver wasn’t renewed.

Reviver book 3 is nearly done (for release next year) and there are other projects in the pipeline, but this business is not a speedy one.

The prospect of a proper job looms.

I know I’d enjoy a coding job, but that’s not the point. Inevitably, it will take time and energy away from my writing. I’ve had the opportunity to be a full-time author, and I don’t want it to stop. Not yet. Not if I can help it.

You see, everyone told me how hard it would be, but I hadn’t quite expected to love it so much. I'll write for food, for as long as I can.

I still have a few dice left to roll. Wish me luck!

Fun with Rockets

On a brighter note, even though this year has been complicated I’ve had a few successes. One of these has come as the result of a writing incentive, a reward for hitting my daily writing quota: I allowed myself to work on another project.

What kind of project? Well, I spent 13 years as a games programmer, writing as a hobby. So there’s a certain twisted glee that, as a full-time writer, I’ve been writing a game as a hobby. Partly, I needed to make sure my coding skills hadn’t atrophied, but it turned out to be a great incentive to get the words on the page.

What kind of game? Given that all my novels have been supernatural horror, you might expect some horrible bowel-churning terror. But no.

Actually: colourful puzzle game for all ages.

It’s called Rocket Stage Boost, it’s finished, it’s free, and I’ve put it out on Google Play. (Yeah, sorry IOS folk, but I don’t have a Mac to compile it on.) There are ads, of course, but do give it a go, and naturally give it a five-star rating WHATEVER YOU THINK OF IT! (This is Google Play, after all, where anything below five stars means ‘rubbish’.) A warning, though. If like me you’re a bit OCD, you might find it a weeny bit addictive.

In a way, this game brings me full circle. Before I wrote Reviver, I’d always wanted to write a novel, and it had always evaded me. After plenty of false starts, at last I came up with something I saw through to the end.

But I’d also always wanted to create a game. It had always evaded me. And after plenty of false starts…


  1. Replies
    1. Not happening any more, I'm afraid - the publisher decided not to go ahead with publication.

  2. I wasn't aware that The Returned was only half the story with no apparent hope for the second part. I watched the tv series and know the book is just a copy so why are you not able to write it?

    1. The publisher decided not to go ahead with publication, presumably because the second season of the TV show didn't do very well and the first book had underperformed. The second book was 90% done, and unlike the TV series it wrapped up the loose ends and provided what I thought was a knockout ending, but I doubt it'll ever see the light of day... A real shame.

  3. Is there anyway to get The Returned Book 2 published any other way? I'm sure it could easily get funded on kickstarter even for just a PDF version.