Monday, 21 March 2016

Another brick in the wall

Last week I discovered I could put text on images and post to Twitter... yeah I know this has been around for a while but I've been busy. Like any kid with a new toy I went a bit crazy, trawling THE RUNNING GAME for juicy snippets. In doing so I learnt two things: firstly that I don't write many juicy snippets; secondly that my futuristic story is a bit too close for comfort.

I'm not saying in that I'm psychic... although if you post your bank details online I do predict your money will be stolen... actually the, for want of a better word, predictions in my story are less grand dystopia ideas and more real, likely events that seem very plausible (except for the Reachers themselves of course).

When I decided to write about the persecution of paranormal beings it was really important for me to create a world that was very much grounded in a reality we could all relate to. I used events that were happening around me to fuel the destruction of my world. At that time the financial crisis was starting to break and it seemed like a natural and extremely likely first step towards the downfall of civilisation as we know it.

Greece was extremely influential in the political movement of my world. As the country grew deeper into economic crisis, the people started to turn to extreme radical ideas which rebelled against EU restrictions that were effectively controlling the country. Fascists telling their country they will gain back control start sounding good when you're worried about where your next meal is coming from, and if they happen to mention banning homosexuality, other races and taking away women's rights - well that doesn't affect you so you don't worry about it.

And we're seeing it here in Britain too. With our own economy suffering we don't look at ourselves to ask what can be done, but instead look to a thing that we can blame. In Britain's case our number one culprit for job shortages, housing shortages, benefit shortages... is immigrants. Let's not mention the fact that our government refuses to invest in our industries, preferring to contract to other countries, effectively destroying thousands of jobs across thousands of industrial areas. Let's not mention the fact that holiday homes owned by the rich are left empty eleven months of the year. Let's not forget that our government allows big corporations to not pay tax, costing the country millions. But it's easier for those in power to turn their attention to a minority that can't speak for itself, that with the right amount of propaganda (and we all know which political party was famous for that trick) can be seen to be the rats of our society. And the greater populous goes for it because it's easier than accepting that we are responsible for our own society's downfall and we have to do something ourselves.

I guess when I created Reachers, the persecution of those with differences was always on my mind. It's a huge issue not just in my country but world wide and I was... am convinced that it will only take a few knocks to our everyday lives to send our morality spiraling. Our world is overcrowded. Wealth is distributed unfairly. Liberty is a luxury. We are a boiling pot of trouble waiting to explode. But this explosion is unlikely to be the mass epidemic that wipes out the world as we know it, instead it will be like a fungal infection, spreading and turning everything black until you can't remember it being any other colour. We will be too busy trying not look that we'll miss our window to prevent the next holocaust, the next genocide, the next war crime.

In my book London was filled with the fortunate rich elite who didn't want to share. So they built a wall, separating themselves from those in need. A wall. Them or us. Rich or poor. Living or dying. As I made my memes I realised that I'm worried. Really worried. In Britain we're already persecuting our poor and our disabled (again who else is famous for that). In the States, from having the first black president, we're now facing the prospect of having a business man in charge of one of the most influential countries in the world. A business man! Because that's what this world needs: another money grabbing tycoon in charge.

Monday, 14 March 2016


Last week was a very eventful one for me. Although it's taken five years of obsessive, and sometimes seemingly fruitless, hard work my book THE RUNNING GAME became an Amazon bestseller in Canada and almost reached the illusive status in both the States and the UK. It was an extremely proud and totally baffling few days for me, where I tried to ground myself in reality and yet enjoy this major achievement.

For years I've wanted to feel like a real writer and not just some hobby pensmith living a pipe dream. Being signed by a publisher, being highly rated on sites like Goodreads, even being able to quit my job, all seemed to fall short. So was this it? The grounding moment where I became at one with my ambition?

Well being of typical Yorkshire/Welsh personality, I don't expect good things to last and when it comes to book rankings I know it's impossible to hold the top spot for very long, so I waited patiently for it all to fall apart. New stories are always going to knock you off your high horse and leave you reeling in the dirt remembering former glories. As the rankings soared I was forever conscious of the limited duration of this successful moment and so I tried, as best as my pessimistic self-conscious nature would allow, to enjoy it as much as humanly possible and feel for any hint of self-gratification from this achievement.

The difficulty with being an author... actually rephrase that... one of the many difficulties of being an author is your work peaks and then falls ridiculously quickly. The years you have spent creating and producing your perfect story climaxes in a disappointingly short explosion of excitement, before petering out into a fading ember of remembrance. And you're left with wondering what the hell to do now.

Before I peaked in the rankings I'd already achieved all of the goals I'd set myself; publishing my story, getting a contract with a publisher, getting good reviews, being able to quit my day job. The rankings was one of the last hurdles left to jump, and now I have I am feeling a bit like a runner at the end of the race track wondering where else I can go. I've still got fight in me. I still don't feel victorious.

At least I didn't. I realised that the only thing left for me to do is go back to the start and run the race again, improve my performance, hone my technique. Get better. BORDER LINES (Book 2) is warming up on the starting line and I'm ready to go again.

But I've not pressed the reset button. In fact what I have since discovered - post adrenaline rush, pre-caffeine kick - is that the success I've gained in my work has very little to do with the sales figures, with the money, with the rankings, with the ratings. The success I have walked away with, which is available to all authors, artists, musicians, etc. regardless of the stage in their career is the experience I had - sometimes endured - to reach my goal. Success or fail whatever we do to get where we are or where we want to be can only make us stronger.

If I look back to 2011 from when I first started self-publishing, I still don't feel like a published, successful author. But I do feel more in tune with my work. I feel the strength from the support network I've been able to tap into from the author communities I've met along the way. Good friends that have been forged by mutual respect of each other and the craft. I feel a greater sense of my own ambition and expectations of what I can do. I feel limitless and grounded, accepting but driven. This process, as fleeting as it may have been, has shown me that success cannot be measured, it can't be quantified or compared. It's a feeling inside. A pride in oneself. And I am proud... not Mr Darcy proud... but proud like a parent. I only wish I had realised this sooner in my writing career and maybe  could have enjoyed the highlights a bit more along the way.

And that is the point. You measure your own success and sometimes you will overlook massive achievements because you are impacted by other opinions and attitudes. Whether it's just finishing that story, or making headway in some measurable chart, you need to relish the moment. It is fleeting, it is short, but it doesn't mean it didn't happen and it certainly doesn't mean it can't happen again.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Pinch Me!

I've been trying to write an intelligent post that will communicate the events of the past two days in a logical, level headed and sophisticated way. Unfortunately I've been unable to form more than a few short sentences before erupting into a state of total lunatic euphoria. Luckily like a true 21st century girl I took pictures, so I can make this easier...

Basically rankings soared, many books were sold and I'm still trying to work out if all this is real. I will at some point sit down, have a cup of tea and try to work out what all of this means and how I have got here. So stay tuned.

In the meantime I want to thank all of the friends and authors who have supported me by posting promos, or just putting up with me talking about my book 24/7.