As December drags itself one-handed towards the finish line, I’ve decided to join everyone else in looking back over the year.
The big news for me was the publication in February of my novel Embers of War. This was my first published novel in three years, following 2015’s Macaque Attack, and I’ve been delighted with the reception it’s received.
While the Ack-Ack Macaque books were generally well-received, Embers of War feels almost like a new start for me. The beginning of a new phase in my career. It’s already sold more copies than all my other books, and readers and critics alike seem to be taking me more seriously as a writer–even going so far as to compare Embers to the works of Iain M Banks, which as a huge IMB fan, feels deeply surreal and more than I could ever have hoped.
This year, I also wrote and sold Ragged Alice and About Writing, both of which will be published in the New Year, as well as finishing the Embers trilogy with the final edits on Fleet of Knives, and the completion of the first draft of Light of Impossible Stars.
At the beginning of 2018, I had my first proper interview with SFX Magazine. This involved a rather nice lunch with one of their journalists, and a woodland photoshoot with one of their photographers, which saw me balancing twenty-odd feet up a slippery, muddy slope at sundown.
Partly as a result of those photographs, 2018 was also the year I decided to re-grow my beard. I’d grown beards before, but they’d only been temporary things. This year, I decided I wanted to have one permanently. And as soon as I grew it, I knew I’d made the right decision. I felt as if I’d recovered a missing part of myself–a part I never realised was missing until I grew it back.
Other work-related highlights have included interviewing Peter F Hamilton at Foyles in Bristol, appearing at Stroud Book Festival and Bristol Literature Festival, and running day-long creative writing workshops at Bucks New University.
On a personal level, 2018 has been extremely stressful and emotionally exhausting. As a parent, I’ve a had a lot to cope with. But I’ve also learned that when it comes to my children, I have vast and hitherto unsuspected reserves of strength and compassion.
One of the ways I’ve coped with all this personal turmoil has been to focus on helping other people, especially on Twitter, where I’ve been offering encouragement and advice to aspiring authors, and building a community of writers and readers. Putting positivity out into the world helps me deal with my own problems, and makes Twitter a better place to be. And as a result, I’ve received a huge amount of goodwill and support from readers and other tweeters, for which I’m thankful.
I’m also extremely grateful to my real life friends for their company and kindness, which has kept me sane this year. And to my supporters on Patreon, whose continued faith has kept me afloat both creatively and financially.
Looking ahead, 2019 promises to be a very busy year. I have three books scheduled to be published, from three diffferent publishers; I’m planning to attend WorldCon in Dublin; and I will be a guest-of-honour at BristolCon. And on top of all that, I have to decide what I’m going to write next–and then write it!
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