Wednesday, August 09, 2006

When an author's work is finally rewarded with a publishing contract there is a very significant wait between the completion of a manuscript and the point at which he or she finally sees the finished book in print.
The first time you walk into Waterstone's, WH Smiths or any other high street bookstore and see your own name on the front cover of something is a strange experience. Everything you have been doing to date has been very individual, almost introspective. Being an author is one of those few creative activities that comes solely from one individual. The manuscript is created by you, and though there is a tremendous input at later stages from your agent, your editor, the marketing guys etc. etc., it is still nevertheless very different from being in a band, perhaps acting in a play or a film.
So when this thing finally arrives it is as if you have taken something from yourself, something very personal, and finally given it to the world. After that, whatever happens, it is out of your control. The reviews might be good or bad, even indifferent; you might not get any reviews at all; someone might post a comment on Amazon to say they were blown away or singularly unimpressed with your efforts...whatever the response might be, the fact of the matter is you created something and it found its way out into the world.
I completed the fourth novel - City of Lies - the better part of a year ago. Since that time I have written another complete novel (twice!) and have almost finished another novel beyond that. As I work on a novel I get a little lost in the lives of the characters I have created. I believe that any author, no matter the genre he or she works in, puts a little of themselves into the people they create...either that, or a little of the characters is left with the author when the work is finally finished. So I have occupied numerous different places and lived many different lives since City of Lies was finished.
This morning I received a call from my assistant editor Genevieve (and it's her birthday today so Happy Birthday Genevieve!!) to say that advance hardbacks and trade paperback of City of Lies had arrived at Orion and a copy of each were winging their way to me first class. Tomorrow morning I will wait until the postman arrives and wrestle the package from him! I have not yet seen the final cover. I don't know what they wrote about me inside. I don't know if they put any reviews from previous books inside the front cover. But, you know what, it doesn't matter one bit! Everything that existed inside my head for the many weeks that I was writing it is now real, tangible, and actually possesses a physical presence. In a way it's even more exciting than the first time I saw Candlemoth in Waterstones. Every book you do you hope is better, you hope that people read it and like hope that the things that lived inside your head are going to be interesting and entertaining for anyone who might wish to make that little adventure with you.
So, as a postscript, I'd like to say thank you to Jon - my editor, to Euan - my agent, and to the birthday girl herself for everything they've done to make this thing happen...again!
Thanks guys, and let's hope the world likes this thing we have done as much as we do!

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