I’ve just come back to this website after a couple of years away. After finding the right keys and shoving the door open past the pile of letters on the mat, I’ve begun blowing away the cobwebs and taking off the dust-sheets, and I’ve realised that a lot has happened in the intervening time.
Perhaps the biggest change has been the closure of my publisher, Endever Publishing Studios. I was due to be publishing a series of sci-fi young adult novels with them, the Shannen Academy series, but soon after the release of their first few books the company folded.
Naturally I was disappointed, but every cloud has a silver lining, and fortunately this cloud had a doozy:
While I was with Endever I began working with a new editor named Jaime. Together we worked on my first book, getting it ready for publication. When Endever folded, Jaime and I kept up our relationship (as well as many of the authors in the Endever stable), and continued to work on the book with a view to pitching it to agents and other publishing houses.
Since then, Jaime and I have worked on several books together, and Jaime has started her own editing services company, ‘Polish and Pitch’. We keep up regular contact, talking about books I’m writing and books she’s editing, as well as news about the publishing world.
I also found a new publisher, Wakeman Trust, who are now publishing my first book. ‘Out of the Smoke’, a YA historical adventure set in Victorian London, will be released in October (more news to come). I’ve discovered that Jaime is also a talented illustrator, and we’ve managed to commission her to illustrate the book with chapter headings, which is great!
The biggest thing, I suppose, that has happened to me (or anyone) is the spread of COVID-19. My wife is shielding due to a chronic condition, so I’ve been shut up at home for the most part with her and our three lively children. You would think this would afford me extra time for writing; it feels like the opposite has been true!
Nevertheless I’m starting work on a new book, this time set in the turbulent years of Henry VIII’s reign when he was breaking from the church of Rome and exchanging his first wife, Catherine, for the young and vivacious Anne Boleyn.
Anne Boleyn is a fascinating figure from history. She seems to be malleable, bent and shaped by successive authors and historians to fit their ideas of what the English Reformation entailed. In my reading I’ve seen her cast as a cunning schemer who got her comeuppance; as an innocent victim of male-dominated politics; as a brazen hussy who wanted nothing more than to bed the king of England.
It’s impossible to completely understand the motivations of a person who lived 500 years ago, in a religious and cultural landscape so far removed from our own it may as well be from a different planet. The challenge for the author of historical fiction is, perhaps, not to construct an infallibly perfect portrait, but to shine a light into the dim darkness of the past and pick out some detail of common human experience that speaks to modern readers. And that is what I hope to do with Anne.
There are challenges ahead, and exciting times. I shall endeavour to do my best to share them all with you.