Have any fans?
I’m almost entirely (totally) unknown. It’s true. No point hiding from it. It doesn’t worry me. Articles on Fantasy-Faction, a few (two) on SF Signal, an interview on Beauty in Ruins, one (in two parts) on Fantasy Book Critic and some books. That’s me. That’s OK.
Everyone starts somewhere. Very few start at the top.
“He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.” Lao Tzu (Laozi)
Anyway, when I started ‘The Stone Road’ it wasn’t to be rich and famous (damn it, yes it was…<cries and wails>), I just wanted to tell a story that had been in my head and see if I could do it well enough. I’d be the judge of the book. If it wasn’t good enough it would spend its life in a box in the loft. That was fine. At least I’d done written a book.
I studied. Completed my Creative Writing and Literature course (at University, whilst working) to make sure I knew how to write; the techniques, the perils, the tips and tricks, not just how to read, which I’ve done since I was tiny. After all, there was no point (in my mind) writing a book, a whole novel with characters, plot, emotion, twists and turns, and all set in a brand new(ish) world without knowing how it was done, without having a professional (as all the tutors at Uni were) and other writers pick apart my writing. Which they did. With aplomb and relish (maybe piccalilli).
But all that, nice as it is, isn’t the point of this post. Least it wasn’t when I started, but I needed some preamble, some scene setting, just to get you in the mood. So, onwards with the proper bit…
The Stone Road came out to universal invisibility. A few picked it up, read it and I got some reviews. Go me! I didn’t expect much more and it was enough. Writing was fun and though The Stone Road has an ending, and you can leave it there (please don’t), I knew the story went on.
The Blue Mountain was written and released. Things changed. Not greatly. I mean, I didn’t suddenly sell a thousand copies a day (I wish… go and buy it), but I did start to get feedback from a wider selection of folks. I did a giveaway on Reddit, on Goodreads, on Facebook. A few more read book 1 and 2 (with the general thinking that 2 was better than 1 (but 1 was good too)) and they started to tell me. Folks got in touch on Facebook and Twitter to tell me they liked it, when was the next coming out?
Hell. In a good way, but hell! People, not many I grant, but more than I expected were enjoying the books. Some were wondering what their Wu spirit would be? And you’ll know that there can only be one Wu of each animal spirit… did that mean someone, if enough loved it, would end up being the Dung Beetle Wu? How would they feel? An honourable, needed role those little beasts play in the ecology of things, but who wants to be a Dung Beetle?
(Put your hand down, Simpkins!)
I entered the book for the #SPFBO, started and overseen by Mark Lawrence, in the hopes that I would win and world domination would finally be mine! Mine! Mine, I tell you! … OK, maybe not. I’d have settled for a good showing in the rankings. It did better than that. I didn’t win, but I got a great review from Sarah Chorn over at www.bookwormblues.net. Something I could use as a quote, some legitimacy from someone respected in the industry. That was fine for me. More than fine. It was great!
Then book 3, The Red Plains, came out. Some of those who’d finished all three and had, I hope, a bittersweet weep at the end, started a little fanclub on Facebook. They read Silent City too, my SciFi book series (book #2 on the way!), and the stuff on Wattpad, and the story in Tim Marquitz’s anthology.
Now, I’m English in a sometimes almost stereotypical kind of way. I get embarrassed when someone praises my writing. I get awkward with the attention. And I am not saying I don’t appreciate it, enjoy it, or welcome it because I do. It is fantastic, wonderful, incredible, adjective, adjective, one after the other until the sun burns out.
I’ve signed some books, doodled in some. Had folks tell me they’d bought the books and I do my utter utmost to interact, to talk, to have fun with them all. They’re a great bunch of folks and I hope they continue to read my books (and other peoples too… I’m not greedy). Wouldn’t change it for the world.
But I wonder, how does someone like G R R M̶a̶t̶t̶h̶e̶w̶s̶ Martin deal with it? What about Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, Marc Aplin? How do you keep it all straight in your head. Not the fame bit (though I am far from famous… I’m more the triangle player in a 200 piece orchestra), but the time to interact with all those people who enjoy your work?
After all, you’d want to, wouldn’t you? The money is nice (would be nice, if I sold a hell of a lot more books), but talking to people who enjoy the fruits of all those hours spent hunched over a notebook, computer, research books (google and wiki these days) makes it all worthwhile.
So, I suppose, if you read books and enjoy them. Let the author know. A review on Goodreads or Amazon is wonderful. A message through Twitter and Facebook is fantastic. And if you have a problem (and to be fair, addiction to the words of G R Matthews might qualify), if no one else can help you, and if you can find them can find them, maybe you can hire the Treehouse (if you know what that means, you’re in good company).