It’s simple. I’ve always borrowed books from libraries. From being a child to a cash-stricken student to becoming a fussy adult reader, I have always raided my local library. If I find a book or an author I love, I troop straight off to the nearest bookshop and buy a copy for my bookshelf, and probably everything else they’ve written too. The fact that I borrowed it for free first doesn’t devalue it in the slightest. When I impulse buy a book at full price, usually at the airport five minutes before take off, and it turns out to be not my thing, either in writing style or characters or dialogue or whatever, that’s when I get a tad ticked off.
My first book is listed as an eBook for free so that you can give it a go. Read it with no other investment than a liking for the cover and the blurb, an appreciation for what other people have written about it, maybe a recommendation from a friend and some time. Then if you like it, great, buy the others knowing pretty much what you’re going to get more of.
I talk to business owners, artists and writers included, about how to value your product and work out pricing structures. Creative work is not like any other service or product-based business. If you calculate in the time it takes you to produce your work and then try to bill it per hour, you’ll go potty. It doesn’t add up. Create for the love of it and then find an audience that loves your work – they’ll decide how much they’re prepared to pay for it.
I don’t want to throw my first book into the slush pile of free books on the Internet, but at the same time, it’s great being able to say to people, “It’s free – try it! If you like it, there are two more and a fourth due out next year.” The way I see it is that it’s no different than borrowing a book from the library, or giving someone your copy to try. Some of the best feedback I’ve had has been from people who tried the first one then decided to buy the others because they’ve enjoyed it so much. So I’ll see what happens next year, but for the moment I’m going to be keeping book one free.

I’m writing a script for a graphic novel based on my books and that is weird enough, but part of the process of working with an artist is having to describe what my characters look like.
Anyone who has read any of my stuff will know that I don’t go into great detail on how my characters look physically. When I read a book, I like to create my own picture of how I see the people in it – that’s how I get attached to them so that’s how I like to write.
I know exactly who NG, LC and Hil are, how they behave, how they react to different situations, how they interact with others, what they drink, what they like and dislike, how good they are at poker. In the books, I’ve never fully described their physical appearance except for brief mentions of attributes that may be relevant to what they’re doing.
Working on a graphic novel is a whole new plate of bananas. So I have now written a full profile, including description, for each of them and talked in great detail through initial sketches with Rachel who is a great artist (and who is being very patient with me). It has been very strange. I feel as if I’ve been auditioning people for the parts… No, he needs to look younger; No, his hair needs to be shorter; Yes, he’s great. It’s all been very bizarre but I must say, lots of fun.

I am. At last. After standing teetering on the edge where the end of book three left me, I have managed to gather my wits again and start writing, albeit in pencil scribbles in a notebook. I have launched myself into book four, met with an artist to discuss the graphic novelisation of my Thieves’ Guild series and started a YA book centred around my favourite guild characters.
Shotgun approach, I know, but I’m having fun. It’s weird to be writing again and not revising and reworking and editing. The process is very different. Finishing a book is really hard work. It can be all-consuming, tying the intricate knots of each loose thread throughout the whole story and sharing the intensity of the ending with the main character. Working at it until it’s right is challenging and then letting it go, out into the world, is tough.
Writing new stuff, especially at the start of a project, has an amazing sense of freedom and possibility. It’s like taking a breath of fresh air just after a rainstorm, standing on the top of a hill in bright sunshine, looking around to see all the different routes you could take and having no idea where they could take you. It’s exciting and that’s the best thing about writing.
So I am writing and enjoying it. (And really appreciating people getting in touch to say they’re enjoying my books! Many thanks to everyone who has contacted me with their feedback and support.)

Harsh Realities is finally finished, the cover’s done and there are just a couple of weeks to the launch at SciFi Scarborough weekend in April!
It feels very strange to have actually finished this book. I’m feeling a bit bereft. I can remember reading years ago, when I was doing lots of fieldwork, about a phenomenon called expedition blues – glumness after all the excitement of an adventure. Finishing this book feels a bit like that. I’ve spent four years with these characters, through thick and thin, getting to know them, being surprised by them, taking out my moods on them. I’m missing them.
I know what it’s like as a reader to get to the end of a book or series and feel lost; to have been so caught up with the characters that you don’t want them to go yet. As a writer, it’s a hundred times worse. You’ve lived with this main character inside your head for so long, with infinite possibilities of what might happen to him. Suddenly, it’s all there in black and white and it’s done. No more what ifs or aha moments. It’s all happened the way it should and you’ve taken him as far as he needs to go – for now. It’s a bit like finishing a (half!) marathon – incredibly exciting and satisfying but after all that hard work leading up to it, it also leaves you standing there (usually in the rain) thinking, what am I going to do now?
Still, the Scarborough weekend sounds like it will be a lot of fun and it will be great to have the book out. We haven’t decided on costumes for the little ones yet but we have a few ideas if we can persuade them to be something other than Mr Gru’s minions.
And after that, back to the writing and into book four. After book one, I reckoned I’d be writing a book a year. Now that I have NG out of my system (mostly), maybe I’ll be able to get back on target.

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