I haven’t posted in a while because of family illness and confusion. In general 2020 remains on brand and is a relentless hellscape, though my wife and boys, and the book release, shine through the muck and make things bearable.
That sounds melodramatic, doesn’t it? I’m just tired. When the book launched late last month, I was just getting over a stinking cold that as I write I haven’t fully shaken off. So I haven’t been at my sharpest, during a time when I had hoped to proactively push the book, and post here, and be an excellent human being.
Then my wife, who’d been holding things together while I fretted about the launch, came down with what looked like the same cough that I’d had, but that ultimately turned into double pneumonia. She’s better now, recuperating at home, but was in hospital for over a week and that was pretty miserable for her, and worrying for both of us.
Lots of running around, and driving around, and not being able to plan much from one day to the next. Pretty impressed with my ability to juggle so many things, each of them so out of my comfort zone, but knowing the whole time that there’d be a cost to pay at the end of it, and feeling the edges of that scraping away at the unfairest of times. Frayed temper when getting the boys ready for bed, story-time punctuated with my apologies.
(Nearly every parent shouts sometimes, regardless of what they might tell Facebook, so I try not to beat myself up about it. But unfortunately I’m not very good at the “try not to beat myself up about it” bit. We’ve got a policy in our family that when grown-ups get it wrong they apologise, which I think is an excellent policy to have.
But I always overdo it, and make it weird. It sometimes ends with the six year old feeling compelled to pat my head and console me. The four year old barely seems to notice.)
ANYway. That crunchy messy life stuff is not what any of us are here for. The headline promises three firsts, so here they are:
People have had the book in their hands for just over a month, now, and that means that some of them may also have started reading it! Which is, aside from international fame and self-sustaining riches, the main thing I was hoping for when making it.
I’ve been getting regular updates from friends and family privately about the stories they’ve enjoyed, but otherwise having a book out there in the wild is a quite unnerving experience, lived almost entirely in the dark; sales information is thin on the ground, but more importantly you don’t really know whether the writing is working for people who don’t already know you.
So I was very glad to get my first review over on Amazon last week! It’s here!
What I particularly like about it is that it exists.
And also that it shows that, at least for this reader, the choices I made when curating the collection worked. Mixing up styles, genres and story length was always a bit of a risk, but it was pretty deliberate. I wanted it to be representative of a broad mix of work, and also to keep the reader on their toes.
It’s always nice to know that you’re disorienting, as long as that was what you were going for.
So yes, reviews are good. They’re good for authors, who don’t know what they’re getting right or wrong until they start hearing from new people. But they’re also pretty much the best way awareness about a new and unknown writer or book can spread out to wider audiences.
If you’ve got the book, and you’re enjoying it, please consider leaving a review yourself and/or telling your friends about it.
(You’ll probably need to log in in either of those places.)
And if you review it somewhere else, please let me know in the comments here.
I Am A Library Book!
The Central Library here in my home town of Southampton now has a copy of “The Room Next Door” ready to lend, and on their system to request or reserve from any of the branches in the same library group. Click here to see it in their catalogue!
This is very exciting! New authors have to donate the first copy, but now it’s on their system anyone in the area theoretically has access to read or borrow it. Also, did you know that authors get a bit of money every time someone borrows their book from a library? That’s quite exciting, isn’t it?
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but you should use your local library, even if you aren’t a member of the Southampton one. And if you do happen to be in your local library some time soon, or are feeling a bit proactive, please ask them about getting a copy of my book, or drop me their website details in the comments!
I have it on good authority that a copy of “The Room Next Door” has been stolen from it’s rightful owner in Nottingham. This either means Nottingham is a place where even the unlikeliest of objects is prone to being purloined, or the book itself – with it’s delicious blend of stories – is impossible for criminals to resist. Only time will tell.
Please let me know in the comments if you’ve had your copy stolen, or you’ve stolen a copy, or you have some other bad crimes you need to get off your chest.