Hi there, it’s been a while.
I’ve been trying to think up a good post for this blog since last month. Nothing’s got me writing. So tonight I’ll just do what’s on my mind. Except this has already been on it for years.
Do you know the song ‘Killing in the Name’ by Rage Against the Machine? Doesn’t matter what your answer is. Find it on Spotify or iTunes or whatever you subscribe to and listen to it.
Did you do as I told you? Cool. Hold those vibes.
I’m going to release a new book in January. The follow up will launch pretty soon after it, already written and almost ready. But let’s not make this a marketing post. What’s really on my mind is that this these two books are quite different from the Talent Show ones. I feel like I’m trying another trick that’s up my sleeve, because let’s face it, the Talent Show books have not been commercially successful.
Yes I have readers who like them and want to see more. One contacted me recently and even told me I couldn’t just leave it at two books. That felt great! And for the record, I’m already underway with Book 3 – Deception Crossing. But I do sometimes do wonder why I persist with a series that’s (1) getting increasingly complex and difficult to write (2) still hasn’t made me back even a small amount of what I’ve invested in it, and (3) that I knew was going to be a real challenge to find a readership for in the first place.
Here’s why I’m still writing books with Shadow. Remember those vibes I told you to hold on to? What you’re holding in your vibe box right now is what I get from writing as Shadow Hatcher. He’s my biggest outlet for that side of me that’s just yelling all the versions of RatM’s ‘Fuck you I won’t do whatcha tell me!’ I seriously need to sort my phone out so it plays me the song as my alarm sound every morning.
I would give anything to get that sentiment as perfectly captured in a creative work as Rage Against the Machine got it. Look at the band name, before you even think about the song. Doesn’t it just tell what kind of music you’ll get before you even put the CD in? I should have made them Shadow’s favourite band, except it would be too obvious. (Now I think of it, didn’t I have him listening to Prefab Sprout at one point? What could I have been thinking?)
I’ve had reviewers say how much they disliked my character’s behaviour. Fair enough, some of the stuff he does is irresponsible, and bad mannered, and sometimes he has a pretty wicked tongue on him. Too bad though, because I’ve enjoyed the fuck out of writing all of him. I keep writing these books because I feel like I need him. He’s the side of me that bought Killing in the Name during the fan campaign to get it to the UK Christmas Number One.
Best. Choice. Ever.
Even if I sense that I’m constantly paying the price for channelling this side of me into a character. Sure, there are many reasons why books don’t necessarily take off, and it might be nothing to do with the protagonist, despite me thinking all this. But if someone did force me to take a guess at the main reason, this would be it. I never concerned myself with what readers wanted when I wrote Shadow’s Talent, I just got all the things that made Shadow who he was down on the page and hoped for the best.
But then again, maybe I did, because what reader wants to see the main character of a story waste their life? Shadow’s story starts with his ambitions, and they don’t fit with what society ever wanted for people of his background. There’s the ‘Fuck you’ vibe put to some actual practical use in a story. Young adults who are sleepwalking through the world with no idea about what future they want are probably every parent’s nightmare. But there are plenty of driven teenagers out there. Might readers of various ages see something in Shadow because of that ‘Let’s go get the world’ side of him? Nobody ever had to grab Shadow by his shirt and yell ‘Go get a can of Wake the Fuck Up!’ The problem’s actually getting him to just take a step back from it all.
If I’m honest, that’s a problem I share with him. Ambition is a great thing, and it’s also a curse, and both sides of it apply to me. The Talent Show books are partly my elaborate, complex and probably ineffective way of working that part of the world out. I’m like Shadow: I can’t stop thinking big. And fuck it, now I’m quoting Rush lyrics as well. They’re a massive band who once had to fight for their success too. (Okay, they’re my favourite band, but that’s another article I should probably never write.)
At this point, I’ll stop going on about all the ways I’d hoped a reader might find my MC appealing, and why I relate to him. This is more an article about how when success seems to be eluding you, remembering why you created that character and started your series in the first place is probably the best chance you’ve got at starting a survival strategy. The next part of it’s writing another books. That’s if you’re an author.
If you’re a reader…no, I’m not going to tell you to go back to those RatM vibes and then go check my book out. You’re on my site, so you’ve probably done it already. So I’ll just go for good old fashioned ‘Stay tuned for my upcoming release’ and if Talent Show didn’t work for you, give a couple more badly behaved characters a chance and check it out.
Yeah, I lied at the start. Slightly. The books have a very different style, and the characters are different from Shadow, but one thing remains the same: I just can’t write about saints. You’d probably write me a review saying I was boring if I did. Who wants to read about rainbow farting unicorns in human form anyway? Don’t the best heroes have some element of sinner about them? Go check out Daredevil or Peaky Blinders if you don’t believe me. (Yeah, I’ve been watching TV. Fuck Stephen King’s advice about blowing up your TV too!)
There’s a cover reveal coming soon, and when I get them I’ll stick them up with a blurb. Until then, go read a book your parents wouldn’t approve of. Especially if you’re Shadow’s age.