Coal House

My debut novel ‘Coal House’ is currently on a special offer for 99p for Kindle under Amazon’s promotional week (I think I may have mentioned that in my first post!); to commemorate that I was asked by my publishers to put together a couple of posts explaining more about the book for anyone who may be interested.

In the winter of 2014 I had some spare time on my hands between projects, and after twelve months that had been filled with many professional accomplishments beyond my wildest dreams, I decided to finish the year writing a horror story. Horror is my favourite movie genre and I’ve always wanted to emulate the suspense so prevalent in John Carpenter’s Halloween in my own story. Short of writing a Halloween screenplay (still an ambition) the best thing, and logical thing, was to write my own story.

I will write a little more about the inspirations and ideas behind the story in another post later this week but the basic idea was derived from a simple conversation I once had years ago with a former manager in a day job. He was close to retirement and he talked about settling down by the beach, and how he had been put off the idea by friends who had done the same and realised that going somewhere on holiday and living there were two very different things. I had been to North Wales as a kid and I have friends there now as a big kid; on our visits to see them, I’m always intrigued by the architecture and the way that some areas seem stuck in time. But, I digress.

A few of my friends and family had a read of the story once it was finished and enjoyed it, telling me I ought to do something with it. Note – ‘do something’ generally means send it to a publisher, or literary agent. I did both; however, my initial pursuit of a literary agent was with a number of projects in mind – football biographies, football history, non-sports biographies and finally, this manuscript for a fiction novel. Acquiring a literary agent at the best of times can be a minefield, let alone acquiring the right one, and anyone who has any experience of this kind of path will understand what I mean when I say that it is practically impossible to find one who specialises in more than one area.

In late April I decided to send it to a publisher for the first time and, with no expectations, I forgot completely about it until I received a phone call in late July from Karen at Rudling House. Karen had been the only person I had sent the manuscript to; I guess it was some form of fate (and definitely fortune!) when that phone call was very positive. I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy mostly praise for my work and although I do accept it graciously I also see it as vindication that writing the book was a good idea; that the subject matter is of interest.

To send a creative work to someone and then receive feedback on it is a completely different experience altogether and I hadn’t really appreciated how it would affect me until Karen called me to say how much she enjoyed it and wanted to publish it. From that point until publication date, Karen made a few suggestions in terms of edits – suggestions that were all positive and helped the story – and I was surprised to learn some things about myself in this process, primarily that for someone who is naturally stubborn but also quite sensitive, I could take on constructive criticism of something I’d toiled over creating. The whole process was fairly quick for a number of reasons and before I’d even truly comprehended it was happening, I had an advance copy of the book in front of me.

Since its release in October, I have been overwhelmed by the praise and feedback; I’ve been more anxious about what people think of ‘Coal House’ than I have of any other book I’ve written, and for people to have taken the time to read and then enjoy something I created is a really special feeling. Those emotions are probably an interesting enough subject (as emotions, not so much that I felt them) to justify another post so I will do that in due course but I just wanted this post to give a little information about how the book came to be published. Thanks for reading!

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