Born in early 1976, I grew up with the magic of Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and E.T. My reading, and later on my writing, was heavily influenced by these fabulous films, but I always had darker desires for my entertainment. I remember hunting out the scariest books in my primary school library – those with Godzilla, the Wolf Man, Dracula, and Frankenstein. They held a fascination for me in both their uniqueness and horror.
Reading always came naturally, and I couldn’t get enough stories as a kid. I remember staying awake until three o’clock in the morning trying to finish a book and falling asleep in class later that day. I read all the Choose Your Own Adventure books, and the Willard Price novels, following Hal and Roger Hunt on perilous expeditions for their father’s wildlife collection. I also remember convincing my mother numerous times that I was sick and couldn’t attend school in order to finish a book I was reading.
Writing didn’t come so easily. I was an average English student. I didn’t love words, and had no idea what made a good story. I only knew what it felt like to read one. I reached adulthood with the disillusioned idea of one day writing a novel. In my early twenties I was on a heavy Stephen King binge, and after finishing The Green Mile – and inspired by Stephen King’s work in general – decided to try writing a story of my own. In hindsight, if I had known how incompetent I was and how long it would take for any kind of success, I might have given up.
But I didn’t.
So I wrote a horror story about a kid and his possessed cat. I should have given up there, but my brother said it was better than he expected, so I pushed on. It was terrible. I wrote a number of short stories and submitted them for publication. The initial blunt rejection slips were replaced by encouragement, and later, praise. I wrote a novelette about a drive-in where the alien craft from the movie smashed through the screen and attacked the patrons. The location of this story later changed to a movie theatre and became Cinema 13, my first self-published story. I wrote a sort of half sci-fi thriller about a government department undertaking time travel experiments on unsuspecting citizens. The first draft was horrific. The second and third (though only a partial rewrite), showed promise, and were well received by beta readers. But it fell aside. Too difficult to wade through all those words (well over a hundred thousand) again. I wrote another science fiction story called To Earth and Back, about a virus that swept through a space station where humans lived, and to find the cure, a team travelled back to an abandoned Earth to find the source. Another hundred thousand plus words. Same again, early parts well received, too much work to rewrite. And finally, I wrote a mammoth one hundred and seventy thousand word story about animals that will be published in the future. It was superior to the others, but still needed copious amounts of changes.
And that was my failing in those early years. I didn’t understand what it took to complete a book. Despite getting up most mornings before work at five or six o’clock, and then writing again at night, I didn’t know how to finish. I didn’t understand that it takes multiple drafts, back and forth, cutting, deleting, rewriting, and polishing. Over and over. And over, until the words revolt you.
But finally, in June 2013, I started a story that would become Aftermath, and published it in November of that year. Two more books followed, successfully self-published, and I’m pleased to say there’s plenty more where they came from…