Yeah, so. Here we are. Sweetness Follows is live on Amazon. Literally the only good thing to happen in 2016 that wasn’t sports-related. You can thank me later.
I feel good. Now, when people ask my daughter what her father does, and she says ‘He writes novels!” it won’t be an outright lie. Sure, the other kids will still beat her up for having a boffin for a father, but that’s a price I’m willing to pay. No one ever said life was supposed to be fair!
Sweetness Follows is the sort-of sequel to a little book you may have heard of from 2012 called The Boys of Summer. No, not the baseball one; the one about Limerick, that literally tens of people own. I haven’t published a full-length novel since August of 2013, and quite a lot of crazy stuff has happened between now and then, but I’m technically back now. In the way the Backstreet Boys were back when they released ‘Everybody’. Or the way rappers are back literally every time they write a new song, or release a mixtape, or answer their mobile phones.
Is it any good, though? I think so. I went from The Boys of Summer to Girl Afraid because I didn’t want to niche myself with the ‘Oirish’ thing, and I wanted to show people I could actually write in grown-up English. But writing the Limerick books is actually a million times more enjoyable, because you don’t have to worry about making contemporary references that might date the book later on, you can use the worst grammar imaginable and it’s just all part of the charm, and you can have your characters say things that would make your average tumblr poster have the mother of all triggerings, and wish xzhe’d never been born.
Not that I’m bigoted, or enjoy bigotry. It’s just that people were different 20 years ago. They thought differently. Your average UKIP, Brexit, or Trump voter might tell you it was a better time, but it wasn’t. And your average internet busybody uberliberal teenager (who wasn’t even born then, FFS) would have you believe that everyone back then was PURE EVIL. But neither of them are right.
We thought differently, we spoke differently, but nice people were still nice and nasty people were still nasty. Context, intent, etc still mattered as much as they do today. What I wasn’t going to do though, under any circumstances, was retcon the past to make it into some sort of SJW utopia. Because, regardless of anything else, the SJW utopia we have now is not perfect. It’s got good intentions, but it’s still flawed. We’re still using divisive words that confuse our enemies and make them hate us more, rather than listening and adapting, like we would if we were interested in real progress (Newsflash: a white person who’s dirt poor is never, ever, ever going to understand when you call them ‘privileged’, even though we don’t mean what he thinks it means, so we should find a new word, maybe). But anyway, what I’m saying is – you can’t create a literary time machine that makes a 15 yr old Irish kid in 1996 into a self-aware 2016 social activist, so it’s better we just let him be misinformed and casually racist/sexist/homophobic, as long as we know that, in his universe, he’s one of the good guys.
In fact, when I’m writing as a kid or a teenager, that’s a really big thing – that the narrator is not self-aware. That’s why I hate that writing style of ‘adult looking back on his own childhood’ – either the one that’s implicitly ‘Oh, what a fool I was!’, or worse, the John Green thing of ‘OMG I was so smart and with it at 15, let’s make my main character just like that!’. Rose tinted specs, John. Take ’em off.
But yes, should you buy this book? I think so. One of the main reasons I didn’t release it for so long was that I had to be sure it was up to the standard of The Boys of Summer. And, I suppose, that it had the same charm, or atmosphere, or whatever it was that touched people. And, I guess, I wanted it to be better. And it’s taken a long time, maybe down to personal issues, etc, who knows, for me to get to that point. For me to go: “Here you go, world! That’s my baby. PLEASE DON’T KICK IT TO DEATH.” But I got there. With a little help from some friends, with a lot of help from others, for which I’m eternally grateful. So, yeah. It’s a thing now. And just in time for Christmas. So… maybe you could buy it? Because I already have a treatment for the next one, so you’ll have another part to read by February at the latest.
Thanks for your patience – regarding my writing career, and also, this blog. Cos it kind of dragged in the middle there, and suddenly it was all over. Just like Girl Afraid.
Here are some messy looking links. Go read a sample!