Posted in comedy, humor, humour, writing

The Subjective Impossibility of Knowing if You’re Shit or Not [a blog] #whatiwrite #newfiction #irishauthor


Indie Publishing is the new term for Self-Publishing. But don’t be fooled by that fancy name. It still means the same thing – mostly shite, with a lot of dragons and six-packs. And that’s how it’s always going to be.

That’s not to say that trad publishing isn’t also full of dragons and six-packs (and terrible writers). It’s just to remind you that there’s more of it in the unregulated world of digital vanity publishing. And, if you’re an indie writer yourself, you may be laughing along with this, but also thinking: “Yeah, but not me!”. Yes, you. Yes, me. Yes, all of us. Because taste is subjective by its very nature. And even the greatest books ever written will still have a 3% in the 1 Star part of their Amazon reviews. Stop reading this now, and go check. I’ll wait.

You back already? Told you so, didn’t I?

No matter how great you think you are a writer, someone is going to hate your book. Someone else mightn’t really ‘get’ it. Another person might just think it’s racist. It doesn’t matter. You can’t please everyone. And, unfortunately, the people you fail to please are always the ones more likely to take the time to bang out a review, explaining why you’re so shit. You should never take this personally. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how, as the old song goes. Songs from the late 90s are ‘old’ now, mate. Welcome to middle age.

I’m not just buttering your biscuit, by the way. It’s true. People get very cross if the majority likes something, but they don’t. You see it every day. And we can’t just let it go. We feel like we have to make a stand – to reach out to the rest of humanity and tell them just how wrong they are for daring to like something that we thought was stupid, had plot holes in it, or decided to portray Moriarty as a gay Irishman. Whatever it is, we have a platform now (thanks, Al Gore!) and we tend to use it. A lot.

That said, if 90% of your Amazon reviews are negative, you might just be shit. But you also mightn’t. You could just be way ahead of your time. Like early Bowie. Or Jesus. Or the Sega Dreamcast. You’re probably just misunderstood. Future generations will appreciate your werewolf & Frankenstein watersports slash fiction, and you’ll be laughing heartily down at the naysayers from Heaven.

Everyone who sits down and writes the novel they want to write, from the heart, with integrity (rather than looking at what the market wants and trying to create to order, I mean) is a good writer, as far as I am concerned. Even if they’re a really, really, really shit writer. Even if their covers look like they let someone with Parkinson’s loose on MS Paint. Even if I wouldn’t be able to get through the first page of their book without shoving a wet bath towel down my own throat and ripping out my own intestines. (Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of 24 recently). So, if you’re one of those writers, writing that sort of book, I salute you. I’m still not going to read your books. But I’ll download them when they’re free, and delete them a fortnight later. Because that’s what being an artiste is about – solidarity.

God bless all of you, and long may you continue to clog up my inbox, with your terrible hackneyed blurbs, and your stolen photographs of men’s glistening abdomens.

CW Out.

Posted in comedy, humor, humour, writing

So, Where Do We Go From Here? [a blog] #newfiction #irishauthor #indiepublishing


Greetings, hoi polloi. I write this at you, in a non-aggressive manner, from the carpeted floor of the house I don’t technically live in, because I’m still waiting for Joel Silver to ring with that five-movie deal to make me rich enough to buy my own carpet. My mobile phone says ‘No Service’ at the moment though, so that’s probably what’s wrong there.

I’ve just finished a 5 day promo on an older book, from 2013 (aren’t they all? I hear you shout, incorrectly), and it surprised me by shifting a shitload of copies, and fondling the top five in its own specific category in the UK, and going top twenty in Horror category worldwide. I even got a new review. And it was a glowing one which, if you’re familiar at all with the polarising public reaction to Girl Afraid over the years, is a right fucking coin-toss and no mistake.

It’s odd, being back in the game after so long out, and getting used to the feedback, the praise, the criticism, the hand-jobs in train station toilets, etc. It’s hard to explain how different it is to go from being someone who’s bashed out a few books in the distant past, to someone who’s publishing again, writing again, and who can finally answer the question ‘Can I get your books in paperback?’ with ‘Yes. Yes you can. Now take your hand off my leg, sir. You’re almost touching my phallus.’

I’ve always said that the thing about being a novelist that’s different from any other job is the fact that all of your perceived failures in the rest of your life are not actually wasted efforts. Every one of them can probably be turned into a scene somewhere, a character somewhere else. It’s literally all material. And, when I read my own books, I can definitely tell the difference between “That happened!” and “I made that shit up”, because the former always has more depth and authenticity to it. Your mileage may vary, of course, but then you really should be measuring distance in kilometers, you bloody racist.

Has Sweetness Follows gone down well? I reckon so, but a few more reviews wouldn’t hurt, if you’re listening, kids. My priority isn’t that at the minute though. It’s finishing book three, so that we have a trilogy for people to start, cos you know people, they like… well… they like trilogies? I haven’t done the research. There’s a chance that something non-Boys of Summery may drop as well, either at the same time (February) or a little after, so if you liked Girl Afraid, but you’re not too keen on the Paddy McNostalgia series, that’s a bit of good news for you. If you are the opposite, move right along, because if you though GA was a little hard to stomach, this other one is gonna turn your colon inside out, paint it with iodine, and stamp on it with golf shoes made out of lava. An acquired taste, if you will.

Okay, that’s all from West Towers for today. Click a link, read a sample, buy a book, write a review, save a life, adopt a monkey.

Posted in comedy, humor, humour, writing

Anatomy of a Threequel: More Notes From The Coalface [a blog] #whatiwrite #irishwriter #newfiction #indieauthor


So, Sweetness Follows has been out in the world for a while. People seem to like it so far. A lot of them are communicating this via telepathy rather than solid, actual Amazon reviews, but that’s okay. It’s 2017 now, and to be honest I’m just glad everyone isn’t dead.

I am now in the unique position (for me) of having all my books available in paperback format, which is cool. They’re quite expensive, compared to eBooks, yeah. And I make no money from them, due to shaving off my royalties to keep the price down (as well as ticking the box that gives you a free copy of the eBook with every purchase, not a discounted copy like Amazon suggests, COS I’M SO NICE). But they’re there, so there, there. The Boys of Summer is A HANDY POCKET SIZE TRIM, as Don Draper would put it. Or, ‘small’, as the rest of us would say. Sweetness Follows and Girl Afraid are much bigger, and I will take to my grave the reasons for why that is so.

More Than Words is in full swing – I flirted with the idea of doing a non-series book next, but you know me, I’d just get all bogged down and depressed and writer’s blocky and alcoholic and suicidal and start a relationship with someone who doesn’t believe in me and blame all of my artistic shortcomings on that fact and spend three years doing fuck all and wishing for the sweet embrace of death, so it’s best to just do Boys of Summer 3, innit?

This one is different in lots of ways. Firstly, the timeline jumps back to 1991. Because I do that time-jump thing a lot in the books themselves, so I thought it would be totes meta to do it with the order of the series. Or totes annoying, because if I know anything, it’s not how to gauge my readership. Also, it’s from a female POV, which should keep the feminists happy for about four seconds, until they have a mood swing and start attacking me for how unrealistic and sexist it is. THAT WAS A JOKE, LADIES. You remember jokes, right? Thirdly, it’s set in September, at the start of the school year, so we get the first Songs of Summer that’s not in the summer (in Ireland, I mean – our calendar is seasonally different to the UK and the USA, look it up) and the first one where the characters are in school, which is nostalgitastic to write.

The book is narrated by Marian (can’t say her surname, it’s literally a spoiler for another book, OR IS IT?), and even though she’s the same age as Jon was in Sweetness, she’s a lot more articulate than he, so this would probably be an easier entry level book for those who struggle with the vernacular and the grammar of the others. Except it isn’t, because you can’t start reading a book series at #3, you fools! You can’t even start this one at #2, apparently, or so I learned from someone’s comments the other day about the bad narrative grammar and the overly descriptive scene-setting dialogue buffers – MATE, THAT’S HOW I WRITE THESE, GET ON BOARD. So, despite all my efforts to keep Sweetness spoiler-free, I basically shouldn’t have bothered.

Sweetness Follows is an odd one, because The Boys of Summer has some characters in it who I used real people as templates for. But they weren’t exact representations. Sometimes I’d make someone look like one person, but be like another, etc. And I don’t think anyone reading it took those characters personally if they recognised themselves. Mainly because Richie resembles me so much, but my later drafts honed his narrative to always be pretty positive, relate-able, and sympathetic. But, with Sweetness, Jon has to be a) different to Richie in a lot of ways, so you don’t think you’re reading the same person’s mind (watch how he deals with women, or errant soccer balls, for example), and b) Jon is a bit of a dick. A dick who needs changing, and salvation, ergo the outlying theme of the book, and the D E E P E R meaning of the title. So, if you’re in the second book, prepared to be described in a slightly unflattering way.

The third book lets me take the Richie character (he’s like me, MEMBA????) and do amazing stuff with him, from someone else’s point of view – namely, the girl he loves. That’s the most interesting bit – stepping outside of myself and viewing romantic relationships of mine in the past both objectively, and subjectively from the other person’s POV. If you do that, and take out all your own self-pity and history rewrites, you not only have new found sympathy for whomever you were with back then, you also notice how much of an absolute nightmare you probably were to be around. Humbling stuff. STILL HER FAULT, THOUGH. MY MUM SAYS SO.

If you’re reading this and you’ve not bought Sweetness Follows yet, take your time, no pressure. If you’ve not read The Boys of Summer yet, that’s fine also. If you’ve not read any of my books, and you didn’t find today’s blog randomly on twitter or wordpress, and you came from my own Facebook where I only let my fr- LOOK, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU? WHY ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS NOW, SINCE YOU HATE ME SO MUCH? WILL I JUST GO SLIT MY WRISTS THEN? IS THAT WHAT YOU WANT? AAAAAAAGH, I JUST REMEMBERED PAUL DANIELS IS DEAD. WHY, WORLD? WHY ARE YOU SO CRUEL?

And so on, and so forth. Girl Afraid is free til the 7th, I think. Go download that, and make yourself ill.

Posted in humor, writing

Rumours of My Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (or how I learned to stop worrying and finish a book) #blogging #whatiwrite #newfiction


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!

Posted in comedy, humor, humour, writing

How a Trilogy Became a Quintilogy (and other excuses for why I haven’t finished the second one) #whatiwrite #newfiction #blogging


*blows dust off this blog*

Or should it be: *blows off dust from this blog*? We’ll literally never know. Three years, eh? Seems like a long time. And that’s because it is. Obviously there are other blogs than this, and I haven’t been updating those either. Consistency, that’s the key.

So, Sweetness Follows? Sweetness Drags Along Behind at the Rate of a Dead Snail That’s Trying Very Hard Not to Be Seen by Whomever It’s Following, more like. But it’s okay. I’m nearly finished it. Sort of. There are many words, at least. A lot of them are still in physical notebooks, my head, the dictionary, yes. But they at least exist at a conceptual level, and that’s more than we could have hoped for at the start of this year. And by ‘we’, I mean ‘just me’, because the rest of you are reading this and thinking ‘Ciarán who, now?’ Which is also okay.

In the beginning, back in 2011/2012, when I was young buck, full of dreams of what might be, I done an actual novelbook called The Boys of Summer. And it was aiiight. I then done another book, which ha’nt got nothing to do with the first one, but around the same time, there were samples and ideas floating about from a sort of sequel. I even put one on later editions of the first one, and you’d have have found it if you carried on reading after it said ‘The End’. You know, like those people at a Marvel movie who won’t get out of their seats until the post-credits scene, even though the staff are hoovering up popcorn from under their feet.

Back in those heady days, my idea was to create a spoilerless trilogy. Have three books related to each other that could be read in any order. Maybe even then I had an inkling that I’d take four years to publish the first sequel, and that people would have forgotten all about The Boys of Summer by then. Whatever it was, I began in earnest. One day I’ll look up what that idiom actually means, but until that day, I’ll just carry on using it. The new book was, and still is, relatively spoiler-free. You could read it now (if I’d fucking published it, but hey, maybe you’re reading this in 2018, and you’ve got an advance copy!) and still go back and enjoy the first one. But trilogies need a third part that ties everything up, and you can’t do that without referencing the past. Especially if you want to put in a silly twist about Marion Cotillard being Liam Neeson’s daughter and stuff. So I decided that part three was gonna need you to have read parts one and two. And I made my peace with it. And then I proceeded to not write either of them. Thanks, beer!

Now, in this brave new world, where it actually looks like we are going to get Sweetness Follows, I’ve junked the idea of a trilogy altogether. Turns out, I want to do five. Ambitious, I know, for a man who struggles to do… one, but we all need dreams. And now the game has changed. Much like the original Back to the Future movie (he said, with Donald Trump levels of self-aggrandising comparison), The Boys of Summer was meant to stand alone, so there are no real literary pathways out of it, to future sequels. The main character in Sweetness Follows is mentioned maybe twice, probably by accident. That’s it. And a reference to Richie’s dad playing in a band when he was younger that I definitely, definitely didn’t add in a later edition, while coming up with the plot for the next one. Definitely not.

Sweetness Follows though, is written in the full knowledge that there will be another book after it, so it’s a whole different ball game of fish kettle chess. Characters who will be the lead in later books have to be fleshed out, endeared to the reader, not killed off – it’s a complicated business. Whereas with TBoS, I put in lots of fancy foreshadowing (that you probably missed if you only read it once – WHY DID YOU ONLY READ IT ONCE, YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN LOVE WITH ME, WHY AM I EVEN BOTHERING, I DON’T WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE, TAKE ME, JESUS, TAKE ME FROM THIS FESTERING SHELL OF A LIFE AND LIFT ME UP TO HEAVEN, WHERE I CAN MEET NANA, AND GRANDA, AND ALL THE DOGS MY MOTHER KILLED -) whereas now, I’m putting in foreshadowing for books that don’t even exist yet. That is literally how amazing I am, and shame on you for ever doubting me.

But anyway, yes. Sequel Potential, as the agents say. I’ve finally given in to it. And it’s actually quite exciting. I sort of love the Boys of Summer universe, so the idea of going back to the well multiple times is sort of comfy, and telling the stories from new points of view is challenging enough to keep it interesting. There’s nothing final yet, but there will definitely be one set at the turn of the millennium, one set in the UK, and (most exciting of all) one that jumps back to 1991, and is from the POV of someone you’d never have guessed. Not that you were guessing. Or caring. Or even thinking about it. It’s not Jimmy Savile, btw. I promise.

So, why has it taken this long? Why is it still taking this long, with even this blog being party to the procrastination? I think, scientifically speaking, it’s probably because I was supposed to write, and instead, I tried coming at it from some different and revolutionary angles. Methods included ‘not writing anything’, ‘hating myself’, ‘drinking’, ‘staring into space’, ‘watching all of 30 Rock again’, and ‘sighing’. Of course, none of these things actually helped, but in my defence, I had to try them all. Because I’m a completist. And a fucking idiot.

Thanks for reading this, guys/women/whatever you identify as. Hopefully the next time we talk, it’ll be on the review section of Amazon. I’m planning on doing lots of funny ratings for sugar free Gummi Bears, BiC women’s pens, and other stuff like that. Anything besides finishing this book.


Posted in comedy, humor, humour, writing

I’m Definitely Still Writing [a blog] #whatiwrite

Picture not related
Picture not related

I definitely am.  Just about.  Here’s a thing that I’m working on at the moment.  It’s from a book which won’t be released under the Ciarán West name, so you’ll just have to find it yourself when it comes out.  It’s from the point of view of a woman, so stop imagining me when you read it.  Enjoy!


There were emails in my inbox from Simon’s PA, wanting to know where we were, going forward, on Chavs vs Snobs vs Hippies. I really needed to come up with a real title for that, although the amount of fucks I presently gave about it came to the nice round number of zero. Just thinking about Simon and his slimy face was enough to make me want to chuck my job and start a new life restoring furniture, or selling antiques. My mortgage advisor wouldn’t be too happy about a move like that though, so I had to persevere for the time being. Simon had all the power, unfortunately, and he wouldn’t be moved when it came to the format or the execution. I was resigned to putting my name to yet another piece of low-rent, forgettable trash television, so that the nice people at the Woolwich and Capital One could have their monthly pounds of flesh.

It had been three days since the café and the pub, and Matt had been as distant and mysterious as ever with regards to the frequency of contact, and as apologetic and charming when the texts or calls eventually came. I didn’t know if he was intentionally keeping me in a state of constant confusion and neediness, but I hoped not. More likely it was my own interpretation of events which was colouring my experience of the whole thing. I tried to think back to my teens, when I first started getting silly over boys, but there was no fair comparison. Mobile phones and text messages simply weren’t a thing at the time, but I definitely remembered sitting by the phone for hours at a time, and hating my mum if she dared to make any outgoing calls lasting more than a couple of minutes. Eventually, I just put my phone in the drawer underneath my desk, and took myself outside for some fresh air, and a break from the tension of waiting for something that might never come. By some fresh air, I obviously meant a ciggie.

‘Got a light?’ The voice brought me out of my romantiflustered daze. I looked around to see Karen, who worked across the hall. She and I were part of a dying breed, quite literally. No one else in my office seemed to smoke anymore.

‘Yeah, sure. How’s you?’ I fished the matches out of my bag, cringing a little when I remembered my habit of putting spent ones back into the box with the rest. People always made some comment about it. Karen didn’t seem to notice them.

‘Me? Oh, you know. The usual.’

‘Yep.’ Everyone seemed to be afflicted by the dreaded Usual. There was a lot of it going around.

‘Anything exciting happening with you?’ She took a long drag on her white-tipped menthol Marlboro, a familiar look of relief crossing her face, as the monkey on her back got his medicine.

‘Me? Nah,’ I lied. Karen lived in a different universe to me. She had four children, and had been on maternity leave for about ninety per cent of the time I’d employed her. She was contributing to society on a massive scale, with her vagina.

‘Really? No man on the horizon? Whatever happened to that chap… the one with the Porsche? Robert, was it?’

‘Richard.’ Richard the massive prick, in every respect, except the one which might have been a consolation.

‘Richard, that’s it. What happened to him? I was sure you two were on your way down the aisle. Shame, really. I have a house full of baby things, you know. Dying to give them away.’

‘Yeah, well. Wasn’t meant to be, I guess.’ I said it in the sort of defeated manner that people expect from a woman in her thirties who hasn’t yet snared herself a man. That was how people thought of you; particularly other women, and especially super-breeders like Karen. No one ever uses the expression ‘young, free and single’ about a woman over twenty nine. That’s something you call a man. Even if he’s forty-eight.

‘Don’t worry. There’ll be plenty of time for you.’ She touched my arm lightly as she said it, and tilted her head in sympathy. I gave a weak smile back, and pictured myself punching her in the face. My fag wasn’t finished, but I stubbed it out anyway, and dropped the butt in the designated bin they’d installed for us social lepers.

‘Here’s hoping, eh? Catch you later.’ I went to leave, but Karen touched my arm again.

‘Listen, we’re having a dinner party on Friday. Just me and Geoff, and a few friends. Nothing fancy. We’d love it if you could come.’

‘Oh. Ah, Friday’s no good for me, I’m afraid, Kar. Fully booked.’

‘Oh. Well, that’s a shame. Hope it’s something exciting!’

‘Heh. Yeah, it may well be.’

It totally is. I’m going to poke myself in the eyes with sharpened chopsticks, because it would be less painful than going to your house and having you try to foist one of your single male friends onto me, in the hope that he’ll impregnate me, and then I can finally join your Amazing Club of Women Whose Wombs Aren’t Redundant, I thought, hoping that I had suddenly developed telepathic powers.


Posted in humor, humour, writing

That Feel When You Actually Sell Some Books [a blog] #whatiwrite #newfiction #mustread

Now available on Amazon (and in your very nightmares)
Now available on Amazon (and in your very nightmares) Widgets

I’ve been an author for quite a long time, technically, but right now, things are different. At the moment, instead of staring wistfully at my Amazon sales figures once every few weeks, wondering what’s wrong with me, I’m refreshing the page every hour or so, and going ‘Ooh! More!’

And I’m not quite sure what has made the difference. When I wrote my first book, I didn’t know if it was any good. When I published it, people seemed to like it. People I knew, that is. And a few strangers. But there was never much in the way of income from it, or a sign that what I did was actually making its way out into the world. And it was a much different world from today. Last year, when publishing on KDP, I had to pretty much explain the concept of an eBook to 85% of the people who wanted to read what I had written. Fast forward a year, and everyone and his civil partner seemed to own a Kindle, a Kindle Fire, or some other crazy electronic book machine.

So the launch for Girl Afraid was a much less complicated thing. And also, a much less successful one. Whether it was that it was no longer ‘THIS GUY’S FIRST BOOK, SO LET’S SUPPORT HIM’, or I’d failed to hype it up for weeks before I published, or quite simply the fact that the subject matter was perceived to be ABHORRENT, the sales were trickly at best, among my ePals. That said, the ones who did buy it seemed very impressed, and most of them paid over the odds for it, as I look much thinner these days, and they assumed I wasn’t eating.

Now, though; now that it’s in the real world, and people I don’t know are downloading it in their hundreds/thousands/etc, I am in a whole new world. Reviews from complete strangers, pointing out what they didn’t like about it, as well as saying what they did. I’M NOT USED TO THAT SORT OF BALANCED CRITICISM, PEOPLE. Hold me. One reviewer seemed to have read an entirely different book to the one I wrote: his one was some sort of explicit kiddy porn novel, which he recommended to child sex predators everywhere. I was going to say ‘much to my chagrin’, but, almost immediately after that review went live, sales went through the roof. Hopefully that was a coincidence, because no one really wants to exploit The Paedo Dollar. Well, apart from Disney.

This book is definitely having an impact, when you compare it to The Boys of Summer. I remember some people thinking that aspects of that book were ‘disturbing’ and ‘hard to stomach’, but Girl Afraid seems to have taken the concepts of ‘controversial’ and ‘polarising’ up several hundred notches, and I suppose I’m quite happy about that. I don’t want the book to have twenty gushing, well-written five star reviews. I want it to have conflicting ones. People fighting in the aisles over it. The success of a show like The X-Factor goes hand in hand with other people complaining about it, misunderstanding it or hating it. You’re no one in any business unless someone hates what you do.

The book, for those who are interested, is not explicit or graphic, to any point where I would feel it was in bad taste. It’s certainly a work that makes you imagine the bad stuff, though. The same as The Silence of the Lambs did, or any decent horror movie. The rule in fiction is usually ‘show, not tell’, but I think what I did was ‘imply, not show’. For some readers, that’s still too much, and I respect them if that’s the case. But there is more to the book than scares and gulps. I wanted to flesh out all of the characters, good and bad. No pantomime villains, no flawless heroes, no Mary-Sues. Just people in an extraordinary situation, acting the way people act.

The heroine will frustrate you, because she doesn’t have all the necessary traits to solve the problem and get things tied up in a neat bundle. The bad guys will confuse you, by having human feelings and real lives that are unrelated to the plot. And, although I never try to justify their actions, they will- all day long. Because an ostensibly evil person doesn’t walk around all day thinking how evil they are. Despite rumours to the contrary, evil DOES sleep. Evil needs at least seven hours sleep a night, just to function. And how do we allow ourselves to sleep? We justify our actions. Whether you are stealing from your boss, cheating on your wife, or doing what these guys do, you try and make your peace with God and yourself, otherwise, there a cognitive dissonance thing going on. Or whatever that’s called (I never do the research).

What I’m trying to say here is,

– The book is selling, big time

– It’s a little scary reading reviews

– The book itself is quite scary, but not in the ways you might think

– Thank you for downloading it, reading it, reviewing it (good or bad)

– Keep it up, keep telling your friends, keep me from looking so emaciated.

Love you all,