Monday 22 April 2013

Aliens ate my sequel

Okay, so I was writing the next Shakespeare Cruz novel, and it wasn't coming together very well. Six months and forty thousand words and still it wasn't happening. I tried and tried, but the project remained lifeless in my hands. I began to dread each day of writing, like I was doing a job I really hated. As the daily word count dropped, I reached the point where I doubted my ability to write.

Doubt - the writer's worst enemy. I knew it well and assumed that a good dose of stubborness would drag me through. It didn't. It just made it worse. I was bored of the story, bored of the setting, and unable to fake it any longer. So I quit.

Although I only published my first novel a year ago, the story as a concept was born about four years before. I spent a year putting together the 130,000 word first draft, then another year editing it, rewriting it, putting it out to publishers, getting rejections, rewriting it some more, agonising over the next round of rejections, and rewriting it more still. By the time I decided to self-publish it, it had been edited and rewritten about nine times. I then spent another year learning how to self-publish and market it - yet more agonising.

By the time I started on the sequel, the original concept had lost its lustre and poor sales were sapping my enthusiasm. The sequel, rather than being an exciting new idea that got me out of bed in the morning, felt like a burdensome obligation.

If a writer can't get excited about a story, then there's no way a reader will get excited about it either. So although it hurt (oh my pride!), quitting was the right thing to do.

So, what to do? Well, I sifted through my old notes and ideas (I keep them in a box) and tried to find something else to write. The trouble with old ideas however is that they're just that: old. Hardly the kind of thing to invigorate flagging self-confidence. I really should throw that box away.

You know when you're a writer, however, when the ideas just keep coming, and with time on my hands, the next one came along. While everyone else was taking an interest in the Olympics and all its sporting achievements, I got interested in the science behind the performance enhancing drugs that the commentators were busy condemning. Soon I was putting together an image of thrill seeking athletes being lured into the arcane world of special forces soldiers, who, in their own way, also seek thrills. As I was watching Battle: Los Angeles for the umpteenth time, I naturally started to blend the two together (well you would, wouldn't you? Wouldn't you?).

The result is exactly what it sounds: drug enhanced ex-soldiers hunting down aliens,

Crazy? Hey, I'm a writer. Of course it is.

But it certainly got me out of bed in the morning, and kept me scribbling late into the evening too. Quitting's not a bad thing sometimes, provided it's temporary.

Anyway, I got my mojo back, and in just three weeks produced Amped, the first story in the X-Troop series:

“You’ll be fighting against your body for the rest of your life. But you have been doing that anyway.”

Alex Harvey isn’t the kind to ask too many questions. He just wants to win, whether it’s in cage fighting or athletics. He isn’t all that bothered about performance enhancing drugs being illegal either. He’d take them all, if he could.

So when he’s approached by an organisation offering him a completely new type of enhancement, he’s more than tempted.

But what is the true source of this new offer, and what does it really involve? And why is this mysterious organisation interested in his army background and his ability to hunt suspects, no matter how challenging the mission?

It's a novelette (longer than a short story but shorter than a novella), and it's the pilot story for the new series, the second story of which I'm currently working on (and which should be out in a couple of months).

And the best news, dear reader, is that it will be available as a free download at Amazon and Amazon UK this coming Thursday and Friday (25th & 26th April).

Saving the world and beating up aliens. What's not to like?

No comments:

Post a Comment