Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Achievement Unlocked

I first started writing when I was twenty-five. I didn’t have a clue, or a plan, I just started writing. I’d worked at Forbidden Planet in Southampton and was lumbered with the book department because no one else wanted it. It was around that time a guy called China Miéville released a book called Perdido Street Station. You may have heard of him, he’s pretty good.

A few years later I found myself having a cup of tea with said author who asked me if I wrote. I shrugged my shoulders and made a joke about writing ‘bad Blade Runner’ type Science Fiction before giving up. But I did start writing again.

After a brief spell of redundancy I found myself working an admin position in a magazine publisher. I wasted no time and quickly started harassing people to give me freelance work  reviewing books. I wasn’t earning much, so free books and a bit of pocket money were all to the good. After 18 months I persuaded someone to let me hustle over to editorial and was introduced to Andrew James, who was always enthusiastic and helpful.

I then did all those things people in publishing take for granted: I started a blog, wrote short stories (largely inspired by Jon Courtenay Grimwood) and started going to conventions. I even ended up shooting the breeze with Pat Mills, Tony Lee and Brian Talbot on a panel. In 2009 I started and finished a full-length novel for the first time. This after three attempts where I ran out of steam.

Then disaster struck; I was made redundant. I applied for jobs in the mornings and wrote in the afternoons. Finances aside, I was perhaps the happiest I’ve ever been. And then I was lucky enough to be invited to the Gollancz 50th anniversary party.

‘Hello Den, are you writing anything at the moment,’ said Simon Spanton, Deputy Publishing Director of one of my favourite SFF imprints.
‘Well, you’ve caught me at a good time’ I squeaked in my most manly and professional tones, ‘I’ve just finished a short story for Jurassic and I’m coming to the end of a novel.'
‘I’ve got this idea for three books,’ he said. 
‘Sure,’ I replied, nodding as if it were the most natural thing in the world for Simon Spanton to be asking some half-arsed blogger to write three books for him.
And that’s how I found myself writing three volumes on the approaches to warfare by the classic fantasy races. Three tomes of elves, orcs and dwarves, an entire world world to create, histories to write, and battles to evoke.

Needless to say I’m out of my tiny mind with excitement.

A huge thank you to the entire Gollancz team, especially Simon for taking a chance on me.
Yeah, I know. I can’t quite believe it myself.