Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Walking Through Thunderstorms - A novel.

Since reading Stephen King's The Tommyknockers when I was about 14 or 15 I've fancied being a writer. That book lit a spark in me that I wanted to explore further. This was about 1987.

I wrote a few horror short stories and showed them to a few friends but nothing that was ever novel worthy. 

In 1999 Australian author Nick Earls was interviewed on radio station Triple J. As part of the interview he read a passage from his book '48 Shades of Brown'. I thought it was great so bought a copy of the book as soon as I could, read it, and loved it. I've since bought, and read everything from Nick Earls that I can get my hands on. 

I emailed Nick after I had finished 48 Shades of Brown to tell him how much I liked it. He responded with thanks. After reading Nick's books I realised horror was not my go, as far as writing was concerned but maybe something more Nick's style would suite me. 

Nick's style is very casual, very laid back, and very Australian. Most of his books are set in the suburbs of his home city, Brisbane. They're extremely funny and are 'slice of life' style books. What I like a lot is that he doesn't follow formulas. You know how *every* romantic comedy they get together, have a great time, something goes wrong, they fight, separate, and realise they should have been together all along? That kind of thing. Nick does away with that. 

I adopted this style for myself. 

I'd started many stories but couldn't get them through to novel length. They always ran out of steam. I wrote a scene in a restaurant. Group of friends, night out. I liked it and then wondered about a particular couple and how they got there. 

From that thought, Walking Through Thunderstorms was born. 

I wrote lots of it long hand, on the train, and at lunchtime at work. Then someone I worked with lent me a laptop and I wrote on that for a day. It was an old laptop and I typed faster than the cursor moved. It wasn't useful. Eventually I got a better laptop and was able to write the rest of it on that. 

I looked for an editor but they were expensive. $5,000+. I couldn't justify that. I found one who offered to edit a chapter for about $200. I agreed.  She then asked if I'd allow her to use it in a writing class she was holding. I agreed, as long as I could get feedback. 

The feedback was mixed but one person stood out. She said 'I liked it. It was quirky and different and I wanted to read more'. Her name was Susan. I asked the editor to put me in contact with Susan, which she did, and though we've drifted apart now, we were friends for a long time. I helped Susan with her editing website and she gave me more tips on my book. She's now a published author herself. 

I met Nick Earls at a book signing in Melbourne. I told him that Stephen King and inspired me to write, and he, Nick, has shown me how I wanted to do it. We talked for a bit and I mentioned my novel. He put me in contact with his literary agent. 

I sent her my book, as I had to many others. She thanked me for it, said I was a good writer, but it wasn't something she wanted to go forward with. Fair enough. 

My uncle and I printed out 22 copies of Walking Through Thunderstorms. We folded the pages by hand, bound them, and glued covers on - which my uncle had printed out in full colour. Our only concession to not 'hand made' was that he got the edges trimmed. No matter how careful we were, it wasn't possible to fold the pages perfectly. I handed them out to family and friends for Christmas. 

A few years later I found out about Lulu. A self-publishing (or vanity publishing) website. I thought, you know what, it would be cool to have a hardback version of my book. So I formatted and uploaded files, and printed out 5. I kept one, gave the rest away. 

I've sent PDF versions to a few people I've met online. Some have liked it, some haven't. But that's the case with any book. I don't expect everyone to like it. 

Recently I remembered Lulu and I thought maybe I'd put it up there so people who followed me online could read it, if they wanted. I tweeted the idea and there was support so I did it. 

A review went up before anyone (apart from my partner) knew it was there or had bought it. I don't know who that person was or how she could have read it without buying it. It wasn't favourable. 

Given my partner was the first person to buy it, and first read it about 5 years ago, my partner submitted her review. When I initially sent my novel to her she wasn't my partner. We hadn't known each other too long. She read it in a day. She liked it. 

After she'd bought the book from Lulu, my partner told me she wanted to put a review up on Lulu but was struggling with the wording. I said I shouldn't tell her what to say, that wouldn't be right. She agreed. I said if someone asked you what you thought, what would you tell them? Just write that. She did. 

Then another review went up, claiming to be from someone who knows and likes me through twitter. Maybe, maybe not. Again, it wasn't favourable. Also again, that's okay. I don't expect everyone to like it. I don't expect anyone to like it. 

But there were a couple of things in the review which I thought were out of line. They said it was unfair of me to sell the book. Actually 'disastrously unfair'. Claiming it was 'on par with the snake oil salesmen we jeer at on Twitter (side note - I don't jeer at anyone). Okay, you don't like it, but saying it's unfair for me to sell it, because YOU don't like it, is silly. I've bought published, edited, printed books that I haven't liked. I'm not about to tell the author they shouldn't be selling it.  

This person also highlighted that it's an amateur attempt at writing by an amateur writer. 

Ummm, yeah. It is! I've not hidden the fact that it's a 10 year old novel that is unpublished that I put up on Lulu *myself*. If you were expecting anything other than an amateur might be a fucking idiot. 

But the thing that angered me was the accusation that the review from my partner was a 'false positive'. No. Just no. I have more integrity than that, thank you very much. If I wanted a false positive, why the fuck would I have my partner write one under *her own name*. (something she did, unlike this person who, I think cowardly, posted anonymously). 

My partner's review was honest, and her own doing, and written in her own words, which were not all all influenced by me. The accusation that she lied is unfounded, as is the assumption that just because YOU didn't like it, no one else could. 

To avoid others thinking the review was a false positive, I tried to take it down, but I couldn't, I could only remove them all. So I did.

So let me be clear...I'm not forcing anyone to buy it. It's an unpublished (and not professionally edited) novel that I wrote many years ago. I'm putting it up...just because I can. I'm not claiming it's great. Or even good. I'm proud of my effort. People like it. If you don't...okay, you don't have to. You don't have to buy it. Thinking it's anything other than amateur makes you a fool. Telling me I shouldn't be selling it because YOU don't like it, makes you sound silly to me, anonymously telling me my partner lied about her review, makes you a dick. 

If you do want to buy it (and I stress, you don't have to, this is *voluntary*) you can do so here: 



*the paperback is a little more expensive than I'd like but, unfortunately, the manufacturing costs are quite high. The eBook is less than my morning coffee and I'm happy with that. 

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