My latest thriller released today!
Yet, is it my last?
The easiest answer to that one is no. Because I have another book of Seriously Smart Shorts in the making which I'm halfway through (this is a result of an after-school club I run with primary-aged children). When that is ready later this year, it'll become my 30th title.
However, if I ask myself when will my next thriller (or dystopian?) novel be released, that one I cannot answer. I don't want to say never, but, you know…
It's been 6 months since my last post. I started my job at school in August already. The second term began last Monday. I'm getting into things very fast. I'm enjoying it! I also still do clubs, running two different after-school activities across 4 nights, all looking at aspects of storytelling!
One thing is clear… writing has needed to take a firm, if not indefinite, back seat. For starters, my working week is literally consumed with school. Physically tiring, it takes all my mental space too, even if I ever used to write in the evenings (I've always been a morning/daytime writer, however!). Even keeping up with the short stories for the second volume of Seriously Smart Shorts is hard enough.
So, What Has Changed?
In lots of ways, it isn't as simple as to say my available time has changed. Of course that is true, but it's much deeper than that. I've asked myself often this question. What was I writing for? Early on, it was certainly story-focused. It always has been, in fact. I had stories that I wanted, even needed, to tell. Books that seemed to fly out of me, series developing before I knew it… and for a time, it seemed this was all I would ever do. I'd found was I was created to do.
In a perfect world, I would still choose to be an author every time.
Yet, as I outlined in that brutally honest post from June 2023, we are far from a perfect, fair, unbiased world.
The stories were one driving factor, but I'm also a dreamer. I dreamed of a career from my books. Two-point-two million printed words (and counting) across dozens of titles and a sustainable pattern of releasing multiple high-quality books a year, and surely that would be enough to be full-time? It wasn't, obviously.
Was It Only About The Money?
No, it wasn't, and I know that honestly, but money was always a part of the factor. I was writing page-turning thrillers not only because I had these stories that I just had to share, but because I believed that a full-time career (Read: Earning a wage from the thing that you spend 100% of your time doing) was possible. That it was in reach.
As an author, I was surrounded by peers who I'd got to know over the years at various conferences or online. Most had fewer books than me, nearly all wrote less words per day that I could manage, and many of these are full-time in the trade as I was. I assume they are making money. Certainly, some of the big-hitters were, and this gave us all, me very much included, the motivation to keep going.
If they could do it, why couldn't we too?
What About Twiggy?
I'm currently two books into an eight-book series. Readers have loved the first two books. I've not met anyone who hasn't loved the world that I've created.
I absolutely loved writing them too! I set my record daily words total on each book (over 14,000 words in one day). I'm excited with what is to come in the series (the stories that are as yet untold).
Yet, if I based my enthusiasm to write book three on sales of the first two books, I know it isn't ever going to happen. Who wants to write a book that will cost you, as the author, more money to produce than you'll (probably) ever earn from the book? That's before you factor in the time to write it (which I no longer have) and all the voluntary help people have given my books over the last decade (the real cost of which would be £1000s). So, it's really hard to justifiable say that I can see a day when I will continue to write these books. Things can chance, of course, but…
When Will I Know That It's Time To Go Again?
I'm asking myself this one hypothetically, as there could be a dozen factors that would change things. Right now, looking forward, it would be these one or two things happening. Either sales of a particular book or books start rising (as if by magic) and readers start asking me for more (through reviews, emails, messages here, or all the above), or a major player in the book or film industry comes in to buy the rights for a book or series of mine, making it a game-changing move. If Warner Bros want to buy the Twiggy Rattlesnake series, for example, that would certainly be a prompt to write the final six books!
Should time become available in the future, then I would always have writing as an option to fill that time, perhaps heading into any such period without the bright lights of monetary-success before me, but merely able to see it as a chance to tell stories all over again. I am a storyteller. I know that much. I'm able to craft books across different genres, a skill that seems to come naturally. So I would never say it's over.
Never say never, right?
But for the time, it is. The recent releases of 2024 and now, today, 2025, were only possible because I always wrote about a year ahead of schedule. These are just books that I wrote in the last 12 months, which finally have reached the point of publication as the team who have worked hard in the background on editing etc has finished with them. Now, there are no more in the system. Nothing more on the conveyor belt that has, for the last 11 years, been running rather constantly.
Readers are still reading my books, which is great! A trickle of Kindle Unlimited page reads come in every day, as people work through different books. A sprinkling of sales filter through too. Readers occasionally send me a new location for my Readers Map, which is always exciting. I love seeing where people are reading my books! And I always add any location sent to my map! If someone has sent me a location, I know it's because they've got to the end of one of my books, and seen the note about doing just that. So I'm happy. Please keep your locations (exotic or otherwise) coming!
Right now, I am where I am. I'm in a totally different job, with no two days the same, and I'm thriving in it. I'm investing my energy and skills into the next generation, and the kids certainly seem to appreciate it. I couldn't have imagined that I would be in this position this time last year, who'd have thought it? Let's see what the next 12 months bring.
2024 & 2025
There is so much of me in these books that, perhaps, it is fitting that they bring down the curtain (for now) on my writing career. Certainly, a lot of the pain of being a writer I shared in 2024, and all the dreams I had of becoming successful at selling are the backdrop of 2025. Do make sure that you check them both out, and if it is the last book I do write, I truly hope you enjoy them as much as the other 28.