About a girl, a dog, and a cat

THE WRITER’S LIFE

girl-and-dog-on-swing
As with the book, the cat is out of sight

It’s early days but I seem to have a rather first world problem: At the moment, this science fiction and horror writer’s best seller is a children’s book. I shouldn’t be surprised, as A Girl, Frank Burnside and Haile Selassie was already an award-winning story.

The book has had two reviews on Amazon so far, and both reviewers gave it 5/5 stars. It moved a competition judge to email me personally when it had moved her to tears, and it still gets me every time. It’s not a sad story; rather, it’s one of hope, about being gone and not forgotten. It’s best taken in the context of the reviews:

A touching, philosophical musing on life & loss through a child’s eyes

A poignant little tale that conveys the heartfelt philosophies of life, faith and loss through the eyes of a child. Large, easy-to-read text makes it suitable for either reading by adult to child or for beginner readers to read alone. Its combination of realism, imagination and a style of writing that doesn’t patronise, makes this a perfect choice for children needing reassurance following the loss of a loved one.

A meaningful children’s story

A lovely little story with nice illustrations which can be enjoyed by adults and children. A good way of introducing the concept of ‘loss’ to children, and I think it will encourage them to ask questions when reading the book together as a family learning activity.

The latter is from a primary school teacher, who plans to use the book in family learning classes.

I never set out to make any real money from writing. My long-term sick and disabled benefits (mental health) take care of food and shelter. My book royalties are miniscule at the moment, well within permitted earnings and my writing is recognised by the Department for Work and Pensions as being therapeutic. The little money I do make, I donate to charity. Perhaps one day I’ll earn decent royalties and I’ll have another first world problem on my hands. For now though, the rewards are in getting reviews like the ones above, and knowing that my book could help young people.

Despite my daughter (the illustrator) being a bit starry eyed about her minority fame, she had already said that she’d like any money we make to be donated to charity. So what’s a dad to do? It’s her birthday next week and I’ve taken care of presents but I don’t do cards, as my daughter knows. It’s a waste of resources on a throw-away object and if I wish to pass a sentimental message to someone, I don’t need to be confined to specific dates. I won’t buy charity greetings cards because even if the money goes directly to the charity, they have costs to cover. I prefer to give and not receive anything in return, so that I know my donation has been used to the full. Instead of greetings cards, I make further small donations to charity and send the text receipt to the person it replaced a card to. So for my daughter’s upcoming 10th birthday, she won’t get a card, but she’ll get a confirmation text, thanking her for her £3 (around the cost of a card and postage) donation to buy a warm blanket for a child in Syria. She and most of my family agree that this is a far more effective thing to do than simply send disposable cards. It’s my personal choice.

The recent local newspaper feature about me going from tramp to successful writer has naturally caused my intellectual stock to increase. My parents have been congratulated by friends of theirs who witnessed the effects of my breakdown on them. A recent visitor to a friend’s flat, saw a copy of The Paradoxicon on a shelf and recognised it, as she’d read it. I’ve received encouraging emails from people whom I can only call “fans”.

It’s all good. I still wait in hope that one day I might be approached by a mainstream publisher or agent, just to throw a really big first world spanner into the works. But for now, I do it because I can, because I want to, and because more people are liking what I do. And that’s mainly sci-fi and horror, giving me a chance to plug my third book, The Perpetuity of Memory.

The main reason I write: So as not to be forgettable.

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