Well now, that was a weird year. Out in the world at large, so many terrible things happened that made you feel as though reality itself was being warped by some sadistic overlord.
In terms of worldwide events, 2016 was the worst year in living memory. In terms of my career as an author, however, it was the best.
Hello, cognitive dissonance. But if it's all the same to you, I'm going to focus solely on the professional stuff here, as I cast a glance back over 2016. This is, after all, mainly a blog about writing - and there are enough hardcore doomsayers out there across social media, saying all that doom without seemingly giving much thought to the potential mental states of their readership.
My debut 'solo' novel The Last Days Of Jack Sparks clawed its way out through Orbit Books' rib cage in March. It's the story of an arrogant celebrity journalist who sets out to debunk the supernatural and ends up dead. So Orbit and I thought it only right and respectful to throw a wake for Jack at Orbit Towers in Central London. You can see snippets of my heartfelt eulogy in the video below...
So that was surreal. I also interviewed one of my own fictional characters from the book, Alistair Sparks, in a two-part audio interview (hear them both here), which was even more surreal.
Even before the novel was released, the support was amazing. I mean, seriously. The mighty Christopher Brookmyre, Robin Ince, Andy Nyman, MR Carey, Jenny Colgan, David Schneider, Sarah Lotz, RTE 2FM's Rick O'Shea, Radio 1's Daniel P Carter, John Higgs, Cat Vincent, Andrew O'Neill, Rob Boffard, Rebecca Levene, Lisa Jewell, Chuck Wendig, Paul Tremblay, Amazon UK and the iBooks store were among the very first to get behind Sparks, which was incredible. And then, two months after the book's release, I received a voicemail message from Alan Moore (Alan Moore!), who also gave me and Orbit some blurbage including the tremendous phrase 'A magnificent millennial nightmare'. I'm still coming to terms with all this, along with other unexpected events like the book being chosen for Simon Mayo's Radio 2 Book Club (thank you librarians, thank you The Reading Agency!) and being nominated for The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize and a Goodreads 2016 Award.
So many other celebs, authors, bloggers and journalists were incredibly kind and generous to this novel, but I won't list them here for fear of missing people - and well, for fear of this post just becoming one big list. Thank you all. It's honestly been astonishing. One of the very best things about this year, though, has been complete strangers popping up on Twitter and Facebook to tell me how much they liked the book. That's still happening on a regular basis now, which gives me hope that Sparks will retain some appeal in 2017. Orbit's US paperback also emerges in April, which will hopefully inject further reanimation fluid into the old devil dog.
I'd also like to thank the sci fi and fantasy community, authors and readers alike, for making me feel so very welcome during my first public appearances as an author, at Edgelit, Nine Worlds, Fantasy At The Court, Fantasycon, the monthly British Science Fiction Association event and the MCM London Comic Con. I gave my first book readings at some of these, which was a new and scary experience. Here I am quacking away on an Edgelit panel alongside the extraordinary Sarah Pinborough (whose new novel Behind Her Eyes is going to blow a million wigs clean off when it emerges January 17!)
That mention of Lady P's novel has reminded me how pitiful my own reading efforts were this year. I don't think I even reached double figures, which is terrible. My only excuse is that publicising Sparks and writing Book Two soaked up way more time than I'd imagined. I will do better in 2017. Right now, I'm reading Sarah Lotz's The White Road, due May 2017. Super-creepy! Loving it.
If you bought The Last Days Of Jack Sparks, reviewed it, helped spread the word and/or helped make me feel like I was a proper author at the year's various events, then you have a special place in my black, mutated heart. Releasing your debut (solo) novel to the world, while hoping to lay the foundations for a long term career, that's a frightening business, but each of you made it less so. Thank you.
I'll leave you with news of a major Jack Sparks development, which I should be able to announce properly in January. There's now a folder in my Dropbox called Jack Sparks The Movie. The head-spinning events that led to that folder's creation were very much another reason for all my cognitive dissonance in 2016, let me tell you.
Wow! You made it through this thick swamp of self congratulation. Have a fackin' medal.
2017 will see a reduced social media presence from me, so I'd be delighted if you signed up to my mailing list, to which I plan to send e-missives more regularly from now on. Happy New Year!