See what I did there? No. Suit yourself. 

NEWS #1: just for those of you who have lost the link to my website, that’s because it is no longer there. I’d like to say that’s because a hotshot Hollywood type wanted to buy the domain name off me for an obscene sum of money, and me being a typically weak-willed and desperate type, decided to take the money and run.

But that wouldn’t be true at all. Well, not the bit about the Hollywood type anyway. Most of the other stuff is probably true. Basically: even though it was terribly self-indulgent of me to have my own website, in all honesty I hardly ever found time to update it, preferring this blog, or Twitter, pigeons, smoke signals etc. And so, with regret, I have closed the site down.  When I first got published, I thought it would be nice to have a sort of contact area for people to come and check out, but then I found that there was little I could input by way of updates – and if there’s nothing I find more frustrating it’s going to OTHER people’s websites and finding they haven’t updated it for six months, and so I thought, if I feel that way about OTHER people maybe someone else might feel that way about ME. 
Sad thing is in this publishing world lark, sometimes a VERY LONG TIME goes by with nothing happening and then all of a sudden you might get LOADS of news at once.
Ironically, this is one of those times.
NEWS #2: today I mailed my last ever illustration to Caroline Smailes and Nik Perring for FREAKS! our most excellent collaboration, published by the mighty Friday Project no less, which happens to be due out in all good book stockists on 12th April 2012. It’s been loads of fun, with me using my illustrating muscles for the first time in about 5 years or so. I have done only a snippet of professional illustration work in my life and this is the very first time that I have collaborated with anyone on anything that wasn’t directly written by me, so it is a milestone for lots of good reasons.
Coming from an arty background, and loving comics and superheroes as much as I do, I’ve always thought that I would be one of those writers who illustrates his own books, but my ones so far (Cornelius Quaint Chronicles – out now, kids!) have not really lent themselves to illustrations. Although, I am still attempting to finish off my children’s book and get that snapped up, so I will definitely try to get the gig to draw the pictures for that one. 
So this was (and remains to be) the only opportunity I have had to see any of my drawings properly in print, and it all started when Caroline Smailes (who I know “virtually” but have never met in the flesh although I imagine it might be quite fun one day to do so) contacted me to ask if I was interested in collaborating on one of her books. I like and admire her, and so I said yes. I think at that time I misjudged just how long it would take me to draw the (then) 30 (now 50) illustrations, and also how attached to the finished product I would be. At first it was just a favour for a friend, but as I read the many varied stories by Caroline and not forgetting Mr Nik Perring, I found my confidence developing with every picture, and also maybe seeing the illustrations as not quite as ‘throwaway’ as I’d thought. Because illustrations are usually just nice bits of sprinkling on the cake aren’t they? They’re not supposed to be world-shattering, they are like a visual clue or something, or a hint as to what a character looks like. But in the case of Freaks! I genuinely think the book would be a completely different animal without the illustrations. There are many pics that I love looking at time and time again, and for the most part, I am extremely proud of them in their own right. 
But now here we are, with over 50 illustrations now completed (alongside their accompanying brilliant stories of course) and I think that FREAKS! is going to surprise a lot of people. I have definitely never read anything like it. All the stories that Nik and Caroline have come up with are fantastically imaginative,original, honest, ‘real’, and some are just plain off the wall mental –  in a good way, of course.
So I am very much looking forward to 2012, and it was so kind of the Mayans to give us a few months head-start before the destruction of the Earth as we know it. I’d like to think that as prescient as they clearly were, maybe they knew that FREAKS! would be massively popular, and they wanted to bathe me in untold riches prior to the extermination of every single life-form on the face of the planet.
NEWS #3: another aspect of 2012 which makes it pretty mega for me is the publication of the third Cornelius Quaint novel, The Lazarus Curse on 1st MARCH. This book has been a long time coming, delayed from the 2011 schedule for reasons beyond my ability to influence. (between you and me, there are some discussions on doing something with this book that I cannot possibly comment on, but if it comes off, I think it’ll be pretty bloody spectacular).
Lazarus picks up hot on the heels of the cliffhanger to The Eleventh Plague, which some of you (specifically anyone that has read it) will know saw the master conjuror Cornelius Quaint and his clairvoyant companion Madame Destine head to Egypt, to foil the villainous Hades Consortium’s plot to poison the River Nile. To anyone who’s yet to read it, it’s totally amazing and of the two books I have out in print, it is easily and by far the best one. There’s so much action, adventure, double-crosses and some pretty gory violence mixed with boisterous comedy. (SPOILER ALERT: a baddie even gets their arms hacked off which is always cool.)
I would like to invite any of the nice people who have read either of my books to review it online somewhere if they can. This always helps casual buyers form an opinion – without being swamped by negative reviews, and allowing someone else’s discomfort to influence your own. Not that every negative review is something I have an issue with -ABSOLUTELY NOT – Feedback is oxygen to an author, and some of the best creative decisions that I HAVE and HAVE NOT made have been due solely to constructive criticism from one of my peers/friends/readers.reviewers. Authors want to be liked by the masses and it’s in our best interests to listen to what people say, even when it is hard.
I read a review of The Equivoque Principle on Amazon  (I won’t name it) which totally changed the way I viewed a certain character, and also a key plot direction. It made me think. I was not in some isolated bubble writing for myself – I was writing for other people, and that is the most valuable lesson that an author needs to learn.
NEWS #4: it’s raining again.
And so, until next time…….good night, San Dimas.

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