Inside the Fiction Factory – Part 26

Review of 2022

Although I have been writing for several years, looking back on 2022 I feel this has been the most productive and successful to date. The year started with working on the final touches to The Copernicus Coercion, Book One – Code Critical which I self-published in February. This is a science fiction thriller. Work had been on-going completing the initial draft of the second book of the series, entitled Minus Zero, but this was put aside due to other commitments and at the time of writing this work in progress is still waiting on the start of draft two.

During January I also outlined a new novel based on a call put out by Luna Press. It was good experience drafting against the brief, but I never made the deadline due to other commitments.  It has a working title of Ghost in the Machine and is about rogue A.I. and an intriguing cast of characters all with dark secrets. I may work this up next year.

I had a draft of a novel out on query, a contemporary cybercrime thriller called The Kill Chain. Darkstroke publishing asked to see the full manuscript and then offered me a three-year deal in February. I then had three rounds of edits to work through and the final proof before it was published in July. The book made Amazon best seller in August.

This was the culmination of many years of writing and querying. The Kill Chain was my 11th novel and had been written during the lockdown of 2020. To finally be published and have a physical copy of my novel to place on my bookshelf was the highlight of 2022 and my writing career to date. It was a surreal time and I learnt so much about the process of writing and publishing which will prove invaluable for the coming year.

By March I had completed Eva, my first Novella. I didn’t query this, as I was busy with The Kill Chain, but I intend to publish during 2023. I thoroughly enjoyed writing in this format and during the year drafted an outline for another Novella with the working title of Magic which I hope to start early 2023. I feel I stepped up a level with Eva. It grew out of a short story I had written years before, and I was amazed to see this take on a new dimension I hadn’t fully explored in the initial draft.

Talking of short stories, I wrote a new one called The Inference Engine for the Dark Venice Anthology, and this was published in October. I then wrote a story called Ciara, for the Dark Ireland Anthology and I’m hoping to see this published in 2023. This was great experience writing for specific briefs and again I learnt a great deal about writing to a requirement and deadline.

Encouraged by my return to short story writing, I rebooted my Small Print collections, volumes one to three by having a new edit and proofread, new covers along with the inclusion of six new stories. These were published in October.

During September I drafted a sequel to The Kill Chain, called The Kill Switch. I then wrote the second draft during November and at the time of writing in December I’m working my way through draft three. My intention is to have this finished by the end of January 2023 and hopefully see it published later in the year. This will depend on factors out of my control. All I can do for now is write as best I can, finish it and then see what the reaction is. I am very excited for it and given the difficult write The Kill Chain was, this new novel has been a reasonably easy write to date. Draft three, and I think this is partly due to the time of year and the fact I am tired, is going steady, but not as quickly as I would like. I’m aware of other projects waiting for me to start, and these always look more attractive than the current one, but I need to complete this and I will.

Other highlights of the year include appearing on stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe performing my cybersecurity show. On the back of this I was asked to talk to the Edinburgh Assembly and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. I have applied and been successful for next year to appear with a new show so I’m excited for that. As I intend to up my productivity levels next year, I plan to scale back a bit on the number of external cybersecurity talks I do. These take time to prepare and despite my experience, I still feel the nerves and the pressure. I will still be talking to academia, in fact more so, next year, but unless the external invite looks really exciting, I need to manage my time a bit better. I was becoming frazzled at times and do need to look after myself. I have a tendency to take on everything that’s offered and then work all hours to deliver. My writing has to come first.

Other highlights have been signing my books for people which is a surreal experience. In particular in a packed café off the Grassmarket for someone who had travelled in from Europe with a copy of my book in their hand. Also appearing in the local press. I recall the strange sight of walking into my local Tesco supermarket and seeing the rack of newspapers inside the front entrance with my photograph on the front page of the local newspaper. I am reclusive. I need to be to write, so to do a press interview is a big thing for me. I appreciate there is this contradiction inherent in me, of someone who will go out on stage and perform despite the nerves but prefers being quiet and alone to think and write. I enjoy my own company and there is a balance here and it’s an odd one to manage.

I’ve been learning Spanish for awhile now and I’m very pleased with my progress this year. I’ve been over to Spain twice during the year and I’m really enjoying it. I spent many years wondering at what point do I call myself a writer. I’m now thinking at what point do I say I speak Spanish. I think I’ve a fair way to go yet, but I’m optimistic in getting there.

I relaunched my blog this year and have written just over twenty thousand words. I’m glad I’m back into blogging again, and regardless of whether anyone reads or not, I will continue to do so in 2023.

So, that has been life in the fiction factory during 2022. Two novels published, eight short stories (seven of which are published) a novella completed, a new novel on draft three and a couple of other outlines for new projects waiting to start. I have it all to do again next year and I’m looking forward to it.

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