Some people have been doing a thing where they post about all the books they’ve written on the long journey to success. Seemed like a cool idea, so I thought I’d give it a crack…
Title: Bobby Crown
Length: 50,000 words.
This was my first real book, written at the age of about eleven. It was about a kid who went into another world where he fought a bunch of monsters and whatnot. I just remember thinking that Bobby Crown was a cool name.
Year: 2002 – 2007
Title: Felix Bones Saga
Length: 160,000 words across four books.
As you can see, I had a thing about cool names back then. I also had a thing about boys adventuring in other universes and killing monsters, since that was exactly the plot of all four books, once again.
Length: 70,000 words.
This was basically my version of hunger games. In my version though, the arena was filled with a bunch of African wildlife, lions and shit. I wrote the whole thing in pencil, for some reason.
Title: The Garden
Length: 100,000 words.
Still hadn’t got the hang of titles yet. This was just about a haunted garden tormenting some kid’s family. He has to venture down to the bottom of it, where he finds some crazy monster and then kills it to save his girlfriend. Involved carnivorous monkeys. Probably the most fun I had writing a book in my youth, to be honest.
Title: Green Thumb
Length: 70,000 words
Guess plants were my jam back in 2010. This is a kid oppressed by his parents who gains the power to control plants. He somehow uses his power to kill a bunch of people.
Some guy goes into an isolated little town. The idea was that there were all these creepy things going on in town, and I could branch off and address each area as an individual story. Inspired by the old school series Spookesville by Christopher Pike. Didn’t turn out well, the whole thing was fragmented and the story had no structure.
Terrible, terrible book. I wanted to write about a caveman in caveman times. So in this one a stone age guy has his tribe killed by wolves or some shit and he just goes wandering across the savannah in search of a home. No dialogue, no research, no point reading. Lesson learned.
Wrote this during once a week, twelve-hour long writing binges fuelled by alcohol and energy drinks. The writing was awful, but there were some fun scenes. It was about a guy who develops a drug that gives him superpowers and is then hunted by the mafia because they want to steal it. Kinda like that movie Limitless, but I think that hadn’t come out yet. I enjoyed myself, but it was ultimately unreadable.
Title: The Spiral Door
A group of kids move into some old guy’s mansion. Old guy has a collection of doors (of all things), in a big room in the house, and one of these leads into a creepy parallel universe. For some reason, I insisted on making every chapter 4,000 words long, and paid no attention to pacing or writing coherent scenes. So while I became lost in my own world, it was painfully boring for anyone else to read. Again, lesson learned.
Title: Red Night
A friend of mine told me this was one of his favourite books, and he seems sincere, although I sure wouldn’t agree with him. A group of scientists exploring the Congo run into a massacred village, and soon discover the cause is a bunch of demon-worshipping superhuman cannibals. Just your average run of the mill horror/adventure.
Title: North Winds
This one was so close to being okay! But about two thirds of the way in I killed off most of the main characters and introduced a bunch of new ones and had to rely on some heavy deus ex machina for the ending to make sense. It was a monster story concerning a mythological beast called a Draugr from Viking folklore, terrorizing a town in Northern Ireland. Another mistake I made was not knowing anything at all about Northern Ireland.
Title: Book of Worlds
My first actually decent and readable book with a proper structure. I even self published it for a while, and it got a positive review on goodreads. (I think it might even still come up if you google it, but it’s not available to buy any more.) I had some superfluous characters and plot holes and the writing was still a bit amateur, but otherwise it was okay. A group of kids figure out a way to open doorways into other worlds, but they let some horrible shit through and have to close it before the world is destroyed. I have some kind of obsession with portals.
Energised by my recent success, I was sure that this book would be even better than my last. In the end, the complicated plot was so riddled with characters and meanderings that it was not salvageable. It didn’t help that the premise was mediocre: An evil witch attacks a town, but it turns out that the way to beat her is to (gasp) not be afraid of her and thus deprive her of power.
This time, I vowed to keep it simple: an isolated farmhouse in the Australian outback with just a few characters and an interesting monster. Surely I couldn’t screw up such a simple idea? But yes, yes I could. Despite my success with the three-act structure in Book of Worlds, my plot construction was flimsy at best. I didn’t know how to use scenes, and this was also before I read The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Story Grid, Stein On Writing and quite a few more that drastically changed how I approached novel writing. Luckily thanks to said books, this novel was also the last unmitigated failure I’ve had, to date.
Title: Demon Haunted Boy
A boy travels into the underworld to retrieve the soul of his young sister, which has been stolen by demons.
This was actually two short books, but it would have ended up being a quadrilogy if I’d ever finished it. I was doing a self-publishing experiment, posting up one chapter at a time on the website in the hopes of attracting people, and selling it as an ebook. The story itself wasn’t bad, although I was stretched to my limit trying to juggle all the different plotlines.
I still think it might have turned out okay, but the one chapter at a time method does not work – at least not for me, though Charles Dickens did quite well with it. I also lost my illusions about self-publishing and learned that that path isn’t for me. That said, I learned a lot about story telling over the course of the books, and enjoyed every minute of it.
Title: Holly and the Nobodies
Holly Anderson is a lonely girl, born with the power to materialize living beings from thin air. When she decides to kidnap a ‘real’ person to be her friend, schoolgirl Alex Miller becomes the target. But when Alex goes missing, her close friend James is the only one who suspects what really happened, and the farther he pursues the truth, the deeper into Holly’s bizarre world he finds himself. Even with some of Holly’s odd creatures on their side, it is soon apparent that they won’t get out unscathed – if they get out at all.
If that sounded like a draft blurb, good – it is. At the time of writing I’ve only just finished and am trying to get it published. Finally, I wrote something that doesn’t make me hate myself! I joke, but it was insanely difficult – and just as insanely fun – to write.
So that’s all of ‘em. The novels, anyway. I’ve written too many short stories to count or even remember. Sometimes it looks like a long road, but the truth is I’m only just beginning. Sisyphus will heave the boulder once more – but he does it with a grin.
Keep writing everybody – it’s amazing how far you can come in seventeen short years…