Today is the UK release date for Saxon’s Bane. To mark the occasion, Jonathan Oliver of Solaris sat me in front of a video camera and asked me loads of questions, ranging from my thoughts on genre, to the background to key characters in the book, and my writing journey. We even touched on the healing power of horses! The interview has been posted on YouTube at:
A wonderful crowd of friends and family swelled the shoppers at The Forbidden Planet in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, on Wednesday night, for the launch of Saxon’s Bane.
My agent Ian Drury of Sheil Land Associates kindly kicked off the proceedings before I was persuaded to read the first chapter. A Q&A followed, in which the questions were mercifully uncontroversial but lively enough to swell the numbers queuing to buy the book.
I’d found a very suitable wine, so perhaps it was inevitable that a little frivolity would creep into the occasion, in which a Saxon replica helmet (gratifyingly close to the book’s cover image) featured heavily!
I was humbled by the number of friends who came along in support, some of whom had traveled a long way to be there. The Forbidden Planet team were stunned that I was still signing books when they were preparing to close the shop, which I gather is almost unknown for a debut launch.
Saxon’s Bane is now available in print form (Mass Market Paperback) in the United States and Canada, and will be released in Trade Paperback format in the United Kingdom on 12th September. It is also available worldwide in all standard eBook formats.
Let me share a little happiness; my author copies of Saxon’s Bane have arrived from the wonderful people at Solaris. It is almost exactly six years since I stepped off a corporate ladder and went freelance, specifically to release time to write. Six years from ‘I’m going to do this’ to publication, and I tell you this moment feels better than any business deal I ever landed. My thanks to those who’ve helped along the way, many of whom will find their names inside the cover. It seemed appropriate to record the moment in the arbour, where much of Saxon’s Bane was written.
Saxon’s Bane will be released in the USA on 27th August and in the UK on 12th September.
My wonderful publishers, Solaris, sent an Advance Review Copy of Saxon’s Bane to Christopher Fowler, the author of thirty published novels including the Bryant and May mysteries. Christopher commented:
‘Once there was a great classical tradition of rural British horror from MR James to The Wicker Man. Now Geoffrey Gudgion has revived the style and modernised it to great effect, proving there’s still nothing as creepy as the countryside.’
Thank you, Christopher! Definitely a quote for the cover.
I’ve discovered that the biggest barrier to the second book is the first one.
Saxon’s Bane started in hubris, that ‘of course I can write a book’ arrogance that had me scribbling away, blissfully unaware of how much I had to learn. Six years ago, IT – the proto-book, this literary spermatozoa – bore no relationship to the end result. IT started in hubris, and finished through bloody-mindedness, a stubborn refusal to succumb to the cycle of rejection, rewrite, rejection, rewrite. Plus, of course, the oh-so-necessary criticism and help along the way that taught me the basics of the writing craft, and ultimately led to Saxon’s Bane, an agent and a publishing deal. Good result. Fabulous.
Then there’s just a blank page and another writing mountain to climb, but this time, there’s a difference. Now I know what ‘good’ looks like, and no first draft is good. So there’s my first lesson; learning to write on, in the uncomfortable knowledge that I’m leaving imperfection in my wake. Goodness may come with the third, or fourth, or fifth, or ‘n’th draft, but it is only there in embryonic form in the first.
The second lesson was an amicable divorce. Not, I hasten to add, the marital kind. Mission Control will still be giving in-course guidance. But in creating Saxon’s Bane I had created a world that could only be real to a reader if it was real in my head, with characters that existed so powerfully that they danced from page to page. Their pain was my pain, their joy my joy. Walking away from them to create a different world is like severing ties with good friends, friends who still call me, when my mental guard is down, to remind me of the good and bad times we have shared.
The solution, I’ve found, is a road map, something to help me look forward rather than back. Fifty thousand words into the next book, a new world is taking shape. I’m starting to know a new set of characters, and I’m making friends – and enemies. They’ve become real enough for me to take a three week writing pause in which I created something very close to an outsized submission pack: character profiles, a synopsis, and four thousand words of chapter plans. I like it. I really like it. I’ve even became fired with my own vision. This is gonna be good.
Or is that hubris?