Mutants Vs Metahumans: On Introductions and Writing What You Know
Six months ago I set up this website and posted my first (unofficial) blog post. With the release of Vanguard Prime: Goldrush on July 25th, I think it’s time to start paying this site the attention it deserves.
I’d hoped to kick things off by posting the cover image to the book but I’m still waiting on the go ahead from my publisher, so instead I figured I’d provide a little background on who I am and what you should expect from this blog.
It’s safe to say that most writers grew up reading a lot and writing a lot, but mostly just dreaming a lot, and I’m no exception to that. I wrote my first story when I was six years old and I haven’t stopped since. I’d like to think my writing’s improved since then – given that my early stories were crudely drawn picture books where I ripped off the Ninja Turtles in various ways – but I don’t have the objectivity to make such a bold statement.
At the same time that I was writing my own stories, I was reading a lot too. I was a huge Roald Dahl fan, reading everything of his that I could get my hands on. I loved Paul Jennings, Morris Gleitzman, Judy Bloom, Emily Rodda and eventually, when I was older, John Marsden and Sue Townsend, as well as classics like 1984, The Lord of the Flies and the Junior Novelisation of Jurassic Park (what do you mean that’s not a classic?).
In addition to reading books, I was also really into comics. Spider-Man and Batman were early favourites along with X-Men and, after that, Justice League. Where other kids were talking footy scores, I was talking mutants versus metahumans. As you can imagine, this was of tremendous benefit to my social life.
I ended up studying Creative Writing at QUT in Brisbane, with the goal of someday getting a book published. The first book I wrote was a Young Adult fantasy, blending elements of steampunk, anime and videogame-style storytelling to enthral its readers. Or it would have been, if it hadn’t been a total mess.
After far too many years of trying and failing to get my manuscript published, I decided it was time to sit down and write something new. The only question was, what could I possibly write? What would be a strong enough idea to get publishers interested, and something that I would have enough passion about to actually complete?
The main thing that had happened between the first book and the second was that I’d moved to Melbourne and started working in the publishing industry, first in the Marketing department and then in Sales.
As a Sales Rep, my job involved (and still involves) me visiting bookshops to sell in our list of books two months ahead of their release. From that, I’d gotten a much better sense of the market and, in fact, learned a valuable lesson; they say “Write what you know”, which I’ve always taken to mean “Write from your own life experience”, but what it really means is “Write what you have knowledge of and what you’re passionate about”.
The reason my fantasy manuscript never got picked up was because I wasn’t familiar enough with the fantasy genre to write with confidence…and it showed. If I was going to write another book, it’d have to be on a subject that I knew intimately.
Drawing on my love of comics I decided I’d write a Young Adult book along the lines of Alex Ryder or Artemis Fowl, but with a superhero twist. Thanks to this stroke of genius, I could now say that whenever I was watching cartoons or reading comics that I was “doing research”.
I finished the book in late 2009 and started sending it out. A lot of people ask me how the publication deal came about, expecting it to have something to do with my job in the industry. And while I did have a few contacts who generously offered to read it, the offer ultimately came from Penguin, where I’d submitted the manuscript via the slush pile. It just goes to show, somebody actually does read the slush!
To give you an idea of how long the process takes, I met with the team at Penguin in June 2011 and they sent me the letter of offer two months later in August (it doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you’re checking your inbox every day it feels like an eternity).
The editorial process kicked off in early 2012, and on July 25 the first book in the Vanguard Prime series, Goldrush, will be available for sale – three years after writing the manuscript and nearly ten years after I first started working towards the goal of becoming a published author. That’s the thing about dreams. They come true, but only if you stick with them.
We’ll be starting the editorial process on Book 2 soon (a process I hope to write about in the future) and Book 3 is due at the end of August, with hopefully more to come after that.
I’ll be posting updates along the way, as well as blogging on whatever else takes my fancy. In the meantime, if there’s anything you want to know please feel free to post a question or send me a Tweet.
I’ll also be posting updates on events, so if you have the time please feel free to come along and say ‘Hi’. You can even ask me what my opinion on mutants versus metahumans is. I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject.