Another month has passed, and although there have been minor adjustments to lockdown here in the UK, nothing has altered the schedule I’ve followed for eleven months.
When I wrote to you in May, I was about to start writing ‘Barking Mad’, #6 in the Freeman Files series. It’s now 80% complete. I mentioned eleven months earlier because that’s how long I’ve been writing about Gus Freeman. Six books in a year? I was happy with producing three titles a year with The Phoenix Series. Why have I apparently speeded up? Five years ago, when the first title hit the bookshelves nobody noticed or cared. Little changed until March 2019. Since then, things picked up, and by December 2019, when ‘Fatal Decision’ was published, there has been an audience waiting for the next title to appear; and the back catalogue is still delivering the goods.
I received this email a couple of weeks ago from a 40-year old father of two who lives near Manchester. He’s not a Phoenix Club member (yet) but it meant the world to me that he took the trouble to write.
‘I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for the Phoenix Series. The books are so easy to read and I feel sad when a book is coming to an end because I just don’t want it to finish. I am on the fifth book at the moment and I look forward to reading all the other books in the series, plus your back catalogue and any future books you release. Thank you again. You have brought back my enjoyment in reading books. All the best.’
I’m the first to admit my books aren’t perfect. I’m a storyteller rather than an author. Imagine how I felt when another reader took the trouble to deliver this message –
‘I found your books through Kindle, and I really love your characters in the Phoenix series. I also enjoy your little narrative comments throughout. They add a cheekiness to your story telling. I am, however, distressed at elements of your grammar. It really does interfere with your wonderful story line. Could I offer my services (for free, absolutely no strings attached) to help you clean up your manuscripts? It would be so much fun. I have been a fan of Ian Rankin for some time and, as far as I can see, your books are up there with his!’
Praise and criticism all rolled into one email!
Every writer needs to be wary, but when I checked I found the email came from a Professor who has taught English for over 20 years. A linguist, who is an author for Oxford University Press. The collaboration has begun. My manuscript cleaner is enjoying her work and I feel as if I’ve gained a life-long friend.
Regardless of what’s happening in the world this past four weeks have given me hope.
I’ll be back with an update in July. Take care, stay safe and best wishes.