Hell is Empty is officially published today, apparently (although it seems to have been available on Amazon for a few days already). To accompany the launch of the novel, I’m privileged to be involved in a blog tour. Details are below. Big thanks to all the hosts. I hope you’ll dip in to see what’s on offer…
Detail from ‘Red Dragon’
Thanks to the excellent My Bookish Ways, who agreed to host a blog by me this week on the heels of Dust and Desire‘s publication. You can read it here, a little piece about creating a memorable villain.
‘Writers speak a stench.’ – Franz Kafka
There comes a time during the creation of a novel when I feel the urge to discuss what the book is about, especially (as is currently the case) if I’m mired in problems surrounding the ending. Though I’d really rather not – I’m uncomfortable about discussing any issues I have with a piece of unfinished writing, because rambling on about something that was meant to be written can make the premise itself sound ugly (but also because I’m not the most articulate speaker on the planet) – I find it can help to unblock the old pipes and render evident a solution that seemed otherwise intractable. I’m not one of those writers who is able to keep everything close to their chest from conception until delivery.
Sometimes the poor soul (or souls… today I explained the plot of my novel to a captive – if not captivated – audience in the shape of my third year creative writing students) don’t need to say a word. The simple act of verbalising the problem I have might be enough to dislodge its solution. Those third year writers (themselves involved in trying to unpick the knotty intricacies of plot holes and narrative logic) were very helpful, and offered numerous suggestions and possibilities, some of which could turn out to be helpful. Although I did hijack their session somewhat, it was a helpful exercise for the students too and it led to a discussion of their plans for the piece of writing they’re expected to submit at the end of the year. A number of interesting offshoots appeared in relation to their own work once they’d opened up about it. It’s a little bit like magic, this conjuring of ideas from the simple act of batting words back and forth.
One word of warning though, especially when talking to non-writers, or family and friends, is that you beg a boundary be drawn before a word is uttered, born of bitter experience. Please, you might ask, please don’t just say: what a shit idea.
Morecambe © Conrad Williams
In 1993 I started the novel that would become Head Injuries. It was called Dust back then. Heavily influenced by M John Harrison, Ramsey Campbell and Clive Barker, it was my attempt at a modern British ghost story. It’s a flawed novel, but one for which I have great fondness. I wrote it on an Amstrad with a 10″ screen bought from Morgans near Manchester Piccadilly train station. As I paid for it (I think it was about fifty pounds), the salesman asked if I wanted to upgrade to a 12″ screen for an extra tenner. I said I couldn’t afford it and he said not to worry. ‘There’s a free set of binoculars comes with with it so you can see what you’re typing.’ Chortle.
The novel is partly set in Morecambe, which is where I stayed while I wrote the novel (I was taking the Creative Writing MA at Lancaster University at the time). Much of what happens in the book happened during my stay, but I’ll leave it to you to decide what is fact and what is fiction because the book, for so many years out of print, is available again, for the Kindle. You’ll find it on Amazon pages in USA and UK as well as the rest of the world.
I pondered for some time about releasing the book in 2013, as it would have been fifteen years since its publication (the novel was published one day before my 29th birthday) but other than me, who really gives a toss? So I thought I’d get it out there now, before Christmas. And just for you, for being such wonderful people, it’s available at a low price for a limited period. Included with the novel is an introduction by me and two related short stories. Bargain.
I hope you like it. Drop by and tell me what you think!