Today is a very exciting day – my 14-year slog to get Saturday Night Jack in to print is finally over. I’m turning a corner and beginning a new phase of this incredible journey.
This is my first blog on my new website. Today I am also launching my SNJ Facebook page. Last but not least, I’m picking up the first paperback copies of the book from my publisher. It doesn’t get much better, eh.
It’s the end of a long journey, a journey I started in November 2000 when I wrote the first chapter of SNJ from a small office in the shadow of the Tyne Bridge. Back then, the determined little bugger I was, I said I would have failed myself if I did not see it through to the end. I knew the publishing road was littered with half-finished manuscripts and dashed dreams and I was determined not to be another one of them. Little did I know how long the road would be – it’s taken a lot of commitment and desire.
Dreaming up the idea, sketching out the plot and writing each chapter was undoubtedly the most enjoyable experience of my life. I would get lost for days on end as I powered through the chapters, sticking closely to my original plan. It still took time though, three years to finish the first draft, as I had to fit in writing around my day job as a reporter at The Press Association.
Then came the hard bit: trying to find an agent. I hated it. It was zero fun tailoring each approach to different, faceless people. Over the next few years – eight I reckon – I came close to success on a couple of occasions, both times substantially rewriting the manuscript to their suggestions. Sadly it didn’t work out. Rejection became the norm.
A decade after starting out, the enthusiasm I had for SNJ in the halcyon days of writing was all but extinguished. Stubbornly, I continued to try a few more agents but when I drew a blank, I thought I had reached the end. But then the self-publishing revolution started. I read about success stories, exchanged tweets and emails with those authors and decided to take the plunge myself. I used a fantastic artist to come up with my cover design (Design for Writers) and employed Troubador Publishing to make the paperback and ebook.
In little over nine months, a 90,000 word document on my hard drive has been transformed in to a book – a book I will get my hands on for the first time later today. It will be quite some moment.
In the last 14 years, my two main protagonists, reporter Mick Rogers and DCI Simon Sharpe, have been with me everywhere I go. I’ve taken them on my journeys home and abroad, on my honeymoon, to hospital as I waited for our first child to be born… they’ve never been far from my thoughts, my SNJ notebook never far from my side to jot down a new idea. There have been times when I’ve had to step away from them due to the pressures of daily life, but they’ve always been there in the background, nagging me for attention.
I’ve changed a lot in the last 14 years, my job in journalism has changed significantly and while the plot of the book has remained broadly the same, large parts have changed too. It starts in a different place, the division of the narrative between the two main characters is vastly different and the ending has been tweaked. Oh, and the sex scene has been totally axed. Too embarrassing.
But while the book is very different to the first version I completed in 2004, Mick and Simon have always been the same, patiently waiting their chance to be read.
Today is also the start of a journey for my two friends. I’m excited for them. Finally they will be out there and that’s quite some moment too. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed living with them.