The Year That Never Was

December 23rd, 2020 • Posted in Book News, News, Random Stuff |

Or at least we could hope that. But 2020 is almost done now, and as I do every year I wanted to write a blog about what I’ve been up to.

Usually I do separate blogs for my sport and triathlon, and writing. But this year has seen precious little actual racing on the sports front … in fact my only race this year was in January, the epic Fan Dance. It’s part of the SAS selection training, and the event is run by ex-Special Services members. And yes, it’s as ridiculously tough as it sounds, even though I went with the ‘easy’ version and ran in clean fatigues. The other option is to do the race –– up and down Pen-y-Fan, the biggest mountain in South Wales, twice –– with a loaded bergen. Maybe next time.

Other than that, I’ve spent this year of Covid still running, biking and, when I can, swimming. When lockdown began and we were all thinking it’d just be a few weeks, the purpose of all my training was still there. I’d signed up for several races, including a couple of half-ironmans (the Brutal being one). But as the year ran on and it became clear that all racing was off … I continued training. It helped me mentally, and through the summer it was great going for runs and bike rides with my kids too. We found a 5k route around our village, door to door, and had a little competition going on!

Strava tells me my stats this year are:

Active days — 216

Total distance: 3022 miles

Total elevation gain: 130,402 feet

Hilliest: Fan Dance! 3,875 feet

We’re so lucky living where we do, and all through the first lockdown we got out and about walking, running, and biking. And when outdoor swimming recommenced with my triathlon club NEWTs (for a few weeks in the summer), it was so lovely seeing so many great friend clad in lycra and rubber again!

It’s been a shit year, but I’m now looking forward to next year, and hoping that some or all of the races I’ve entered will be happening. Windsor Triathlon, Long Course Weekend, Outlaw Half, Monmouth Aquathlon, and the big beast at the end of the year … the Full Brutal, which was once voted the hardest ironman in the world by Triathlon 220 magazine. So I’ve got a long tough year as target to continue training for through the winter … let’s just hope Covid doesn’t fuck it up.

So onto my year in books and writing! And to begin with, books I had published this year:

EDEN –– being published during lockdown wasn’t the best experience, and I was gutted when signing tours of the UK and Germany were cancelled. But Eden is still out there, and I think it’s one of my best. Check out the link here.

FIREFLY: GENERATIONS –– it was slightly delayed, but it’s great to see my story aflight on the good ship Serenity!

THE SILENCE –– there was a gorgeous limited edition released by the excellent SST Publications, link here.

RESURRECTION –– a beautiful chapbook of a Machen-inspired story I wrote during lockdown. Turns out it was about lockdown, too. Link here.

And I also had quite a few novellas and short stories published, which I’ll list briefly here with relevant links:

Drive appeared in The Dystopian States of America

A Trick of the Light was reprinted in Stories of Hope and Wonder, an anthology that has raised thousands in aid of Healthcare workers.

Again appeared in Cursed, edited by Marie O’Regan and Paul Kane

The Hubris of Those Who Would Toast Themselves appeared in The ManyDeaths of Edgar Allan Poe, edited by Matt Shaw

A drabble appeared in charity anthology It Came From The Darkness.

Research appeared in After Sundown, edited by Mark Morris

My novella Castle of the Lost appeared in the epic Studio of Screams collection from PS Publishing. This was a real labour of love, featuring novellas from Stephen Volk, Mark Morris and Christopher Golden, and a ‘factual’ wraparound account by Stephen Bissette. A really unique, wonderful project. And it looks gorgeous.

And I think that might have been it! It’s likely I’ve missed something –– I’m 51 now, it’s been a shit year, and if I did miss a story or appearance please forgive me!

As for what I’ve been working on this year …

Just before lockdown began I started writing a new novel longhand, in a series of notebooks that rapidly piled up. I wrote all through lockdown in our garden cabin and various rooms in the house, and the result of that is The Last Storm. It’s not quiet finished –– just a little tweaking yet to do –– but my agent loves the book, and hopefully I’ll share some more news on that soon.

Also throughout 2020 I’ve been developing several TV projects based on some of my books, in different formats and with different collaborators. There’s also an original TV series I’m working on with a great friend! Unfortunately … I can’t share anything about any of these projects yet. Suffice to say, I hope 2021 will bring several exciting announcement. Which I will, of course, shout about all over the place! So watch this space.

I’ve also just finished first draft of a book called Run, Walk, Crawl: Getting Fit in My Forties, which I’m hoping to tidy up and get to my agents pretty soon. This was such good fun to write –– much more an account, warts and all, of my exercise efforts over the last decade, than an instruction manual –– and I’m hoping it’ll see the light of day next year. It’s also something very different for me, non-fiction, and I’ve really enjoyed the writing process. With the year we’ve had, I think fitness and exercise has been more important than ever.

I’m sold a new collection which I’ll be able to tell you more about soon, too.

There’s a lot going on right now, some exciting stuff –– TV, novels, audio dramas, novellas –– and I’m hoping some of it will see fruition in 2021. Sorry I can’t spill more beans, but it’s been one of those years… writing, speculating, planning. And just getting by.

So as usual at this time of year, I’d like to thank anyone who reads my stuff and follows my work. You keep reading, and I’ll keep writing. I always love to hear from you, too, and it’s nice to have made new friends through talking to people about my books. One of whom is the brilliant Tim Love, an old mate of mine who maintains my website and posts updates! As ever, thanks, Tim.

2020 has been tough. You don’t need reminding of that. It’s also been a year when I’ve seen kindness shining through, and it’s more important than it ever has been before. As the great philosopher Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson said, “Not only do I think being nice and kind is easy, but being kind, in my opinion is important.”

I’m blessed with the very best of friends, and thanks to every one of you for being there.

Season’s Greetings, stay safe and sane, and let’s look forward to a better, nicer 2021.

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