In September 2018 I’ll be celebrating thirty years as a full-time writer. Although as a kid I’d always loved writing stories, I guess I really started to become serious about it around 1984, when I graduated from college. Looking back now, what I most vividly recall is how much I floundered in those first couple of years. For a while, with no one to turn to for advice, I struggled to find my voice, my direction, my focus. Then in 1986 I enrolled on a genre fiction-writing course, to be run by Ramsey Campbell. Although the course was subsequently cancelled due to lack of funding, I began a correspondence with Ramsey, as a result of which he became a kind of unofficial mentor to me. His editorial advice on some of my early work proved so invaluable that one of the stories I sent him, ‘Against the Skin’ (rewritten and much improved thanks to Ramsey’s input), eventually became my first professional sale – and to Charles L. Grant, no less, who bought it for the final volume of his legendary Shadows series.
Fast forward thirty years, and having become something of a genre stalwart myself (or so people tell me) I thought it was high time to pass on a little of the experience and editorial know-how I’ve accumulated these past three decades. To that end, I now offer an editorial service on my website, whereby for what I believe are very reasonable rates I provide clients with a detailed, personal assessment of their work, concentrating on such aspects as plot structure, story development, characterisation, dialogue, pacing, setting, readability and focus.
I realise, this being the internet age, that there are many companies and individuals offering similar services these days, but when it comes to genre fiction I feel I hold the advantage over many of my competitors for several reasons.
First and foremost, I’m not only a practitioner of genre fiction, but I remain a huge fan of it as well. I know the genre inside out, and have a vast number of influential contacts in the field, so can offer practical as well as editorial advice, for those who require it.
Secondly, unlike many who offer an editorial service, I’m widely published, and therefore know exactly what is needed to become a success in the field. For the record, I’ve had around twenty-five novels, half a dozen novellas, over one hundred short stories, and countless articles and reviews published in the past thirty years. Primarily a horror writer (my novels include Toady (US title: The Horror Club), Stitch, The Immaculate, The Deluge and most recently the Obsidian Heart trilogy), I’ve also written tie-in fiction for such franchises as Doctor Who, Torchwood, Hellboy, Spartacus, Sherlock Holmes and Stephen Jones’s Zombie Apocalypse, the official movie novelizations of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall, and the official tie-in novel for the computer game Dead Island. I’ve written audio drama scripts too, my most recent being an adaptation of the classic 1971 British horror movie Blood on Satan’s Claw. And over the years I’ve been published by a variety of publishers – among them Transworld, Harper Collins, Pan Macmillan, BBC Books, Titan, Leisure, PS Publishing, Subterranean Press and Cemetery Dance – and have won several awards and been nominated for many more.
As I’m sure pretty much everyone reading this article knows, self-publishing is both widespread and accessible these days, and as such it’s tempting for modern day writers to forego the editorial process altogether. But I sincerely believe that in order to become not only a good writer but a continually improving one, reliable and insightful editorial input is essential. When I was starting out on my writing journey, I would have jumped at the chance to get my work assessed by an established and experienced author. I hope that you feel the same way, and that you’ll check out my editorial service here: