Anyone who knows me or my books knows I don’t back away when I put a new one out. I put a lot into each one and I want to give it the best chance it can have of finding the kind of people who might be glad to have found it. So I talk a lot, I travel a lot, I post a lot and perhaps I’m in your face more than you want.
Not this time.
I might have been going to keep that to myself, but then my publisher sent me the ‘social media assets’ and, late on a recent afternoon, I duly updated my Twitter and Facebook profiles with a banner featuring the cover and the 3 August pub date. I hadn’t expected literally hundreds of responses by breakfast time the next day. Definitely one of the year’s good surprises, and there haven’t been a lot of those.
Along with the ‘likes’ and ‘loves’ were event requests and questions about publication plans. And I realised the silence I was about to offer in August was going to look a little odd. It’s not my style to put a book out and ignore it. And people were likely to ask what was going on. And get no answer. So here’s what’s going on.
Backstory: I’ve had a cardiac pacemaker for close to 40 years. I haven’t really talked about that for a couple of reasons. First, at the start of my career, I didn’t want to be ‘the young writer with the pacemaker’. It’s not a point of difference I was aiming for, and it wasn’t relevant to the books. Besides, I’d tried using it as a point of difference with girls in the early 80s – desperate times for me with girls, clearly – but they found ‘dweeb with a pacemaker’ no more attractive a proposition than the straight-out dweeb I’d been before then. Second, it’s pretty boring having a pacemaker (which is fine – it’s supposed to be), and more boring talking about it.
2021: In March, I got my 8th pacemaker. The batteries of my 7th were running down, and I thought we should replace it then, to avoid the risk of it conking out while I was promoting Empires, and derailing any promotional plans while I had it replaced. Oh, the irony.
My old pacemaker leads were pretty much shot, so they were abandoned and a new pair went in. And obstructed my superior vena cava. Since that’s the main vessel returning blood to the heart from the head, arms and upper body, that’s a reasonably big deal. Most SVCs have room for at least four leads. Mine doesn’t. It turns out it’s scarred and significantly constricted just before it enters my heart (inconvenient thing, inconvenient place for it too, as it turns out).
We’ve tried a couple of work-arounds, but they haven’t worked. So this morning, as soon as I’ve posted this, I go into hospital to get it fixed.
It’s not a small job, so I’ll be in there a while, then doing outpatient rehab for a while. So, Empires will come out on 3 August and I’ll be nowhere to be seen. It will have to do what no book should: cope in the wild alone for its first month. Books vanish that way. I hope mine doesn’t.
I’ll be back on deck talking about it in September, then leaving home for local events in October, but in August my book will be relying on the kindness of strangers. Or at least not on me. Maybe not just strangers.
To anyone who got on board that wave of enthusiasm when I posted the banner pics last weeks, a big thanks. A bigger one than usual. You made me feel that maybe Empires won’t just go missing in August as all the other new books get the attention they deserve. Maybe I’ll come back with something to build on, rather than something to save.
Now please excuse me while I hit the speedbump that’s in my path, and then settle into weeks of serious ice-cream eating, Netflix bingeing, novel reading, increasingly brisk walks and whatever else I’m made to do to get back to normal life. See you in Septemberish.