This week you can buy the kindle edition of my apocalyptic novel Thy Fearful Symmetry for 99c in the US, or 99p in the UK. Click here to do just that. This will particularly suit UK sport-loathers. If you grew thoroughly exasperated by how much the city of Glasgow took over your tellyboxes during the last month, then you might take a particular malicious delight in watching me rain fire and blood down upon it.
Or not. Up to you.
I’ve talked about the book plenty of times already, so today we’ll take a tour around the places where it was written. When we did this for Cuckoo last week I warned you not to go around en masse putting commemorative plaques on any of the buildings referenced. I have received zero complaints from the residents of those buildings in the last few days. Which means you aren’t trying hard enough.
Trivia fans will already know that Thy Fearful Symmetry actually started life as a short story, mouth-achingly entitled When The Stars Threw Down Their Spears, and was published by Brian Keene at the Horrorfind website when that was a thing both of them did. Years later, when the novel finally emerged, I retitled the story His Work To See and released it as a standalone ebook with cover art by Malcolm McClinton. While the story has had a polish since it was first released, it’s still pretty much the same tale I told back then.
I wrote that tale in a first floor flat on Dumbreck Road in Glasgow, in response to a sort of challenge from the person I was living with at the time. When I say ‘first floor flat’, I really mean ‘first floor room’. This was pure bedsit territory, basically a big single space. It suited at the time, but in retrospect there were a lot of people crammed into that building. My desk was to one side of the big window on the left here, and if I slid my chair out too quickly then I risked knocking the television over. Fortunately, I’ve always been a headphones writer. No matter what physical space you’re in, headphones separate you from it. Pump up the volume and it’s just you and the story.
The characters in that short story, Ambrose and Pandora, sort of stuck around in my head demanding that I work out what happened to them next. The short story became the prologue of a novel, which I started at Dumbreck Road and briefly continued when I moved a district over to Bruce Road.
You’ll remember Bruce Road from last week, as I was living there when a paperback edition of Cuckoo was briefly released in the UK. At the same time I was writing the opening few chapters of Thy Fearful Symmetry. Unfortunately, I was struck by a sudden and devastating case of life implosion, that knocked me off the writing horse for quite some time. I was slow getting back on in any serious way.
By the time I’d recovered enough to pick up that unfinished manuscript I was living with my (now) wife and daughter a couple of years later at Langhaul Road, also in Glasgow. I had a silver/grey Punto. I loved that Punto.
Much of the novel was written in the bedroom on a palm handheld device, twinned with a foldable keyboard. Smartphones have made the Palm devices all but redundant these days, but I thought they were brilliant at their height, and I spent at least four years with one model or another forever secreted about my person.
Once I’d finished Thy Fearful Symmetry I edited it and put it away for a while. Across two years I’d occasionally pull it out, make another edit, and tuck it away again. Eventually I submitted it to three publishers (after a bad experience with a paperback publisher, I’d grown very choosy about who to submit to), and when they declined I put it back in a drawer.
I say “drawer”, but that’s obviously not what I mean these days. ‘I backed it up to a couple of drives and forgot about it’ doesn’t sound quite the same though, does it?
When I self-published Cuckoo and quickly recouped my costs on the venture, I started to reread Thy Fearful Symmetry in the hope that it might be good enough to publish the year after. More editing happened, and I got back in touch with Em at Snowangels (who had given Cuckoo a new face the year before) about providing cover art.
While I was doing all of this I was living in India. It was 2012, several years and edits after a clumsy first draft was completed on a prototype handheld PC, but my second novel finally clambered into the world from my third floor apartment here.
Now’s your chance to go and get a copy for a dollar/quid if you’re in the US or UK. It remains the same price as always if you’re buying it elsewhere, and you can also get a copy in paperback. It’s worth noting that if you buy the paperback from Amazon then you can download the Kindle edition for nothing. You can stockpile a gift while you read off your device if you like. Up to you.
I’ll leave you with a final piece of art from Malcolm McClinton – a movie poster splash that I made poor use of at the time (lesson learned – once you have a cover image you don’t want to confuse people with a second image for the same book). Enjoy – and pop back next week for a guided tour of the places that made Craven Place…