Five years of Passing Place

Five years ago my personal favourite of my novels, and the one I will grudgingly admit to being most proud of Passing Place was release. I say grudgingly because all my novels are little slithers of my soul and, excepting my children, the things of which I am most proud. Picking a favourite is akin to picking a favourite child, something that in the case of my children I would never do as I love them both equally. Luckily in the case of my novels however picking a favourite it is somewhat of a more reasonable undertaking. I love them all, but of all of them the greatest slither of my soul is contained within the pages of Passing Place. It is, in short , the book I always wanted to write.

I should perhaps explain that last statement. When I say I always wanted to write it, that doesn’t mean I always knew what it was going to be, or anything so grandiose. What I mean is I always wanted to write something different, something unique, something that drew on everything that excited me as a reader, a watcher and a listener. I wanted to write something both epic and personal, that explored complex themes and yet could touch people on an emotional level. I wanted to write something that readers could identify with and yet at the same time be encouraged to think about, something that asked questions and did not entirely answer them all. Which is a long winded way of saying I wanted to write the kind of book I love to read.

I would like to think that statement applies to everything I write, but I just think Passing Place does that better than the rest. The Hannibal novels are pulpy satire, Maybe is a straight forward steampunk adventure novel, and as for my contemporary novel Cider Lane, well ‘it’s complicated’ as the saying goes. They all have things to say, they all will touch readers in different ways, but Passing Place is the closest to the kind of novel’s I dreamed about writing thirty five years ago when I was still a kid, hammering away at my dads cheap typewriter and using ridiculous amounts of Tipex to erase my mistakes…

This is why, if I am asked, as happens form time to time at conventions, which of my books I would recommend to a new reader ‘Passing Place’ inevitably is the answer I give.

Which brings me to here, five years after it release, which is something of a epoch as the novel itself took me five years to write (though in that five years I wrote cider lane and much of what became the first Hannibal novel and the first few chapters of what later became Maybe). For much of the five years since I have been playing about with idea’s for a sequel without ever really nailing down what it was going to be, the main problem being that the first novel tells the whole of the main characters story. While he would be in any sequel (not that one is required), he could never be it’s focus. So the sequel never got started, until that is I finally realised what it was going to be when I was working on a side project to do with the 5th anniversary. A side project that harkens back to those childhood dreams I had of being a writer.

Perhaps not unusually, when I dreamed of writing my own books, I dreamed of holding them in my hand. And while I read, and still read, mostly paperbacks, there has always been something special about hardbacks. A hard back is the most real of realities. the most solid of things. At least if you’re a bibliophile at any rate. My book shelves are stacked with paperbacks but the books of my favourite authors I have in hardback. It’s just a thing… And sure perhaps I am weird like that, but then I’m a writer, the ship of normal sailed away years ago…

But in any regard, I publish my books through amazon and while I would prefer to publish them in other ways as I am not a huge fan of the all consuming global nexus, they remain for now the best option, because while making a stand against them would be all very well and good, amazon effectively is the marketplace. However up until recently you could only publish via amazon in two ways, on kindle or in paperback. there were options to publish hardback versions through third parties but all of these had their own hurdles to jump and issues with supply (purchasing third party books on amazon tends to be a pest as well).

Then, earlier this year, Amazon announced they were going to start publishing hardbacks. Frankly at that point not typesetting and releasing a hardback versions of my books would have seemed insane. It was after all a childhood dream come true, even if the only hardback version ever purchased was my own copy…

Of course, it is never as simple as that, and I am never going to not make things more complex than they need to be. If I was going to put out a hardback version of any book, I wanted the first to be Passing Place for all those reasons I started with. But as it was the fifth anniversary, I wanted to do more.

Despite being my favourite, Passing place is also the least successful of my novels. Not least this is because it doesn’t fit neatly on any genre shelf… which makes it difficult to market. It is however the best reviewed, which is to say it gets the best reviews, if not the most numerous. Readers like it, love it in many cases, frequently try to bully me into writing a sequel in other cases. I have in fact never had a bad review for Passing Place. So while it has never set the world on fire, it smoulders nicely. As such I thought if I was going to do a 5th anniversary, hardback release, I ask someone to write an introduction, which American author Joseph Carrabis, who had recently read the novel and praised its virtues in a frankly overwhelming review, kindly agreed to write for me.

There were other things I wanted to do as well. One of the niggling issues with Passing place was my own naivety when I first publish it. The text falls somewhat foul of the ‘fair and reasonable usage’ rules on copyright. Only a little foul, a tad over the legal line, but I quote rather too much of the lyrics of one particular song which has a fairly central part to play in the novel. the fifth anniversary seemed like a good time to revisit this issue and resolve it. But this took a while as I needed to write the lyrics for a fictional song form a fictional rock opera, that would retain the impact of the original.

That may not sound like a huge mountain to climb, but it was larger than you might imagine…

But eventually I managed to climb the mountain, typeset a hardback edition in a larger font format for a larger book. with all those minor changes. Then of course I needed to do the same with the paperback and kindle editions…

The little project took a while.

But, it is done, the hardback I expect no one to buy, of my least successful, but most beloved book is available to all. As are the paperback and kindle editions… It would be remiss of me not to mention this…

And importantly to me, and no one else one suspects, I will very soon, as soon as the copy I ordered arrives, be able to realise a childhood dream, and hold a Hardback written by Mark Hayes in my hand. Now that will be a fine day, amidst a year that has been woefully sort of fine days…

This entry was posted in amreading, amwriting, big questions, book reviews, books, Esqwiths, fantasy, fiction, goodnews, goodreads, Hannibal Smyth, Harvey Duckman, horror, indie, indie novels, indie writers, indiewriter, novels, opinion, Passing Place, publication, reads, sci-fi, self-publishing, steampunk, supernatural, writes, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Five years of Passing Place

  1. Pingback: Books of the year | The Passing Place

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