Moving On

Here’s the cover for the last book in my The Incorruptibles series, titled Infernal Machines. I just sent off the final (hopefully!) edits and this novel should see release later this year. I hope to receive great acclaim and copious book sales. Though the latter is doubtful. The former is doubtful, too. Actually, everything in publishing is doubtful – my advice is to expect the worst and anything happy, even the mildest good news, feels like salvation.The Incorruptibles sold passably well, with three printings, but like most series, sales drop off after each release. I can’t expect much. So there’s that.

I have, in my mind, already moved onto my next project – or projects, rather – and I’ve focused my attention on the horizon, new works that are totally dissimilar in tone, theme, and market than what I’ve written in the past. I am creatively restless, and want to try new things. It’s somewhat of a hindrance to my career, after each big project, I want to pull up stakes and write something different. Had I, after the publication of Southern Gods (still my most popular work), buckled down and committed to writing horror novel after horror novel, my life and career trajectory might’ve looked different. However, that was not something I wanted to do. I wanted to try something different. And so I did, I wrote a young adult series. And now, I’ve wrapped a fantasy series (with, eventually, a fuckin’ dragon, as this cover shows).

Endings and career talk makes me ruminate on my short history in publishing, all the awesome people I’ve met. And some of the not so awesome. When you’re out promoting your work, hitting the convention chitlin-circuit, hawking your books on panels and readings, you often find yourself in the company of authors at the same point in their careers, or authors writing the same kind of stuff. You get to know them, you have drinks, shoot the shit. You do and say dumb stuff and that gets joked about. Bonds are formed. Bonds are broken. It’s an exciting, heady industry where everyone knows everyone else’s business. I’ve seen people I know rise to great success, and some fall to failure. I’ve been betrayed by some people I thought were friends, and found steadfast ones I would trust with my life, for whatever that is worth. Still – publishing is the greatest game out there. It’s like Sayle’s law: “Why are academic politics so bitter? Because the stakes are so small.”

It’s been an interesting ride so far and I look forward to the rest of it. I’ve been privileged to have passed through the horror community, the crime community (from my time at Needle Magazine), the young adult scene, and finally the fantasy community. I never felt 100% welcome in any of them, but that is, as the Winchester brothers might say, on me. It’s very compartmentalized, that kind of worldview. I should state, instead, that I’m a member of the larger writing community and leave it at that. (Though the writing community may not want to claim me.)

Whatever the case, I really loved working on this series. There’s so much about this world that appeals to me still, especially the characters of Shoestring and Fisk, Livia and Carnelia. I could stay with them for a long while. I felt very much the same about my YA protagonists, Shreve and Jack. As a writer, you have to fall in love with your narrator’s voice, if you’ve chosen to write in first person. Side note: I will not be writing first person for a very looonnnng time.

In the end, I hope, with time, The Incorruptibles will gain an audience. Books are often compared to author’s children. You want your kids to be healthy and happy, to find productive avenues in life.

Authors want their books to find an audience. That’s all any author can hope for, their books finding the right hands to unfold in.

That is all.

11 comments

  • I seriously hope this series gets the recognition it deserves. The Incorruptibles and Foreign Devils have been two of my favorite novels of recent years, so Infernal Machines was on my must-have list – I’m currently about a third of the way in, and loving it – although I will be sorry to see this particular journey come to an end.

    Good luck with sales, and thank you for writing these wonderful books.

    • Andy, thank you for your kind words and I hope you enjoy Infernal Machines to the end. I hope these books find an audience in the future. They haven’t really so far and their failure means it will be harder for me to publish in the future, unless I take a pen name. So, I’ve got some thinking to do about what my writing future holds.

  • I completely agree with Andrew Lewis’ post above! I loved the Incorruptibles and Foreign Devils! I didn`t realize Infernal Machines was out already, though I have been on the look-out for it. Will try to get it at my local bookshop tomorrow.
    The series is such a perfect gothic-roman-western-fantasy-noir, I love the tone, the world and I need to find out more about the bloody stretchers!
    I will check out the Twelve-Fingered-Boy series next.
    Daniel

  • Here here to the previous comments. I have literally, 2 minutes ago, finished Infernal Machines, and navigated my way to your website to find out if there was even the sniff of another book. If you take requests, like a DJ at a family party, can I request another instalment?!

    Genuinely, this book has made me question every other 5 star review I have given to other works; it was so arresting, so compelling, so original, so clever, so beautifully beautifully done. To give you an idea, I’m a die-hard fantasy reader (it’s pretty much all I read) and your series is definitely among my favourites along with work by “the big hitters” like Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Ness, Phillip Pullman, Haruki Murakami, Scott Lynch and Peter V Brett. To me, you’re all in the same league, producing quality writing and stories that literally hold me to ransom until I finish them.

    Know and remember that there are readers like me out there, enthralled by your work. Thank you for writing it and making my world, and my imagination, more magical 🙂

    Frances

    • Thank you so much for the kind words, Frances. I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and let me know how much you enjoyed Infernal Machines. You can request another installment, and some day I may return to the world of The Incorruptibles, but in all honesty, the books haven’t performed very well, sales-wise, so writing more in the series would be a hard sell. Literally and literarily. Your note found me when I really needed it. Writing is hard and offers very little return, so every person my work has connected with in some way matters very much to me. Thank you again.

  • Hi John, Just wanted to say I’m almost finished infernal machines, and I’ve loved this series. After reading the first two, I’ve been waiting eagerly for the paperback of I.M. to come out. One of the best, most original series I’ve read in a long time. You’ve created a wonderful world to be immersed in, and believable, engaging characters. The demon-based technology is inspired. Can’t believe the series hasn’t taken off. It deserves to, so keep going. I’ll be keeping an eye out for whatever you do next, and going back to seek out your earlier books.

    • Duncan,

      Thank you for the kind words! I hope you enjoy the end of Infernal Machines. It always means an enormous amount to me when people reach out to tell me that my work has connected with them in some way. It is, ultimately, why we write.

      Thank you again.

      Best regards,

      jhj

  • Hi there, John.
    I just finished Infernal machines and wanted to say how much I enjoyed all three books.
    How you managed to combine various disparate tones and genres throughout the whole story completely baffles me and as a western, fantasy and Lovecraft fan you can imagine how much I loved the whole shebang and I don’t think I’m the only one who can imagine how many different ways you could continue the story if you ever do.
    What I think really shines through all the daemons, horror and bloodshed is a real feeling and hope of humanity that may not immediately be apparent.
    I really hope these books prove to be slow burners and they eventually receive the audience they deserve but regardless of what you write next you can be sure I’ll be reading
    Yours sincerely,
    Liam

    • Liam,

      Thank you for your comment. As always, I truly appreciate it when anyone comes forward to let me know that my work connected with them. I’m especially glad you saw what I tried to make a bitter-sweet but hopeful end to the series.

      I hope I don’t disappoint you in the future.

      Best,

      jhj

  • Just finished the Foreign Devils audiobook. Brilliant, delighted to see the third entry is also available in audiobook, so will get that next.
    Stephen Pacey is my favourite narrator, and since he did such a great job in The First Law series, I had to know what other work he did. Which led me to The Incorruptibles, and a great find that turned out to be.
    I don’t know what it takes to get a big break in the fantasy writing world, but surely you deserve one!

    • Thanks, Diarmuid! So glad you liked it. And yes, Stephen Pacey did an amazing job, it’s true.

      Say, have you ever read the Fionavar Tapestry by Guy Gavriel Kay?

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