Monday, 22 April 2013

A Call to Action

This week's guest post is Matt Hilton taking about new vehicles for old writing. 

Back in ye olde days, when Knights were bold and ebooks weren’t invented… 

…I wrote short stories. The thing was, I didn’t sell too many of them or even get them published. It wasn’t through lack of trying. I used to send them off to print magazines and answered calls for submission to yearly print anthologies and such like. Maybe – or should that read probably? – the stories weren’t up to scratch.  It’s highly likely. There was also the problem that so many other writers were doing the same thing that an unknown like me didn’t stand a chance of getting in. But it didn’t put me off writing. 

These days I’m best known for writing action thrillers, primarily my Joe Hunter series, the eighth of which – Rules of Honour – was published this February by Hodder and Stoughton, but I also still enjoy writing short stories as and when I can. In fact, that’s not totally true. I write them as a matter of course. It’s my way of getting through the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. If ever I’m at a stall on the latest novel, I’ll switch tack and write a short. It serves to clear my head, while working in a different voice, and subconsciously while going through that process I’ll work out the problem that was holding up the novel. When writing these shorts I’m not picky on the genre.  I’ll happily write crime fiction, gritty slice of life, humorous crime, horror, heroic fantasy and also larger than life, over the top action stories that take me back to my early reading roots. 

I was born in the mid-1960s, and was in my early teens by the end of the 1970s. At the time I was already reading voraciously (as well as writing), but it wasn’t the kind of books boys of my age would normally have been attracted to. I was reading from my father’s stash of ‘Men’s Adventure Fiction’ and my favourites were the likes of Mack Bolan, Remo Williams, Nick Carter, Edge and Adam Steele. It made sense that my writing would reflect my reading habits, and even back then I was churning out my own pastiches. Over the intervening thirty years I’ve never lost that love for action books, and when setting out to write my Joe Hunter series firmly intended giving a nod to those old influences.

With Joe Hunter I’ve to be mindful of modern thinking and ideology, and try to keep them contemporaneous and largely up to date. But that doesn’t stop me allowing my imagination to wander when penning (or typing) my short stories.  

I was late to grasp hold of the eBook bandwagon. In fact, I resisted it. I’m a hopeless romantic who longs for ye olde days, and it took me a while to catch on. When I looked around something was happening and it was good. Genre fiction was making a comeback, and the eBook was the new platform for it. I saw an opening where ‘Men’s Adventure Fiction’ had a viable new publishing route, and I grabbed at it. 

My original plan was to put together a collection of my own stories, but then I had an epiphany. I wondered how many other writers out there shared similar influences to mine, and who also had a few over the top actioners lying around with no home for them. So, instead, I decided I’d put out the call for submissions for a project I called ACTION: Pulse Pounding Tales Volume 1. To my surprise and delight, dozens of stories flooded in, and some of them from well established household names too. I put out the collection of 37 action packed stories a little under a year ago, and though not a blazing success by way of sales, it has been well received and has gained some glowing reviews from readers. On the back of writers and readers’ enthusiasm it fired my own enthusiasm for the old style action stories again. 

So much so that I’ve decided to go for another blast of pulse pounding action. Yes, I’m putting together ACTION Volume 2, with a mind to publishing it as an ebook late May or early June 2013. 

Okay, this isn’t an advert for my latest collection (well, not really), but to show that there are viable options for your own stories these days. I guess it’s about finding the right vehicle. The options are wide open now, through eBooks, POD, and even self-publishing ventures. ACTION Volume 1 would never have been picked up by a traditional publishing house, but it’s now out there, being read and enjoyed by many, and has opened the door for ACTION 2 to be also published. What I’m trying to say is, all those stories you thought would never sell, well, maybe they just might. It’s about checking out other ways of attracting a readership, and though I’m late to the ball, I’m hopefully here to stay. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an ACTION Volume 3 further down the line.
Many thanks to Matt for a great post which certainly struck a chord with me.

Future guest blogs
Howard Linskey - 29th April
Ryth Jacobs - 5th May
Matt Bendoris - 12th May
Lee Child Interview - TBC
Tom Cain / David Thomas - July

1 comment:

  1. I loved the first edition and I am so happy to have one of my shorts accepted for the second edition.

    I've found it hard to find a home for my action-thriller style shorts in magazines. The few places that take thrillers or action accept other genres as well. Guess which genres are pushed to the fringes!