The month of August 2022 saw me reach a milestone. With the release of my latest book The Fiend in the Flames (under my pseudonym of course), it meant I now have a completed trilogy on my hands at long last!
This place I call Dark Harbour has been with me a long time. In fact, I was still at school when I first came up with the idea of vigilantes prowling a backwater seaside town. Back then I was making films all the time, mostly in my back garden, hoping to be England’s answer to Quentin Tarantino some day. In those early days back in the 90s, my nebulous idea first took shape as a Reservoir Dogs ripoff called Halo of Flies. I’d taken the title from the name of a song by the Alice Cooper group. Instead of the characters being named after colours as in Tarantino’s film, my characters were named after dictators, and that’s how I arrived at the name of Vladimir (after Lenin, not that other one currently causing destruction!). The flick involved lots of guns and fake blood, plus plenty of firecrackers taped to my costumes and then set off. It’s amazing I never lost a limb.
The ideas took more shape and depth as I poured them into writing a feature film script, called Dark Harbour, and even though I never made it into a film, I started work on the sequel. I seem to remember I never quite finished that one.
In 2005 I had a rethink, and decided to turn it into a different format. I’d never written a novel before, but it seemed the best route for these stories. No longer would I have to be constrained by budget considerations, finding locations, sourcing actors etc. etc. It was rather difficult to make a film set by the sea when you lived inland! I could do anything in a novel and go anywhere. It took me a long time to write the first book. First of all I had to learn how to actually write, but I did this as I went along, endlessly redrafting and deleting and polishing.
I changed the name of the vigilante organisation too as they now became Halo of Fires. This was to put my own stamp on it, properly make it my own thing. To this day, one of the checks I go through with my manuscripts is to see if I’ve accidentally used the word ‘Flies’ when I should have put ‘Fires’!
I had other projects going on in my life, so Dark Harbour was not always my central focus, and it wasn’t until 2016 that I decided I was ready to release my first ever book. At that stage, the follow-up book was already half written, and so it was only the following year when I released it. I thought that was pretty fast going, although there are many independent authors that go at a ridiculously fast pace and make this look slow!
I didn’t really have a great grasp of the world of publishing books and audience expectations when I released these books. Self-publishing had opened up the possibilities for aspiring authors as there were no longer any gatekeepers and anyone could put their stuff out there. As an indie filmmaker, I saw self-publishing as the equivalent section of the market, where these products might not have the same polish as mainstream publications, where writers were free to try less conventional routes, to break the norms and conventions. I still believe this, but I get that the most successful authors are the ones that produce what their readers want to read.
So after releasing my two Dark Harbour books, at some point in the following years I took a step back and gave more ‘professional’ thought to how I should be executing them. That led to me going back to the keyboard and redrafting both of them. The first one had quite a lot of work done to it, the second one not so much. I expanded the universe by writing a prequel novella to go with the series, and eventually I began re-releasing them with new titles and brand new covers.
And at the same time, I’d also begun writing the third in the series. I didn’t have a ropey old film script to work from on this one. It was all done from scratch. That one saw a lot of time on the backburner so that I could work on other book series and other projects and the many life things that were taking up my time. So Book 3 sat there for quite a long time, too.
But now it’s finally here. So what’s next? I do have other books in the works but they are not from this series. There may one day be a Book 4 in The Dark Harbour Tales, but it’s a case of wait and see for now. This trilogy has self-contained arcs, and any subsequent books will be separate in kind of the same way the Star Wars trilogies are with each other. I’m still looking for my audience, but that’s what I’m aiming to do next.
If you’d like to check out my books in closer detail, then please head on over to my Amazon page.