The thing is about all of this, it never deterred me from continuing with my writing. I guess that is because I’ve always had the desire, the need if you like, to actually write. Even when I was acting, I was always thinking of scenes and plays to create, dialogue to develop. So, despite this shark having ripped me off, I was not unduly worried. I still had my dream; in tatters a little, but still there.
But you can imagine the shock, can’t you. Opening up Amazon with thumping heart, and there is your book, authored by someone else! Whoa…
I immediately got in touch with Amazon. They were very good, sent me a few forms to fill in (which I had to repeat for both dot com and dot co dot uk) and I had to write a sworn statement that my testimony was true. Well, the idiot had kept my name on the inside cover hadn’t he. What a complete ding-bat. No wonder he got caught out. To cut a long story short, as the authorities in the States investigated this guy, they discovered he had about twenty or thirty (perhaps more!) AKA’s. Imagine. And as they continued, other people came forward with further tales of scams, plagiarism, downright theft.
The upshot, I suppose, is what did I learn from all of this.
First thing is to find out as much as you can about any prospective publisher – or indeed and agent – before signing anything. I now use Predators and Editors, Author Beware, Pohl Anderson (who is brilliant, by the way)Ralan, and of course I always take note of what others are saying in blogs, on the webs, social forums, etc. This should mean that incidences of being ‘stung’ are less, but we all know that the people who do this sort of thing are devious, as well as just plain nasty. So…BEWARE. Find out as much as you can. Go to ‘You Write On’ and ‘Authonomy’ and learn what people are saying. Firstwriter.com is also a good source of information regarding publishers. Okay, it costs about £3 a month, but it is invaluable because not only does it put in touch with literary agents, and publishers, but it also lists what ordinary people have said about these people. That can be particularly telling.
Well, okay, there’s a little bit of guidance. So, after all of that, what did I do next?
Short answer – I found another publisher. This took a while, because I was submitting a different book. It was in November of 2009 that finally ‘Cold Hell in Darley Dene’ was accepted, and that Christmas saw it published. Elation, in buckets!
I loved writing that book. Sometimes, a book – albeit fiction – really delves into your own heart, drags up memories, emotions, makes you question decisions and actions. It was like that with ‘Darley Dene’.
I used a lot of memories in that book, despite it being set in the years immediately following the end of the Second World War (I’m actually not that old). My mum had told me a story which had always stayed with me. Our family lived in Wallasey, very close to the docks. And of course, these were a prime target as the War took hold. My mum had gone to New Brighton for a night out, had met some soldiers and they had come back to my house for a cup of tea (if you live in America, or anywhere else, yes, we Brits really do drink a lot of tea!). As they sat in our front room, an air-raid began. When it was over, the soldiers had to go back to their camp. A camp which was situated down the road at…Darley Dene. But Darley Dene was no longer there. It had received a number of direct hits from German bombs, as it was right next to the docks. What a wild, mad idea that was. The point is, of course, these soldiers would have been amongst the dead of Darley Dene if they hadn’t met my mum, and sheltered in my home during the raid.
From that fragment, the story developed. I brought in moments from my own childhood, when I would play down there. A barren wasteland by that time, but it had an atmosphere. An ambiance. I knew something had happened there, and when I came across some old bomb shelters buried into the ground…
This is how my imagination can be moulded by events. I develop, alter, add, stirring the pot to create a story that, hopefully, others will enjoy. I still love ‘Darley Dene’. I don’t think it is my best, but it is very special for me.
But then, all of them are!
If you would like to know more about my writing, and where to buy my books, you can visit my websites. For Young Adult paranormal mysteries (including ‘Darley Dene’), go to www.glenstuart.co.uk. For adult thrillers, go to www.stuartgyates.com. Thanks for all your support, and tune in for next Friday’s blog.