Wednesday, 28 February 2007

The Most FAQ: When is "Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows" coming out?

The plot for House of Shadows was formulated soon after the first edition of Century Lodge was published by CK Publishing in June 2002. Editor Calum Kerr put in a little trailer at the end, reading, “Coming Soon – Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows”, and asked me to write a version of Chapter One that could go in as a teaser. By the time of publication, though, it was decided that the teaser shouldn’t be included because it would be necessary to gage sales of Book One before we embark on a second title.

Century Lodge featured in North West newspapers, and I was interviewed on two separate occasions by Diane Oxberry and Becky Want at BBC Greater Manchester Radio. As a result, the book topped the Bolton chart (thanks to Stella Morris and Sweetens of Bolton). Sadly, though, CK Publishing was unable to establish a national presence and decided not to pursue a sequel.

By late 2003 I was casting my net over greater waters in the hope of interesting big name publishers. At the same time, I was investigating the condition Asperger syndrome, believing the diagnostic criteria held the key to certain behavioural traits and thought patterns within my own psyche and explained a number of situations in my own life that had been puzzling me over the years. It was in 2003 that I diagnosed myself as being on the lower end of the autistic/Asperger spectrum.

During my research, I came across Jessica Kingsley Publishers, who specialise in the behavioural sciences, and submitted my autobiographical account The Feeling’s Unmutual. Almost as an afterthought, I sent them Anne Droyd and Century Lodge, believing that the central character possessed many of the traits exhibited by AS children. Jessica Kingsley agreed, and, in addition to publishing The Feeling’s Unmutual, commissioned a new edition of Anne Droyd and Century Lodge as ‘an Asperger adventure’.

The new version of Century Lodge was published in late 2004 and exhibited a photomontage of the real Century Lodge on the cover. The text was tightened up, and a Contents page was added, but generally the story remained unchanged.

The plan, as before, was to see how it sells, and if it sold well, a second adventure would be commissioned. JKP sent out books to a number of local and national newspapers, as well as various TV chat shows like Richard & Judy, in the hope that Anne would get that much needed exposure and be catapulted into the public eye.

However, it was not to be.

I received letters and emails from a steadily growing fan base. My creation was praised on a number of Asperger related web sites, as well as Amazon. But generally, the media did not respond at all. They didn’t even say it was rubbish.

And so, for a second time, my offer of a sequel was turned down. From then on I grew despondent, wondering if I shouldn’t just call it a day.

But Anne wouldn’t die. For, every now and then, an individual would email me, or a youngster would write me a letter, and each time it would close with the same question: When is House of Shadows coming out?

This, and my good friend Darryl Sloan (author of the newly released children’s adventure Chion), spurred me on to find a way of publishing the sequel without the backing of a mainstream publisher. It was Darryl who put me on to print-on-demand.

Print-on-demand companies are not publishers. They are printers. Technology has improved to such a point that it is no longer necessary to print hundreds of books and store them in a warehouse. An author can upload his latest book via the company’s web site, have it converted into a paperback template, design the cover, and make it available on demand. So, if one hundred people order the book, the company can print one hundred copies and mail them out. But, by contrast, if only two people want copies, just two copies can be printed and mailed out.

I am still hopeful that I will be able to attract a mainstream publisher. Until I do, I am ever mindful that the fans of Anne Droyd have had nothing new to read since 2002. This is a situation I feel compelled to address.

I recently created an account with print-on-demand company I have formatted the existing House of Shadows material (the first three or four chapters) to the standard paperback template. During the next few months I will be going over what I already have, and then I will write the rest of the book. I’m discussing what kind of cover it should have with an artist, and a designer based in the United States has found the font that was used on the second edition Century Lodge logo, which will be good for uniformity.

Assuming I can get the book written, proofread, and edited by the summer, we could be looking at an October 2007 release.

You have waited long enough!

Will H.


C P Leigh said...


I’m very glad you have decided to do a Blog.

I am fascinated by time and unforeseen occurrence. Some may define it as fate, but that suggests some preordination that I cannot accept exists.

My point is that, back in 2003, when I got a new job based in Manchester I had many options as to where to live. Purely by chance I moved to Walkden, (it was far from being my first choice) and I met you. Why is this significant? Apart from discovering a very talented writer and making a good friend that is. Through you I discovered that I suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome. This knowledge is life changing. A bombshell of Neutronic proportions.

I have my own take on the effects of Asperger Syndrome and coming to terms with discovering I have it. However, I thoroughly recommend that everyone should read “The Feeling’s Unmutual.” Will’s fascinating and gripping autobiographical tale of his own painful journey of discombobulation, discovery and dealing with life. Will writes with an honesty and directness that spares himself no blushes, but at the same time endears one to the author as we share his cringes, humour and pain. For fellow “Aspies” like me, it is easy to substitute yourself for him on almost every page.

Who knows what journey that book may start other people on, whether or not they suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome. It may include many painful realisations and seemingly insurmountable challenges. It may be easy going. It will definitely be fascinating and rewarding.

I wish you every success with your Blog and your writing. Can’t wait to see the next “Anne Droyd” in print and also…well, I’ll let you tell the readers about your other work in your own time.

Your friend

C P Leigh

Will Hadcroft said...

Thanks C.

You know, I don't think, in all the time I've known you, that you've ever before acknowledged straight off that you definitely have the syndrome. We've discussed some of the traits and those we share, but you've never just come right out and said it.

I believe acknowledging one has the condition (or aspects of the condition) is the first step towards coping with it and all the complex problems with social interaction it incurs (many of which are subtle and go unnoticied to the untrained eye).

That said, some things are deeply ingrained and not easily resolved. For example, my wife and I were invited to a family event last week. We both turned up, but only she stayed. I couldn't handle meeting "everybody", got quite paranoid and anxious, and went back home. (Then, of course, I got paranoid and anxious about that.).

I'm a lot better than I used to be, but not cured, and I don't think I ever truly will be. Asperger's is something that has to be managed rather than cured (and in some respects, that's how I like it).

I'm glad The Feeling's Unmutual was some help in identifying the root cause of your own problem.

I'm going over the plot of Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows this weekend and breaking it down into 35 bite sized chapters so it doesn't seem quite so daunting a project. Then I will get on with writing the first draft, a scene at a time, as and when I can, and hopefully be done by the end of the summer.

As for my "other work", I don't even know whether I'm going to publish it under my own name. So I may, or may not, be advertsing it here. Whatever the case, YOU will know when it gets published, rest assured.


G L Wilson said...

"Other work", eh? Sounds intriguing!

G L Wilson said...
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