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 Lulu.com/uk. 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!