What a writer does when awaiting feedback.

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I recently ‘finished’ my fourth novel, Troll Life, and I am awaiting feedback from my trusted team of reviewers. As they are doing me a massive favour, I am working to their timescales and they will read it whenever they are ready.

So, how does a writer fill his time when awaiting feedback? Round the world trip spending the royalties from previous books? Fulfil the long list of media engagements from TV companies that have been pestering me for months? Or sit around in my pants watching the World Cup?

There has been quite a lot of the latter, not in my pants obviously, I do have some standards, but I have filled my time quite productively.

When I sent Life In The Balance off for review, I was full steam ahead with Troll Life but this time around, I haven’t decided what my next novel is going to be.

I think I will benefit from taking stock and learning from some of the mistakes I made this time. When the time comes I will look at my ideas notebook, but my current thinking is that I’m going to take some risks with the next one. I’ll keep you updated.

With the brief hiatus from novel writing, I’ve been able to dabble in a few projects I’ve been wanting to do for a while.

I returned to Southwick Neighbourhood Youth Project (SNYP) to work with the brilliant young people there. They are never short of ideas and this year’s Summer Streets Festival is going to be blessed with tales that include Bobby Bogtrotter, Fat Man Unicorn, a £3m rap competition and Gareth Bale and a turd.

On the theme of young people, I’ve volunteered to work with Live Theatre on their Live Tales programme and I helped out some young people at Centrepoint with mock interviews.

The most notable event was having my first ever play, Father’s Day, performed at The Peacock in Sunderland as part of Cranked Anvil’s Rehearsed Reading night on National Writing Day.


When I saw the calibre of the other writers, I worried slightly that my play would suffer in comparison, but the actor who played Shaun, David Foster, did a fantastic job and it has given me the confidence to put some more time into writing plays.

It was a great opportunity to test my writing and I know there are things I can improve on. I’m still awaiting anonymous feedback from the night so I’m sure I’ll find out about a lot more improvements I can make.

Whilst writing a new play is exciting, I’ve always wondered what my novels would be like on the stage or screen. With this in mind I have been messing around with adapting Idle Threats into a stage play and I have produced a short script that I have submitted to a theatre. Nothing may come of it but condensing an 80,000 word novel into a twenty minute play was a valuable lesson in editing and working within certain restrictions. I’m also looking to submit it somewhere else where the number of actors is limited further so I have to lose one of the characters. Now, that is a challenge!

I’m hoping to do a couple of guest blogs, one of them that may be of great interest to fans of my cover design history and the glorious weather has allowed me to work in my favourite office, the Roker seafront; there are few better places to work in the world.


In my determination to get Troll Life finished, I may have let my blogs slip a little, especially the popular modern etiquette blogs. There are some new ones on the horizon as well as a compilation book; hopefully out in time for Christmas.

I have a little break coming up for a change of scenery then there is the Summer Streets Festival and the Tall Ships Race on my doorstep.

I’ve managed to watch nearly every match in the World Cup, flicking between ones that clash, and the only ones I’ve missed were on Wednesday night when I was watching my play. It reminds me of the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea where I watched most matches during the day when I was meant to be writing Leg It. At least this time the matches haven’t started until the afternoon so I’ve managed to be very productive in the mornings.

Today is the first day without football for weeks, hence the reason I have time to write a blog, and I’ve even tentatively been out for a run to test my permanently injured foot.

Waiting for feedback isn’t a case of sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to hear bad news, it’s an opportunity to forget about my novel for a while.

I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to work on other things but I’m looking forward to finally getting Troll Life out there to the public.

Whether my priority after that is novel number five or a play or even a film script remains to be seen. Whatever it is, it won’t be dull.

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