Stuart Hill stops by our blog
Today marks the publication of a brand-new edition of Stuart Hill's classic novel The Cry of the Icemark! Stuart stopped by the blog to tell us about his journey from aspiring writer to award-winning published author ...
The idea for The Cry of the Icemark first came to me when I was on holiday. It was a hot summer’s day and I was walking along a harbour wall looking out to sea and getting thoroughly sunburned. So of course, I had to write about a country that lay far, far to the north and spent most of its year under a blanket of ice and snow!
I’d spent over thirty years writing books and failing to get them published and so I’d finally decided to stop trying. Before I closed the lid on my laptop I thought I’d write one more just for me and in it I’d include everything that I loved and enjoyed. So began a story that included werewolves, vampires, ghosts, giant talking snow leopards and a fighting people led by a huge red bearded king and his warrior daughter who would fight against, and eventually defeat, the most powerful empire in the world.
I loved every minute of the time I spent writing it, but when the last war cry had faded to a distant echo, and Grishmak Blood-Drinker the werewolf king had ripped the head of the last enemy, I suddenly realised I wanted it to be read by somebody other than me. So I gave some dog-eared and very badly printed copies to my friends at work, and after they’d all told me that they loved it, much to my delight, I began to wonder if I should send it to a publisher.
This was difficult, as I’ve already said I’d spent many years trying to get published and I wasn’t at all sure that I wanted to be rejected yet again. But in the end I decided to give it one last try. At the time I worked in Waterstones as an ordinary bookseller, so I studied the shelves until I found a publisher who created books that I loved reading and which looked beautiful. The company had the wonderfully quirky name of Chicken House, and that decided me. I packed up the manuscript in a padded envelope (yes, this was before authors sent work via their computer) and then tried not to spend all my time waiting for a reply.
But then one Wednesday night, at twenty past eight the phone rang. I picked up the receiver and a voice said: ‘Hello, my name’s Barry Cunningham, and I’d like to publish your book.’ By this time it was thirty-one years since I’d first sat down at the age of sixteen and started to write my first ever novel, and now at long last somebody wanted to publish my work!!! Clare, my partner, assures me that I didn’t actually faint, but I think I came close to it. I couldn’t say ‘YES PLEASE’ quickly enough, and so began the first steps of an incredible journey that I’d only ever dreamed about before the phone had rung …
Follow Stuart on Twitter: @stuarthillauth