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ICONIC – a tale of persistence

June 21st marks the fulfilment of a dream for me. A dream I’ve had since adolescence: to see an original book of mine launched by a major publisher (and with magnificent cover art).

When I first dreamed this (as a young bloke in the early 80s) there was very little way for me to access it. Australia for the next 15 years or so would be a publishing black hole, something it was difficult to climb out of. Some extraordinary writers made it. I needed writing coaching, critique groups, the chance to develop my craft by submitting stories to magazines and collections. I had no idea how to access those things (no internet back then) and so I dabbled, but in the end had to pursue a very different vocation until I turned 40 in 2006. By then we had the interwebs down unda. I began to connect with the network I needed, with the opportunities I learned from, and began gaining traction (very slowly – I still had demanding day jobs and health setbacks to overcome).

Eventually (after multiple publishers and agents said they honestly loved my manuscripts for Black Marks and Doomsday’s Child, but couldn’t find a publisher who’d buy them), I went along the indie author route. I do not and never will regret that. Learning the back end of publishing (marketing, editing, layout, sourcing cover art, etc) has been a joy, though so often it’s taken me away from the core work of writing. But I’ve seen success (by various measures) in that field. And more importantly, I’ve enjoyed the heck out of it.

However. That dream remained. A publisher (preferably a US one) picking up an original book I’d written, and doing all that back end work on it. A major step in that direction was the permission to write two works in CKP’s Four Horsemen Universe. Huzzah: a partial realisation of my dream: a major US sci-fi publisher now had a short story and a novel with my name on the spine. But I was playing in someone else’s universe, someone else’s I.P. It was a positive milestone, an achievement. Almost the real deal…but not quite.

Meantime, I was enjoying running my own publishing ‘biz’, and enjoying continuing to build the Envoys Universe.

Then Andre Jones (aka AJ Gordon) came to me with an idea. Let’s develop our own space opera universe together, and collaborate on a novel within it. Two years later, we had that manuscript. It was our I.P. Our ideas.

Art so often imitates life, and this story mirrored our writing process/careers with two teams (two authors) traveling along on their own course until those paths collided. And these characters only survive and achieve their aims by working together and by persistence!

We wrote the best manuscript we could. We paid an editor to polish it and give us feedback. We polished it again. We submitted it to a publisher. Within a month: polite NO THANKS. So, we sent it to CKP for whom I’d written before (and where I trusted their editors and proprietor). Within two days, a warm YES PLEASE with a BUT attached.

Their message: we’re only interested in your book if you write two more.

Now THAT, as they say in the classics, is a very good problem to have.

We wanted those stories quickly (and writing the same book together had been slow-going). So we decided that we’d take the characters we’d each developed (with the aspects of this galactic empire we’d created) and write a book each (checking in with each other as we did), continuing the story but also developing it along different paths. Six months on, and we had those next two books.

The publisher’s response within two days (again) of receiving the three manuscripts was “Book One will come out on June 21, boys.” And we were punching the air.

For me: mission accomplished, dream-of-40-years achieved.

Our series is The Outer Reaches (because almost exclusively, the action happens around the peripheries of the Milky Way). I have the covers for the first two books to show you below. (Andre/AJ’s solo book cover isn’t ready as I write but that installment will arrive in October 2024).

Did I ever think about giving up on writing? Absolutely. Am I glad I didn’t? You bloody betcha I am!

I am really proud of what we’ve created here. And I hope you’ll delve deeply into all three books (and beg the publisher to commission more!)

Pete out.

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