Once upon a time, The Sid Tillsley Chronicles looked like this…
However, it’s what’s on the inside what counts, and I wasn’t happy with what was inside. How it irked me, so.
“Remorse, for example is as undesirable in relation to our bad art as it is in relation to our bad behavior. The badness should be hunted out, acknowledged and, if possible, avoided in the future. To pore over the literary shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into the perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one’s middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth–all this is surely vain and futile.”
Aldous Huxley, Foreword of Brave New World.
Being vain and futile (sexually), I decided to ignore this advice and re-write/tart-up The Sid Tillsley Chronicles anyway.
It was a lot of work, and ultimately it may prove futile. However, I’m in a very different place to Aldous Huxley. At the time of writing the above passage, hundreds of thousands of people had already read Brave New World. He was a well-known author. I, on the other hand, have only sold a thousand novels. I’m probably not so well-known. One of my PhD supervisors can’t remember who I am. With the rewrite I had a chance to put right what once went wrong and hone my art and unleash young Sid Tillsley on a virgin market. So I took it. I don’t see The Sid Tillsley Chronicles as a piece of art; I see it more as a product. Believe me, I would love to produce a piece of art. With the chronicles, I saw a product that could be significantly improved for a market that hadn’t been exposed to something so unique (especially in the vampire genre).
So if it isn’t for the art, am I doing this to make money?
Well… no, I don’t think I am. If I was doing it for money I’d write something mainstream… but I just can’t do it.
I’d like some money. I’d like to earn lots of money from writing, but to pin hopes on that, and to turn this into a money-making scheme would likely be futile, probably not vain, but definitely stupid.
So maybe I am doing it for the art, after all, and just don’t want to admit it.
Can blasphemous prose of drunken northern doggers punching vampires in the face truly be labelled a work of art?
One thing is for certain,these are my first pieces of work and they are a platform I want to build on. Writing fiction is part of my life, and I want it to remain so. I want to write in different genres. I want to create unique stories and characters.
I want people to read my work and enjoy it.
I have two other finished pieces, a comedy-fantasy and a horror-thriller, and I’ll approach some publishers once Sid ventures out into a new world which is brave and stuff.
Firstly you’ll notice the change in covers. Originally by Helen E.H. Madden, the Fistful of Rubbers cover was a big favourite of mine. With the re-write came a change in cover artist and Patrick Currier gave the series his own unique brand.
Secondly you’ll see the name change. There’s already a Mark Jackman writing comedy with his brother Simon. The Old Liston Tales were out there before The Sid Tillsley Chronicles, and, for the life of me, I can’t remember why I didn’t pick a different name in the first place. Anyway, I’m fed up with people asking me if I “wrote that Badger thing?” and I bet the other Mark Jackman is just as annoyed when people ask him if he “wrote that dogging vampire thing?” so I’m changing my pen name (the J is for James by the way).
As for the actual prose…
The biggest criticism of the three books was the start of The Great Right Hope. In the original, I began with a serious scene (if anything containing vampires can be regarded as serious) depicting the Coalition, a council of vampires and humans, discussing the workings of the world. This put a few people off. At the time, I didn’t have the ability to write the scene, let alone open the book with it. The series is a dichotomy of serious vampires, and a misogynistic, homophobic benefit-fraudster from Middlesbrough. The latter is what people come for, so I’ve now started the book with Sid.
Most other changes have been tightening the prose, cutting unnecessary scenes and turning it into a faster-paced read. It’s amazing how quickly jokes relevant to the time fade and fall flat, so references have been removed, or changed for something that will also be out of date in a few years…
A few years of maturity have changed things, too. These books are offensive. My characters are offensive. Some, are not meant to be liked. Brian Garforth is an arse of the highest order. Sid, however, is not and it is his lack of education and want of a few extra brain cells that cause him to think and act the way he does. Some bits I got a little wrong, and it was ambiguous where the point of ridicule lay, so I’ve tweaked the odd scene, the odd sentence and hopefully I’ve got it right this time.
I’m not changing it again.
Interestingly, even though I know these are offensive books, I don’t want to offend anyone with them. If someone doesn’t like swearing, they’re not the sort of person who’s going to pick up this kind of book anyway. The book could have been set in any northern town down on its luck, but Middlesbrough won through as I spent a fair few nights there when I was at York University. Myself and two friends from Great Yarmouth lived with three lads from the ‘boro. A night in Chicago Rock Cafe earned a special place in my heart. I’ve never experienced war, but, watching the locals embark on their journeys of hedonistic revelry that night gave me an inkling as to what it is like. Conversely, I’ve never seen so much love* in one room, either. While this book parodies the homophobic views of the uneducated, it also parodies the middle-class view of Benefit Britain.
*manual sex against the speakers on the dance floor.
If you’re new to the series, I hope you enjoy the books. If you enjoy them I’d be grateful if you’d leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you’re a returning veteran, welcome back, old friend, welcome back.