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Guest Blog - World Book Day

5 March 2020

Have you ever wondered how you become a published author? Our guest blogger Lex H Jones shares his experiences with us to celebrate World Book Day 2020

Lex H Jones

I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write for pleasure. I think it’s a thing that I’ve always done, and it comes from a love of stories. Even before my brain was old enough that I could properly put physical pen to physical paper, I used to make up stories. Everything was a potential for a story. If I was playing with action figures, rather than just bashing them together, there’d be a reason for it. A story, character motives, a sequence of events that led to the bashing together. If I was in the schoolyard playing chasing games, in my imagination both the chasers and the runners would be characters in some setting where there was a reason for the game. Some were the goodies; some were the baddies. To not have a narrative in any form to my games just seemed odd, like something was missing. It’s why I never really got into sport (I suppose a case could be made for Wrestling, but I could never quite get over the bad acting and campness of it all). As I got older, I did develop a fondness for playing sports and partaking in physical activity that I still have, but the watching of sport was just something that never managed to appeal to me (and still doesn’t).

When I got old enough to start telling stories via the more traditional medium of writing them down, I started straight away. I couldn’t tell you the first thing I wrote, as I have no idea. It was probably something utilising existing characters in a new setting, as I know it was some time before I started to create my own worlds. I was content to play in the worlds of others whilst I cut my teeth. I suppose you’d now call that fanfiction, but I was born in the 1980s and fanfiction blogs and such weren’t really a thing in my formative years. I’m part of the last generation to grow up pre-internet, which puts me in that awkward position of both enjoying modern advances in technological communication, whilst also being nostalgic for a quieter time when it didn’t exist. But I digress.

I first started to try out my own creation of worlds in my teenage years. Not for any purpose. I don’t think I even let anybody read the stories that I wrote. It was as though I was practicing for a ‘big game’ that might never even happen. I continued writing into my twenties, and it was around this time that I actually started letting people read my work. Just friends and family, nothing beyond that. I’m not going to sit here and write that the response was amazing, because of course it was. However much you ask for honest feedback, you’d have to be surrounded by some shitty friends and family if they’d actually give you a heavy critique of your work. But beyond the fluff comments, the pointless niceness of such feedback, I started to see that people genuinely did like my work. They were asking to read more of it. For the stories I’d written that were part of a series, they were genuinely chasing me up for the next one. However ropey the writing itself may have been at that point, their interest in the story clearly wasn’t a faked pleasantry.

That interest evidently convinced me to keep going, because I did. I wrote several manuscripts, and serialisations of episodic stories which I might yet return to one day. All of this was practice, though. I never thought that anything I was writing was good enough for people to actually pay money for, or for a company to actually spend money to publish. I’m not one of those overly confident types who immediately thinks anything they put down on paper is instantly worthy of everybody’s attention. Confidence is great, but when I see these newbie writers on Twitter, lamenting that their first-ever manuscript hasn’t yet earned them a multi-million-dollar publishing deal….my eyes tend to roll somewhat backwards into my skull. Anyway, I eventually did seek out a publisher for my work, once I’d written something that I thought deserved one. I won’t detail the ins and outs and trials and tribulations of this process, but several years later, I landed a publisher and my first book ‘Nick and Abe’ (a literary fiction fantasy that tells the story of God and the Devil spending a year on Earth as mortal men) was published in 2016.

In the years that followed, I’ve somehow settled myself into the Horror fiction community as somebody whose short stories are now featured in about a dozen books or more, I write articles for a few websites, I’m a regular guest on horror-themed podcasts, and 2019 saw the release of both my first children’s book and my first crime novel. This year will see the publication of my first ever solo collection of short horror stories, and the first in a series of Occult Detective novels that I’ve been working on for some time. The specifics of how I went from the teenager writing for fun in North Sheffield, to a writer whose work is featured in books with Clive Barker…is complicated and boring. I’d love to weave some magical yarn about that one chance I took which led to something great, but in reality, it rarely works like that. The truth is I just took advantage of opportunities that sounded alright at the time, said yes to a few things and no to others. Some things worked out well and turned out to be good decisions, others didn’t. The writing world isn’t all that different to any other aspect of life in that respect.

Library of books

As you’ve probably picked up from this so far, I don’t write in one particular genre. If I have a story I want to tell, I’ll just tell it, and worry about a genre later. If I already have an interested publisher, then I might even let them worry about what genre it fits into. Not everything fits into a neat little box, nor should you try and force it to. When it comes to horror, my personal style is to be somewhat subtle and old-school. I like all forms of horror, in both film and literature, but when it comes to writing my own I stay away from hard-core guts and gore. Nothing wrong with it, and I’ve certainly read a lot of it, I just won’t care to write it myself. The haunted house, the foggy marshlands, the creepy old woods or forgotten churchyard….that’s where I like to play. Not some maniac’s basement with a collection of meat hooks.

So which of my work would I recommend diving into? Well I suppose that depends what you like. All of my books are available in traditional format, some hardback and some paper, as well as e-books. If you’re into crime mysteries, I’d recommend ‘The Other Side of the Mirror’, which is also available as an audiobook. If you like an existential literary fantasy, then ‘Nick and Abe’ might be for you. Or if you prefer a lighter read, my children’s book ‘The Old One and The Sea’ is an illustrated introduction to the works of H.P Lovecraft, the artwork for which was also done by a Sheffield artist. If you’re more of an outright horror person, then I’d recommend any of the anthologies I’m featured in, because quite frankly there’s much better stories in there than mine. All of my work can be found via Waterstones or Amazon, and if you happen to attend any Horror conventions in the Yorkshire area in the future then perhaps I’ll even see you there.

 

Biography

Lex H Jones is a British author, horror fan and rock music enthusiast who lives in Sheffield, North England.

He has written articles for premier horror websites the ‘Gingernuts of Horror’ and the ‘Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog’ on various subjects covering books, films, videogames and music.

Lex’s noir crime novel “The Other Side of the Mirror” was published in 2019, with his first published novel “Nick and Abe”, a literary fantasy about God and the Devil spending a year on earth as mortal men, published in 2016. His latest release is “The Old One and The Sea”, released 1st November 2019, which is a children’s weird fiction book centred around the reimagining of H.P. Lovecraft’s mythos. Lex also has a growing number of short horror stories published in collections alongside such authors as Graham Masterton, Clive Barker and Adam Neville. He is due to release his first solo collection of short ghost stories, titled “Whistling Past The Graveyard” and an occult detective novel titled “The Final Casebook of Mortimer Grimm” in 2020.

When not working on his own writing Lex also contributes to the proofing and editing process for other authors.

His official Facebook page is:

www.facebook.com/LexHJones

Amazon author page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lex-H-Jones/e/B008HSH9BA

https://www.amazon.com/Lex-H-Jones/e/B008HSH9BA/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Twitter:

@LexHJones

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