My 2013 – the best of times, the worst of times.

2013 was my first year as a proper published author, and what a strange, exciting, terrifying, anxious, fun year it’s been! I think Charles Dickens was onto something with his opening line from A Tale of Two Cities: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.

Sorrowline tower


Sorrowline is published! The year is off to a great start! Being published is a great feeling but also strangely anti-climatic. It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for so long that when it finally arrives it seems like just another day. The focus now seems to be on the NEXT book. 


I have a proper grown-up launch party, thanks to Andersen Press and New Writing North, in Waterstones Newcastle. The doubts floating over me last month evaporate in the excitement of the night. But I’m beginning to realise that the work is never really done. Publication is just the start.

School visitsMarch

I do the first of many school visits! I ease myself in gently by doing local schools but it’s not long before I’m travelling further afield. I begin to enjoy doing them, although I’m learning with every event!


More reviews appear online and thankfully I’m not mauled. In fact Sorrowline is very well received. I’m still glowing from this reader’s review on The Guardian website! ‘This book is a terrific, scary time-travel thriller’


Editing continues on my second book, Timesmith. I’ve chopped it down to a good fighting weight. It goes back to my publishers for the last round of notes and feedback.


I am taken to the planet Zeist to have parts of my brain reprogrammed. My left foot is accidentally replaced with an umbrella stand. We all laugh about it afterwards.

timesmith docJuly

Timesmith is finished and signed off! It’s heading off to the printers soon and it’s time I started thinking about my next book! I told you it never ends! And this is where the worries for book two being. Will people like it? Will they buy it? I’ll know by March next year.

Doctor facial sketchesAugust

Finally my work on the animation for the Doctor Who DVD of The Ice Warriors is released. It’s a bitter-sweet time as it also marks the end of my working in animation full time and a new adventure in writing. I’ve been running my own animation studio for 11 years and it’s time to move on. There’s a mix of emotions – everything from relief to anger to anticipation for the next chapter in my life. Change is often painful but necessary.  But I can’t really call myself a full-time writer just yet as I’m continuing to do mentoring and consultancy work in animation but I’m getting closer to that dream.


I attend my very first book fair, in Gothenburg, Sweden. I was sent by New Writing North as a sort of ambassador for North-East Writers. Luckily I avoid any major international incidents.


The German & Thai versions of Sorrowline are published. I’m officially an international author translated into two languages. Who would have guessed? Strange that I still don’t feel like I can call myself an author.

Timesmith & Sorrowline togetherNovember

I get my hands on a copy of my second novel, Timesmith! It’s not due out until March 2014 but it’s satisfying to be able to place it next to Sorrowline on my bookshelf. Of course there is still one more book to be written before this trilogy is complete…


Timesmith wins Mr Ripley’s Book Cover Wars! I receive my first proper fan letter! I’m starting to let myself look forward to next year. I’m letting go of the stress that’s dogged me over the last few months and I feel like I’m ending the year in a better place than I started. That’s something worth celebrating.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year, you’ve really made a huge difference! I hope you’ll stay with me during 2014! Have a brilliant New Year! x


Writer & Artist based in the North East of England.

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  1. Hi Niel,

    I remember that you had ambitions to do some writing back when we were working together at my studio. Congratulations for successfully taking the step, I know how difficult it can be to reinvent yourself. Well done.
    Is there an audio version of your book? Read by you?
    I’d love to listen to that.

    All the best wishes for 2014 to you and your family.

    1. Hi Uli. There’s no audio version yet but you can listen to the prologue here: There’s a German print edition out now as well!

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