Today is an unbelievably awesome day for a couple of reasons. The first is that TODAY IS THE DAY THE FURY COMES OUT!!!! I’ve been so excited about this book for so long that it feels like I’ve been waiting for decades. But the truth is that it’s only been eighteen months – almost to the day – since I typed ‘The Hated’ (as it was originally known) onto a big, blank, scary Word document.
I’m so excited about the release of The Fury, but I’m nervous too. The day you finish the first draft of a novel is the moment it’s born, I think, kicking and screaming and in need of a good clean-up; but publication day is like the first day at school. You pack it off in its little sweater and bag with its lunch box and its cheese sandwiches, and it pretends that everything is okay and that it isn’t scared, but you can feel it shivering and you can see the terror in its eyes, then you pat it on the back and watch it walk off into the big wide world and you worry that nobody will like it or people will bully it and you have to fight that overwhelming, instinctive urge to rush after it and drive it back home and keep it safe forever and ever. Ahem, anyway, it’s a scary moment!
But I have faith in The Fury. It’s different to anything I have written before, but hopefully the horror is just as fast-paced and relentless as Furnace, and the adventure is just as addictive and exhilarating as The Inventors. I know that some people won’t like it. Some people might hate it. But that’s just the nature of writing, you can’t please everyone just like you can’t make friends with everyone at school. I only hope that some people will read it and enjoy it and read it again and enjoy it even more, and think about it long after they have turned the last page, and love the characters like they love their own friends, and share the story with other people and talk about it and keep it on their bookshelf until someone else steals it and does exactly the same. Because that’s the most amazing thing you can ever hope for, as a writer, that your book makes those kinds of friends, the ones who cherish it.
And besides, the Fury isn’t exactly a small, gentle book. If anyone tries to bully it at school it will probably bite their face off!!
The other reason that today is a special day is that it was exactly five years ago today, the 5th April 2007, that my first book came out. It seems like longer, I feel like I’ve lived a whole lifetime between then and now. It’s been pretty much the most amazing ride I could ever have asked for. I remember that day like it was yesterday, going into Waterstones in Norwich (the shop isn’t even there any more, it’s a Jamie Oliver restaurant) with my eleven-year-old brother Jamie – the co-author of The Inventors – and seeing it there on the shelf, and feeling like my brain was about to explode from excitement and happiness. Being a published writer was the only thing I’d ever really wanted, since I was a kid, and it had happened! It took everything I had not to break down in sobbing fits like a loony in the middle of the shop.
I took photos of the actual day (the one above was taken a year earlier, when Jamie and I got the deal), but sadly they were lost when my old Mac died. I’ve still got the memories, though, five years’ worth. It really has been incredible – in both senses of the word. The books have introduced me to some of the most wonderful, interesting, generous people I could ever hope to meet – authors, publishing people, librarians, teachers, pupils, organisers, and the most amazing bunch of fans in the world. The books have taken me to pretty much every city in the UK, and across the seas and oceans and mountains to other countries and continents. They have opened doors to amazing experiences that will stay with me until the day I die. I know I overuse the whole ‘books are your children’ thing, but it’s so true. They’ve changed my life. And hopefully, fate-willing, they’ll be around long after I’ve gone. That’s one of the things I love most, the thought that one of my great-great-great-great grandchildren might one day be browsing in a book store and spot a dog-eared copy of The Inventors, or Furnace, or The Fury, and take it home and read it with absolutely no idea who wrote it, just love the story.
One of the things I always talk about in schools is that if you have a dream, you have to go for it. Really believe in it. Fight for it. Humans are amazing, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. But it’s so easy to be put off, to be talked out of it, to talk ourselves out of it. I’ve nearly talked myself out of it a million times, thinking I just can’t do it, that it will never happen. But I kept going, I never lost sight of that dream, and I got there. For anyone who has that dream, and who has doubts, never give up. It will happen. Just keep saying to yourself, YOU ARE AWESOME, YOU CAN DO IT! And you will.
So, five years down the line, thirty-three now instead of twenty-eight, and I still feel like a beginner. It still feels fresh, just as exciting as the first time round. With any luck there will be loads more books to come, stories that look up to their older brothers and sisters and follow in their footsteps, stories that will maybe go on to great things. Of course there are things that haven’t happened yet – the film deal, the Nobel Prize, the millions of pounds (I’m poorer now than I was when I started!!) – but there is still (hopefully!) plenty of time for all of that, and it’s nice to save some things for the future. Right now I couldn’t ask for any more, I’m so happy.
A HUGE THANKS to everyone that helped create The Fury (okay, this is where the ‘books as babies’ analogy gets a little dodgy) – especially my wonderful agent Sophie and the awesome crew at Ed Victor, my three brilliant, insightful editors Julia, Rebecca and Susila (and also Wes, in the US, I know you’re going to do amazing things with this book), my copy editor Trevor, my publicity peeps Laura and Susan, and everyone else at Faber who has worked tirelessly to make this book so gorgeous; thanks to the booksellers and librarians and bloggers and teachers who have supported me with such enthusiasm and generosity; also endless thanks to the best friends and family in the world for always being there, for always believing, I love you guys! And, of course, thanks in advance to everyone who reads The Fury! Please be nice to it on its first day at school. I really hope you enjoy it!!!!