Twelve-year-old Zak, who has an inoperable brain tumour, is with his sister and parents when their private plane is disastrously diverted. Wrecked on a remote research outpost in the Antarctic, they find themselves in an abandoned base. Then Zak’s parents disappear, and the base’s equipment starts 3D-printing nightmarish spiderlike creatures. Zak’s bizarre visions appear to suggest a link to something else – beneath the ice – which only he can understand…
It is exciting to have a new book out. But it’s also kinda scary…
by Dan Smith
‘You must be excited!’ people say as publication date approaches. ‘Not long now!’
It takes a long time to write a book. Months of putting the story together – agonising over the plot, wondering if I should write it in a different way. Would it be better in first-person? Do I need to change the setting? Is it exciting enough? Believable enough? Tense enough? Is it what my publisher is looking for? Is it what my readers want?
At this stage, no one can answer those questions for me, but eventually I settle into it, finish the first draft . . . and second draft . . . and third draft. I run through it a few times, making my own edits, then it goes to my agent and we look for parts of the story that need to change. Things I might have missed. And then it goes to my publisher for a fresh round of editing. By this time, months have passed. Maybe even a year, as in the case of BELOW ZERO.
And then it’s in covers and ready for the shelves and there’s nothing I can do to change that story. It’s set in stone forever. All I can do is hope that people will like it. For those who have read my books before, I want them to feel safe; to know that they’re going to like what they find when they open the cover. For those who have never read my books, I want them to find something they love; something that will draw them in and make them keep reading.
Like other authors, I work hard to put everything I can into my books. I want every sentence to be just so. I want the story on the page to appear as it does in my own imagination.
Now it’s time to share BELOW ZERO, to send a little piece of me out into the world, exposing myself to criticism. I desperately hope that readers will enjoy it, but know that some won’t – and we live in a time when anyone can review virtually anything, and be as kind or unkind as they want to be. It’s exhilarating to read positive reviews, not so nice to read bad ones. And it’s disappointing to see other authors receiving more attention, to see their books instead of mine piled high in bookshops.
So, yeah, it is exciting to have a new book out. But it’s also kinda scary…
Growing up, Dan Smith led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi fields of Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . Which is where some people say he still lives most of the time.
Now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two children, Dan writes books to share with both adults and children.
BELOW ZERO by Dan Smith out now in paperback (£6.99, Chicken House).
Find out more at chickenhousebooks.com and connect with Dan Smith @DanSmithAuthor