**UPDATE (November 2008): CloudWorld At War is now available to buy on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com.

For those of you who are perhaps wondering why it's with a different publisher, please allow me to explain...

Towards the end of 2003, CloudWorld was accepted by Faber & Faber, the first publisher to see it. In early 2004 I sat in my editor’s office at 3 Queen Square to go through the manuscript. Her first comment surprised me. CloudWorld was a single-volume book, but she felt that its plot was rushed in places. So she suggested focusing on the first two-thirds and cutting the final third, with the intention of expanding the cut material into a full-length sequel. I was a bit startled by this. I didn’t really like the idea of “book one” (as it was suddenly known) having a cliff-hanger ending. But, thrilled to be published by Faber in the first place, I agreed. No mention was made of my one-book contract becoming a two-book contract.

I returned to Glasgow, where I was staying in a friend’s spare room in order to be able to work part-time and concentrate on my writing. Over the following year, I completed rewrites on CloudWorld. Then, after spending a few months settling into a new full-time job and finding a proper place to live, I embarked (contractless) on the sequel. For the next couple of years I rose at six every morning to write before going to work (I also wrote at weekends, of course.)

In February 2006, CloudWorld itself was published. It received widespread acclaim (REVIEWS) and was nominated for the 2007 Manchester Book Award. By August 2007, I’d completed CloudWorld At War. But in November 2007 Faber rejected it, arguing that too much time had passed since the publication of CloudWorld, which had, according to them, sold beneath expectations. I'd thought that writing a complex, imaginative novel in two years while doing a demanding job wasn't bad going, but apparently I was wrong. Exhausted and bewildered, I felt like I'd hit a brick wall.

“So what?” you may think, and in a way you’d be right. When a publisher rejects a book it isn’t personal. But if you’re the author of the book in question – and have devoted five years of your writing life to it and its predecessor – it’s personal to you. And CloudWorld At War was based on exactly the same material (plot- and character-wise) that the publisher previously accepted. So they have, to some extent, gone back on their word.

Interestingly enough, I don’t seem to be the only person in this situation. Another Faber author, Nick Green, also had the sequel to his debut YA novel, The Cat Kin, turned down last year, in spite of the fact that The Cat Kin itself has been nominated for the Bolton Children’s Book Award and the Sefton Super-Reads Book Award. And David Thorpe, whose debut novel, Hybrids, won the 2006 HarperCollins/Saga Magazine Novel Prize and the 2008 Lewisham Schools Book Award, has had its sequel rejected too. It’s all very strange.

How do you react in such circumstances? Well, after a brief mourning period, you fight back. I harbour no resentment towards Faber & Faber. They simply made a business decision. However, CloudWorld At War has been edited by an experienced literary agent – Gráinne Fox at Fletcher & Company in New York – so I feel pretty confident about still bringing it to market.

Initially I had planned to make it available online, through a website called www.lulu.com, which allows writers to offer their work as paid downloads or actual paperbacks (also available through Amazon.) However, independent publisher Kennedy & Boyd has now expressed an interest in publishing it as a print-on-demand paperback.

In the meantime, I draw consolation from the people who’ve recently e-mailed me from the UK, the United States, Canada, France, Australia and New Zealand, wanting to know how the CloudWorld story ends. I also appreciate the kind words of esteemed fellow novelists like Julie Bertagna (Exodus) and, in particular, William Nicholson (bestselling author of The Wind on Fire trilogy and Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Shadowlands and Gladiator), who, in a message of support, assured me that “…the phoenix will rise shining from the ashes!” Let’s hope so. According to my latest royalty statement, CloudWorld has sold more than 8,300 copies out of 10,359 originally printed. If only a few of those readers find it online, it’ll feel like a victory of sorts. After all, what have I got to lose?

*UPDATE (July 2008): Apologies for the delay in CloudWorld At War appearing on lulu.com. A couple of small publishers were sniffing around, but it doesn't look like anything is going to happen. I'm also committed to a month's teaching at the Scottish Universities International Summer School (in order to pay for self-publishing), so preparing classes for that (while continuing with my full-time job) is slowing things down a bit. None the less, I'm hoping the book will be available within the next month or so.










Designed by David Cunningham, Katerina Cunningham, Gavin Deas

Illustrations by David Wyatt