The other day, someone pointed out that I am one of a very few writers who have enjoyed a degree of success with both books and screenplays. Not only that, but according to them I also hold the dubious honour of covering a range of genre which very few writers anywhere can match.
Whilst I’m not sure about any of that, it is fair to say that in a writing sense I have certainly been about a bit. Mostly, it has to be said, because I get bored easily.
However, whenever the subject of my work comes up it inevitably leads to one particular question and that is ‘which one do you enjoy working on the most?’
Whilst both have their merits, and leaving aside the simple truth that I’ll write anything for anyone who pays me, the answer is always the same. Because if I have a blank page and am left to my own devices, I will start writing a book. All day, every day. And for five very specific reasons.
It’s easier to write – That might shock a few people but the truth is that I can have far more creative fun constructing a 75,000 word novel than I can working on a 110 pages script. And if I’m having fun, I can promise you that the words will be pouring out of me as opposed to having to be dragged out. Something which not only makes it easy for me to write but which will almost certainly make for a better read once it’s finished.
It’s easier to produce – Working with publishers can be hard work sometimes but if all else fails, I always have the option of self-publishing. It might not see the shelves of Waterstone’s or WH Smiths but let’s face it, it will certainly see Amazon and if it sells and is earning, who cares? Certainly not me.
With a film, the whole process is a nightmare which can fall apart at any moment. That’s if it gets anywhere at all which to be frank, it often doesn’t.
Control – With a book, I have no restrictions on subject matter, genre or even length. Being able to write what I want, when I want and just as importantly, say what I want, is not only liberating, it makes the whole thing both more interesting and enjoyable for me. If you need any more proof of that, have a look at my backlist and you’ll see a book about farting. Case rested.
With a screenplay, once I hand it over I have no control over anything. At all.
The End Result – A book is mine. All mine. Praise or criticism are therefore personal and either enjoyed or dealt with as appropriate and I’m fine with that. A film however, is only mine if someone slags off the script even though by the time the camera’s roll, my input into the development process will have ended ages ago.
The people – For an author, publishing is a relatively solitary game and as someone who prefers his own company, that’s exactly how I like it. For a screenwriter, the writing process is part solitude, part collaboration, part chaos. This would be great if it were an industry inhabited solely by nice hard-working honest people but sadly, it isn’t. Instead, amongst the many awesome individuals I’ve worked with are far too many arseholes who, if they aren’t simple crooks, are either bullshitters or incapable of making a decision. Or both.
So there you have it. Five reasons why I’d write a book over a movie any day of the week. And with that in mind, I’m happy if not delighted to announce that work is currently well underway on my 18th book which will be my first military based thriller. However, before that, in little over a month in fact, book number 17 hits the shelves. The third book on the Billy Evans trilogy, it’s entitled In The Know and is, if I say so myself, a cracker.