2020 is Over!

Well, hasn’t 2020 been one heck of a year? Back in January I had no idea that a pandemic was on it’s way, that I would find myself in lockdown, twice, that schools would start cancelling speaking gigs and that I’d have to learn to switch over to virtual presentations. It was challenging, both on a creative and personal level. So yeah… one heck of a year.

But life goes on. And so does writing.

The year kicked off with an essay in You On Target (ed, Christopher Bryant), a collection of writings about the old Target Books Doctor Who novelisations. My piece was about Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth by Terrance Dicks — my fave Who writer and my fave Who book. And after a very long publishing delay (the essay was written years ago), it was lovely to finally see You On Target in print.

Next up, March saw the relaunch of my Gamers trilogy, with new covers and titles. This happened just before Melbourne was plunged into its first lockdown, so I actually managed to have a physical launch with actual people in attendance. Yay! The Gamers books were my first novels, written for 13-year-old me, so it was lovely to welcome them back.

I only had one new book this year, The Human Body Survival Guide, which hit the shelves in September, right in the middle of Melbourne’s second lockdown. Continuing my foray into commercial non-fiction, this was the follow-up to The Australia Survival Guide, which came out in 2019. (And yes, there will be a third!) With no chance of doing any in-person promotion, I put more effort into online publicity, with interviews and trailers.

I was very honoured to make it onto the shortlist for this year’s Scribe Awards, which are for media tie-in writing. “Pure History” from Lethbridge-Stewart, The Havoc Files: The Laughing Gnome (Candy Jar Books, 2019) was on the list for Short Fiction. It didn’t win, but simply having it on the list with the work of authors I admire was pretty cool.

The pandemic really cut into my speaking gigs this year. I did manage to get to some in the early part of the year, including the Voices on the Coast festival. But as the pandemic hit, LOTS were cancelled. But some schools and libraries took a chance on virtual presentations. And as the year wore on, with little expectation of the pandemic allowing us out and about, more and more schools/libraries began to book me for virtual visits. So here are the final stats…

  • Schools: 1 in person + 19 virtual = 20
  • Universities: 1 virtual
  • Libraries: 1 in person + 1 virtual = 2
  • Festival/Conferences: 1 in person + 4 virtual = 5
  • Bookshops: 2 in person
  • Other: 4 virtual

In terms of individual sessions: 16 in person + 62 live virtual + 8 pre-recorded sessions = 70

Less than half the 149 I had in 2019.

During the lockdowns, I made lots of videos. Aside from the three trailers for The Human Body Survival Guide and a new trailer for the Gamers books, I made nine reading vids, two drawing vids and one unboxing vid. It was the opportunity to learn a few new techniques, including green screen. If you’re interested, all these videos are collected here.

Let’s see… what else happened? I baked A LOT of bread and cakes during lockdown. I took up drawing, something I haven’t really done since I was a kid. I’m not very good at it, but I’ve been enjoying it immensely. I launched a new website that was put together for me by Nicki from Mara Communications. (BTW… if you’re after a website, I can HIGHLY RECOMMEND Nicki. She was a joy to work with, and the results speak for themselves.) And, along with lots of other authors, I celebrated the 80th Anniversary of Puffin Books.

With a vaccine on the way, I’m hoping 2021 sees a return to some sort of semblance of normalcy. Certainly, I already have lots of in-person speaking gigs booked… and my fingers are crossed that these will all go ahead.

I’m currently working on the next book for the Survival Guide series and will be finishing that up in the first few months of the year. I’m also awaiting edits on my book in the Lethbridge-Stewart Doctor Who spinoff range. And I’ve got another tie-in novel lined up… but more on that later.

All up, I’m feeling pretty positive about what the future holds. Bring it on!

For now, all that remains is for me to wish you all a Very Happy New Year!