Swainston Breaks from Writing

Acclaimed fantasy writer Steph Swainston will give up the writing grind and retrain as a chemistry teacher reports The Independent. The author of The Year of Our War, No Present Like Time and The Modern World, and Above the Snowline has surprised her publisher, Gollancz, by asking out of a two-book deal:

Swainston decided partway through a two-book deal that she didn’t want to carry on, and has instructed her agent to negotiate her way out of the contract. The advice to those dreaming of packing in the nine-to-five to write books, it seems, is be careful what you wish for.

“There’s just too much stress on authors,” says the 37-year-old Swainston. She lives near Reading now, but grew up in West Yorkshire and she hasn’t lost her gentle accent. “The business model seems to be that publishers want a book a year. I wanted to spend time on my novels, but that isn’t economically viable.”

Perhaps the gestation period of Swainston’s first novel in her Castle cycle, The Year of Our War, spoiled her. It was published in 2004 but she had been concocting stories about its imaginary world, the Fourlands, since childhood.

Swainston is quoted about interacting with fandom, particularly via the internet: 

“I don’t have a problem with fandom,” she says. “But I don’t think fans realise the pressure they put on authors. The very vocal ones can change an author’s next book, even an author’s career, by what they say on the internet. And writers are expected to engage and respond.” She pauses. “The internet is poison to authors.”

Despite her new career plan, Swainston will honor her commitment to be a guest of honor at the 2012 Eastercon.

[Thanks to James Bacon for the story.]