Sunday, 10 July 2011

Steph Swainston to leave writing

Author Steph Swainston, the writer of the Castle series of weird fantasy novels (The Year of Our War, No Present Like Time, The Modern World and Above the Snowline), has announced in an interview with The Independent that she is to quit writing novels.

According to Swainston, she has become tired of the demands of writing one novel a year and the amount of self-marketing that a modern writer is expected to do via the Internet. She has also expressed a desire for a more social job, and is looking into becoming a chemistry teacher. Her desire to give up writing was so strong that she has negotiated an early end to her contract with Gollancz.

The news is likely to be a surprise to many. Swainston is one of the more critically-acclaimed authors to emerge in the last decade, and her admirers include Chine Mieville and, slightly randomly, Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran. I've only read her first novel, but found it to be enjoyable in its strangeness.

Hopefully we'll see more books from her one day, but for the time being this is regrettable news.

UPDATE: Apparently Ms. Swainston is planning to continue the Castle series eventually, but at her own writing pace.


Anonymous said...

Hmm, as someone who's only once delivered a book in a year and does very limited online marketing (most of my blog engagement coming from just keeping up with the genre news) I find that a bit odd. I expect it's more of a general dissatisfaction with the writing life than specific constraints, authors going about it in a whole range of differing ways.

It is an unsocial job though and that's one of the things I find hardest about it, wages aside. If I sold a truck-load more books I wouldn't give up my two-day-a-week job, or if I would it would be for something that requires more human contact. Left to your own devices, most people will fall into a pit of depression and unproductiveness (if that's a word?) writers are just more prone to it... Giving up a contract entirely seems drastic when there's a fair bit of rebalancing you can try first.

Meytal Radzinski said...

You know, this is a pretty interesting reasoning for "quitting" writing. While the phrasing of this author's announcement may be a little strong (and weird - how can someone quit writing?), I think that the sentiment is worth noting - that the pressure of writing for this modern world is serious, difficult stuff. Writers are put in the position of satisfying their fans, while their own writing preferences (maybe taking a few years off between books) are set aside, in favor of further profit. I'm not sure I fully agree with Swainston's approach, but I do think there's something to this announcement...

Unknown said...

I don't care for her novels but it is a huge loss to the genre as she is a strong female voice.

Anonymous said...

I get where she is coming from, but in the current economy we have now now (particulary in the US), being a teacher is the LAST job I would want. Sure the life of a writer is at times depressing and gloomy, but that's why authors keep track and need to keep track on how many hours they spent writing each day. Sure, she might not like the whole 'a book a year' type thing, but look at how many readers that had to wait near a DECADE to get a book from their favorite author. At best it would be a 2-3 year wait. Like lloyd said, rebalancing could have been a far better option. In an economic situation that's as messed up as it is, it kinda bewilders me that she would think highly of being a teacher. Good luck trying not to get fired in less than 6 months!