The Heart project FAQ

The Heart FAQ


What is Heart?

Heart is a novel I wrote at the back-end of the 1990s. It was published by Razorblade Press in 2002. It was my first published novel, and because of that, I’m very fond of it.


What’s Heart about?

Heart is not science fiction. It is, if you wanted a label, urban fantasy, but it’s urban fantasy long before that genre was about sassy vampires and sex. The story deals with myth, specifically British myths, and tends to deal with it in a particularly British way: messy, dirty, understated. There are moments which are really very grim: it’s been likened to a crime thriller with fantasy/horror elements, and probably for good reasons.


Who are the characters?

We have Gideon Smith, a man who doesn’t fit his job – accountancy – at all well. He is an ordinary decent pagan, lives for the weekend, plays rugby, doesn’t think very deeply about anything at all. Did I mention that he was decent? Being decent won’t be enough to survive the oncoming storm.

Then there’s Torsten Neubauer, a man who fits his job – policeman – extraordinarily well. He’s brilliant, tenacious and honest, and thinks too deeply about almost everything. But he’s a German in Britain in the 1980s, an outsider in almost every way. Being brilliant won’t be enough, either.


What’s ‘The Heart project’ about?

When Heart was first published, it was with a small, independent publisher. The print run was necessarily low, and it didn’t get widely distributed. Of course, those were the days before the ebook revolution, the end-point of which is still undetermined. So ten years later on, I decided that Heart deserved a wider readership.


How are you going to achieve that?

Two ways: firstly, by making the book available in printed form through a print-on-demand publisher. I’ve chosen Lulu – the quality of the product is really very good, and the pricing is very reasonable. They can print from different locations, which cuts down on currency charges and shipping costs. Also, I don’t have to hold stock: each book is printed individually, and it never has to go out of print again.

Here are pictures of the books. There is a trade-sized paperback, and the hardback especially is a thing of beauty and wonder.

Secondly, by giving away the ebook versions. Three different formats (.pdf, .epub and .mobi) are available for downloading under a Creative Commons licence from my website. You can download them, for free, and even distribute them yourself as long as you uphold the conditions of the Creative Commons licence.


Is Heart just another self-published book?

Yes, in the sense that I’ve republished it myself. No, in the sense that it went through all the stages of regular publishing first: most importantly, accepted for publication by a publisher, edited, and professionally proof-read. This is the reissue of the original text, with a new cover (the original cover was by artist Chris Nurse, which was awesome).


Can I download a few chapters to see if I like it?

You can download the whole book, for nothing. Read the first few chapters, or read the whole book – it’s up to you.


Are you hoping to make any money out of this?

I make a small amount for each hardcopy that I sell through Lulu. The ebooks are free: there is a donation button (works through Paypal) on the download page if you want to show your appreciation in the traditional way. It’s part of the project, to see how many people will donate, and how much.


Is Heart only available in English?

Yes. Though there is some German inside, because Neubauer is German. If you would like to translate Heart into another language, then please contact me.


Seriously, why are you doing this?

Several reasons. 2012 wasn’t going to see a new book by me, it’s the 10th anniversary of Heart’s first publication, some copies of Heart were going on ebay for stupid prices, I want people to read it, I’m interested in how ebooks work and get distributed, I’m interested in how print-on-demand publishers have evolved and become part of the landscape. But most of all because I’m a really very curious person, who’s willing to take wild and reckless decisions just to see what happens.

If I was thirty years younger, I’d say I was doing it for the lulz.


Will you tell us what happens?

Yes. I’m booked at Greenbelt 2012 to talk about this, amongst other things, but there’ll be interim reports and stuff appearing at hopefully regular intervals on the website’s blog and on Facebook.