Hi everyone. I wanted to give you a quick update on my progress with the new AUTUMN novels. They’re coming along nicely, but I’ve had a couple of major interruptions since I announced them earlier this year (namely the onset of a global pandemic swiftly followed by a heart attack), and it’s become clear that I’m not going to make the October release I’d originally scheduled for AUTUMN: DAWN. Apologies.
I’m hoping that AUTUMN: DAWN will now be released in April 2021, with the other books in the new trilogy – INFERNO and EXODUS – following in quick succession. It’s been an absolute blast returning to the world of AUTUMN after nearly a decade away, and though the new books will be very different on a number of levels, the same bleak tone and the overwhelming scale of the apocalypse feels just as it did when I started writing the first book back in 1997. If you’ve not read the original books, you can find a huge amount of information and stacks of free AUTUMN short stories at www.lastoftheliving.net.
When the lockdown began, I promised visitors to this site more regular updates. Things started well, and I gave away a load of audiobooks and ebooks and recommended a decent short film. And then it all came to an abrupt halt. I wanted to write a brief post to explain my sudden absence, and to thank the people who’ve helped me through it.
Two weeks ago today, I had a heart attack.
It came out of the blue. My dad suffered years of heart-related problems at the end of his life, and I was determined my life would take a different route. I did everything I should – I sorted out my diet to reduce my cholesterol and lost weight, I exercised several times a week, I took steps to sort out my high blood pressure… At 8:00am on Tuesday 14 April, I can honestly say I felt in better shape than I ever had. Ten minutes later, though, it was a very different story.
I’ll cut to the chase. My family are incredible, and our NHS is second-to-none. Within an hour or so of suffering the attack, I was in hospital and undergoing treatment. Within three hours I was sitting up in bed in the coronary care unit of the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham, feeling well enough to be able to send my wife and kids the picture below.
I’m doing well now, all things considered. Because of the quick response time, there’s barely any damage to my heart, and I’m hopeful that within a few months I’ll be back to normal (whatever normal is these days). But there’s no question that this has been a life-changing experience. I was very fortunate, but when something like this happens, it’s easy to think ‘what if…?’. Things could have been very, very different. The outcome could have been much, much, much worse.
So I just wanted to let you know I’m still around and I’ll be back at work soon. The real purpose of this post, however, is to publicly thank some folks. Firstly, to my wonderful wife Lisa and my amazing kids. I’m a very lucky man. I put you all through hell that morning, and I’m sorry. Thank you from the bottom of my (now improved) heart for your love and support. I pride myself on usually being able to string a few words together, but I could never express how much I love you all. Also, to my extended family and friends – I will never forget the outpouring of emotion and the deluge of good wishes I’ve had from so many folks. It’s enough to bring a tear to this grumpy old bugger’s eye. Actually, who the hell am I kidding? I’ve been reduced to tears on many occasions since my ‘mishap’ (as my youngest daughter Zoe has labelled it).
I also want to pay tribute to everyone at the QE hospital, and to the NHS as a whole. I received incredible care, delivered at astonishing speed. In normal circumstances that would be remarkable enough, but I had a heart attack at the peak of the most serious and wide-reaching health crisis in living memory. I am simply in awe of the NHS and will be forever grateful for the treatment I received.
So there you go. It’s been a tricky couple of weeks. If my 2020 was a novel, no one would publish it because it would be too far-fetched! In all seriousness, though, wherever you are, please give your loved ones a hug and also show your appreciation for the many thousands of healthcare workers keeping us all safe and well at this unprecedented time.