Journal logo

30 Years to Publication

I started my novel when I was a teenager!

By Susie KearleyPublished about a year ago 3 min read
(C) Susie Kearley

30 years to publication - My debut novel, Pestilence, has just been published, and if you enjoy 'end of the world' thrillers, it might be just up your street!

The story behind this book is a long one, but I'll give you the short version. When I was about 15, I discovered James Herbert, and was smitten by his books and inspired to emulate him. So at the age of 16, I started writing the first draft of a story about a deadly fungus, which would bring about the end of the world. James Herbert's Rats had made him famous, and Shaun Hutson's Slugs did pretty well too. This was my attempt at a similar idea.

I had character profiles and a few plot ideas, but most of it, I worked out as I went along. The problem was, I got stuck. I never worked out the ending. The novel got shelved for 20 years.

I'd hoped to become a full-time writer when I left school, but it was the 1990 recession and faced with an unsympathetic father, who thought I was incompetent and deluded, being a novelist was not an option. A series of shitty office jobs ensued.

20 years on, at the age of 36, I took redundancy and decided to become a freelance writer. By this time, the man in my life was much more supportive, and I was allowed to carve out a writing career over the course of a year.

I used National Novel Writing Month to finish the novel and get the ending done. I took out a lot of the horror content, deciding it would reach more readers as a thriller instead. Then it got virtually shelved again for the best part of ten years, as I concentrated on the paid journalism and photography jobs, which were much more lucrative.

Eventually I took two months off in 2019 to edit and hone the novel, getting feedback, and doing further revisions. In 2020 I submitted to agents, hoping to get a big publishing deal, but as Covid-19 struck, it turned out, everyone else was doing the same. It wasn't a good time.

So at the turn of 2021, with a collection of rejection emails and stony silences under my belt, I decided to self publish the novel that had taken over 30 years from conception to publication. This might be a record, but I doubt it.

I'm hoping to sell 1000 copies - partly to generate a decent income for all the time I've invested in the project, and partly to show dad that my ideas had potential after all! Not that he's bothered. But it would be a nice ending to a very long story, before I move on to my next project!

Get your copy!

Pestilence! What if a new drug had unintended consequences? A fungal outbreak, government corruption, scientific denial. The story begins with a medical breakthrough, a world full of hope. Before things go catastrophically wrong... Civilisation collapses. Is the end of the world inevitable?

Follow characters through a world that seems pretty normal until a slowly developing pathogen seeps in and causes chaos and calamity.


This is one of the best apocalyptic stories I have read or seen on film, I love the way it tackles the theme from start to finish and beyond. Lots of books just start after everything has gone to pot and leave lots of elements unanswered.

I like the subtle lessons about humanity that aren’t rammed down your throat and doesn’t have a woke agenda idealism of taking sides, but rather tries to show a whole picture of human nature.

It’s a clever subject but it’s written well as to not bore you with too much science that would get in the way of the story. Great read 4 stars.

book review

About the Creator

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


Susie Kearley is not accepting comments at the moment

Want to show your support? Send them a one-off tip.

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.