Couple of milestones I’m going to mark on here. First up: my novel, ‘The Ritual’, is 10 years old this year.
A lot of readers continue to discover the book today and that delights me. It also makes me consider that at this stage of the game with book publication going vertical (a 4000% increase of new titles, I have read, since ‘The Ritual’ was published by Pan in 2011), that the long game of a book’s life and prospects is far longer now. So I’m chuffed that new readers are still walking into those chilly woods with Luke, Dom, Phil and Hutch, a decade after the novel first saw print.
The book was written under the working title, ‘Children of the Beast’. I wrote most of the novel in 2008 (the first draft after work at Virgin Books, between the hours of 10pm & midnight). The trade paperback was published in April 2011, the mass market in June that year.
I was without a publisher at the time (with my Dad & agent as the only other two guaranteed readers) and set myself some specific aesthetic aims. I wanted to emulate a cinematic horror experience in prose, and also aimed to write a novel that might encourage young men to read, as a way of joining the cause to counter young male sub-literacy (which is horrendous in the UK & US).
I found my way into the story by imagining the worst thing that I might find in an abandoned house, deep in a forest: I arrived at an image of a goat-thing sitting upright in a handmade wooden crib. I’m frankly amazed it appealed to anyone else.
Imaginarium adapted the novel into a film 6 years later – it was in development for 4 years, and for a couple of years before that with another company. Long game. The book also earned my first award, The August Derleth Award for Best Horror Novel from the BFS.
I’ve written a lot of other books but it’s ‘The Ritual’ that has always struck the loudest power chord with readers. On that, I had no control.
And if you don’t drop a match on your own fireworks, then who will? So here’s to ‘The Ritual’ at 10 – a story that has enjoyed a good decade & done an awful lot for me as a writer.