The Sid Tillsley Chronicles: The Forging of a Fairytale

Once upon a time, The Sid Tillsley Chronicles looked like this…

books original

However, it’s what’s on the inside what counts, and I wasn’t happy with what was inside. How it irked me, so.

Remorse, for example is as undesirable in relation to our bad art as it is in relation to our bad behavior. The badness should be hunted out, acknowledged and, if possible, avoided in the future. To pore over the literary shortcomings of twenty years ago, to attempt to patch a faulty work into the perfection it missed at its first execution, to spend one’s middle age in trying to mend the artistic sins committed and bequeathed by that different person who was oneself in youth–all this is surely vain and futile.”

Aldous Huxley, Foreword of Brave New World.

Being vain and futile, I decided to ignore this advice and revamp The Sid Tillsley Chronicles.

It was a lot of work, and ultimately it may prove futile. However, I’m in a very different place to Aldous Huxley. At the time of writing the above passage, hundreds of thousands of people had already read Brave New World. He was a well-known author. I, on the other hand, had only sold a thousand novels. With the rewrite I had a chance to put right what once went wrong and hone my art and unleash young Tillsley on a virgin market. So I took it. 

The Changes…

Firstly, you’ll notice the change in cover art. Originally by Helen E.H. Madden, the Fistful of Rubbers cover was a big favourite of mine. With the re-write came a change in artist and Patrick Currier gave the series his own unique brand.

Secondly you’ll see the name change. There’s already a Mark Jackman writing comedy with his brother Simon. The Old Liston Tales were out there before The Sid Tillsley Chronicles, and, for the life of me, I can’t remember why I didn’t pick a different name in the first place. Anyway, I’m fed up with people asking me if I “wrote that Badger thing?” and I bet the other Mark Jackman is just as annoyed when people ask him if he “wrote that vampire thing?” so I changed my pen name.

As for the actual prose…

The biggest criticism of the three books was the start of The Great Right Hope. In the original, I began with a serious scene depicting the Coalition, a council of vampires and humans, discussing the workings of the world. This put a few people off. At the time, I didn’t have the ability to write the scene, let alone open the book with it. The series is a dichotomy of grave vampires, and a misogynistic, homophobic benefit-fraudster from Middlesbrough. The latter is what people come for, so I’ve started the book with Sid.

Most other changes have been tightening the prose, cutting unnecessary scenes and turning it into a faster-paced read. It’s amazing how quickly jokes relevant to the time fade and fall flat, so references have been removed, or changed for something that’ll be out of date in a few years. 

A few years of maturity have changed things, too. These books are offensive. My characters are offensive, and most aren’t meant to be liked. Brian Garforth is an arse of the highest order. Sid, however, is not, and it’s his lack of education and want of a few extra brain cells that cause him to think and act the way he does. Some bits I got a little wrong, and it was ambiguous where the point of ridicule lay, so I’ve tweaked the odd scene, the odd sentence and hopefully I’ve got it right this time. I really hope so. For the record, I’m a liberal lefty.

Anyway, I’m not changing them again.

Which is why I can never look at them again.

The book could have been set in any northern town down on its luck, but Middlesbrough won through as I spent a fair few nights there in my early twenties, and a night in Chicago Rock Cafe earned a special place in my heart. I’ve never experienced war, but, watching the locals embark on their journeys of hedonistic revelry that night gave me an inkling as to what it is like. Conversely, I’ve never seen so much love* in one room, either. While this book parodies the homophobic views of the uneducated, it also parodies the middle-class view of the uneducated. 

If you’re new to the series, I hope you enjoy the books. If you enjoy them I’d be grateful if you’d leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads. If you’re a returning veteran, welcome back, old friend, welcome back.


* drunken manual sex against the speakers on a dance floor.