I still call myself Australian, but London’s been my home for over a decade. This great city is definitely where my heart is. At the moment I’m glued to BBC News, hoping that the crazy EU referendum doesn’t force me to leave. If it does, it’s kind of my own fault.
Back in 2012, after seven years living in London, I quit my office job, rented out my flat, jumped on a plane and left the UK. It was planned, but it wasn’t permanent. I was scared, but I was also excited. I had no idea when I would be returning, but I planned to someday.
I was going to become a writer.
I’d recently self-published my first novel, Enchantress. Initial feedback was good, sales were decent, and it was time to give my writing dream a real shot. I’d always known I would have to write more than one book if I wanted to earn a living from writing, but I also knew that there was no way I could live in an expensive city like London on the few hundred pounds a month I was making.
It took me three years to write Enchantress around a day job. I needed to write full time. So I went to a place I’d been to on holiday and really liked the feel of. I went to Mexico.
And it worked.
In a coastal town near Cancun, undistracted by work, friends, or family, I wrote my second book over three months, rather than three years, and self-published that also. Sales grew. Reviews were glowing. But I couldn’t stay in Mexico forever so I needed a new place to write.
Trawling the web with an open mind, I found a cheap apartment in Austria, a place where I could still visit London if I needed to. I moved there and wrote and self-published a third book. My book sales doubled, every month, for six consecutive months. I was basically on a strange kind of working holiday, being inspired by new places, moving on every three months, writing, designing covers, and doing the odd bit of promotion.
After Austria I moved to Malta and started work on the fourth book. I realized I was making enough to actually live off, not in London maybe but certainly in Europe. That’s when I got “the call”.
A British editor at 47North, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Amazon Publishing, liked my books and wanted to know if I was interested in signing with them. I kept pinching myself. The dream was becoming a reality.
I signed my four books over to 47North, and with a major publisher behind me, everything changed. Sales grew exponentially, and then I realised something.
I was able to return home to London.
I left Malta and I now live in my North London home again, the same flat that I left behind. I’ve just published my fifth novel, Golden Age, the first in a new series.
But now Brexit could force me to leave.
It’s difficult for an Australian to live in the UK, so I’ve always been able to live in London because of citizenship granted by Lithuanian heritage. My Australian wife and I were married in the UK, and we bought our first property together here. My publisher is based here, along with my career. But we aren’t yet eligible to become British, because of that time spent outside the country getting my writing career started.
If Britain leaves the EU, then maybe I can’t live here any more as a European. To fulfill a dream, I might have lost my home.
If there’s one saving grace, it’s this. Europeans can’t vote in the EU Referendum. But the funny thing is, Commonwealth citizens resident in the UK can. So I’m in the bizarre position of being able to vote on whether Britain leaves the UK, and potentially forces me to find another home.
I wonder what I’ll be voting?
Fantasy author James Maxwell recently ranked in the top 5 bestselling authors on Amazon worldwide. ‘Golden Age’ is the first book in his highly anticipated new fantasy adventure series, ‘The Shifting Tides’, based on the history and mythology of the ancient world. Initially self-published, in his first year James sold 50,000 copies of his books and then had a phone call out of the blue from 47North, the Fantasy/SciFi imprint of Amazon Publishing. And the rest, as they say, is history.
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