Well... it's too late to worry about it now.

This is, of course, a big fat weasel-humping lie. It's never too late to worry about stuff. Even after it's happened you can go on worrying about it for as long as you like. Years even. OK, so it's unhealthy and you'll probably die alone and wrinkly from angst-ridden ennui and nose hemroids, but if it makes you happy, I'm not going to stand in your way*.

In this particular instance, the thing getting worried over is Book Number The Fourth. When I did finish writing this happy slice of family entertainment, I sent it off to Agent Phil, my Editoralistas, and a handful of trusted test readers. Well, when I say 'handful' I actually mean 'two', but it sounds more impressive if I kid on that I have an army of experts at my disposal, picking their way through the manuscript in much the same way an oxpicker bird rummages its way through a Cape buffalo, feasting on little parasitic goody-bags. Mmm, they go 'pop' when you chew them.

But handful of reader number one liked the book. This is what is known as a result. Handful of reader number two... well, I heard nothing back for ages, so fearing the worst I got in touch and asked outright: was it a sack of festering armpit warts?

It turns out that handful of reader number two couldn't finish the thing. It gave them the galloping nightmares. And this is a reader who doesn't scare easily. This is a reader who writes some pretty damn visceral stuff. But this is a reader who couldn't finish FLESH HOUSE.

One reaction would be to say, "Cool, this book is so frightening it gives people nightmares!" After all, what lies at the sticky nougaty centre of Book Number The Fourth is some pretty scary stuff. It's meant to be. I wrote it that way on purpose. But what if I've overstepped the mark here? What if I've drifted out of the cosy land of cuddly crime and wandered across the border into HORRORLAND -- where they kick you in the testicles before checking your passport?

Just between the two of us, I do actually fancy writing a proper horror story at some point, but this wasn't meant to be it. This was supposed to be a Serial Killer Thriller Chiller. What if I've gone too far?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the nub of today's worrying.

* Though I may dance on your grave if I've got time. Honestly, my dance card's filling up pretty quickly these days with the names of people who's burial plot I've got to dance upon when they finally turn up their tootsies and stop being a skidmark on the Y-fronts of life.

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