Dear all, after a gestation period of approx 9 months, I’m delighted to present a bouncing baby draft. This is a strange creature, a novel-to-be. Who knows whether it will live, evolve and grow into something worth reading, or end up chucked out with some handy bathwater. Don’t worry, you don’t need to say how beautiful it is – it’s got a bit of evolving to do yet. But, it’s here, that’s the main thing. And now, I’m going to go and do something completely different…
How do you finish a book? This is definitely harder than starting a book – now I know I’m lucky that the blank page (or screen) has never held any terrors for me. If anything, the problem is not finding an idea but keeping to just one and focusing activity. No, the problem is how to finish it and I’m not talking about the pure logistical elements of making sure loose ends are tied up.
From one angle, you could say this is a nice problem to have. Over time, I’ve got to know and like my character and she’s got places to go. So I don’t want her to end up just anywhere: really, I don’t want her to end up somewhere that I wouldn’t want to end up myself.
So, how to finish her story? I am half suspecting that I don’t want to finish because then I move from the creative phase to the editing phase which, in my experience, both takes longer and is harder than the actual writing. I feel like a bit of a life coach at the moment, asking my character, well, where do you want to end up? Here’s hoping she tells me…
This writing lark is very peculiar. You actively ignore real-life, flesh and blood people to spend time with made-up, paper people. Then, there is that magic moment when the characters you have created become real and, if you are lucky, start writing their own stories and all you become is a channel for their words.
But this isn’t so strange, because we do it all the time. Sitting on trains, I’ve heard fellow travellers earnestly discussing the contestants on Love Island as if they were friends of theirs.
‘Oh no, she wouldn’t do something like that – that’s not like her at all.’
‘Well, he’s always been dodgy.’
They are basing this on a few hours of television, where the characters are portrayed in roles and wound-up to act out their parts (NB basing this on conversations like this as, shock-horror, I haven’t ever watched Love Island). So I don’t feel so bad about having conversations with the characters in my head because they feel as real as these figures on the screen.
Keep an author blog, they said. It’ll be good for your profile, they said. Well, so sorry I have left you all hanging for so long.
I have no excuse other than (at risk of whining) they didn’t say keeping a blog would be so hard. I am constantly in awe of people who manage to produce regular (in some cases, daily) posts full of book reviews, writing tips and insightful observations. I’d love to say that I have lots of observations and don’t share them but the truth is, the majority of the time, my head is so full of the normal transactions of being an adult that there are no room for grand thoughts.What I do feel is a simple delight though about how She’s Fallen has been received and particularly the comments in reviews asking for more. Again, for those who leave reviews, thank you, you make this author’s life feel more meaningful by knowing that I’ve brought someone pleasure. And that makes everything worthwhile…
And they say bank holidays are bad for productivity – ha! With the rain falling steadily (and likely to continue to do so for the rest of Easter) I am now getting done all the tasks I have not got around to doing in March. One of them is updating this blog. My excuse is that it has been a busy month, filled with good things.
First was the the joy of having two books in the wild when She’s Fallen hit the streets on the first of March. Then, on a snowy weekend, it was meeting other authors at the Essex Authors Day. The really exciting things was that, for the first time, I was on the other side of the table. In my journey to publication, I have been to so many talks by authors, publishers, agents and all: it was incredible to be the one giving the talk. And it was a great day – my favourite bit was the questions and answers, so much enthusiasm. I really hoped I helped and, at least in a small way, began the payback for all the help I’ve received on the way to publication.
Then there was a signing. Not knowing what to expect, I just resolved to enjoy it all. And really, what was there not to like? I got to spend time in a bookshop and chat to lots of people, including a couple of passing policemen. It’s hard to think of a better way to spend time.
The reviews are also coming in and I’ve been delighted with them. Some have even been asking when Robyn will be back…
*sound of champagne cork popping* My second book, She’s Fallen, launches today!
Given it is only 10 am in the morning, I should probably put the cork back in the bottle – oh, it won’t go, shame…
It is also World Book Day, which seems to grow every year. I hope kids can get to school tomorrow to show off their fancy dress, given the snow in some places but the irony is that, if you are stuck at home in bad weather, a book is one of the best things you could have.
And, given it is now out, dare I suggest you try mine? It’s called She’s Fallen and can be bought at all good bookshops – though is there really such a thing as a bad bookshop?
We are obsessed with firsts – we can all name the first person on the moon or the first four-minute mile but anyone want to hazard a guess at the second? (For the record, it was Buzz Aldrin and John Landy, respectively). Because being first is so much more impressive, we also like to subdivide achievements – looking at records of people climbing Everest shows a huge range of ‘firsts’ from the first winter climb, the first up particular routes, to people who have reached the summit with various handicaps or medical conditions. My favourite was one was the first people to get married at the top of Everest – rather unfairly, it records their names but not that of the celebrant who conducted the ceremony: I now have a wonderful vision of a priest climbing an ice wall in his cassock.
And so it is with debut authors. The difficulty of getting published adds a certain frisson to a new author – here is someone who has struggled through and therefore must be good. By the second, there is a danger of not yet having made a name for yourself but losing the novelty of being a debut.
At this point, my inner critic kicks in to say ‘stop whining’. I have the luxury of writing a series, so, for me, the challenge was about how much backstory to give, not needing to come up with a completely new idea. For me, meeting my characters again felt like seeing old friends – familiar and comfortable (even though I put them through all sorts of troubles). So, I’m delighted my second book will be launching on 1 March and, who knows, it might also get to be alongside the Queen of Crime herself…