A faint singing, half heard

1 11 2015

It wasn’t clear. High pitched, likely children. Girls perhaps? More than one, maybe three. Voices raised hesitantly. Learning a new song, practising?

He walked towards the noise, hoping for clarity but he knew clarity in this tiny mystery would bring no peace, no resolution. 

It was children. He could see them through the bay window, through the gap in the curtains struggling to keep out the darkness, to hold in the warmth of family. He would twitch them if his hand could but pass through the glass. Twitch them  as if a secret watcher standing guard on a lonely residential street. But he was the interloper here and onwards he must go

The piano they’d been standing about in their innocence had triggered a memory. A conversation so long ago. Where she’d gone as a child to find peace. 

Perhaps, just perhaps? 

He turned his face from the warmth and let the cold moonlight caress him. It was as he deserved. 

He searched the rooftop silhouette for God and set his course to his house.  





Sequel threads – lay the groundwork early

18 08 2013

Unless you are setting out on a saga of such length that you know it will take three tomes to get it finished then you are writing a one-off. You are pouring your heart and soul into this book, this tale. Giving life to the concept which came to you over a bowl of cornflakes or perhaps was years in gestation. It is a story, a one-off.

Now you’ve nearly written it, your mind has to flick forwards to life-after-novel. What next? You’ve spent so long with these characters, this situation, you must start thinking about whether you could write some more about them. The Series is born.

Before you finish your first novel you therefore should be looking for seeds to plant. Loose little threads you can pick up and develop and turn into something new. If you don’t leave these pointers and plan them out, even if not in great detail, then you will find yourself having to scratch around for a sequel.

Why give yourself the angst?

Just add a sentence or two about your hero’s mysterious sister or something deeply significant in the setting’s past. Think about which bits of your story you like most, which people have the most interesting lives you have created. 

Your editor will probably also give you some pointers but one way to help get that editor is to show you are savvy and aware of the benefits of having a customer base already bought in to your characters, already emotionally invested.

So leave a loose thread, weave a flaw in the pattern, knit one, pearl one, drop one.

Then you can enjoy finishing off your book and start to leave hints in your own blogs and on your website about where your heroine is going to next.  Give your readers an inch and they will make up the mile themselves.





First books – how autobiographical are they?

16 08 2013

First books are autobiographical.

This is something I have always known, both intellectually and anecdotally. The proof sits on the shelves of any bookseller. First novels are where authors pour their naked souls only to edit and rewrite to take some bits back, hide themselves away again, disguise and disfigure to bring new heroes and villains to life.

I have often wondered if I re-read the first novels of each of my series, would I see different facets of the creative mind in each heroine. Does Mrs Vintner hide more darkness than Penny B? Will Mischa give people a view of my lightness of spirit at times?

Or…

Or is the first novel which no-one sees the one where you are most naked? We all have that first book – it may not be finished – it may never have fully left your mind– but we authors all have the first embarrassing secret text where we gave too much and could not edit it enough to hide our true selves from the readers

To quote some advice given in my latest work:

“This is your first novel. There are always autobiographical elements. Don’t worry about it, there has to be. But if you don’t give Mischa her own face, her own voice, she will assume the readers know her as well as you know yourself. You, the writer, are just recording her actions, her thoughts – not your own – no matter how similar you might think she is.”





A Writer’s Retirement – the promised land?

14 08 2013

You don’t retire on book one. Or two, three or four. In fact, if you’ve got four over the line you don’t retire at all – the ideas keep coming, the books keep coming. Life is retirement because you are doing what you love to do. And loving what you do is what counts in life.

I knew a man once. He enjoyed his work. Loved it. Spent every waking hour he could at it. I used to have a job and when the working day was over then my commitment to it ended. He said to me that if you don’t love your job, don’t do it. It is where you spend most of your waking hours so if you don’t like it, don’t love it, just don’t do it.

Nice to have the choice, I thought!

But as time passes I see his point. I love what I do and who I do it with, for, about. Love it.

Would I stop? Only if I was forced to by circumstance, failing health or policy intervention. Luckily, I don’t think I will ever give cause for the constabulary to pay me much attention.  Then again, I do like to take the odd risk.

If retirement was forced upon me by the walls of a prison could I continue writing? Would I find sufficient raw material to shape and mould? Would my publisher still talk to me or would a new pseudonym have to come to life?

A new one? Does that mean I have one already?  JK has a lot to answer for, bringing the subject to the top of people’s minds!