It is almost exactly a year since I published my first book. In fact, trawling back through my diary, I discover that the paperback copies first appeared on Amazon on 31st March, and the Kindle version became available on 4th April.
Which also means that my computer must be a year old, too, since I had to purchase a new one in order to get the script to load, I seem to remember.
What a lot I had to learn to get that all to happen. It took me a full year to edit the original, learn how to format it, decide on printing options, create a cover, gain permissions …. I could go on, but I have before and this blog isn’t meant to be about old stories.
When I finished writing the first book – now just over two years ago – I remember after all the exhilaration had died down somewhat, feeling rather bereft. I missed my characters. I was used to paying them a daily visit, discovering what they were up to, and wondering where they would take me next.
It took about a week, I think, before I just had to pick up my pen and start the next book. And, as before, I wanted to be inspired by a crime at the centre of the novel that was important to me. The first book is based on a series of real events, that have never received the publicity they deserve, and it wasn’t hard to get my characters caught up in the search for the truth on what turned out to be an international scale.
I liked this way of creating a story, and decided at that point that I would aim to write a series of books utilising the same ploy. My two DI’s would find themselves involved in international conspiracies that thoroughly mattered, and would find out along the way why the issues were so important.
So, I began to write the new story with more than a vague idea of what real events I would be using at the hub of the telling, but only a very hazy idea of how I would get to the heart of the matter, and what the actual crime would be. I was pretty sure they would tell me what I needed to know as we journeyed together. It would then be up to me to do the research.
There were several things I hadn’t banked on. Initially I had expected – now that I knew how to do it – to knock off an entire novel in the following six months or so. Then, once it had taken me a further twelve months to bring the first book to published fruition – again, now that I knew how to do it – I revised the target to six months after publishing the first.
I am disturbed to find that it is only now, approximately two years since I began writing the new one, that I am drawing to a close. The final chapters are looming.
What happened? What took so long? Well, as I think I’ve said elsewhere, I’ve had to empty my life of things that don’t belong, and that takes time and thought and energy. All of which cannot simultaneously be used for writing.
Then, unexpected things happen – (how dare they?) – and this has led to the upsetting discovery that when you’ve been prevented from writing consistently for a while, you lose your way, and it takes concentrated effort to recap, rethink and reconnect.
My hope is that now, with a much cleaner schedule focused around writing as my main activity, this will not be a problem in the future. My surprise is that the book has become, in one sense, redundant!
The real events around which I chose to base the story have in many astonishing and unexpected ways been resolved. It is a delight to be able to say that wrongs have been righted, causes addressed and laws changed in the real world which make my book somewhat out of date.
I could see this as distressing but I don’t. The fact that the things I’m writing about are – in some ways – no longer true, is a real source of joy for me, and the realisation that this has happened in no way destroys the flow of the story and the complexity of the plot (as my test readers will tell you).
As I reflect on the magnificent way the world can change when the best energy is directed in the best way, musing over my afternoon cup of tea, I can revel in the best bit of all – thank God it’s fiction!