Writing this on 24th March 2020 – in the strange, sad and confused days we are facing as Britain enters a period of ‘lockdown’ – I will admit I’ve hesitated for a few days before writing this post. It seems so wildly inappropriate to talk or even think about such a trivial thing as a ‘book’ when such a crisis is upon us, and so many people are scared and suffering.
And yet… so many of the (fictional) people I have always written about, were feeling just that. Scared, suffering, and with no sense – at least initially – of how they would get through whatever they were going through in their world. In the world of story, writers get to wave a magical wand so we can ‘make’ everything all right. Not always as easy a task as it might seem, but the end goal is always the same – to give readers the sense that, however badly disrupted our world becomes, we can get through it. The worthy task of the writer, therefore, is to offer entertainment, distraction, ideas and information and maybe most important of all… to offer the reader some Hope.
It’s where I began, back in 2006/7 when I wrote Pandora’s Box… a story about a mother and her daughter who each go out in their own ways looking for hope… and end up finding love. Five novels followed but the fact is, it’s now been four long years since I brought out the last one, Dear Dad. For so many reasons, the next novel didn’t seem to want to be written the way I knew it needed to be. It proved so challenging and for so long, that I really wanted to give up. So many times. However, I didn’t!
What kept me going?
This one little fact: having dedicated each of the other six books to a family member, the only one left was my youngest, Andrew. I couldn’t leave him as the only one without a book dedicated to him! I had to plough through with the seventh novel, because it really meant something to me that he should have one, too.
Finally, after four long and challenging years, I can reveal I have just signed a three-book contract with Boldwood Books and my seventh novel will at last be published in all formats (including audio) in September 2020.
To these experienced and knowledgeable publishers who kept the faith in me, I offer a big ‘Thanks!’ And if there’s any lesson to be drawn from this maybe it’s that Hope doesn’t fly in out of the air like a virus… it comes only when we stand our ground and keep fighting for something that is meaningful to us.
For now, confined to barracks as we all are, I have people and worlds to create, fiendish plots to hatch and at the end of it all, a magic wand to wave… the bit where characters can choose (or not) to adapt, view change and challenge as opportunity and forge onwards, just like the rest of us.
For now, stay safe. Be calm and purposeful. Remain hopeful.