More Chinese pyjamas please !

I don’t think like most of society. That is what has become apparent from the response to this pandemic. I do know that a few people think the same as me. Ironically I know of one fellow writer who has reflected my opinions. Are writers all on a different wave length to everybody else. Please let me know.

As you may know I want to be a social recluse, but I am not allowed to if I want to be published!

Now that I am trying to build up a stronger social profile buy social networking I am spending more time on these sites. And what an experience it has become!

I am appalled at many things I am seeing posted. So much so I realised this morning that anxiety is contagious like the virus itself.

I was fairly OK about this pandemic. Despite its spread across the globe and the way it was felling the masses.  Felt I would cope, somehow muddle though. Accepting of it all in some strange way.  But then I had a complete melt down this morning over something that could and was resolved easily by fellow work colleagues.

I had in a few days become anxious, depressed emotional and angry. And it was social media that had caused it all.

The first thing that upsets me is this constant emphasis on the number that are dying. Yes of course this is distressing but why is no one concentrating on the number that are recovering? An estimated 114,000 so far. Why are we embracing the death rate, like a child’s comfort blanket? We need to grasp at the thought people can survive surely.

I have noticed also now we are getting the vigilantes that want to name and shame people who are not behaving as they should. Is this fake news posted to again rile any passive member of society in to toxic activity? I am now finding I am blocking so many posts, I may soon have to post pictures of my days travelling the world before social media to convince myself there was a time before naming and shaming was so prevalent. I am not one for photos of myself so this would be the last resort.

Emotional blackmail is another insidious aspect of the whole stay indoors thing. What gives anyone the right to make someone feel they are individually responsible for the fact that another person cannot sit by the side of their loved ones whilst they are dying? Its obscene. Society as whole is at fault not individuals.

Some people may be carriers of this virus and not even know it. Is scientific ignorance justification to cause guilt to some one when you don’t even know how your loved one caught the virus or from whom?

And another thing that upsets me is this panic buying. Greed and selfishness at a scale beyond what I thought a country like England could stoop to. We are not a third world country with starving masses. We are one of the strongest nations in the developed world. Already the rubbish collectors are reporting that there is an increase in the disposal of perishable foods thrown out before even being opened. This didn’t surprise me, not at all, I saw that coming. Only gluttonous people could want more then they need and throw food away with such disregard.

One of my friends reported to me how she had gone to Greggs for a few bread rolls and by the time she got home the rolls had been stolen. I hope that whoever stole them really was desperate for them, but I somehow doubt it. Like wise the person who stole toilet rolls from a woman at a checkout who had just paid for them.

The toilet roll fiasco was it for me. A virus that causes respiratory problems spreads around the world and what does this nation do? Fight over toilet rolls.

You see where I am going with all this. When I read all these things I find myself getting dragged down into the black abyss that I had dragged myself out of last year. Mental Health is one of the topics that has been until this pandemic the new “me too” subject.

How we were going to help each other, support people with mental health issues. Yet already that has slipped off the radar for a large group of society. Every man for himself. Kick that vulnerable person off the raft they will hold me up!

Self-isolation for many is going to result in depression, thoughts of suicide and self-harm. I fear the number of suicides could if we don’t do something  soon escalate to almost the same level as the number of deaths by the corona virus.

I then, because I am not naturally a negative person try the positive approach, relaying the number of reported recoveries from the virus. Hoping that others will pick up from this. But more people still seem interested in death rates.

Or reposting humorous post to cheer the lost and the lonely up. Again I fear no one is listening.

For me  I just feel, nature has had enough of the selfish human race and is now fighting back. In the same way people feel it’s acceptable to shoot elephants for trophies or kill orangutan’s because they live in cultivated field normally where the trees for palm oil is grown, mother nature is showing you what a virus can really do to people.

She is starting to show you who really is the most dangerous the most powerful and ultimately still the most destructive. Thumbs up to Mother Nature.
We are all running into our homes locking the doors and self-isolating. Part of me is thinking yes let’s hope that works. Part of me is thinking watch the suicide rate go up now. Divorces and murders the later for me is prime writing material.

But another bigger part of me is thinking we have only got ourselves to blame. The signs have been there for decades. But we ignored them. How long did we think we could treat the planet like we have?

Fortunately, my agent has got a support group going for us miserable emotional sods that are sliding into melodramatic misery. There is hope for all of us.

And today there have been some funny sides to it for me. Again, it was a fellow writer. He posted on Facebook that he had received in the post today his order of silk pyjamas from China.

Now if you met this man you would know how funny this is. The image in my head immediately lifted my spirits. He has been asked to wear them take a photo and post the pictures on Facebook just to raise a smile for us all. The gold ones’ sound especially delightful.

So please more Chinese Pyjamas. Corona virus free.

Authors – do they have the gift of prophesy?

The sword is outside, and the plague and the famine are within. He who is in the field will die by the sword; famine and the plague will also consume those in the city.”  Ezekiel 7.15

It has been a great year for Dean Koontz. His book, The Eyes of Darkness has bounced back up the bestseller list almost 40 years after it was first published.
Fan are saying that the book predicted the corona virus. The book does have seemed to eerily describe what we are now experiencing globally. “In around 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe…….”.
But is this the gift of foresight? Is prediction the right word? Or is it that writers do have an annoying habit of putting thoughts down on paper?
About two weeks before the outbreak of the Corona virus, I mentioned to a friend of mine that what the world needed was another outbreak of the Spanish flu. The world was far too over populated and nature needed to fight back.
By now most readers have been heard of this outbreak in 1918. It infected 500 million people globally and killed between an estimated 17 to 50 million people.
I really don’t know whether this means I am confirmation that writers have the gift of foresight or that just am a little bit more open to less popular ideas to where mankind is heading.
To be fair neither Dean Koontz or myself are the first to write in words the prophecy of plague and famine on society. The bible did that way before us.
And there is along list of writers after Ezekiel, Matthew, Revelations and others in the bible. (Depending on your philosophy writers interpreting the word of God.)
Albert Camus French Algerian writer and philosopher wrote The Plague. set in 1947 a book that relates the tale of a plague as the title clearly says in a French Algerian City of Oran. “Everybody knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world; yet somehow we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky. There have been as many plagues as wars in history; yet always plagues and wars take people equally by surprise.”
It does seem inevitable that even when this virus has run its natural course. That it will not be the last outbreak of a virus. It can’t be. History show these things to tend to mutate and reappear when least expected.
In my life time there have been many such strange virus Ebola, SARS, Avian flu to name just three. And the thing that seems glaringly obvious is that its nature fighting back every time.
It is total madness to think that a world population of 7.8 billion could happily sustain itself without an outbreak of some form of virus or disease. We can’t continue like this thinking man can prolong life and continue breeding without ultimately destroying itself.

A writer who also tries to address this issue is Inferno by Dan Brown. To cut a long story short it involves bio terrorism in the form of DNA modification to cause infertility in one out of three humans. The virus has no cure, and even with future technology, changing the human genome back would be hazardous.
Again, I must confess I thought this would not be such a bad thing to happen.

And in Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone (1994) a non-fiction book which was made into a series in 2019 with the collaboration of National geographic, the writer investigates fatal or near fatal incidents with deadly viruses such as AIDS and Ebola.
This was a series I watched avidly, again because I wasn’t surprised at how easily it could jump from animals to humans.  And I am not a scientist.
I am Legend, written in 1954 by Richard Matheson is a post-apocalyptic book that deals with the idea of a virus which is a mutation of what was developed to cure cancer. It goes on to virtually wipe mankind out.

So, although Dean Koontz fans seem to think he prophesised the Corona virus in his work. He has never been alone in putting the idea of mutating virus’s in to a book. I think the most pertinent part of his words are the lines. “Almost more baffling then the illness itself will be the fact that it will vanish as quickly as it arrived.”

It remains to be seen if this become true.

From my brief foray in to the world of plague stories I can only conclude that no, writers do not have the gift of prophecy merely the ability to write and to write about things that scare, enthral and reflect the world around us.

Some are so clever that they can apparently write about a disaster before it happens. But ultimately, we are dreamers and visionaries. And as Shakespeare so eloquently says in Hamlet – “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Silver linings for a writer and the joy of self isolation.

So, it was an exciting week for me last week. My first lunch with Wendy my Agent. And my fellow thriller writer Justine.
I guess the first thing that I noticed course was how quiet London was. Its usual hustle and bustle had been reduced to a trickle of activity. It was subdued but still many places had business as usual.
Our lunch was a fabulous brainstorming session which opened new doors to how I am going to have to get myself a decent social profile. I am way behind other writers. Justine seems to have a complete understanding of the whole social media and how influential it will be when published.
This is of course one of the benefits of having an Agent. She is advising me on all of this. I know when I published my first book Jewish Days Arab Nights, I had no idea what I was doing. And this was apparent immediately in my sales, and in my reviews.
It wasn’t that I thought I had to sit back and just let my book sell itself. I t was more I had no idea about the power of social media. And never more has the current corona crises shown me just how results are influenced by the media.
My opinion of the crises is that the media pointed the arrow to the word panic and low and behold panic we all have.
So, can I point the arrow to the words “literary success” and that will be the result? I am really hoping so.
Many ideas were bounced around at the lunch. Giving talks to various organisations. Approaching libraries. I even in a moment of madness suggested I visit a prison discuss with a killer what drove them to their actions.
I said this half in jest but the look on Wendy’s face suggested this was a fabulous idea. I am dropping HMPS a line later today, to ask do they have any serial killers who would be happy to sit (obviously behind the safety of a barrier) and explain the whole thought process that went on when they went on their killing spree.
I am sure this would add an even deeper and darker layer to my writing that could set me apart from many other thriller writers.
Justine came up with the idea of “book blogging tours”. And I have to say that seems to have been a method that has been used effectively in the past and present for many authors. I will definitely be giving this a go.
For a writer the corona virus really is a gift. The prospect of a month in self isolation would mean the first draft and possibly the second draft of my book could be completed. I would probably have started the idea for the second book.
But would self-isolation release the desired imagination? Well yes for it would. As previously mentioned I live in a remote area it would not be such a great leap to imagine dead bodies and the disposal of them.
I could probably in a complete fit of cabin fever conduct an experiment of my own. With very little chance of anyone noticing just what I was up to.
But so far this situation for me is not a viable option or to be perfectly honest necessary. Although suddenly many of my team members are complaining because we are still working from the office. I guess for them the prospect of a month at home would in truth not involve much work.
Various rather unimaginative reasons are being bandied about as to why they should be working from home.
I am now considering seriously just asking the CEO of my place of work, “Can I take the month off to write my very very scary thriller. Which will be published.” For that was something we established Friday. Both mine and Justine’s books are going to be published. Of that there is no doubt.
For now, however we have come up with a few ideas to catapult our ambitions to the words. “Literary success.”.
Ultimately, we are experiencing now a prolific and vicious serial killer in the form of the corona virus. I am not sure any human could be as successful or as relentless. Although in history various other viruses have reduced the human population with apparent ease. But this killer seems to have an equally relentless ally in the form of social media.
Franz Kafka said, ” Writing is utter solitude, the decent into the cold abyss of oneself.”
Both Kafka and Wendy are right, isolation first and social media second. Although to be fair isolation would be my choice every time.
For me to get to my desired destination with this book I need to use all the weapons at my disposal.
All I need is a dry cough and a well-stocked food cupboard with an equally healthy stocked wine rack and of course the ubiquitous stash of toilet rolls. Although I may have left that last one a bit late to acquire.

Writers Block – Does it really exist or is it just the fragility of our ego’s?

 

After a good start to my writing since being taken on by Wendy. Spurred on by that almost unattainable goal of a, “Four figure publishing deal.” I had no problem with ideas for the book. Even the usual what should my characters being doing now wasn’t a problem. Dialogue and sub plots were running at a good pace. Dark thoughts were in my mind 24 hours a day. Just wanted I need for writing a thriller.

 

And then suddenly I found myself this weekend with writers’ block. I was siting trying to move the plot forward to a major denouement. But I found my mind wandering to world events and how Great Britain seemed to have lost the plot about the Corona virus.

 

I have covered many subjects in my novel and I have no intention of including an outbreak of stockpiling toilet rolls as a method of moving the plot along. What did distract me briefly was the announcement that the London Book Fair for this week has been cancelled. The reason of course being the corona virus. I feel like Corona is the new Brexit. Blame everything on Corona.

 

My heart dropped when I heard the Book Fair was being cancelled. The organisers of one of the UK’s the largest book fairs Reed Exhibitions made the decision to cancel as a result of the travel restrictions from the fallout of the Corona Virus.

 

My disappointment was born out of a purely selfish reason. Feel free to berate me for this. I know many people across the world have died because of this strange new virus. But my Agent was going to the book fair and was going to pitch my book at a few publishers. I had got myself excited at the prospect of a possible publishing deal – however small. I suddenly visualised my hope of literary fame going down the proverbial with the diminishing piles of toilet rolls and hand wash in supermarkets.

 

Fortunately, Wendy is professional and was immediately on the case. Its business as usual for her. Shame the rest of the population isn’t taking the same attitude. Yet I am now wondering how self-isolation would work for me.

 

If I took 28 days behind my closed doors. No internet, no tv, no phone connection. No social media networking. I would have the first draft of this book in the bag.  I would also probably be suffering with cabin fever by the end of the month. And perhaps my first day back in society would have resulted in random acts of violence.

 

Why do we writers even have the temerity to claim, “Writers Block”. I know exactly what I want to write I know how to drive the plot forward. I have three endings for this book so why did I waste a weekend, pontificating on things out of my control instead of just sitting at my table in the kitchen and writing?

 

Blame it on the weather? Blame it on the virus? Blame it on the moonlight? (It was a full moon this weekend and it was shining brightly through my window.) Blame it on the boogie?

 

Blame it on a big dose of laziness more like.

 

Hilary Mantel said in a recent interview in the Guardian, “I’ve got quite amused at people saying I have writer’s block. I’ve been like a factory.”

 

This is why Hilary is such a prolific writer and such a literary giant. She works at it all the time.

 

Well maybe the rest of us have arrived at the factory that has been closed due to the corona virus. Or maybe we should be adopting the business as usual philosophy that Wendy has taken.

 

Maya Angelou, said, “Nothing will work unless you do.” She is of course right. 

 

With every job we do, the output is only as effective and prolific as the input. And writing is a job. For some it is their main job. For me I aspire for it to be my main job. I just need to work harder at it.

 

This week is going to be a good week. Well for a writer anyway. Back to working at it. Back to a huge dollop of enthusiasm. Back to hope of the publishing deal.  

 

I can’t really comment on the toilet roll situation that is developing in to a national crisis.

 

Although on a more positive note the word “Corona” can mean “the cup-shaped or trumpet-shaped outgrowth at the centre of a daffodil or narcissus flower” – a flower of spring. You know a time of hope, of the prospect of beautiful sunny days ahead.

But for me just, “Keep Calm and Carry on Writing.”  

Research, Research, Research

Continuing with my current theme into writing with a Literary Agent. I have been thinking this weekend about research.
It goes without saying the importance of research if you are writing about a subject that is not familiar to you or if its something you don’t really know much about.Or if you just need to add an extra layer to your novel.
My books on Israel involved frequent visits to Israel. (It’s a hard job but someone had to do it.)
It wasn’t all about lying on a beach in Eilat. In fact, none of the research involved lying on a beach anywhere. There was some necessary drinking of Mount Carmel wine made by the tipsy nuns of the local convent. All in the name of authenticity for the books.
There were trips to the Negev desert. There were numerous bus journeys. Train journeys just to see how the country changed from year to year. Hours of sitting in bars and café’s just chatting or people watching. And visits to stranger’s houses based on whimsical fancy.
Jerusalem became an obsession of mine. And although I did not suffer from the  “Messiah Syndrome”, I did find myself fixated by anything that happened in the city. From the opening of a new restaurant to the outbreaks of violence that erupt frequently in the city often called “Hysterical Jerusalem”.
But what I have found with this my first thriller, is that well perhaps I have no need to really do research for writing about a serial killer. I get the impression so far that perhaps that was my true vocation in life. Born to be a serial killer!
I have come up with many scenarios – as to why a person could go on a killing spree. And I am finding all of them totally understandable. And several of them acceptable behaviour. No wait – ALL of them acceptable behaviour.
And then the method of killing? Again, I have not been lost for ideas. Potential victims? There is a very long list of candidates for this.
Should I be worried? Should my friends be worried? Should my neighbours ensure they have the most up to date security installed on their properties? Probably not.
Because that is the beauty of writing. No physical harm is done. You can go on a veritable grisly killing rampage and rather like a modern video game no one is harmed in the writing of the book.
And another thing I have found just how therapeutic the whole process is. Instead of inwardly fuming about someone who has pissed me off and has caused my blood pressure to surge up into the danger zone. I can just kill them off in a suitable painful manner.
It’s a form of research really. I have deduced the most satisfying method to despatch my enemies. Now when one of my colleagues walks past who I have crossed swords with in the past I can visualise myself despatching them to hades in by various methods.
They are of course blissfully unware of what is going through my mind. And I am sure if they new would be given me even more of a wide berth.
So, what is the strangest topic of research for a writer. My google search would probably send alarm bells to many a psychiatrist, members MI5 may just give me second glance. And well yes there is that once occasion when I crashed my works computer at a previous place of employment when I managed to access a part of the Israeli Defence Forces site for information on their attack dogs. It was an honest mistake, I wasn’t planning on hacking the site. But well I think my company IT department got a bit worried.
Then of course initially I had to research what constitutes a serial killer. But that was short lived when I realised no research was necessary as I had all the prerequisites myself.
Dan brown said “Google’ is not a synonym for ‘research’.”
He was right there are better methods then google to research subjects. You can adopt the hands-on approach. This is one of my preferred methods. I am not going to divulge too many of the situations I have been in for the sake of my art. But suffice to say most of the time it was fun, but a few times it was just a bit too dark even for me.
One of the most productive ways to be a successful writer is by a very simple approach. Reading. If you don’t read books how can you write books?
I sometimes walk into my library, pick random books off the shelf and go home and read them objectively. I ask myself a simple question. Just what is in the book that caught the attention of a publisher? Sometimes I cannot believe a publisher would be interested. But often it is very obvious why.
I have read some amazing books this way. I have also read some absolute tosh. But it it’s a great learning curve.
We must love to read to love to write. I can’t think of one successful writer that would say, “Oh actually I have never read a book.in my life.”
And just living is great research. Daily life experiences lend themselves to great stories.
A few years ago, my friends will be shocked to discover I found myself in a squat. It was not planned research, I was in bad place mentally, found myself in a bad place physically. Fortunately, I managed to extricate myself from both places.
Its an experience that I still remember with a certain amount of confusion. I arrived in the place when the occupants were sleeping. Slowly as the evening encroached, bodies surfaced from under piles of cardboard, dirty blankets and places where I didn’t realise a body had been asleep.
Arguments began, emotions ran high. People were a bit miffed to find a strange woman in their midst with no apparent reason for her to be there.
It hadn’t helped that when I arrived I had for some reason a Waitrose bag on me. That was quickly taken away from me the contents distributed enthusiastically to other people. Yes, I know in retrospect it was not a normal course of events.
But then what is normal? A friend recently told me I am as normal as white dog floating up to heaven.
I rather like the idea of being a white dog floating up to heaven. Do I need to google it? No. Can I imagine it? Yes. Can it really happen? Who cares?

A Dysfunctional Character Makes a Dysfunctional Writer.

 

The plan was always to be the reclusive writer. Not quite like J D Salinger where he started waving his gun around when ever visitors turned up on his door step. But rather like Agatha Christie I was hoping I could write in relative solitude, publish and then just disappear to start on the next book. Well that allusion has quickly been shot to flames.

 

My Agent wants statistics. Statistics of social media of hits and connections and likes and comments. Me the woman who has tried hiding out on a remote hill eschewing all social contact. I now must learn the art of social networking.

 

This for many is probably easy, they embrace the modern world of Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, snapchat, pine interest and You tube to name just a few. But for me the whole thing is an anathema. The word social for a start does not resonate very well with me. That’s means conversation and interaction with other people.

 

But to be a writer one must be out there. And what has become apparent social network consumes an awful lot of a writer’s time.

 

But network I must. I have started a small experiment to see how this can work for me. So, my first step was to resurrect my word press blog. My last post had been back in April 2019, my march for democracy on to Parliament.

 

 Last week wrote a piece about how excited I was to get a Literary Agent.  So, this week, we are going to see how my first week of social networking has gone.

 

I decided to boost my post on Face Book. I had mastered sharing from Word press to face book. So, I picked an amount to boost the post clicked and watched the statistics. And with one day to go the stats are 2066 Reached, 47 Click 41 Engagements. Whether this is good or bad I have no idea, but the figures seem higher than previously.

 

I then remembered I had a linked in account and I could share my blog on to that which I proceeded to do the next day and the statistics are 68 views after three days. Two ways where actually I didn’t spend too much time on.

 

The word press site over the four days so far is 60 hits. And 15 followers. I can see by other blog postings that I have along way to go with this. A really long way to go.

 

But I had to start somewhere. I have along way to go. On building up statistics. I am now going to have to post a blog regularly. Consistency is the key.

 

I still plane to be as reclusive as I possibly can though. I don’t understand why I need to give any input socially. Write the book, publish the book. Let people read the book. Why do they need to know about me? Why do they need to see me?

 

I referred to Agatha Christie at the beginning of the post.  The writer disappeared for 11 days on Friday 3rd December 1926. One of the largest man hunts was mounted with nearly 1000 policemen searching for her.

 

Her car was found abandoned in a chalk pit very near to where I now live. Eleven days later she was found safely in an hotel in Harrogate.  The explanation was that she had had a form of breakdown. She eventually picked up pen and paper and continued to write.

 

J D Salinger was a different “kettle of fish” but he famously said, “Writing was a terrible invasion of my privacy.”  This is what is worrying me too. If my genius is finally recognised how will I cope with the curiosity of this media obsessed world. He eventually became as famous for his desire for privacy as for his book The Catcher in the Rye.

 

But are we as writers already socially inept? We sit and write in solitude. We self-obsess about what we are writing. If we are wring about dysfunctional people, we must get in the minds of dysfunctional people.

 

If like me, you are writing about a serial killer you become a serial killer. Living each day thinking OK what my character would to do next. How would they behave in certain situations?

 

What would make a serial killer? That was part of my research.

 

I spoke to my friend who has known me almost 55 years. We discussed certain issues about my book. We bounced a few scenarios which would result in a person turning into a serial killer.

 

Finally, her reply was, “I feel like you are slipping rather too well into the mind of a serial killer.”

 

She is right of course. One step further into dysfunctional for the writer, let alone the character in a book.

 

I then phoned another friend whilst he was at work to ask him “Have you ever stabbed a person?”

 

I can’t say for sure whether I was relieved when he said after a pause. “No, I haven’t” or disappointed.

 

Undaunted I continued with my line of query, “So what would the amount of blood spray be if I stabbed someone through the heart?”

 

Again, a pause before. “Well they would bleed a lot once the knife is pulled out. But its difficult to stab someone through the heart. You must get through the rib cage to the heart. And what kind of knife are you using?”

 

And that of course is the crux of it, not only was I already getting into the head of a serial killer. I was dragging my friends into the same dark disturbed world.

 

It would only take a few more steps to become socially reclusive. To become inept at social conversations. To want to just ignore invitations to any event. It’s hardly surprising that writers reflect their characters or vice versa.

 

We put so much of ourselves in our writing. Do we have time for socialising? And do we have time for social networking.?

 

Already on a couple of writer’s forums the response to my initial query has been social networking is a full-time job in itself. Do we have time for it? Well by the sounds of things we must make time for it.

 

But in my heart, I still hope that I can eventually revert to my life of solitude. Living the life of the wild woman of the woods. That by some turn of luck my books will suffice, and no one will want to know anything about me.

 

I am meanwhile looking for houses that are difficult to get to and miles away from other humans.

 

Slay your demons with a pen.

We all have dreams. For a writer the dream is a publishing deal. Even in today’s world of self-publishing. There is a sense of well, you know really that is a form vanity publishing. You are not a real writer or a good writer unless you have a publishing deal.
One of the routes to publishing houses is by being a sheer genius and being spotted sitting under a tree with your manuscript. A publisher is drawn like a magnet to you and hey voila you’re up there with J K Rowling, Stephen King, Lee Childs. Anon
Well no because of course in our heads as a writer we are all genius’s. And even the most astute of editors will find it tricky to see your halo among all the other halos on display out there.
And then there is the route of Literary Agent. But again, this is not a case of someone just recognising your talent. How do we the little aspiring writers even get ourselves on the next step to publishing?
When I was young. I like many young girls wanted to be Jo March from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. The tomboyish, hot tempered, honest, book worm who eventually gets published. But writing was not my only dream back then. I wanted to be a vet.
But I read so many books that eventually it became a natural aspiration to write in some shape or form. Journalist/Travel Writer/Author.
I achieved a small amount of success over the years. But the published author tag alluded me like it did many writers.
I was never going to write the best-selling novel that would make me rich and famous. But to be fair that was never my aim. When I wrote my first book Jewish Days Arab Nights it was not for fame or glory. I wanted to write about a situation in a country I visited that affected me strongly enough that the plight of the Palestinians has stayed with me through my life since that first trip in 1987.
But it’s not a subject that sells books not works of fiction. And that is what I wrote, a work of fiction. The blurb on the back cover says it all – Israel 1987 “…… Fresh off a plane from England a young girl, Fiona, arrives to work on a Kibbutz, romantically imagining Israel as a biblical land full of orange groves and donkeys. The harsh reality is that she has arrived in a country on the brink of a brutal civil war.”
But it was a book I wanted to write. After a few publishers and one agent showing an interest. I was ultimately rejected. Not on the scale of Stephen King with his first novel Carrie – rejected 30 times. James Patterson 31 times. Marlon James 78 times for his first novel went on to win the Man Booker prize for A Brief History of seven Killings. But I was rejected.
But I wanted my book out there for people who wanted to read a view point on a very emotional unstable situation in a country where the Christian religion was born. And where a controversial political ideology took shape called Zionism.
So, I went down the self-publishing route through create space. And this was for me a huge learning curve. Yes, if you take the word “vanity” then this was vanity publishing. I wanted to be published, but I did not have a publishing deal, I did not have a literary agent to represent me. I just did what many writers do I downloaded my precious manuscript to a space on the internet gave it a title put my name to it. Put a cover designed by a talented young woman with a degree in design on it and waited.
I had absolutely no idea about marketing. Advertising. And even worse selling my self on social media sights. I really had not thought how I was going to, as an absolute nobody get my book out there.
The book considering my ignorance elicited a small amount of interest from work colleagues and friends. The feedback was positive, but reviews were minimal. Of those who loved it they wanted a sequel. And so, I wrote a sequel.
And spent several more years and trips to Israel watching and experiencing the changes in the country. I can safely say I do my research when I write.
As many will know writing is a very solitary habit. I am a solitary person but recognised the importance of interaction with fellow writers. My second writers group lead by the indomitable Elizabeth Kay (author of The Divide) had disbanded and I was at sea trying to communicate with other writers.
I tried a local group in Dorking that met at the Lincoln Arms – The Phoenix Writers Circle but after a few months, work commitments took over and I put all dreams of writing on the back burner again. But the need to write was burning strong and I kept returning to my book Not Quite Gaza.
I wrote. I rewrote. I travelled to Israel and all the countries surrounding it. I was still convinced there was a story for me to write.
I kept going back to the Dorking group. They were all writers of merit and had various styles and genres of writing. But then once again life events caused me to stop going.
In 2018 I had what I can only describe in the Queens word’s my “Annus horribilis”. It happens to us all at some stage in life. That year visited a side of myself that was not good. Did things that I would not want to crow about. Descended almost to the point that I was in the gutter, but at that point I picked myself up. Dusted myself down and moved on. I had my feet in the dirt yes. But I didn’t quite swim in it.
I killed my demons with a pen. All the darkness of my emotions I poured into a book. Into a dark character in to a fictional story with fictional people. Life imitating art. Or art imitating life. Who knows.
What is that famous quote. It is easy to write to just sit at a typewriter and bleed?
From that year of angst an idea was born for a psychological thriller. The Dark Side of the Hill. I played around with the idea not really doing much with it. I went back to the writers group. A change in leadership encouraged me to go back.
One of the joint chairwomen at the Phoenix (Justine John) posted on face book that she had got an agent. I was pleased for her she is a talented writer and I read her first book Gilding the Lily. She has great style.
But if I was honest I was envious too. Here was the chance that we all aspire to a Literary Agent to represent us. But I didn’t feel I was good enough. Could I approach this agent with my work?
The lady I approached was Wendy Yorke and by a very strange quirk of fate she was looking for thriller writers. I had the kernel of a book. I sent it across and she has taken me on her books.
It all sounds so easy doesn’t it? Is it? But of course, that is not true. Again, I would like to say well she has recognised my great talent. But that would be ridiculous and very vain. I am hoping that working with Wendy I am going to step up to be a published writer in the traditional sense.
I am excited about the opportunity. About the prospects I can see and about the new journey I am about to embark upon. I am a traveller this is another journey to another place. I am going to embrace this chance that I have been given. I am going to give it my best.
It has been less then three weeks since I was taken on by Wendy Yorke. Already I have experienced all the emotions of an aspiring writer. I have woken up screaming – I am going to kill you I am going to kill you! I have felt exhilaration, fear doubt, enthusiasm, determination, delusions of grandeur, humility and hope. All the emotions that I have used in the writing of my new thriller. But probably not in the way people think!
Watch this space fellow writers and readers.