Sunday 20 June 2021

The moment that changed my novel - Don't be afraid to change course if you're stuck in a rut

 Don't be afraid to change course with your novel 

It's always good to hear that people have finally got down to writing that novel that they've had held deep inside of them for years spurred on by the pandemic. Or to read about those writers who have never gotten so much writing done.

If you're like me and find yourself in the I'm struggling to write anything camp, you might feel discouraged.

Struggling to write? 

At several points over the last year, I have seriously thought about giving up writing anything at all. Because of money pressures, I have found myself working longer hours to earn money from ways other than my writing. Unless you are one of the 1% of writers who makes a very good living, writing fiction is a very badly paying trade.

It's only just recently that I have re-focused back on my work in progress, a psychological crime thriller. The reason - I've realised I need a different approach. 

Time for a new beginning

The beginning of the book has to be rewritten and rejigged to make it the compelling read I want it to be. The type of book I love to read which I hope to write.

The moment of realisation came for me when I witnessed a distressing scene where a woman was staring at a couple's daughter who looked about 9 years old. This was in a supermarket and the woman's staring was such that the mother noticed it and pointed it out to her husband who angrily spoke to her. 'What are you looking at? Stop staring at my daughter like that.'

In usual circumstances, if someone spoke to you like that and everybody turned round to stare, you would be mortified and shuffle off away from public scrutiny. But this woman kept staring. It was as if she was transfixed and I could see the man getting angrier and advancing towards her.

Thankfully at this stage another lady who appeared to know the woman ran up to her put her arm around her and led her off.

I later found out from someone who worked in the supermarket tills that she knew the woman who had been staring and her daughter had been abducted by her husband 2-years ago and taken abroad. Apparently, she still kept seeing her child everywhere.

'I think she thought that little girl was her daughter,' the check-out assistant told me. 'She's mistaken other children for hers too before.'

Good fiction comes from truth

As well as feeling heartsick for that poor woman, the whole thing made me think that the novel I was writing that had a similar theme of a missing child, needed to be changed.

What if after witnessing such a scene and finding out the reason behind it, someone offered to help her find her child? And so I decided to totally restructure the start of my novel.

Will it work and make it the gripping read I want it to be? I hope so. It's in witnessing human moments like hers that you realise reality is often stranger than fiction.

I also hope, that one day very soon, that poor woman is reunited with her child.

Monday 14 June 2021

Why I love zombies


I'm not the only one obsessed with the dead who rise

I often get asked when people look down my list of published books why I wrote a zombie novel? It doesn't seem to fit in with my profile -  I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years and a crime writer.

I've written books on compassionate living, bullying due to my bitter experience of it, caring for your dog because of my experience of having rescue dogs all my life and I'd even written comedy books. 

How does that fit in with being obsessed with humans who die then come back to life, desperate to devour human flesh? 

I'm obsessed to the point of coming up with theories of how an actual zombie apocalypse could start. When I go for walks with my rescue dog I think about where would be the best place to be holed up if the Dead started to roam the earth. How secure would that place be? How would we get food? How would we survive?

Seeing zombies through the eyes of Rick Grimes

That's the one thing the zombie genre gives you - pure escapism. 

Zombies give me something else to think about other than the problems we all face in our lives - nightmare neighbours, rude and obnoxious people who don't speak to you for 5 years and then out the blue accuse you of something nonsensical, constant worrying about money and the welfare of those we love. 

Zombies are my escape from the true horrors of the world - could anyone have imagined a pandemic like the one we are experiencing - and daily existence.

Unlike real life, living humans who don't die and come back to life, with zombies you know where you are - avoid them or if they bite you and you die and then come back as one of them. 

If only life were just as simple. 

I also love to be scared - when it's a movie, TV show on novel but not in real life. There are enough things to scare you in real life. 

I also love exploring how the zombie apocalypse brings out the best and worst in people. I enjoy the way anyone can be redeemed. 

And that's one of the other things I enjoy most about the genre - how it explores the best and worst sides of human nature. Nothing shows someone's true colours as much as a zombie apocalypse. 

Nothing shows someone's true colours as much as a zombie apocalypse

SPOILER ALERT! - Don't read the next bit if you haven't seen the season finale of Fear The Walking Dead. 

Just ask Morgan Jones who was thrown into the path of walkers by a so-called ally Victor Strand in Fear The Walking Dead.


If you're interested in checking out my very Scottish zombie novel, here's it is -  

One woman rages against the zombie hordes! Check it out here 

Or, if you prefer direct links here -

Amazon UK
Amazon Australia

Stay safe everyone.