When I was making my website last year, it occurred to me that nearly all my books are light-hearted and funny. Even my non-fiction is packed with jokes.
So I was a bit taken aback to find myself writing much darker stories these last few months. They didn’t start dark – I set out with a head full of humour, but when I sent them to my agent she said, ‘These are dark themes – don’t be afraid to let the stories be really dark.’
She was right. I mean, the theme of ‘The Binding’ – which is under consideration with publishers at the moment – is of a sinister secret group in a remote place where there’s no escape. The book I’ve just finished re-drafting, ‘Drift’, is about sibling suicide.
You can have humour in a dark story, but that’s not enough. You have to go deeper. Writing dark themes feels very different from writing light, jokey stories. It’s a more difficult space to enter every morning, and harder to stay in until the end of the day. I can’t honestly say I’ve found it fun.
But I like that these stories have come to me, demanding to be told. I didn’t think I had it in me.
I’ve no idea what might come next, but I’m always open to new adventures, in my writing as in life. If everything goes according to plan, there are no surprises, and I do love to surprise myself.
How about you? Have you ever tried something new and surprised yourself?