I am thrilled, chuffed, amazed, excited, over the moon, high as a kite, dancing on air, a bit pleased, that my second book Gaslight will be published by Firefly Press next April.
Thankfully the notes from my editor say that there is a typo on page two and that’s all that needs adjusting. We are good to go.
Hang on… scratch that… that was a dream I had once. The notes from my editor are extensive. We both agree (thankfully) that there is still a fair bit of work to do and I have to be honest I am completely LOVING it!
There is nothing better than being helped by someone to make the story you have created in your head the best it can possibly be on paper.
For this particular story I’ve called the editing process ‘playing with shadows’. Partly because of the title and the shadows created by gaslight, and partly because there are shadows of ideas flitting through my mind ALL THE TIME.
I can be driving along and have to stop because a shadow has suddenly become a fully formed idea and I have to scribble it down on a receipt. I can be in the shower when a shadow drifts up to me in steam and I have to etch it into the condensation on the shower cubicle. I can be cooking tea when a shadow of a bad idea disintegrates into the bubbling pot, ending up very probably where it belongs.
I have so many thoughts racing around my brain at the moment.
Where did the story come from and why did it choose me to tell it? Why was the little Victorian boot that washed up on the shore delivered to me by the sea? Why this story? Why now? Why is Nansi my main character? Why is her mother missing? Where has she gone? So many shadows to fill out. To bend and shape and make the best they can be.
When I run Creative Writing Workshops with young people I often get them to write their best first sentence, then they write it again in five different ways and we discuss which way works most effectively. It’s a way of really pulling apart your writing and being very specific in which words to use as a vehicle to best tell your story.
And so I am taking my own advice and examining my work. REALLY examining it. What influenced it? Where are its links with literature? What am I trying to say? What do I want the reader to feel?
I’ve made a VERY shortlist of some of the books which influenced Gaslight and also another book I’ve finished called Seaglass, which I’m delighted to say has been shortlisted for the Wells Festival of Literature ‘Story for Children Competition’. They are both YA’s and have lots of common elements.
Seaglass is a foggy, spooky, windblown, sea-salty ghost story and Gaslight is a Victorian gothic mystery about a missing mother, the theatre, the Victorian obsession with death, ghostly happenings and… of course… the sea.
Both were stories which were brought to me by the sea in different ways but I have to thank so many books for their influences. Here are just three of the hundreds, possibly thousands, to which I owe a big thanks.
Some of them are EXTREMELY scary, so take care when reading.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. It’s a GCSE text. If only I had been given this to read at school. Having said that it prevented me from sleeping for a good long while so only read this if you have the permission of an adult / are ridiculously brave / are studying for a GCSE / want to have serious nightmares. Not for younger readers. Definitely not.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. This is a belter if you like gothic mystery. EVERYONE will tell you to read this. Don’t ignore everyone. It really is worth it.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. This novel has stood the test of time for a reason! So evocative and moving. You can afford to have great expectations where Dickens is concerned. Did that line come off a bit cheesy? Apologies.
So when you are next writing a story really give it some thought. Which books are you hoping to emulate? What is it about you that makes you the very person to tell your story? Which exact words do you want to use to best convey your tale? Which shadows do you need to play with to bring your story to fruition?
And a final question…
Did this blog post make any sense at all? When I am editing my brain is like cottage cheese.
See this picture? That’s my brain that is.