I have recently had to opening chapter of my next novel read by my colleagues in a writers group. I have been thrilled by the responses. They have made comments such as:
‘A compelling tale that kept me reading to the end and left me wanting to know what happens next.’
‘I really want to know what happens to these children now.’
‘The opening extract plunges the reader into a description of poverty in New York in the middle of the 19th century in the wake of the Irish potato famine. The filth, the stench, the diseases; the fight for survival that’s so desperate that there’s room for neither laws nor morals; all these are so powerfully described that the reader cannot but feel involved.’
Comments like those have given me a real boost and I am now working to free time up in the diary to get back to the writing. With each book I write, I seem to explore a different genre. It’s a strange approach for a writer to take and most tend to specialise, not least because that makes it easier to build a reader base. So far I have tried humour, fantasy, mainstream fiction, crime and now a historical novel that might be described as an epic. I blame my sources of inspiration. Each one has been sparked by a specific thought. A commute on the underground and a means of dealing with the horror of it resulted in humour. Walking my beloved dog in the woods where we lived resulted in his fantasy adventure ‘Alfie’s Woods’. Writing 300 words for a writing exercise on Verisimilitude led to ‘The Appearance of Truth’. A gadget in a magazine led to ‘The Lifetracer’. As for my new work it was an Easter meeting at chapel. I’m afraid I can tell you nothing of what the meeting was about because the moment there was mention of some of the effects of the potato famine my mind was elsewhere, developing a plot.
I do plan to return to some of the subjects I’ve covered so far. Connor Bancroft, the Investigator in ‘The Lifetracer’, will one day take up the battle for custody of his precious son, Mikey. Lisa Forster and Pete Laundon may also take up their story from where they left it in ‘The Appearance of Truth’. Characters have a habit of wanting to continue to tell their story and whilst Hedgehog, Squirrel, Rabbit and friends may not return to the stage, Alfie has plans to continue writing with not just his blog but his political manifesto.
The possibilities when you are a writer are limitless and I can honestly say it’s the best occupation in the world.