It wasn’t initially going to be a novel.
I told people it was but that was too scary a place to begin at.
My original plan was to write a series of loosely connected short stories. I planned to take a minor character from the first story and use them as the protagonist of the second, someone from the second taking centre stage in the third, all the way through to the final story featuring the lead from the opening chapter again. It seemed like a good idea, a way of writing a longer story almost by stealth without the daunting prospect of having to plan and write a novel from scratch. After all, I was new at this game, not having attempted fiction in thirty years or so. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
So much for that plan.
The first short story worked out okay (email me if you’d like to read it) but I wasn’t happy with its pacing and, although some of the dialogue was fun, I didn’t find it that rewarding to write. I felt I had a lot to learn still, and needed some help. An attempt at the second was similarly frustrating: it was better but longer and again the pacing let it down. The third never got beyond a dozen pages before I realised I didn’t have a clue where it was going, even if it did start well.
And it felt like I was treading water, shying away from the real challenge.
So I parked the short story collection, for now at least (I still think it’s a cool idea) and started a few creative writing courses to try to learn more of the craft. My first was a one-day workshop with best selling novelist Kate Mosse at The Guardian, the second was a more substantial twelve-week online course with Random House, and that’s where the story that would become my first novel started to take shape.