After I'd finished writing my first novel I still had all the logistics left to do (being self-published). Choose a cover, sort someone to proof and edit, then there was the e-conversion, the paperback, ISDN numbers, and all the rest of it. So, for a while the last thing I was thinking about was writing a second book.
But when the dust settled, I knew I’d been gripped by the characters in ‘Poison’. I could see them walking around Cambridge, to me at least they were real. I had already marked out various stories in a notepad, so I knew I had further ideas.
But then, when it came down to it, actually starting to write, I began to wonder if I actually had it in me. A little bit of doubt snuck in. ‘Everyone has one book in them’ is such a cliché, and it couldn’t help but seep into my psyche. What if I was that person? What if I only had one book in me? Who was I? How dare I presume I was a writer.
At first my sales were slow for my first novel Poison, and I wondered what I’d done. Maybe it was rubbish. Maybe I shouldn't have shared what was going on in my head with anyone else. After all, it's a bit presumptuous, isn't it? Thinking others might want to read your private thoughts. Slowly, I began to get positive reviews from complete strangers. It was the funniest feeling. I almost felt guilty, as if my work wasn’t worthy. I am always overwhelmed and so grateful when someone leaves a review, or sends a tweet saying that they enjoyed my novel. It’s like the cherry on the cake.
These reviews were the very things that kept me going, to get me started to write another book. If a dozen people wanted to read my second book, then I was going to bloody well write it.
Then I realised, I’ve been writing for over ten years now. I have a number of other books written, that I decided not to publish. ‘Poison’ wasn’t the first thing I had ever written. I was probably the sixth thing. I’d done my 10,000 hours of writing. It doesn’t mean I’m a good writer. I certainly don’t presume to be a great writer. I just write, like runners run. When I’m writing, I disappear from everything around me. It helps me relax. When I was a kid I used to play the piano, and it had the same effect.
So, I stopped worrying, and I just started writing. I would make this second novel as good as I could. Of course. Why would I ask anyone to read (publish) it if I didn’t? But, in order to get over the hurdle, the beginning of writing it, I just wrote. So, I sat by the fire in the winter, and in my shed in the summer, and I did what I enjoy the most. I hope anyone reading ‘Cursed’ will enjoy it. To a great extent the returning characters wrote it for me. For now I can’t make them do things they wouldn’t do. I can’t push them into corners or tell them what to say. As I just see and hear them in front of me doing their thing. Although they are in my head, they are just being themselves.