Monday, 22 January 2018


Hello, lovely readers! Long time no read and so on - very sorry about that. I can't really promise to do better in future, since having a job with regular office hours and a lengthy commute by train is definitely having an impact on the amount of spare time and brain power that I have for blogging. At least, if I want to get any actual-book-writing done (which hopefully most of you would prefer I focus on).

There is cool and exciting news that I ought to be able to share in the foreseeable future, but for now I have to keep totally quiet about on pain of getting a sorrowful and disappointed email from my agent or editor, or both. So in the meantime I thought this post - which was inspired by a tweet that turned out to be unexpectedly popular - might be amusing.

I'm currently working on my tenth novel since becoming a published writer (probably around the twelfth or thirteenth one if we're counting the ones that will reside forever in a drawer in my desk). This book is uncontracted so I can't really talk about it, except to say that it's got selkies and sea magic in it. Now get a load of this:

I have written and discarded no less than six different opening chapters for this book.

That's around 12,000 words of work that I earnestly poured my effort into and which now grace the recycle bin.

I have never, ever had to do this before - not for any other book I've written.

Let no writer convince you, my muffins, that they know how to write a book. In fact, one of the biggest differences I've noticed between the fresh and dewy just-starting-out unpublished or debut writers and the ones like me who've been hacking away at the literary undergrowth for a decade or so is that us professional hackers will admit we're never going to to figure out this writing malarkey. If a pro-writer tries to tell you that they've figured out a reliable formula for creating a book, then I can 100% assure you that they're trying to sell you something, and the something will be a book. Usually a book with the words 'How to', 'Bestseller', 'Secret' and 'Novel' in the title.

I mean, buy it anyway, if it looks fun, but don't be fooled. How To Write Any Kind of Book At All: It's A Complete Mystery To Me, I Don't Know What to Tell You is what the title ought to be.

And just to illustrate this point, here are the six discarded opening lines of my tenth manuscript, in no particular order:

1) "I always loved the water."

2) "It starts with the taste of apples, sweet and acidic, on the back of my tongue."

3) "I inhaled in as the Whisperers had taught me, slowly and deeply – one, two, three, four, five – and tried to ignore the stench of goats." 

4) "I was born Her Royal Highness Theoai Herim, the Golden One, eldest daughter of Queen Theoan, and Crown Princess of Yamarr."

5)  "Segemassa lay quietly beneath the sharp ivory horns of the rising Warrior’s moon."

6) "The sea voyage to my new home took nearly eight weeks."

And now I'm onto the seventh, which I shan't share because I have a superstitious fear that will jinx it. Wish me luck with this one, darlings!
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