Finished one – on with with the next!

It’s been a while, but here’s an update:

The book I started on in June was finished before Christmas. That is, the story was completed, but of course, it is not completely finished. I have sent the manuscript to someone who has kindly agreed to read it it and give feedback.

In writing, and in anything, to be open to critique, especially negative, destructive, damaging, painful, crushing criticism is absolutely crucial. So-called “constructive criticism” is too often a cover for a lack of ability to accept one’s own faults and weaknesses.

On that happy note, I can say that without some painful criticism of my first novel, the semi-autobiographical In Good Faithimg_6272, I would never have had the idea to the story that I have now completed. The working title for that is Calling to Kill, although I am also considering How to Kill a Pastor. Do please let me know which you like best. Answers on a postcard (or just in the comments section). The criticism sparked a thought that turned into a pale flame that eventually became a roaring fire of inspiration and the new story became a reality.

Having completed this story, I decided to take it easy over Christmas, and read an Evelyn Waugh story (Put Out More Flags) and the spoof Famous Five story Brexit Island, which someone gave me for Christmas.

As Candlemas put an end to Christmas it was time to turn my attention to a book project that I started a few years ago. The idea had started as the story of four students going up to a university loosely modelled on Oxford/Cambridge, and the experiences that influences their process towards their more mature self. After just above 46000 words I had become stuck. Well, now I have come unstuck, so to speak. The story will have a death. It will be a killing of some sort, but is it murder? You will have to read the story to find out. It has an evil professor and a good don. It has some great characters, and some loathsome ones.  Some inspiration is drawn from the concept of the Stepford Student.

The original working title was The Students, but now it is Oliver or The Body in the River. How about that? The book will have sex and violence, so it is bound to be a best seller.

Publishers, here I am.


Towards Completion of New Book

My current favourite title for my new book is “Calling to Kill” (previous title “The Pastor” was no good). I like the double meaning of “calling” (ringing on the phone, shouting, and a religious calling – and that is actually a triple meaning, I realise), and I also like the alliteration of the k-sounds.

I have completed the story (notice I do not say “finished the book” – the story is complete, but the book isn’t). 73 and a bit thousand words, and now I am up early every morning to edit, re-write, add and take away, until I reach at least a satisfactory result.

This story will be a lot funnier than my previous one. In Good Faith had its funny bits, but they were spread out, shall we say. This will have a constant comic thread running through it, and then the serious stuff will hopefully be like hidden gems that are uncovered little by little.

One of the challenges of writing is to transform what may be a clear enough visualisation in your head of physical places, to a description that makes sense to the reader. I’ve had to make drawings of the most important rooms that feature in the story, so that I could concretize the spaces, and make sure that measurements and ratios make sense.

I have a trusted friend who, as I finish my rough edit, will proofread, before I start sending the script to publishers. Been here before, but unlike the first one which took me years, I managed to finish this book in less than half a year, so I am hoping I shall have it published next year. Fingers crossed.

The picture is my drawing of one of the characters’ room. He lives in a bedsit in Acton. The place is based on a house in which I lived with my wife in 1999.


The End is Nigh!

Today I reached 66,000 words on my new novel, which has the working title Calling to Kill. The climactic point in the story has been reached, and now I just need to wind everything up nicely.

It is a sort of crime story, but also just a story about the dangers of seeking to be a change maker and what fanatical belief in religion can lead to.

I take my inspiration from my strange time at Kensington Temple in London, from 1997-2002. This fanatical, charismatic church was in my not so humble view a Petri dish of madness, and my crime novel is a fantasy very much inspired by some of the characters I met in my time there.

Unlike me, my hero will not turn Atheist. I do not wish this to be an attack on Christianity as such. That is such an easy target. If we really want to challenge dangerous religious fanaticism these days, we need to turn our attention to Islam and the violence and vehemence it seems to engender against women, gays, and Western values in general. But that must be a future project.

Calling to Kill will hopefully be enjoyable for people of faith as well as those without. And now: publishers out there, this is your chance. I do not have a contract with my previous publisher, so I am free. This book will be a killing…(pun intended).

The drawing is a little sketch of how I see the main protagonist, Bjørn-Eirik.20160923_062851

The Write Stuff

Still very slowly building my blogging steam, but here’s an update: the new novel/story/text is coming along very nicely, at least in quantity: it now stands on just over 50 000 words, and the climax of the story is very near. (Goodness, that was a long sentence). Once that is pulled off I only need another few thousand words to finish the whole thing in a satisfactory way. I do actually think I can do this. Encouraging.

Title: I guess it should not be the author’s preoccupation, not least since a publisher may take it completely out of our hands, but I do feel a good title would be Calling to Kill. Especially because of the double meaning of “calling”, both coming to visit, and the religious calling that you receive. We can also add on calling on the telephone or calling out as in shouting. I do like ambiguous titles.

Just finished reading Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, and that is a good title. It is also slightly disheartening that I shall never be able to write as well as Waugh (I also like alliteration). Never mind, that is a high bar, after all. I only know that I now want to pretend that one of my previous jobs was as a chub fuddler.

Lastly today, I include a picture of a beautiful edition of Dracula, that I bought for my daughter (she is reading if for school). I was going to buy a £4.99 cheap version, then I saw this at considerably higher cost and thought Men liveth not by bread alone, and went for it. What a nice feeling it is to hold a properly produced hard back book. I hope my daughter also feels that way. If it increases her joy of reading it will have been worth the extra expense.20161015_181252

Yeah! 20,000 Milestone Reached

The crime writer P. D. James had a full-time career and children to take care of, but managed to write by getting up in the wee hours. Following her example in this (if nothing else) I have now managed to reach a word count of 21,439. Hurrah! Quantity sorted, quality is another question. I promised in an earlier post to share my sketches of the characters in the book. Here’s the first one. This is of the main character, Bjørn-Eirik (a name that causes him some bother when he first arrives in London). He is a young man who looks slightly older due to his thinning hair on top (not at all like me then, as I am not a young man anymore). So far I have eight chapters, which those good at maths will have worked out means that each chapter is a little over 2 1/2 thousand words. I feel that is a good, short length of a chapter. You can then realistically finish a chapter in the course of your commute, or in the evening before going to bed. I hate long chapters, as I find it easy to lose the thread if I have to pause mid-chapter. More drawings later…now, breakfast for the young one must be organised.

Early Morning Writing

The early(ish) morning is my most productive writing time. From 7am to 8.30am, fuelled by excellent coffee from Guntons of Colchester, I have produced just over a 1000 more words to my new novel, so I am glad to say it now totals 16,824 words. More importantly I feel I have created some interesting characters that I like spending time with, and who I therefore also believe potential readers will like to spend time with. I have made some sketches of how I imagine the characters to look like. I shall photograph them and share in a future post. But now the others are awake, and so writing is over and breakfast beckons.