I was just a writer with a book she thought was good.
In May last year, I was sitting on Beneath the Veil thinking “I’ll just press the publish button and see what happens.” Quite early on, I had already decided on self-publishing for a few reasons. 1) Because I knew this would be a trilogy and I wanted each instalment to be out there ASAP so I could just carry on writing. 2) Everyone else was doing it. 3) I cross genres and knew (perhaps) agents wouldn’t take. 4) I really didn’t know what I’ve got here. I really just needed to find out.
I remember receiving texts from friends and family who started reading and them saying, “Why have you done this to that character?” Or “No, this cannot be happening. No.” It amazed me they bought into it so much. And people who are not readers saying, “I have shelves full of unread stuff but I can’t put yours down.” It still amazes me that people love that book. It was my first and no other book will ever hold as much emotion and significance for me, because it represents so much progression. And yet, I’ve also learnt so, so much since then. An ordinate amount, in fact.
In the beginning, I got people saying, “What, you wrote a novel?” And me, in my belligerence, “Yeah, big deal!” Oh, I don’t know, maybe I just didn’t want people trying to get in on it. I don’t know. It has taken this full year to come to terms with everything I’ve achieved. It’s bizarre, I realise. Perhaps, it was simply that for me, writing a novel is such a pleasure and a privilege. It really is! There was never a stage where I didn’t really enjoy it. I relished it. (It’s what comes after that sucks!) I go back to my upbringing and I remember being told at eight years old that I could write. I remember burying myself in books at the little local library that is now shut down. Such a shame. I remember feeling that this was something I was always destined to do (I hoped it was anyway). My love of literature would see me put myself through university with jobs in cafes, bars and as a mentor to kids living in former mining communities who needed to know there was hope. There is always hope. I went on to work for the Press Association and lead a team of writers. I also managed to keep some very picky editors happy at a certain magazine I will not mention here. A feat in itself! And so, all these things, have led me here.
I was just a writer who’d put out a second book she thought was good.
Beneath the Betrayal was different to the first. I decided I wanted a lot more blood and lust in this book and that is exactly what I gave people. A recent conversation with a “non-reader” reassured me that I was right to have a father/son scenario instead (to make a change) and I’m glad that worked out. Book Two was very easy to write. I had almost half of it done before I even put out Beneath the Veil because I needed to be confident I could keep carrying these through. That book out, I turned to the last.
I was just a writer who had a trilogy to round off.
It was around this time that I realised, “Nobody cares as much about your work as you.” I was getting jaded, it was true. I was tired and felt like I had not much else to give. I quit my day job for a few reasons, but mostly to give me some time to reflect. (I have written all these books while looking after a baby too). I am lucky in that having worked as a journalist, I am trained to flip in and out of writing mode so when my daughter’s asleep, I can flick it on and off and dive right in. But, that’s not to say juggling hasn’t been hard. It really has. I’d gone from May 2012 (having about 3 twitter followers and no marketing plan whatsoever) to a lot more followers and some people seeming to show an interest in my work. But still, I really didn’t feel I was getting anything back for all my work. I felt there’s still a lot of negativity surrounding self-publishing but then reminded myself that even best-selling, critically-acclaimed writers still have their cynics.
I knew I had to end the trilogy to the best of my ability. Perhaps I ran wild (it’s 160,000 words long), but it had to be a journey that would satisfy Ravage fans. Somehow, BTB left me with loads of threads and I had plenty to play with. I really had the opportunity to see what else I could do and I tried to do it! I just went with my gut and pushed out another book like it was the birth of my third child. Not as hard work as the first but still a little difficult, because it was a big bleeder. I shook off my doubts, lethargy and exhaustion, and ploughed on. I had to. It’s what I’ve always done. There were so many points along the way when I could have given up. I really could have done. I almost didn’t go to university to study English because I had an opportunity to train as a Retail Manager (if I’d wanted to). I also nearly fucked up my A-levels because of one thing or another. However, I loved studying English and it led me here. I loved writing TV listings for seven years, because it led me here.
I finished the trilogy.
December 2012 was when I finished writing. I left it there and had Christmas off. My hubby and a few other people read Beneath the Exile and were stunned. I went back in January, did a couple of edits, but felt like I really had nothing else to add at that point in time. I put it out and just thought, “I have to distance myself now.” I’d spent almost 16 months living and breathing those three books and I had to just let go. I needed perspective.
I got some perspective and wrote an erotic novel with ease.
I know that The Ravage Trilogy deserves its due and it is now going to get it. There are lots of people who will get pleasure from these books.
I have just written a 100K-word erotic novel in two months. And I hope, I really hope, people who read that really see what I’m trying to do here. I really hope they do and are inspired. Words are an escape, but also an expression; a medium through which we can explore our lives and people around us without targeting anyone in particular.
There were so, so many times I could have given up. And I didn’t. Why? Because this is something I utterly, really and truly, adore. I do. Writing to me, is, life. I won’t ever stop now. A year ago, a seasoned writer told me he didn’t know of any phenoms but he was willing to be proven wrong. I will keep going until I prove him wrong. Perhaps, the greatest story we can ever tell is our own, but I’ve never been that keen on that…