(Four different C-Words)
Perhaps it’s unfair to refer to my new book as a problem child. I’m delighted with the final version, and will be proud to see it out there in the world, hopefully bringing delightfully creepy shivers to readers everywhere. But it did put up a bit of a fight during its creation to the point that there were times when I felt like throwing away the manuscript and starting afresh with a different story.
I wrote Deadly Shores in 2020-2021, and it took me a full year to finish. This was a record for me, because I usually take around three months from opening paragraph to final draft, but this wasn’t the book’s fault at all. In fact, it is possibly the closest to my heart in many ways because one of my passions is for sailing, and this book carries the tang of the sea with it.
I’m not going to blame the C-word (no, not that C-word but the one that’s been dominating the news for the past couple of years), because although that probably had an effect on my writing productivity, it wasn’t the sole reason.
I can’t blame my father, either, because it’s not his fault that his dementia deteriorated to the point that he became a danger to himself and even to us, his carers.
Nor can I blame yet another C-word, Cancer, although that also caused grief and anxiety in our close-knit family when one of us was diagnosed in spring of 2021.
Now, in spring of 2022, Covid (rats, I said the word) is still very much with us, but we’re learning to deal with it and it no longer dominates the news. Sadly, the plight of Ukraine has taken its place, but that deserves a blog post all to itself, perhaps.
My father is safe in a wonderful nursing home, surrounded by people who care for him better than I was able to. They’re trained, they have lifting equipment, and they work shifts, so they are able to sleep at predictable times. When I was looking after him, sleep was a distant memory, and even when I did nap, I was on constant alert, listening for the baby alarm to warn me if he’d gone outside again, calling for my mum (who died several years ago).
The family member with cancer has received excellent treatment and is doing as well as can be wished for at this stage. We are optimistic about the future, and have been making exciting plans for the years ahead.
And I am writing again. Book four took roughly three months to complete and is now with my wonderful beta readers before being sent off to my editors at Joffe Books. It was an absolute joy to write and the words flowed as they usually do, because I could keep my head clear and concentrate — apart from the fourth C-word, of course. Cats walking up and the down the keyboard as they look for scratches are a daily hazard.
Thank you for your patience in reading this far. There is a moral to this blog: times can be hard, worry can eat away at you, but if you can only manage to keep on plugging away, there will eventually be light at the end of the tunnel. And it’s not always an express train coming the other way.
I’ve been incredibly lucky. I have a really loving, supportive family, and friends who are a delight and always know the right thing to say, but I’m also very lucky with my publisher: Joffe Books, and particularly my editor, Emma, have been so understanding and given me the space and time I needed to get through the various challenges life was throwing at me. Not everyone is that lucky.