It's said that everyone has a book inside them. The difficulty is finding how to get it out.
For me, the trigger was finding one of those lists of Things You Must Do Before You Die. The one which caught my attention was Write The Book You Want To Read.
I've always loved the story of Romeo & Juliet, but I've often thought, This is the world's greatest love story - so why does it have to end so badly? The book I've always wanted to read is the alternative version of Romeo & Juliet - the one in which the star-cross'd lovers don't fall victim to a maddeningly preventable catastrophe.
Why, I asked myself, should there not be such a book? And the answer came straight back: Why not indeed? And if it doesn't exist, then go ahead and write it.
I mulled over the idea, but it took a while before anything definite happened. I'd dabbled with Creative Writing in the past, and had taken a few courses on the subject, but I'd never attempted to write anything longer than poems, articles, short stories, or the occasional stroppy letter to The Times. The thought of tackling a full-length novel, even one on a subject about which I felt so strongly, was a daunting prospect. Then, in one of those serendipitous moments which really make one believe in Guardian Angels, I was browsing in a bookshop in France when I came across a novel which took the form of the lost diary of a woman who had been the secret lover of Count Dracula. A voice in my mind whispered, "A lost diary? You could do something like this..."
The eventual result was The Ghostly Father. When I started writing it I had no real aim to have it published; I was writing it for myself, because it was the outcome I'd always wanted. But when I'd finished the first draft (which took about six months) I showed it to a couple of close friends. They both said, "This is good. You really ought to take it further."
I'd recently joined the editing team of Crooked Cat Books, and I realised that here was a publisher who would consider taking on new authors. When I noticed they were open for submissions, I took a large swig of Dutch Courage and pressed SEND. I wasn't very hopeful, so when I received the email from them telling me they wanted to publish it, I had to print it out and re-read it four times before I could convince myself that I hadn't imagined the whole thing.
The title is based on a quotation from the play (it's how Romeo addresses the character of Friar Lawrence), and the story, which is a sort of part-prequel, part-sequel to the original tale, is told from the Friar's point of view. I've always been fascinated by the Friar and have often wondered why he behaved as he did - and by giving him what I hope is an interesting and thought-provoking backstory, I've tried to offer some possible answers. Plus, of course, I wanted to reduce the overall body-count, and give the lovers themselves a rather less tragic dénouement. In the six years since its original release, judging by the number of people who have bought it, read it, and been kind enough to say they've enjoyed it, it seems as though I'm not by any means the only person who prefers the alternative ending.
The Ghostly Father was officially released on St Valentine's Day 2014. It spent four wonderful years with Crooked Cat, then (following reversion of rights) it was revised and re-released via Ocelot Press. I'll tell you a bit more about Ocelot later in the week.
Please join me again tomorrow, when I'll tell you what happened next. In the meantime, don't forget that all my Kindle titles are just 99p each for this week only. Click on the book covers on the right to find out more.