Seems like quite a long time since I wrote a novel. The last one was The Quisling Orchid way back when.
Since then I’ve been fiddling with screenplays, writing short stories, winning competitions (ahem) and working with the fine fine people who make up my local writers group.
But I have been working on one book for a while now …
A couple of years back, my mother became very ill. She always enjoyed reading when she had the chance, but during her final year, she preferred having either of her sons read to her. Since she couldn’t really concentrate on a full length novel, I started writing a collection of linked short stories, so I could read her each chapter as I finished it.
Sadly, my mother passed away before I could write the last few stories. I didn’t feel like carrying on with it, or writing anymore, for that matter, so the novella languished inside a laptop for a couple of years, and I sort of turned my back on writing.
I’m not sure why I picked it up again. Would love to say I had some sort of otherworldly epiphany, but it wasn’t that exciting. While sorting out my mother’s effects, we found a stack of handwritten papers: the beginnings of an autobiography. It was deeply moving and beautifully written. I had no idea she could write. I mean, when I talked about my writing, she never mentioned it.
Now I think about it, maybe it was an epiphany. Anyway, I dusted off the novella with a plan to self-publish it (for free if I can figure out how) before the end of the year. Sort of a tribute to my Mum.
This is the second book in the Rivers of London series which is a sort of Harry Potter meets Scott & Bailey.
Imagine, if you will, a secretive, well-funded branch of the Metropolitan Police, tasked with dealing with cases involving magic and the supernatural. Well, calling them a ‘branch’ might be overstating it; there’s just the two of them: Peter Grant, police constable and wizard-in-training; and his mentor, Thomas Nightingale, a detective inspector who seems to have been alive since the nineteenth century.
It’s by no means an original concept, but I don’t think I’ve come across an urban fantasy novel (or is it magic realism?) that’s so well-written. The sense of place you get is extraordinary; Aaronovitch has mapped London to destruction, giving himself a rich environment in which to explore this magical world of vampires, witches and river gods.
Okay, now I say ‘neat’ because I was pretty chuffed when I got it to work!
Scrivener is the best way to write a book, in my less than humble opinion, but it does have a pretty steep learning curve for some of the really deep stuff it can do. For that reason, make sure you have a good working knowledge of the Scrivener styles setup before you go any further.
Okay, so here’s the scenario:
I’ve just joined a local writing group, (lovely people), and one of the things we do is critique each other’s ongoing work. I like to pull out the occasional chapter that I need help with (which is usually all of them) and drop them in for a quick look-see. Easy enough in Scrivener: you can set the compile page to include just the chapters you want and export them to a PDF.
There we go: first chapter of the new book, ready for export and review. The only problem is, I don’t have a header. Now, the writers group is pretty specific: every submission has to have a header on the first page which showing:
the title of the piece
the word count (our group has a limit of 1500 words for a review, though you can submit two pieces if we’re short of pieces – which we never are)
genre (I usually have no idea what genre I’m writing until someone tells me)
type of feedback required (the best answer seen so far: ‘gentle’)
anything the reader needs to know (you can add warnings for graphic sex scenes, violence or mentioning Brexit)