You may have noticed recently that my Instagram account has been taken over by my new book, The Hellion. In case you weren’t aware, my first novel has been picked up by Unbound Publishers, and it is currently undergoing a crowdfunding campaign in order to get it published. At the time of writing, it is 58% funded and I am tentatively hopeful that it will get there!
I wanted to write a series of blog posts about writing and the publishing process because I know this is of great interest to lots of you. When I asked what you would most like to read about, one of the instantly most popular responses was ‘what is the story of your book?’ Or, ‘why did you write your book?’ Or ‘why did you decide to write this book?’ So, I thought I would comply and tell you the story of The Hellion.
I have always written. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had a work in progress. It used to be my favourite thing at school. I remember I would write pages and pages in smudged cartridge pen in primary school, feverishly getting the next important story down. In Friday share assemblies, I would often be picked to read my work aloud in front of parents and pupils, with the whispered entreaty from my teacher, “just try to cut it down a little bit?” – apparently my audience would not appreciate six pages about a Bengal tiger that appeared in a kitchen when a tiger printed plate was smashed.
As I grew older, of course writing was pushed aside in favour of other things. Going to university, working, getting on with life. It was always in the background though. I’d be hit by a creative fervour every now and then, spend a week or two writing 10,000 words, then drop it when I felt the story wasn’t going anywhere.
Eventually, I started blogging. It was a food blog to start with, and writing little stories to go with my recipes was enough for a while. Then, that fell out of favour too. It was too much, cooking, writing out the recipes, editing the photos. But, after I had stopped doing that, I noticed an emptiness. I needed something to fill that hole.
The start of The Hellion coincides exactly to the day with the start of my Instagram account. In the Spring half term of my teacher training, during an extraordinarily difficult term, I decided I needed a distraction. So, I began writing again. I had come across the Pendle witch trials again, through some Wikipedia browsing, and thought the story of Jennet was so interesting that it needed a novel (more on that in another blog). I don’t know why, but after I wrote the first page, I set up an Instagram account. To start with, my account was going to be for writing rather than reading, but it’s definitely evolved! If you scroll back to my first post, all the way back on 4th March 2017, you’ll see that it’s a screenshot of the first page of The Hellion! I felt immediately that this was the first novel I’d actually finish. At the time, it was called Novel.
I spent a few months researching and writing intermittently while I finished my teacher training. A few words here, a few words there, until finally I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo in November 2017. In case you haven’t heard of it, this is National Novel Writing Month and the aim is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I failed, but by the end of the month, my novel – now with a spanking new name ‘Dear Jennet’ was 21,000 words long. This was the most I’d ever written, I was proud of it, and I couldn’t drop it.
Without that first NaNoWriMo, The Hellion would never be where it is now. However, it needed almost complete rewriting! I spent the next year picking over every word until November 2018, when I spent NaNoWriMo finishing the novel. It was at this point that I decided a new name was needed, and finally settled on The Hellion.
By this point, it was a labour of love. To spend that many hours researching, crafting, sweating over a story, it would be a fallacy to do nothing with it. I felt there was nothing to lose in sending it off to publishers and agents – but I’ll save that story for another day.
That is my story of writing. And it seems so strange that I’m just 42% away from having my first book published! If you haven’t already, and would like to preorder my book to help this dream become a reality (and get a first edition with your name printed in it!) please, please follow the link to my Unbound page and make a pledge today.
Thank you so much!
If you have any ideas for other blog posts, please feel free to get in touch!