I wrote ‘The Pawnbroker’ on Alderney.
For those of you who don’t know Alderney, it is a very small island in the English Channel. It’s also very beautiful. Its coastline is dramatic, and the water shimmers and sparkles as if it were telling everyone that it should be in the Caribbean. A place where you can relax on unspoilt beaches, take stock, breathe.
It was a place full of surprises, despite its size.
I’d had the idea for ‘The Pawnbroker’ for a long time. It simmered away in my head and on Alderney, all that fresh air and a more open spirit gave me the urge to get it down on paper. However, on one of my many walks, I came across a half-forgotten well, hidden by a profusion of bay trees and bushes and accessed by a tiny lynch gate. It didn’t seem that anyone had been there for years, but it was a wonderful place, tranquil and sweet smelling. A small, worn stone bench and a trickling spring all added to the atmosphere of quiet contemplation. Of course, being me, my imagination began to take hold. And soon I was planning out a new story and ‘The Pawnbroker’ was put on the shelf for the time-being.
I learned that the well had been the favourite resting place of a wandering monk, who had visited the island way back in the 600s. I can’t remember his name unfortunately, and no amount of searching the Internet has given me any clues. I remember I christened him Saint Ignatia for the story I began to develop. That could well be his real name, but I don’t know. It sounded good, and I believe it still does.
‘The Well of Despair’ flowed out of me, as easily as the water did from that natural spring. It was a young adult novel, and its genre was horror.
I’ve always loved horror, both the written and the visual. I have fond memories of Mondays nights, sprawled out on the living room carpet, eyes glued to the TV. After the News at Ten, the Hammer Horror would be screened. The best antidote to school the following day as you can imagine. That’s why I hated Sunday nights so much – no films to help me forget, just for a few moments, the hell of Mosslands Senior Comprehensive. Such was my love of these films, that I bought myself a Super-8 one-reeler of ‘Bride of Frankenstein, and watched it repeatedly. Four minutes long, silent, never bettered.
Anyway, back to ‘the Well’.
It took me a long time to write. I had a career in teaching to follow, don’t forget. And a family. It wasn’t easy this juggling act.
Then I moved back to the mainland. Suffolk. Beautiful countryside, challenging kids. It took me a while to get myself back in front of the word-processor.
But I did. In 2007 I moved to Spain. The Costa del Sol. Heat like you wouldn’t believe, swimming in the sea, sun-bathing next to the pool. When winter drew in I at last turned once again to the written word. Spain gave me the chance to breathe again. Teaching in the UK had become one, long procession of paperwork and endless meetings. Actual teaching of children seemed to be a secondary consideration. In Spain, it was the opposite. And with more time came the opportunity to write.
So I polished up ‘The Well’, got some people to read it, polished it again…and then thought about who I could submit it to.
Here we come to one of the most pressing problems facing new writers – which avenue to go down? We all know the choices:
1. The traditional route; finding an agent to represent us, get us noticed by the ‘big boys’, achieve the five-figure (even six-figure) deal. Mmm…more of that later…
2. Find a so-called independent publisher who will edit, encourage, guide, supply the ISBN, the cover…type-setting…the list goes on…and more of that later too…
3. Self-publish. More of this now. I never considered self-publishing. This was my personal choice, and still is. I know we hear the stories, the Fifty Shades of Self-publishing success…but, I’m still to be convinced.
So, clutching my 45,000 word manuscript (of which I am still very proud), I decided to go on a two-pronged assault. I sent it to agents and independents.
And boy did I learn a lot about independents!
You can visit my re-vamped website www.glennstuart.co.uk to see the sort of work I have written for young adults. My latest will be out before Christmas. If you prefer more adult orientated work, then pop along to amazon.com and put a search in for Stuart G Yates. Thanks for your support, and please, make a comment if you wish.