Thinking back to those years, long, long ago when I would bash away on my old Olivetti (actually, to be absolutely accurate, my brother’s Olivetti!) it brings a smile to my face as I compare the process I go through now. In those days, the idea of ‘editors’, proof-readers, etc just simply didn’t exist. Or, if they did, I had no knowledge of them. My only ‘proof-reader’ was a friend of mine. Sitting hour after hour and dreaming up scenes, I would then pass them over to her, and she would make useful comments, always encouraging me, and eventually I would arrive at a piece of work that was half-descent. The rewrites were a nightmare. Remember, personal computers of any kind were another decade away, so it was simply a case of using the typewriter once again, to restructure, alter, delete and add.
It took forever.
So, as I began work on my next book, I enlisted the services of a typist.
However, this wasn’t until much later. When I began university, naturally part of my studies required me to submit theses. They had to be professionally produced. The amazing Amstrad word-processors had just come out but, being a poor student, I could not afford one. A typist was cheaper, and she did a great job. She had one of those electronic golf-ball thingies, and I would stand in her study, waiting to pick up my long-essay, and drool over that most beautiful of machines.
Talking to her one day, I drummed up the courage to ask her if she’d be willing to prepare parts of my novel. She seemed happy enough, so I delivered the first three chapters. Even in those days, submissions to publishers and agents required the first three chapters, packed away in a padded envelope and sent by recorded delivery.
So, armed with said words, I dropped them off and waited.
I’m still waiting.
I think that perhaps she found the language a little too coarse. Who knows? Perhaps it was too violent, gritty, real. I never saw those chapters and they could well be sitting on her desk right now.
Contrast with today. I finished a novel, Roadkill recently and after I’d gone through it a number of times, used ‘Autocrit’ to good effect, I submitted it and it was accepted. Then I began work on the editing process with the publishers. This was a long process, going through every line, checking, rewriting, sometimes arguing over some things. In the end, even going through the cover, I am left with a book that I am justly proud.
A contemporary thriller, Roadkill is about a somewhat warped individual who lives a dull, pointless life on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. One evening, whilst driving home from work, Ralph hits a deer by accident. When he gets out of his car, he sees it is dead. He takes it home and cooks it, serves it to his wife, and she loves it. Naturally, he doesn’t tell her how he came by it, but something changes inside. So begins his gradual spiral into madness. He has always been a little ‘unhinged’ but this random event totally rips the last vestiges of sanity apart. He begins to take ‘road kill’ from the highway, brings that home too, and prepares it all for the pot. When his wife begins to suspect, she is sickened, refuses to partake anymore of this ‘free bounty’. When there is a road accident on the same highway, and a woman manages to drag herself free, Ralph kills her and takes her back to…Yes, you’ve guessed it.
What happens to Ralph as he plunges into insanity, you’ll have to find out by buying the book. It will very shortly be available on all devices, and in paperback. If you like thrillers, murders, modern-day horrors, then you’ll love this.
I wonder how it would have fared back then, created on my Olivetti. Who knows, it may have made it. Or, it may simply have remained on that woman’s desk, gathering dust along with my earlier effort. My hope is that many, many people pick it up and read it. Perhaps, even that typist!
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