writing

How We Get To Where We Are

I’ve been living stories as long as I can remember, telling them from the moment I could talk, writing them from the moment I could clumsily grip a crayon. Growing up, I had a story in every book, folder and notepad I owned. I’d jot them on the back of shopping lists (mum still has a couple), newsletters, napkins and, failing that, my skin. Words burn in my veins and pour out through my fingers, and characters dance behind my eyes when I close them at night.

My thoughts are as loud in my head as your spoken word, and whilst I’m intensely sensitive to noise and can’t handle more than one stream of auditory input at a time, by humorous contradiction I cannot tell the volume of my own voice and am often shouting without knowing it. I’m painfully shy and frightened of everyone, which I try to cover by talking and anyone who knows me will attest that I can talk. But it’s all hot air. A blustery cover, so you won’t pick that I’m really not making eye contact, or that I’m dreaming of the dragon sitting on your shoulder, or what you’d look like with pointed ears, or fangs, or horns, or wings. Or if you’d be different with longer hair, or maybe a horse’s body. And is that orange in your hand really an orange, or is it actually a blood-fruit which, once consumed, will turn you into a fruit vampire? And if I do make eye contact, I’m probably staring, because good gracious, do you know what I can see in your eyes? Everything. I can see everything in your eyes. And isn’t that just a little creepy?

Where I go, stories follow, like glitter on concert night. I see potential in things both strange and normal, am struck by inspiration in often unlikely places. That abandoned mattress on the side of the road, with the one wonky spring poking out the side? Write that down. The single rice bubble in the coco pops box? Remember that. A spiderweb, floating in the breeze. Make a note. Ice crystals on a blade of grass, yes. The way the clouds look like an antelope in a scarf. The bruise on that apple. The way Orion insists on wearing his socks over his pants. Piper’s shoes are on backwards. Everything, and I do mean everything, can be useful.

I don’t believe in genre (or I didn’t), I just write. I want to put smiles on people’s faces, joy in their hearts, adrenaline in their veins. I believe all stories are romance, fantasy, magic, mystery, and so on – because life is romance, fantasy, magic and mystery. When people ask me what types of books I write, I say: “Good ones.”

It was only as I grew and matured that my mother (my guardian angel, both literary and otherwise) pointed out that I would need to fit a genre and, being as widely read as she is, made a few suggestions. She was right, and a few years later here I am, and proud of it. I feel like I’ve finally found my tribe. (Hello, tribe!) But even though I’m settled, I don’t like to lead conversations with genre, because it’s so easy for someone to judge. “Oh, you write in (insert genre here)? No, I don’t read those.” I’ve never been one to let something as silly as genre stand in the way of a good book, and I’m not about to start now. So while I acknowledge genre’s importance, I think an author, and their work, is both important to and more than the simple categories we assign them in society.

If you’ve read the post that came before this, my first (sort of) novel is due to be released on the 22nd of June, and it’s called Sorcery and Stardust. It is, in a nutshell, about a sorceress, a warrior, and a space deer. And yes, when people ask me what my book is about, that’s actually what I say. For better or worse, eh? Don’t worry, there’s a lot more to it and I do have a proper blurb and all sorts of other fun things, which I’ll share in the coming weeks.

Anyway, for a bunch of reasons that are too long to go into right now, I’ve chosen to go indie – or independent, for those who are less familiar with the lingo. This entire book, including the cover art, is done by me, and I’m both blindingly proud and absolutely terrified of that fact. But I believe in the writing, and the story, and the characters. I believe in myself. And that’s important, because as an author, I’m asking you to believe in me, too. I’m asking you to believe my story, and fall in love (or not, as the case may be) with my characters. I’m asking you to loosen the yoke you’ve placed upon yourself, and, for a moment in time, give it to me. I’m asking you to trust me to take you somewhere else, to enjoy a reality of my making.

I take that trust very seriously. So seriously that I’ve put the spotlight on my own shadows, and turned them into rainbows, and offered them up to you, in the hopes that you might take an interest in me. In my work. In the beautiful, fantastic creation which is story.

Seven weeks to go. Are you ready?

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