‘How long did it take you to write your book?’
I get asked this a lot. Nearly more than – ‘what is your book about?’
It is difficult to give an honest and straight answer to this. I have only written one published book, so let’s be clear, I am not an expert. However, I have written many novel length manuscripts (which sit in files and folders on my laptop looking sad). But if we take The Abandoned as ‘the book’ people mean….
Well…..I started to write this after I wrote one called Arthur, (who is yet to be published). Arthur is a modern man of sixty-eight and he’s looking for love and life again after the death of his beloved wife Milly. Believe it or not, this is actually a fun tale. As a crime writer, I decided to go dark again after Arthur and researched criminal women.
Like Arthur, Peggy was and is a real person to me, so she flowed out. I never dreamt that a tale of an abortionist would be published. I never took note of how long it took, as there was no deadline. I wrote, ‘when she spoke to me’. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true.
To give aspiring writers an idea of the process though, I will go through what happened before she even made it to the publisher’s desk (or even to my agent) –
- Peggy was in the third person, then I changed her to the first person about half-way through.
- Initial readers made suggestions and I took them on board and changed things.
- Then, I decided I needed to start at an abortion, so my timeline changed.
- After I was almost finished I culled large sections that I no longer liked. She went to America for example and I wrote lots about her there with mountains of research about 1950s America. That all got the chop!
- I re-drafted, re-edited and re-wrote the first three chapters over and over … the middle bits and the ending…
- I got told that it never would be published by professionals in the industry, as it was similar to something else and too controversial, so I did stop for a while. Peggy wasn’t happy about this. Neither was I.
- I started tweaking at it myself all the time and making it better. (I hoped)
- I made changes that my beta-readers brought up. Tweaked things my agent mentioned.
- I then had the joy of editing, proof-reads and re-working little bits for the lovely Bloodhound Books, when they wanted her.
So…. how long did it take? I honestly don’t know. It took a long time to see my dream happen. The Abandoned is my first book, so I should say it took me all my life to write Peggy.
With book 2 being written at the minute, I’ve still no clue how long it will have taken. I enjoy writing hence I don’t mind the process. (Yet) Tens of thousands of words in a nice plot is not easy to conjure up.
Book 2 is called Sinful Roses. It’s an idea that’s fermented over time. It is a complete different book. Sinful Roses is more of a mystery of who is to blame for the disappearances and drownings of young boys in a rural Irish village in 1958. Since I signed with Bloodhound for two more books, I have chopped large sections of this manuscript and have re-written it a few times. I am working at it full-time.
How long does it take to write a book? For me…. it takes a long time.
Here is some more of my great advice (*throw eyes to heaven) writing.ie https://www.writing.ie/interviews/the-abandoned-by-sharon-thompson/