Today I'm taking part in the blog tour for Niall Leonard's fantastic debut novel 'Crusher'. You can read my review here. Niall had an interesting route to publication which he talks about in his inspiring guest post.
I’ve written TV episodes for years. It can be rewarding, but it can be frustrating too– you’re creating adventures for someone else’s characters following someone else’s rules. I used to complain to my wife about this, but her reply was always the same – if you want to tell a story your own way, write a novel.
I wanted to, and I had lots of different ideas. Crusher came to me when a friend explained her sons never read books because they weren’t interested in sci-fi or vampires. Immediately I thought, what about a seventeen year old private detective? Call him Finn Maguire. Not an old-fashioned private detective – he couldn’t have an office, or follow people in a car… he’d have no parents… what happened to his parents?
His mum left home years ago and now his dad’s been murdered, and he has to find out why.
That’s where I started. I wrote half the first chapter –Finn comes home and finds his dad dead– but couldn’t think of what happened next, so I put off working on it. Lots of people make that mistake. They think that if they wait, a brilliant idea will come to them.. But that never happens, because good ideas don’t come out of nowhere. You promise yourself you’ll finish writing your book ‘sometime’, but you never do.
NaNoWriMo gives everyone who wants to write a novel a deadline. You have to do it NOW. And you are in the same boat as hundreds of other people who all encourage each other. I organised a NaNoWriMo meeting in a local pub, and every week three or four of us would sit round a table typing away on laptops. We’d stop every hour for coffee, but after a few minutes everyone would get back to writing, knowing if we messed around it would distract everyone else.
So now I had to work out what happened to Finn after he found his dad murdered. Well, I thought, I guess the police would accuse him of doing it. So I tried that– and I was off. Soon Finn learned his Dad had annoyed a local gangster, and that he’d had a girlfriend – who was married to someone else…
I’d written a rough outline before I started, like I would for TV, so I always knew where I was going, if not how I was going to get there. Some things that happened in the story surprised even me – but that was part of the adventure. And eventually I ended up with a novel, Crusher, that’s getting published.
So I’d recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who wants to write a novel. Even if you don’t know what to write about, or how your story ends, think of something and start. You’ll be amazed how much fun you have, and how much you learn about writing. I’m sorry I didn’t do it years ago, but late is always better than never, and now is always better than sometime. Go for it.