When you’ve been working on a novel close to a year, in those final weeks when you’re nearing completion of the first draft you begin to fantasise about all the other ideas waiting on the other side. And all the books you’ll have more time to read. The head space! Glorious days stretching away without the film of your novel playing somewhere in the back of your mind. You’d think when a writer has sent their manuscript in, they are visited with a kind of peaceful feeling of completion. Well no.
When in the midst of the novel, I know for me, I think I’ll be able to take a break. I must take a break. I feel mentally and creatively exhausted and I’m looking forward to at least a few weeks of not thinking of another plot line. But the writer’s brain does not let go and within hours I begin to fill that space with all the potential beginnings of other novels. I can feel myself leaning into strangers’ conversations, looking for an alternate view or a fresh opinion, something ‘other’ that might set off a new thought. Everywhere I go, I’m imagining scenes for this new novel. First lines write themselves into my head. Titles. Themes. Possible twists. Soon the notebook is out and brief dialogue sketches are going down. And off I go again.
It’s been a great distraction this week to find myself in Manchester and Liverpool at their really beautiful and spacious Waterstones stores. Each of the venues were so welcoming and had gathered a great audience. I’m becoming a little more comfortable with taking part in panel events. Talking to ‘an audience’ has never felt easy for me (does it to anyone?) so it’s been a learning curve to get my nerves in check so that I can talk, the way I want to, about my novel Too Close to Breathe.
We had some great questions from the audience too. Some were on deciding which tense to write in, whether writing in present tense, first person is more difficult or less so when it comes to writing crime fiction. We talked about the ‘female victim’ trope, something that was very much at the forefront of my mind when I began writing Too Close to Breathe. And also, it was nice have a couple of audience members ask for reassurance that there’d be another Frankie Sheehan novel (Book 2, The Killer in Me is due out next April).
My next event is of the radio variety. I’ll be on LMFM (Ireland) on the 5th of July so do tune in if you’d like to hear more about the writing process and the themes explored in Too Close to Breathe.
I’ll also be in Blackwell’s Oxford for a crime writers panel (Tuesday 24th of July) with: Lucy Atkins, JP Delaney and Cara Hunter. You can pick up tickets for this event soon, so keep an eye on the Blackwell’s events page. Speaking of Blackwell’s I had the enormous pleasure of chairing their event for Alexander McCall Smith a few weeks ago for the 20th anniversary of his series, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This was so much fun and the audience were absolutely fantastic. Here’s a wee piccy of both of us after the event.
And finally if you’re looking for a summer read, maybe Too Close to Breathe is for you. You can find it in all good bookstores and here: TOO CLOSE TO BREATHE
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