I’m now three weeks into writing my seventh novel. It will be called A Different Coast and it was planned to be the sequel to Her Parents’ Daughter – a Cold War inspired murder mystery set in Yarmouth – on the north west coast of the Isle of Wight. The first days were spent, unusually for me, planning out the plot from beginning to end. The Excel spreadsheet with the relevant time frame was set up so, that I don’t have the same character in two places at the same time – or indeed somewhere after they are dead – and the characters were decided upon. I reminded myself of the characteristics of ones from Her Parents’ Daughter and set out the main traits of the new ones.
I started writing the words just over a week ago (again monitoring words/pages/chapters on Excel – I love spreadsheets). Now approaching 16,000 words – and on Chapter 6 of a planned 30 – the bloody thing has got a mind of its own.
In between Her Parents’ Daughter and now I finished A Set of Lies, a book that had been in the planning and writing for 15 years which chronicled the investigations by Skye Lacey and Fergal Sheppard into what really happened to Napoleon Bonaparte after he had given himself up to the English in 1815.
Well into Chapter Three of A Different Coast Skye and Fergal appeared. I did not expect them and I had no idea they were going to make an appearance. It was not in my original ‘word sketch’. It just happened. Bu then, it is entirely logical; action in Her Parents’ Daughter began and ended in Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, in 2015, much of the action in A Set of Lies was in West Wight between 2014 and 2015. It is entirely logical that the protagonists would have met and would become involved with each other.
Every conversation I begin to write now leads me in the direction the characters want, I feel that sometimes I have no say in it.
But it does make the writing exciting – I hope the reading will be as much fun.