Please welcome this week’s guest to the Showcase.
Books have been a huge passion of mine for many years. Reading has been something I’ve enjoyed for as long as I can remember. My enjoyment of reading led to me setting up a blog where I could review books and write book related articles. Back in 2015 I started Books and Beyond Reviews. I started out reviewing Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series. At the time I was reading my way through the series so I started there. Over time I chose to expand my horizons and start to review other books and open my reviews up to more readers. My blog grew with time and I was requesting books from publishers to read and review. I found myself in the fortunate position to work with authors starting out or looking to increase their reach, who found my blog and contacted me directly. With the addition of author interviews, guest posts and the Friday Face-Off weekly theme, I had a blog I really enjoyed working on.
Reviewing other people’s writing lead me to want to try and write my own piece, something I would start work on back in 2017. An idea struck me, a subject I was really interested in. I wanted to write a novel based on the history of Jack the Ripper. I wanted to tell my own reimagining of who really was the man behind the mystery. I did a lot of research, visited the sites in the case, sourced old maps to try and get an idea of what London would have been like back at the time. I even had a cover designed and made for it in the hope this would help motivate me with the book. So began a love-hate relationship with the book I had called Our Boy Jack.
I had a long-running interest in the mythos surrounding Jack the Ripper. How had such a prolific serial killer got away with murdering women and depositing their bodies in such high traffic areas as they were found? But my own interest was not enough, so I embarked on a significant amount of research. Though the intention was for Our Boy Jack to be fiction, I wanted to ensure the known facts were completely accurate. I allowed my imagination to fabricate the story around this, but not the known facts. This made the process really difficult. I put so much pressure on myself to get everything correct that it began to feel like a chore. I wanted to tell a story of who the Ripper was and how he evaded capture. I had one idea that I started but spent a long time procrastinating over it.
Delving deeper into the research, I was really unhappy with where the story was going and the character I was building. It wasn’t so much a crisis of confidence in my ability, as much as a crisis of confidence in where the story was going. This led to a lengthy period where I couldn’t engage with my work, and felt no love for it. I stopped writing. Lamenting over the situation I came up with a new idea for my lead character, so I restarted the book. This was less of a flash of creativity and more a matter of forcing myself to revisit it. I pushed on and managed to get a little over eight thousand words down on the page this time out. But quickly fell out of love with the work. The very real world of Victorian London, and the array of facts that can be verified about Jack the Ripper conspired against me. I felt constrained. If I was putting this level of research into the facts, it was no less for the fictional characters as I wanted them to ring true as well. So what happened? Well after two years of stop-start writing I gave up. Our Boy Jack was consigned to the scrap pile.
In the middle of 2019, a new idea struck me. This time it was for a steampunk adventure novel. I could clearly see the lead characters, some of the storyline, that sort of thing. I started scribbling down some very loose ideas and thoughts. I felt I had a plan. I decided to take part in National Novel Writer’s Month in November. The aim of this is to have a 50,000-word draft novel started and finished in the month of November. I knew that was unachievable, but for me, the aim was to build a habit of writing something every day. And that I have stuck to. At one point I thought 30 or 40,000 words and I’ll be happy. Yet now, just a little over a week into March and I have over 56,000 words of Chasing Shadows down, and plenty more still to come! I’ve learned that if the subject is something that interests you, and doesn’t feel like a chore, then the process of writing can be simple, and fun!
And thanks to fellow author and friend A.K. Alliss, I now have the blurb for Chasing Shadows that I can share:
As Captain of the airship Arcos, Edison Crow and his childhood partner, Selah, lead their crew in search of a big payday. When it comes to the pursuit of wealth, nothing is out of the question for this band of charming rogues. Smuggling. Theft. Embezzlement. It’s all part of a daring game.
But all is not smooth sailing when you’re a high profile thief with a target on your back. A job gone wrong will thrust Edison, Selah and those aboard the Arcos upon a journey straight to the heart of the shady United Republic of the High Commission in pursuit of the truth.
Troubled by his own personal demons, Edison must navigate dark skies if he hopes to gain answers. Will it be enough to help the infamous Captain Crow clear he and his crew’s names? Or will he end up chasing shadows?
Here’s a little taster from the first chapter of Chasing Shadows.
The first chapter takes us 27 years back in time, to where Edison Crow and Selah first meet as youths. This little excerpt is the first verbal interaction after a hasty escape from city guards between the pair:
“You’re not one for the art subtlety are you?” The first complete sentence spoken by the mysterious girl.
The boy proffered a hand, accepted in the coldest of fashions.
“Crow. Edison Crow. Pleased to make your acquaintance.” He flashed his most disarming smile filled with a warmth and confidence that didn’t entirely reach his eyes.
With a single shake of his hand, the girl offered, “Selah.”
“Just Selah. You need not worry beyond that.”
“Well Just Selah, your assistance here has been greatly appreciated. Should you wish to benefit from my skills and protection you are free to partner with myself henceforth!” Crow proclaimed with a swagger Selah had not seen before, especially from a scruffy street rat such as this one stood before her.
A snort of derision caused his beaming grin to falter momentarily.
“As I see it, you need my help far more than I yours!”
“I am plenty capable of carrying myself dear Selah, but I see no reason our blossoming partnership cannot deliver mutual benefits.”
The faintest upturn of the corners of Selah’s mouth hinted at a smile, the closest to emotion he had seen from her yet.
“Let’s go, Edison Crow. Even those guards will manage to find us eventually if we sit here all day.”
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