A couple of months ago, I was honoured to be asked to write a guest post for my dear friend, Alison DeLuca. When I asked her what I should write about, she suggested I write about how I felt when I finished my novel, Heart Search. So I did and now I’d like to share it with you.
I have made a real voyage of discovery. It took me nine months, three hundred and twenty nine pages, one hundred and fifty thousand four hundred and forty one words and at the end of it was my first completed novel!
“Heart Search : Lost”, the first book in the “Heart Search” trilogy was nothing short of a labour of love. It was my first real attempt at a full-length novel and like a lot of writers starting out, I really wasn’t sure I had the ability/imagination/skill to write more than short stories. In addition, I had doubts that anything I wrote would be worth another person’s time and effort to read.
I’d had the idea for the novel (it was only going to be one at the start) buzzing around in my head for a couple of months before I committed to trying to write anything. The more I thought about the possible plots, the more the characters began to grow in my mind and in my heart. I knew I had to tell their tale – it was too important to them not to – and so I began creating it in September 2010.
After planning my characters and story synopsis, I plotted the first twelve chapters and began the story. As I started tapping away on my keyboard, something strange happened – the story took on a life all its own. It was like I was a channel for the words that just appeared as if from nowhere. The chapter plot went out the window and I had no option but to just flow with the current. The story took me in directions I hadn’t considered and it all seemed to work, even though I had two stories running parallel to each other; one written in first person, the other in third.
My daughter kept nicking my laptop every time I put it down, reading what I’d written then pestering me endlessly to write the next bit. She was hooked and it was then I realised that maybe I was good at this and other people might like it too.
As the story progressed, I was surprised to find how connected I became to my two main characters, how inextricably linked we were and I shared their emotions; when they laughed, I laughed, when they cried, I cried too. They were part of me. So, when I had to take a three-month break to move house, Remy and Joshua (my two protagonists) were screaming at me on a daily basis to get back to writing. When I did, there was no stopping me and at precisely 1.40am on Tuesday 26th October 2011, I finished typing the final sentence.
I sat there, stunned. I had done it – I’d completed my first novel! Then the euphoria hit. I punched the air and shouted “YES!!!” waking my daughter in the process (oops). I had a smile that wouldn’t quit for days afterwards and I felt like I was walking on fluffy white clouds. It was such an amazing feeling of accomplishment and, dammit, I was proud of myself! I was so hyped that night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep for ages, but apart from posting my glorious news on Twitter and Facebook, I honestly can’t remember what else I did. Even though this was nearly four months ago and I’ve competed in NaNoWriMo since then (and won), the electric tingly buzz of pure joy hasn’t left me. The only time in my life I’ve ever felt joy of a similar magnitude, was the day I gave birth to my wonderful daughter!
I’m so happy and proud of my achievement, I would like to share an excerpt from “Heart Search : Lost” with you. I hope you like it.
“His hiding place was perfect; darkness surrounded and comforted him and he became one with it. He had chosen well. The ancient ruins were totally hidden by overgrown shrubs and trees. From this place, he could venture out before dusk, completely obscured by the dense canopy of the ancient trees; the sun struggled to break through even at midday.
He was close, closer than ever before, so close that the flavour of the human’s essence coated his sensitive tongue. The one sought was nearby – he could sense him. He had searched for a very long time to find someone this special. Sure he’d found talent along the way, but this one, this human was something else entirely.
The excitement was building inside like a volcano preparing to erupt. His tongue ran over his teeth; venom pooled in his mouth and he savoured the flavour. There would be a new flavour to add to it soon. Very soon.
He first detected the scent two days ago. Unfortunately, an opportunity had not presented itself and he had become frustrated to the point of anger as strategy after strategy was thwarted by the most stupid and pointless of reasons. He was tenacious when there was something he desired and right now there was nothing he desired more than this human. There was a plentiful supply around to quench his thirst – that was not his aim.
His reverie was interrupted – a familiar scent wafted on the air that permeated the shelter. It was the human – the one he sought – and so near, too near to be allowed to escape again. Once more venom collected in his mouth.
He moved swiftly through the darkness with perfect vision towards the exit hidden amongst the foliage. The closer he got to the outside, the stronger the scent, and the more eager he became.
It was time.”
I’ve been through the long process of revising and editing and to be honest I wasn’t fazed by it at all. I know that my manuscript has become stronger, more polished and I have given my characters even more depth. My novel is now in the hands of a beta reader; she is senior editor at a publishing company in the USA so I really trust her judgement (she has told me already that she loves the story, so that’s a real boost to my confidence!). I can’t wait to get her critique to see how I can improve it even further and to find out if she takes to my two main characters. After all, if it wasn’t for Remy and Joshua taking up residence in my head and heart, this story might not have been written at all.
I’d love to read your comments on the excerpt of Heart Search and my Voyage of Discovery, so please tell me what you think!