Some of you may recognise the title of this post. That’ll be because I pilfered it straight from the cover of a book by one of my favourite authors. That would be On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. This will become a bit more relevant further on into this piece. Now seemed a good time for this post, just a few short days out from the release of Chasing Shadows upon the world at large! A friend recently said how impressed he was with the look of my book cover, and my dedication to promoting it. But he also said he’d love to know more about the why I wrote the book. How I wrote it, my process. It was something I had considered doing once I had released the book, but have decided no time like the present!
So, let’s take this right the way back to the beginning. I’ve always been a fan of books and reading in a big way. Reading has always been one of the best forms of escapism for me. Well, reading and video games in all fairness. Give me a well written story, engaging and relatable characters and beautifully described settings and I can happily read for hours. At school there was always a chance to read, and there were opportunities to write too. Creative writing was something I loved. Sadly that fell by the wayside a bit once I moved to secondary school where studies and exams took over.
One thing that didn’t fall by was reading. I remember reading Stephen King probably far earlier than I should have. But I was hooked. The stories, the characters, the locations. And his descriptive writing hooked me. Some of the books may be able to stop a runaway train, but I love the descriptive writing in his books. That leads neatly back to this post title, given King’s work is a big influence on me. I am also quite a fan of the Harry Potter series, the work of Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series.
Back in 2015 I started a blog, reviewing books. My blog is still running today, allowing me the chance to read works I might otherwise pass by, and by authors I might never have come across. In 2017, the seed of an idea struck me, the beginnings of a story. I had spent the previous two years reviewing and critiquing the books of others. Now, armed with an idea, I decided the time was right to start writing something of my own. The beginnings of a novel centred around Jack the Ripper. Sadly, it was an ultimately failed attempt. The constant research to get facts straight bogged me down.
Since then, I dabbled with the odd bit of short story writing but nothing too much. Until September 2019, when another idea came to me. Something entirely different. The notion of a steampunk adventure. I made some plans and notes, loosely creating some of my core characters. Then in November, I took part in NaNoWriMo – a global writing challenge. Traditionally the goal is to write a 50,000 word first draft within the month of November. For me it was all about putting pen to paper. Every. Single. Day. Build that habit, get the words down and have a solid start on a novel by the end of the month. And thus Chasing Shadows was born.
And I have to say, writing the first draft was a labour of blood, sweat, tears and love. I enjoyed the entire process of developing and tweaking my plot. Believe me, it was tweaked a few times in format just to arrive at a finished first draft. Three rounds of edits by myself with the help of some test readers were just as enjoyable. Finding out what worked and what didn’t, changing things and taking on advice to hone the story. The purpose of writing the book was the journey. Just for me to show myself it could be done if I really wanted it. But to put all of that work into it and not publish it would be a tragedy.
This pretty much brings us to now, just five days away from publication. Jen of Fuzzy Flamingo, my editor and designer, took hold of my final draft in mid-February of this year. In a bit under a couple of months she has polished Chasing Shadows into a manuscript I am beyond happy with. She understood my vision for the story and turned that into the most amazing cover, something I could not have imagined. And to cap it off, Jen came up with some amazing little touches, particularly in the paperback, that really finish the book off.