Sunday 30 October 2011

Sobering Thoughts

I've not discussed it previously, but this seems an appropriate point to mention the tragic death of Jo Yeates, now that neighbour Vincent Tabak has been convicted of her murder.

Jo went missing in Bristol on the 17th of December last year and her body was found in the snow on Christmas day. The case attracted a lot of media attention, but there was a particularly unsettling aspect for me as it became clear that the real events echoed a number of themes in my first (then unpublished) novel. Over Christmas, discussing the story with family, a number of parallels emerged. Although it was the first section I'd written (more than a year earlier) it was chilling to see so many coincidences - young blonde woman in Clifton, working for an architectural firm, found strangled.

At the time, I stopped writing, and stopped sending out the manuscript - it just seemed inappropriate to continue with the project. The sickening nature of the case wasn't helped by the newspapers' evil persecution of Jo's landlord and, when he rather inconveniently turned out to be innocent, their snide criticism of Avon & Somerset Police.

There was a sense of relief when Vincent Tabak was arrested, even more so when he admitted causing Jo's death. I felt able to continue with the books and was fortunate enough to secure an agent and publisher.

Naturally, the story has now been altered. Even though there were lots of significant differences between the novel and the terrible events of last Christmas, it seemed important to make a few more changes, out of respect if nothing else.

Now that Tabak has been convicted, hopefully the real-life story is over, and those impacted by his crime can get some closure. It's been a sobering journey, and one that puts a lot of things into perspective.

Thursday 13 October 2011

An hour from home

I’m sitting on a train, on my way back from the West Country. It’s late, and I’m half asleep from the combination of an early start this morning, and a post-midnight finish to my book 1 edit last night. However, it’s hugely satisfying to have passed another milestone – in this case, working through feedback from my excellent editor Francesca. "Eye Contact" is now deeper, tighter, and quite a bit longer than before. For my part, I’m now older, wiser and quite a bit happier with it ;-)

Annoyingly, after weeks of looking back and fixing fine details, today’s train journey has given me the chance to look forward and notice major plot issues. I’m pleased with the premise for book 2, and a lot of the material I’ve written for it feels promising, but I still feel as though something significant is yet to click into place. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to visit Bristol some time in the next week or two. Writing in the place where the action unfolds has often sparked some of my favourite and most pivotal scenes, and I’ve a feeling that the idea I’m looking for is there somewhere.