Monday, 17 July 2017

Literary DNA

Thirteen years ago, I travelled to Fowey in search of the house that had inspired Daphne Du Maurier to write Rebecca. On that occasion, I borrowed the novel from a library to compare text with findings. When I purchased the book several years later, I was surprised to discover that particular edition didn’t contain a disclaimer.  I presumed they had omitted to include this because the characters were based on real people. Maybe it wasn’t a coincidence that the protagonist resembled the author herself? Daphne Du Maurier began writing Rebecca when she was living in Alexandria, the dutiful yet reluctant wife of an army officer [1]. Homesick and living in strange surroundings, Du Maurier must have been suffering the same feelings of inferiority that plagued the new Mrs de Winter in Rebecca.

Surely, all authors must draw on personal traits and experiences? It is, after all, the easiest way to write a novel. Agatha Christie, a pharmacist who married an archaeologist, was clearly inspired by both these subjects. Similarly, I can not imagine an author's work would not be influenced by a personal tragedy. The impact of Branwell Bronte’s addictions is evident throughout his sisters’ work. I remember staring at Branwell’s portrait of his three sisters and being mesmerised by the ghostly apparition between Emily and Charlotte. This fuzzy self portrait is now understood to have been a conscious decision by the artist to remove him self from the painting. It seems as if he felt unworthy within their company when in actual fact he was the creative force behind the family. You could argue that Branwell was their greatest influence.

Every year, thousands of tourists visit Haworth and the surrounding area in search of Bronte inspirations. There are so many other writers that we associate with particular locations: Christie’s Devon, Du Maurier’s Cornwall, Dickensian London... the list is endless. It doesn’t have to be limited to a county either; for example, when I think of Wilbur Smith, Africa comes to mind. Whether authors focus on a particular county or continent, the one common factor seems to be that these places hold some significance in their life. Maybe, the settings are based on the place where they currently live, have lived, or would like to live. They may have gone there on vacation? Perhaps it was a childhood haunt? Whatever is the case, most authors stick to what they know. Why opt for some random place you’ve never been to before? You might be able to create authenticity during a one-off research trip, but is it really worth the time and effort, when you could have chosen somewhere far more familiar?

The sources for the Bronte novels are widely contested. It seems likely that Shibden Hall near Halifax was the inspiration for Thrushcross Grange (the Linton’s home in Wuthering Heights) and High Sunderland Hall where Emily Bronte worked as a Governess is similar to Lockwood’s description of Wuthering Heights. However, there are other buildings that could have been inspirations for Wuthering Heights, such as Ponden Hall and Top Withens.

Ponden Hall also resembles Thrushcross Grange [2]. Sometimes, it makes sense to create a single fictional setting from a mix of real locations. I amalgamated the view from my window (the woods and snicket) with another location that was prone to landslides and flooding; both of which were essential plot requirements. If I had stuck with the view from my window, the corpse would have had to find her own feet and walk through the woods to the nearest flooded field. You can’t mix up forensic science, but you can play around with location.

The de Winter’s home in Rebecca was a combination of sources. Du Maurier based Manderley on both the estate of Menabilly (near Fowey) and Milton (near Peterborough) [3]. Following my visit to Cornwall in June 2004, I was in no doubt that the infamous first lines of Rebecca were inspired by Du Maurier’s first visit to Menabilly.  I retraced her footsteps with only the novel and an inadequate map as my guide. The first encouraging sight was a gatehouse, which resembled the “uninhabited” lodge in the first paragraph. Beyond this, a long winding driveway that matched the ‘twisting and turning’ drive on page one. [4]

After consulting the map, I realised that there was a public footpath leading to the beach and this might allow access to the rear of the house. We parked on the next turn off and made the rest of the journey by foot. I recognised Menabilly Woods immediately from Du Maurier’s descriptions and knew I was on the right path. I saw fields on the edge of a coastline and a sky full of gulls; a scene reminiscent of Hitchcock’s depiction of Du Maurier’s short story The Birds. I felt an overwhelming urge to march on ahead. Clinging onto the hope that I might catch a glimpse of the grounds, perhaps even the house itself.

I stepped out of the woods onto shingle and sand. Rebecca’s boat house was easily recognisable; perched on a hill to the right of the cove. However, I felt compelled to walk in the opposite direction, along a grassy verge, towards a long lawn and Rhododendrons. In the novel, the house had been destroyed by fire. What I saw at that moment was Manderley rising from the ashes, well tended and far from dilapidated. Du Maurier’s descriptions had come to life. This place had her DNA all over it.   


[1] Enchanted Cornwall [Penguin Books Ltd. 1989 p127/8]

[2] Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte [First Published 1847, republished Penguin Popular Classics 1994]

[3] Enchanted Cornwall [Penguin Books Ltd. 1989 p19]

[4] Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier, [First Published 1938, republished Virago Press 2003]



Thursday, 17 November 2016



For this blog I could have used an inanimate object to get my point across; a submarine with raised periscope and sonar intermittently pinging. However, a cold blooded living-being is perfect for what I have in mind. This is no Ladyfish. I’m thinking of slippery eels - the gulper and swallower types. Perhaps a Large Scale Four-Eyed or the poisonous Toadfish; be it prickly or pale.  I want you to imagine this creature lurking in the abyss. It feels quite at home in this murky underworld, stooping low, plumbing the depths of desperation.      

Patrica Highsmith once said, “I cannot think of anything worse or more dangerous than to discuss my work with another writer. Their invisible antennae are out for the same vibrating in the air – or to use a greedier metaphor, they swim along at the same depth, teeth bared for the same kind of drifting plankton.”

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for both published and unpublished writers to discover their work has been copied. I know of several published authors who have discovered their novels online, under another person's name. From what I can gather the best advice is to register publications with . This website claims to, "Monitor Google for illegal copies of your content and remove them with 1 click." But how can an unpublished author protect their work?
Ideas and themes are not protected in UK law, so keep extracts on websites to a minimum. If you don't plan to self-publish you’re in for the long haul. Offers don't come knocking on your door. Agents and publishers don’t have the time or inclination to search for the next best thing. It isn't their job to trawl oceans looking for a lucrative catch. You have to tout your next project. But how do you do that without risk? It’s important to fathom who you can trust before sending submissions. Time-stamp everything, then get out and meet everyone who is anyone.

Networking events are only productive if you have the courage to approach the professionals in attendance. Competition winners usually benefit from introductions. Depending on the award, you could meet the right people at ceremonies or book launches. Don’t miss out on these opportunities. Apply for a travel grant if money is tight. If an introduction isn’t an option you could attend an intimate agent/publisher led course. Whether you are sussing out agents or editors, ask yourself if this person would represent you to the best of their ability and if not, why not?

Don’t discuss your work in public. If an agent/editor asks about your novel, keep the pitch short - no more than a tantalising blurb. Always be quiet and discrete. You never know how many writers are homing in on your ideas.  I’ve seen them acting fishy at conferences. You're bound to catch one or two loitering around festivals with their radars on full alert. Keep your eyes on the look out for hungry ambush predators. Patrica Highsmith knew what she was talking about.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Book Launches and Reading Events

Since my short story made it into the ‘Northern Crime One’ anthology, I’ve been meaning to write a series of blogs about my experiences as a newly published writer. All three blogs will contain a Patricia Highsmith quote, because she was far more qualified to teach crime writing than I.  After eight years of working out my niche in a commercial market and creating a portfolio of ‘domestic noir’ manuscripts, I realise there’s still a long way to go.....




 Wallsend, Newcastle where the second ‘Northern Crime One’ book reading event was held

For the first two book readings it was reassuring to know that Moth Publishing and New Writing North were in charge of publicity, ticketing and book sales. The encouragement of new writers at the two venues (Newcastle Central Library and Customer First Centre, Wallsend) was obvious and much appreciated. Both audiences were generous, warm, complementary and forgiving of my nervous performances. At the 'Northern Crime One' launch (my first ever public reading event) I was pleased to meet everyone and honoured to be there, but the sight of the lectern in the middle of a large empty stage filled me with dread.

I stepped onto the stage slowly and carefully, aware that my jelly legs could give way at any moment. There I stood in front of a packed house, staring at the anthology that I’d pinned to the lectern in an attempt to maintain control over flapping pages and shaking hands. I must have glanced up because I recall a mass of heads. I didn’t take notice of any expressions for fear of seeing anyone yawning. I stopped myself from doing an exact head count, rounding each row up to 10, multiplying by 10 and fretting because that estimation came to quite a lot; much more than I’d expected - a lot of people to disappoint.  I did not dare look up again until the end of my reading, otherwise I would have been distracted and lost my place on the page.

Although I’d rehearsed my introduction, I couldn’t help but make a few last minute adjustments. This kept the adrenalin going and my brain alert, which resulted in a better performance out of the two. I had to describe my novels as well as the short story extract that I was about the read, but more than anything else, the introduction had to be succinct and not send anyone to sleep. Suddenly, something came to me: ‘My protagonists are normally unreliable, but this one’s a reliable psychic.’ I heard a few people laugh. This intended reaction broke the ice and settled my nerves - for a few seconds at least.

I made mental notes: keep pausing for breath, pay attention to punctuation, make sure the delivery is not too fast or too slow, hold your head high, don’t slouch and resist the temptation to speed read. I bit my tongue to stop myself from apologising in advance and read on.  At the end, I looked up and thanked everyone for listening. I think they might have been applauding at the time...


What really surprised me was that I felt more nervous at the second event. Maybe it was the sight of the stage: two chairs, a clip-on mic and no lectern to hide behind? I perched on the edge of the chair, unable to hold the anthology; my nervous disposition clearly visible to all in attendance.  The reading went as well as could be expected, but when the compere began to ask questions my brain went into overload. Unfortunately all sorts of things were racing through my mind; everything except the correct answer.  The question was simple: “When did you attend the Arvon course?” I blurted out the first date that came to me; some random year from the 1980’s. Then to make matters worse I had a stab at another, which happened to be my daughter’s birth year, eighteen years before the aforementioned writing course. I bowed my head in shame and weakly revived the situation by announcing that it was a long time ago. For some reason I felt it was necessary to waffle on about the novel writing course; something on the lines of ‘You cook and eat together, attend workshops and one-to-one tuitions in a beautiful house in beautiful surroundings so you can go on nice walks.’  I must take this opportunity to apologise for the poor excuse for an advertisement, so I’ve made up by posting a gorgeous photograph of Lumb Bank.  



My answers didn’t get any better during the Wallsend event. When I was asked about my stint in the Special Constabulary, I said I’d thought it would be like Charlie’s Angels, but it wasn’t. I was too soft to make it as a regular, but I was interested in the whole police procedural thing, which is why I went onto study criminology....All the while I was praying that no one would ask when I went to university, because I’d gone completely date-lexic by then. The ground did not swallow me up as I’d hoped, but it wasn’t all bad. Both events were invaluable experiences for any newbie.   

I informed the audience at Wallsend that I’d spent quite a few years building a ‘domestic noir’ portfolio. My short story had been adapted from my second novel, ‘Ghost Towns’. I changed the female narrator from the mother of a victim into a psychic, which allowed me to examine the dead victim’s POV.  I enjoyed playing around with different approaches to writing crime. Ideas are precious, which is why all my work is documented, time-stamped and filed so that I may go back and use them at a later date. I might decide to rearrange plot outlines, take something from one novel and transfer it into another medium or split a manuscript in half - two for the price of one.  As long as my portfolio is full of decent material the only thing I need worry about is the next reading event......


”In the barren periods, one should browse through the notebooks. Some ideas may suddenly start to move. Two ideas may combine, perhaps because they were meant to combine in the first place” Patricia Highsmith


Friday, 22 January 2016

DON'T SHARE YOUR SWEETS! Beware of sending work off for dubious critiques.

In unpublished circles and the newly published set, writers have one thing in common - their heads are bulging with ideas. They can’t imagine such a thing as a published author suffering from creative deficiency; desperately searching for a little spark of inspiration....

When I think of being deficient in something I recall a particular period in my life when I was a stone heavier, off coffee and consuming dolly mixtures by the truck load. If we are to assume that cravings in pregnancy are linked to a deficiency in diet then I can only guess I needed a sugar rush. I have heard that if you get a taste for something in particular during those long nine months it will turn out to be your child’s favourite indulgence. Perhaps the foetus is developing a liking for whatever Mum is devouring?  Anyhow, sure enough, my son has a penchant for sweets. He’s not fussy, whether they’re weighed out from jars, in packets or tubes. I spent most of his early years at Woolworths, scrambling around, cupping my hands to catch stray Pick 'n Mix.  Nowadays you don’t need to get them weighed at the counter - just pay for a cup and fill it to the brim. Some experts choose carefully, ignoring the spherical gob stoppers and going for the smaller flat options - cramming as much in as you can get away with. I’ve seen them craftily holding the lid firmly down, pretending they’ve not stolen more than they should have - an innocent, childish deception. However, not all deceptions are this endearing.  

I often wonder if some published authors who suddenly offer to critique work might have an ulterior motive to ‘pick and mix’ someone else’s ideas?  Even if these short-term editorial services are provided without that intention, it is a sure fire way of subconsciously plagiarising work. I remember reading a novel that was very atmospheric and Dickensian.  Before long, someone pointed out that I’d been replacing the word because with for, both in emails and texts. I’d got no idea I’d been writing ‘ye oldie English’, but it had been going on for over a month. This is the reason why you shouldn’t read your genre when writing. Crime writers should choose something comedic during the months they’re plotting a murder - clear your mind of blood and gore.  

I think it’s a good idea to attend talks and lectures when you're working on your next project.  There’s nothing more productive than a small workshop. If you can afford it, pack yourself off to a writing retreat. All writers crave solitude.

Many published authors complain about not having the time to write their next novel because of publicity obligations. So alarm bells should ring if a working author suddenly runs a competition or sets up an auction to critique work. You don't want your work to end up in their next book! It doesn't matter if this is deliberate or unintentional. It's your baby not theirs! 

Question why a working writer is doing this? What, for example, is forcing them to ask for a particular theme? Don’t be tempted to send work off for dubious critiques. Don’t share your sweets! Even if you think this might be the only road to publication – it isn’t. Pick a reputable editorial service that comes with a recommendation from The Society of Authors. Mix in a few workshops, talks and conferences. Be patient. Your day will come. I’m rooting for you.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Be Prepared!

 "I’ve found the best way to revise your own work is to pretend that someone else wrote it and then rip the living shit out of it.” Don Roff

I have recently worked with an editor on my short story, which won a place in the Northern Crime One anthology. I’m extremely grateful to have had this experience. For many reasons, this has proved to be the perfect way to take that first step into publishing. I have come to realise how daunting it would have been if my first contract had been for a novel instead of a short story. I advise everyone mid way through the trials to delay novel submissions. Opt for articles, blogs, and/or a short story in a magazine, then try to get published in an anthology.  Do not jump head first into novel publication without any other experience.Take a little leap off the spring board rather than diving in from a precarious height. It might make less of a splash, but it’s better than producing an embarrassing belly flop.
I’ve spent years earning my apprenticeship, overcoming every trial that ever came my way, so I should have cracked open the Champagne the minute I became a Northern Crime Competition winner. However, after years of rejection this news came as such a surprise. I was in a state of shock, checking and re-checking the congratulatory email, wondering if it was someone’s idea of a sick joke.  When I realised it was authentic and that my work was finally going to be published, I started to look over my prize wining entry and (to quote Don Roff) - “rip the living shit out of it”. 

I penned my first novel in 2000, but the announcement that a short story (I’d submitted in 2014) was going to be published before the end of 2015 seemed to come all too suddenly. I’m sure I would have been a physical wreck if this had been an 80,000 word novel. Imagine, how many hours of sleep I would have lost going over and over that! And I would have gone over every single word a zillion times, because I now know how much it means to get your breakthrough publication right.

If you are like me, you’ll have been writing since a very young age, but only a few people will have read your work.  So when something of yours is about to get published, you become really anxious, expecting your work will be subjected to heaps of criticism instead of praise. Suddenly, someone out there might not like what you write. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can post a negative tweet or write a 1 star review. They have the capability to make you the laughing stock. The world will start to question why you’ve spent so much time working on pointless reams of shite. And the more you scrutinize your first published piece of work, the more you begin to believe your imaginary critics. By now you’re convinced your life isn’t worth living.
It is at times like these you might ask yourself that same old question - Who in their right mind would do this to themselves? The answer is that we are born writers. This compulsion comes to us at an early age. Mine began with lengthy notes slipped under my sister’s bedroom door. I illustrated the prose back then too. I was grateful for 'free ethos' infant’s education, so I could ignore mathematical subjects to concentrate on poetry and story writing. By the age of about 9, my work was leaning towards the crime genre. I’m not sure if it was appropriate, but I submitted my debut five page ‘horror/suspense’ book for the Girl Guide’s writing badge. I subsequently revised this for English homework, which showed an early inclination to edit and revise.  This piece of writing moved my teacher so much that she added a little note at the bottom of my work - something on the lines of, 'extraordinary' and ’inexplicable’! I did have friends back then - lots of them. I know this might come as a surprise, especially when you consider how I spent my spare time: burying dead frogs, discovering abandoned bleaching mills, roaming moors and writing about murder.    

I was a good friend. I pride myself on my ability to empathise. However, I never once put myself into the situation of waiting for my short story to be published. I presume I’d resigned myself to thinking it would never happen. So when the press release arrived with the names of other writers that were in the anthology, I felt sick, hoping my contribution wasn’t going to let the side down. The nausea didn’t subside until my short story received positive feedback. It wasn’t until that point when the achievement finally sank in and I started to feel really rather proud.

Readers are going to be subjective. Not everything appeals to everyone. Learn to accept this and then you can enjoy your writing achievements.  I don’t feel sick anymore. My work is finally on the shelves. I have worked hard to get here. The next step is to get one of my novels published. I can now categorically state that I'm ready. This time I come prepared...... 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015


When I began to write about the trials in 2013, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was an excuse for me to have a rant. However, I put a lot of thought into those early blogs and I’ll have you know it wasn’t a simple task. In fact, it’s nigh on impossible regularly producing articles on the ‘joys’ of being an unpublished writer. It proved far easier to prattle on about being depressed and unrewarded in the hope that this might strike a chord. To distract a little from the woe, I wrote a few informative blogs. I might have even managed to add the odd positive remark, although most of the time it seemed like someone had been meticulously putting obstacles in my way.  Without connections, money and a thick skin it's certainly not an easy journey.    

An unpublished author’s life is far from exciting. The blogs were in danger of becoming repetitive and dull. What I perceived to be a good day was nothing to write home about. Of course, there were wonderful days when no one asked if my work had been published yet, but you can only talk about that once or twice. No one’s going to enjoy reading about the time you wrote 50,000 words, cleaned the house and still managed to feed the kids. You might feel very proud of yourself, but it’s not an achievement which justifies a mention in too many blogs.  It’s a dreary existence. Unpublished authors can’t blog about glamorous award ceremonies, because they don’t get nominated for anything.  And you’ll be lucky to get invited to publishing parties before you’ve made a name for yourself.  No one wants a bitter, baggy-eyed, grumpy unpublished writer for a friend.  You might not realise it but you’ve got negativity written all over your miserable face. If you lacked confidence when you set out to get published (and most of us do) then your self-esteem will be non-existent within months of submitting your work. You soon forget how to smile, like someone who’s overdone the botox, except you’ve got deep-set wrinkles and a permanent frown.

The trials not only strip you of a smooth complexion, but they take away your self-respect. By the end of it all, you’ll hate everything you’ve ever written. You’ll stop questioning whether it’s worth pursuing the dream and accept defeat.  

During the trials you’ll have politely thanked millions of people for kicking you when you’re already down.  Don’t be ashamed if you’ve suffered a relapse and gone back to those critics begging for more. We’re all guilty of grovelling.  Every long-term un-published author will have succumbed to arse licking in various degrees. It’s called desperation. The memories will make you cringe so adopt a coping mechanism - pretend it was some other loser who pitched that romantic novel to a crime editor and move on*.

Unnecessarily painful feedback might make you want to cry. Learn to pick yourself up every time a door is slammed in your face. You’ll be rejected on a daily basis. Sometimes it might occur in the nicest possible manner. Never get complacent. In their opinion, your work is a piece of shit whatever way they choose to inform you of that fact. You’ll soon get to the point when you couldn’t agree more.  I’ve often wondered what possessed me to submit such excrement, but if you wade through enough sewage, you’re bound to discover one golden nugget in a turd.  

Anyhow, I am digressing somewhat and must return to the theme. Like all farewells, I need to steer the subject back on course and break the news. I was on the verge of abandoning the trials and packing it in when a miracle occurred. After seven years of submitting work and three years of blogging I can finally confirm that I have received an author/publisher contract. Is this the end of the trials or just the beginning? Maybe it is the beginning of the end?  My advice is to keep reading the blogs - wait and see :-)

                                                             *NB: A fabricated example was used to protect the bloggers pride.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Literary Squatters

The literary world should not be encouraging Squatters to move in before a novel has reached the final draft. Inevitably, the quality of the product will suffer as a result.  Squatters don’t care about the property as much as the owner.  They have no reason to waste time tidying up. Why bother making it spick and span? On the other hand, the owner has dedicated several years of their life to that project. It means a heck of a lot to them to maintain standards and keep the place looking good....

I’ve recently watched two articulate women talking about their novels: one was passionately keen to discuss the writing process while the other didn’t seem to give two hoots.  The latter obviously hadn’t put as much work into her book. It struck me that it might not have even been her idea.  How did I make this judgement?  Well, if her apathy was a sign of her disappointment then she’d appear to be ashamed, apologise and promise to do better next time. However, considering this novel was a runaway success you’d expect her to be proud: enthusiastically talking about the ups and downs, the late nights working through dilemmas, the puzzles she’s had to resolve, the darlings she had to kill. There’s no way she’s spent years agonising over characterisation, concepts and wording.  During the course of the interview, I gathered that she hadn’t done much in the way of research either.

In order to get a sense of what my characters are going through, I’ve become a competent method actress. I’ve been known to bury my head in a threadbare carpet, before slapping myself across the face and crying REAL tears. I not only step into my fictional worlds: I hop, skip, jump, crawl - live and die there.  I can categorically state that I’ll never have a free-falling, tight rope walking, motorcycle stuntman in any of my novels.  But if I did, I’d read a few accounts of what it’s like to perform these stunts and I’d talk to Adrenalin Junkies to put myself into their shoes.

Before The Latter had finished her interview, she was asked about the film based on her novel. A movie! How fantastic! I would be honoured, thrilled, excited. I’d want to make sure the actors are going to put as much effort into portraying my characters as I put into creating them.  However, she didn’t seem to give two hoots. I became convinced that she was exhibiting 'Literary Squatter' traits. She must have taken over someone else's novel. What a cheek! A violation!

I stopped and thought about my accusation. Maybe, nothing excites this woman, but surely, after all that success you'd think she'd be a teeny bit happy? 

It can take years to get your work published. Many of us might not even come close to reaching that goal. The perfect first-draft will almost certainly never be recognised as a work of genius. Not many people in the publishing world will see that novel’s true potential. Only the Writer knows when they’re onto a winner.  By the third draft they’ll have produced well rounded characters and relevant dialogue. At this point, anyone could take that book and turn it into a product worthy of publication. Except, it belongs to the owner - it’s their manuscript. They’ve spent all those years developing the groundwork, putting up the scaffolding, cementing every brick. This has taken them many years to complete. They’ll know their characters more than any non-fictional human being. They’ll have struggled with point of view and tense. They’ll have played around with structure and in many cases they might have infuriatingly ended up right back at square one.  It’s all worth it, because they get to put on the roof and make their property water tight. It’s their job to make the final finishing touches to the interior and landscape the front and the back.  Don’t allow anyone else to take that satisfaction away. Believe me, there are people out there who will kick you out of the way for their own gains. After all the hard work is done, these squatters will saunter down your garden path and put their key in your front door.

You’ve brought several hundred blank pieces of paper to life, not them! You’ve created those places, concepts, characters and plot. It is your job to turn this project into a commercial product. This novel belongs to you. Enjoy those final tweaks - slip in a few more red herrings and finely tune the denouement. You revise the prologue and write the perfect hook. Introduce us to a few more characters and reveal their secrets.  You dug those foundations with your bare hands. You’ve written so many drafts. You know how your characters tick. It’ll be easy for Squatters to get mixed up, confuse concepts, lose their way around a location, forget what day it is - was the sun shining or not? Don't allow them to make a fool out of themselves....

My first novel was prematurely submitted to publishers (for whatever reason), but I’ve just completed the final stage and I’m overjoyed. It’s so rewarding. I can’t wait to get to this part of the novel writing process again. That's why I’m starting another book. By the end of today, I’ll be on a roll. I’m very speedy. I won’t be handing the baton over to anyone else. It'll take many more drafts before I get to that 'fun' bit again, but I’ve got the stamina, the determination to drive this idea forward. I don’t need any interference along the way.  I have my eyes on that final line. I’m looking forward to the sprint finish – that glorious moment is ALL mine!   I have copyright. It is my intellectual property.  Squatters keep out or else we might have to seek an eviction order.....