Catching Up . . .

Has 2020 been all about Covid? In a way, yes. In many ways, no.

For a lot of people it’s been about re-evaluating. It’s been a wake-up call.

Do I need to commute so far every day? Do I love this person I’m living with? What’s the point of continuing in this job I hate? Why am I putting up with so much outside of my control? I could go on… the list is endless. Everyone has been forced to stop and THINK.

2020 has been a shit year for many. There we are. In the words of Mad-Eye Moody, “End of story. Goodbye. The End…”

But it hasn’t all been about Covid.

For instance, among my family and extended family three people are living with cancer at the moment. The worst moments of some people’s lives have taken place, all while Covid exists as an annoying accomplice in the background. Cancer hasn’t gone away. Nor have any of the other ailments killing people every day.

My husband’s work has changed completely. He’s adapted and is a podcaster now and wants to do a Masters for himself, because as he put it, “You just sometimes realise if you want to do something for yourself, you’ve got to do it now. There’s no time.”

We had a major financial scare at the beginning of this year. Suffice to say, there are some dodgy, dodgy companies out there… and they will still be doing what they do post-Covid, because some things never change.

I’ve heard numerous times from my daughter, the words, “I hate coronavirus!” All she sees is that she cannot meet her friends in the same way. She can’t stay over at Grandma’s. She couldn’t go to school. She hates seeing her parents in the scary masks and doesn’t understand why so many people are angry and impatient everywhere. And all the adults ever seem to talk about is fucking coronavirus. LOL.

I started writing a series of books last winter, almost a year ago now. I put fingers to keys to create the Bad Series well before any of this kicked off.

I wrote this series during some of the worst times of my life, but I worked SO HARD throughout to stick to the brief I set out a year ago – to write it as it was meant to be written from concept to completion. I oftentimes write my books real-time and that’s why more often than not, I write in first-person present tense because I want it to have the feel of “happening right now” – that you’re living the story alongside the characters. The epilogue of the Bad Series brings the characters right up to about now (2020 – the year which in future shall not be named). However, I am no way going to ever mention the C-word in any of my books. WHY? Because it doesn’t have a place. Not right now. Maybe not ever. The issues I chose to write about and have been detailing for ten years are, to me, much more prevalent, evergreen and pressing. Issues such as family, relationships, friendships, mental health, overcoming trauma, acceptance of one another and love.

If you want to discover what my post-natal brain conjured eight or nine years ago about the future (2023) then read my predictions in the Unity Series. If you’d like a window into what my highly sensitive nerve endings picked up on as being our future, Unity comes very close in a lot of (interpretational) ways. If there was a message in the Unity Series, it was to think for yourself. To not allow ourselves to be pushed apart. Broken, we can be divided; together, we’re unbreakable.

Fiction, as it turns out, is more important than ever. To me. To you. To the world. A safe space in which to translate and work through everything going on around us.

I know how lucky I am every day to be able to venture into my own private domain. To have the skill to be able to knit my concerns about the world within good stories. To have my safe space.

I recognise, now more than ever, there is pain out there which goes far beyond the virus and it is being squashed away because of this C-word thing going on and interrupting our lives.

Domestic abuse is up. Cancer patients are waiting. Many elderly are suffering because they simply cannot get out. They are missing that VITAL chance to be around the younger generation and feel connected to the world. People are telling themselves their suffering is small and therefore they aren’t going to the doctor with that ache or pain or lump they’d normally get checked out. And MONEY still isn’t being placed where it is needed most. And the WRONG sectors are benefiting from this crisis while the pre-existing and various struggles of millions are ongoing and far outweigh some people’s reluctance to don a mask.

And the very fine balance of people’s mental health is being tested like never before. Those of us who have never had a mental health issue – are wondering if it’s coming for us next. Because sometimes, some days, you just wake up and think, “What the fuck next…?”

For someone who processes events slowly, and then all at once, the next writings from me might be very interesting indeed.

Is 2020 a write-off?

I don’t know.

Personally, this year has taught me that I am there for a heck of a lot of people. And I will always be. But stepping back sometimes is something I have to do. Trying to save people is something I can’t accomplish. Even when I can see what they’re doing is causing damage only to themselves, I can’t step in. But maybe somebody reading one of my books might read it… and be moved to see things clearer than if someone in their lives had sat them down and told them.

For some, lockdown was their saviour. It was finally their chance to take stock. To catch up on sleep. No more boarding a flight every week. No more sardine-in-a-can train journeys. Time spent catching up with their partner and/or kids. Time to spruce up the house or driveway or back garden, or front – maybe all the above. Time to grow out your hair and/or nails. Time to breathe. Time to actually speak to your neighbour. A chance to buy local. A chance to sell local. A chance to be local.

If I’m anything to go by, let me tell you, one thing is for certain.

Post-2020, creativity is going to be UP!

Things are going to change, and it is going to hurt, but through the enormous amount of creativity that is coming – because nothing can come from nothing and who we are, the experiences we’ve had and the hearts we own are everything – we can be together.

Watch this space…

The Secrets to My Latest Work

I was writing a trilogy last year and people kept asking why I wasn’t giving erotica a go, like a lot of other writers. Indeed, it is a genre currently swamped. I kept brushing off the urge to try my hand at an erotic novel but deep down, I knew it was something I wanted to do.

Finishing a trilogy is absolutely and utterly brutal. You have spent so much time with just a handful of characters and you have to say goodbye. But, I can tell you, my latest book was a lot more difficult. I wanted to get my heroine just right. Pinning down one very complex person is a lot more difficult.

I knew she was averse to intimacy before I even started. Great sex is great but what about a deeper level of understanding? How would she cope with that? I knew her problems were down to illness. I knew a lot of things already, before I started work on this novel. Sometimes, as a writer, you just write and see what happens, but this time I knew exactly where I wanted to go. But, the creative urge can lead you to places you never expected it to…

Absorbing a ton of research, maybe my mind filtered the data and came up with the strongest thread of a storyline it could – combined with a plot that absorbs all the throes of a setback. Somehow, something dropped in my lap. A friend I know discovered they had been avoiding decisions their whole life and they had only just found out why. I looked at this book that explained why they avoid making decisions or asserting themselves and it was like a switch had flicked. This slotted with what I wanted to do so well.

I then took to forums and scanned a lot, but mostly absorbed everything I could about the condition I wanted to portray in this novel. It just struck me that so many people might suffer in silence or not even know they have it and I wanted to incorporate it in this work of mine.

So, with all these aspects of this one character floating around my head, I took to the laptop again. I had to sit here thinking “what would she do in this scenario?”. I was like a complete method actor! This book is nothing like my previous work and it is NOT me. I have to be clear on that. I found my muse and I exploded her. I absolutely wrote this for someone else, to give someone else the voice they might not otherwise have had. I knew with her having already survived so much (and never having faced it) the cost of that had to be great.

Along the way, a psychiatric doctorate crossed my path that again, lit up another light bulb inside my mind. Whether this be stroke of luck, destined or whatever, this second book I have coming up is going to be so interesting. I am dissecting opposite sides of a spectrum that are so intertwined you will not know whether you are coming or going!

So, when people ask whether I find this book intensely personal or whatever, I say no. It was refreshing to write something that is so far removed from me it is astonishing that I managed to put my mind in The Chambermaid’s headspace. As I say, I sat for hours before taking to the keys, wrestling with who she was and dissecting every piece of her psyche.

There is so much more to these books than sex and cusses and adventures. I am writing to challenge and provoke. What is the point otherwise? I wouldn’t be giving anyone anything new otherwise. It’s all fiction at the end of the day but if it leaves you wondering afterward… I have done my job.