Article published on April 21, 2016.
I’ve always written, though it’s sometimes been sporadic. When I was a child I kept a notebook, pen and torch beneath my bed, the glow of the light and the sound of scribbling never bothering my sister in the bunk above me. I always wished I could get to sleep as quickly as she did, but not being able to sleep turned out, later on, to be a bit of a blessing and that quiet time of night when my husband is asleep and the only noise is our clunky central heating is now when all my invisible friends come out to play and all the things I can’t make sense of in the real world become, for those few hours, within my control. Sometimes.
Ten years ago I was writing (what was intended as) a dark comedy. There was a problem: I’m not funny. I was reading a lot of crime, so it made sense to give it a go. I wrote the opening of a crime novel and entered it into a competition. It was shortlisted. They wanted the full novel within a few days. Here was the next problem: I’d only written three chapters. I locked myself in the house for four days, missed my niece’s birthday party (sorry, Ruby) and survived the weekend on tea and adrenaline. I didn’t get any further in the competition, but I had a (very rough) novel, so I spent time rewriting it before sending it off to be critiqued by a professional reading service – it came back with some positives, so I redrafted before trying it around a few agencies. I had two requests for full manuscripts, but it went no further. I wrote another novel, this one more of a psychological thriller. It had four full manuscript requests from agents, but once again that was as far as it went. I received positive feedback from some. Things were going in the right direction. Last year, I missed what might have been a huge opportunity. Or maybe not: I’ll never know. This month, I was fortunate enough to be signed by an agent who invested three months in helping me edit and improve the novel. That final phone call – a phone call I’ve been daydreaming about for the past decade – made every rejection email worthwhile.
Someone once told me that a writer’s central character is a third themselves, a third someone they’re close to, and a third the person they’d like to be. My leading female, DI Naomi King, shares some of my traits, but is thankfully a lot braver than I am. We’ve started a journey together, and I’m looking forward to seeing where she takes me next.
I’ve learned some valuable lessons in the past year, in life as well as in writing. Some things are out of my control. There are some happy endings no one can guarantee. But in the world of my imaginary friends, things can be as brilliant, as exciting, as moving or as deadly as I choose.
Follow me at on twitter @vickyjenks82
Vicky’s book is currently with her agent and will be offered to publishers in due course. We hope to announce a successful acquisition in due course.
AMR: Chris Whitaker meets Phil Ramage in our AUTHOR MEETS REVIEWER series