“The only way of finding the limits of the possible
is by going beyond them into the impossible.”
(Arthur C. Clarke)
I write predominately about my first passion – the paranormal and the unexplained – although it was with a romantic saga I had my first success as a novelist. I am also a published poet.
In 2004, I was shortlisted to receive the Harry Bowling Prize for the opening chapter of my novel Every Step of the Way. Not only was I dumbfounded but for the next year floated on a cloud, realising I was one step nearer reaching publication. The HB was and still is a well-respected prize specifically aimed at prepublished writers although winning doesn’t necessarily guarantee publication. In 2004 it was administered solely by the MBA agency, the entry criteria being the novel must set at least in part in London but could be in any genre. The first 10,000 words and a synopsis were required.
I had already written the first three chapters of Every Step of the Way as a sequel to Whitestones. It was set in London, its genesis being the killer smog of 1952, so thinking I might do better if I turned it into a saga, after all that’s what Harry Bowling wrote, I cobbled together a storyline. Once the synopsis was written, I thought, “Well, this actually is a good plot” and thus Every Step metamorphosed from a paranormal into a 1950s saga, centred in West London and Gloucestershire and explored the world of coffee bars and teddy boys, gang fights and the plight of women during that era.
I didn’t win but that didn’t matter, just being shortlisted was such a boost to my career and esteem. I jumped the slush piles and found an agent who was willing to help me find a publisher. She is still searching for although sagas are always popular, there are a great many of us writing them and it seems publishers seem unwilling to take a gamble on an unknown with a “slightly” different perspective on the genre. If it was based in the East End or in, say, Liverpool, it might have been taken up sooner but then my story wouldn’t work. I still live in the world of Hope.
So, step back in time into a London of pea-soupers, coffee bars and jukeboxes and the birth of the teenager culture, when central heating was only a dream for most and men ruled the roost.