Twenty years ago, when I first decided to write a novel, I felt this whirlwind of impatience inside my chest. I saw the book cover, the blurb, the place on the bookshop shelf where it would sit (the single copy in the window where it would be BOOK OF THE WEEK).
All I had to do was write it. If only I didn’t have a full time job.
I had an idea. I had a plot. I had an audience in mind, teenagers. I had a main character based on me when I was a teenager. I had a grisly murder.
All I had to do was write it. If I ever got any time to myself.
I had a title BIG GIRLS’ SHOES, triggered by the title of an Elvis Costello song, Big Sister’s Clothes.
I had to work around my job and develop patience. I agreed a target with myself. I thought it would take a year. I did it in short bursts; early in the mornings, free time in work, in the evenings, at weekends and holidays. I never wrote for longer than about thirty minutes without a break, going and doing other things. This piecemeal way of writing a complex story actually helped rather than hindered. It meant that I never got so attached to a piece of writing that I didn’t mind tearing it apart the next time I looked at it. It also meant that the plot grew as I wrote and as characters developed I began to think of things that they would really do instead of things I wanted them to do. The plot began to twist and turn and I never minded going back and changing things, this process made much easier for when I got my first Amstrad.
I think the fact that I wrote the book while at work meant that for many hours I couldn’t do any actual writing but I had loads of time to THINK about the story. That thinking meant that the plot wasn’t rushed. The story slowly unfolded.
Now I write full time but my piecemeal approach is still there simply because with it, I believe, I write a better novel. So the very things I was forced to do at the beginning, have patience, write little and often, have long periods of time when I couldn’t write, established a template for the way I would write even when I had no full time job to go to. It worked for me.
Developing patience as a writer is probably the best piece of advice I can give. Once your book is written there is then the interminable wait for agents/ publishers/ contracts/ edits/ book covers/ publication dates.
And what should you be doing while this is all going on?
As soon as I sent off my first novel, BIG GIRLS’ SHOES, as soon as I posted it (snail mail,) I started my second novel IN REAL LIFE. I’m currently writing my thirtieth novel.
About the Author
Anne Cassidy was born in London in 1952 and was a teacher in London schools for 19 years before she turned to writing full time.
Anne has been writing books for teenagers for many years and concentrates on crime stories and thrillers.
Before she began to write Anne was an avid reader. Her favourite kind of books are those that have a mystery of some sort at their centre. She has a passion for crime books, mystery stories and detective novels. It's not just 'whodunnit' books she likes but why something happened, how a crime was committed, the effects of terrible events on ordinary people's lives. Her favourite crime writers are Ruth Rendell (particularly when she's writing as Barbara Vine), Sue Grafton, John Harvey, Lawrence Block, Scott Trurow and Donna Tartt.
Teenagers inhabit a transitory world between childhood and adulthood. Certainties and expectations are often turned upside down in this period. It seemed therefore an ideal point at which to throw a young adult in the path of crime. To see what happens if a young girl, previously only interested in clothes and records, is late to a meeting with her best friend and when she arrives, finds her murdered. Does she ignore it and get on with her life? Or does she find herself drawn into it?
To Anne there seemed to be a lack of these sorts of books for younger readers so since then she has written a variety of mystery and crime novels for teenagers.
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About the Book
Rose's mother and Joshua's father have disappeared. Police inquiries have gone nowhere and the case, it seems, is closed: Rose and Joshua have been told that the police believe their parents are dead. But Rose and Joshua still hold out hope that they are alive. Joshua is determined to follow up his own inquiries, which includes working out the meaning of the cryptic notebooks - the murder notebooks - they have discovered. Then Rose is distracted by odd, desperate messages she receives from Rachel, a former best friend from her school, followed by the terrible news that Rachel is dead. But perhaps Rachel's death will provide one more piece of the puzzle about what has happened to Rose and Joshua's parents.
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