People always ask me if I know the end of my next book. I always reply yes, because I do, and that I know the beginning. However, the middle 250 or so pages is sometimes a different matter. It’s like being able to see a house on a faraway mountain, but the valley before it is shrouded in mist. As a writer, having promised a book to a deadline, this kind of feels like Russian roulette, because there’s a chance that the inspiration simply never comes…
After 66 Metres and 37 hours, which have the same protagonist (Nadia) but are slightly different books in style, I wanted the third one also to be different. For about a month I was keen to start the next book, but after writing the Prologue I stopped, because I couldn’t see the twists and turns I would need to make this one stand alone from the others and not simply be ‘more of the same’. Mostly, I couldn’t see the overall arc of the protagonist. If you’ve made it to the end of 37 hours, you pretty much know what Nadia needs to do. But what challenges would she have this time, possibly her last? It had to be something new. Luckily for me, my Sony laptop broke (the keyboard – I get carried away and sometimes I can’t type fast enough) – and I had to wait 10 days for a replacement (a Mac – 10 days? I live in France – just don’t ask).
And then, following in the great footsteps of Archimedes, I was sitting in the bath one evening thinking about nothing in particular, and the plot came to me. Just like that. Like it was hiding in plain sight and I’d missed it all this time. I got out, vaguely dried myself and began scribbling notes. This went on for 10 minutes, then I sat back. It would work. Already the shape of the book started to form, the clouds lifting from the valleys, and I could see the road, the places Nadia would travel, the obstacles in her way, and how it would change her.
I don’t know how other writers get their ideas and do this ‘macro-plotting’. It’s their business. But the mind is a strange and wonderful thing. Now I just have to write it all down…
So I don’t leave you empty-handed, below are the two ‘by-lines’ used by the publisher for the first two books, and a new one for the book I am now writing.
The only thing worth killing for is family (66 Metres)
Now Nadia has killed once, she knows she can kill again (37 Hours)
Nadia saved a city. Now she is public enemy number one (15 days)