Hello, I Must Be Going

My latest novel is published this month. It’s one of my books that began life without the complication of an actual idea. I didn’t even have a title. I had an image. The image was of a funeral. A teenager was being buried, and her friends were there to say goodbye. People were taking selfies on their phones and posting them online. I didn’t know who the dead teenager was, what had happened to them, or anything about their friends. All I had was people at the graveside with their phones. But I couldn’t get that image out of my mind.

This method – freewheeling without plot or synopsis, or even characters or title – is novel writing as adventure.  It’s not the easiest way of doing it, but it is like being on an ancient quest through the Witches’ Woods. It’s dark and unfamiliar. There are few signs and the trail is erratic and undependable. You have no idea what surprises, shocks and horrors you may encounter on the way.

Once I started – once everyone was gathered on the green grass under a summer sun – the dead teenager almost immediately became Sorrel Groober. She was pretty and full of life (the way people who have died often are). She was hit by a car late one stormy night. Why was she out in the rain? Where was she going? What was her family like? For that matter, what was she like? Who were her closest friends? What were they like? What were their relationships with Sorrel? How were they coping?

Death is the end of the story for the person who dies, but not for the survivors. And not, it turned out for the people in my story, when the dead girl refuses to leave the friends she left behind alone.

Death, as they say, changes everything.

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Hello, I Must Be Going



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