Since I began crowdfunding my debut novel at the end of last year, I’ve spent a lot of time promoting myself and my work and explaining to people exactly why they should support my campaign.
It can feel a bit icky asking for money or support, even from close friends and family.
Not something that comes naturally to me!
But I’m here again to persuade you to buy a copy, if you can.
So why would you want to read my book? What is unique about it?
Half the story is told by the antagonist
There’s a famous quote about writing that states: “The antagonist is the hero in their own story.”
Whenever you’re reading a book or watching a film where the bad guy is doing something inexplicable or truly evil and the hero has to fight against them, remember, they have reasons for the things they are doing.
My story is set in a dystopian version of the UK run by a military dictatorship. Anyone who speaks out against the regime or threatens it in some way is ‘disappeared’, taken by the government’s Authorisation Bureau.
That’s what happens to the father of my main character, Clara.
The story begins with her father being dragged out of the family home, never to be seen again. The reader then jumps forward in time to understand the impact this has had on her and her life.
But after drafting the story all from Clara’s perspective, it just wasn’t working. I couldn’t show anything that happened to her father, so I resorted to some vague dream sequences that didn’t have the impact I would have liked.
It was at that point that I decided to introduce another voice to the story: that of Clara’s stepfather, who was also the man responsible for her father’s arrest, Major Jackson.
In the first draft, the Major was a stereotypical bad guy, who interrogated people for a living.
But when his voice came to the fore, so did his motivations. Rather than being a movie style villain, he became an ambitious man who happens to develop feelings for the wife of his target, which quickly turn to obsession.
In the midst of this dystopian world, their relationship is chronicled as they break themselves against each other over years of unhappy marriage.
Way back in 2015, I won a Northern Writers’ Award for the book.
After making the short and longlists in other competitions, it was a fantastic boost to actually win something. The Northern Writers’ Awards are also a great opportunity to meet other writers from across the north of England and some really talented people, including prose, poetry and screenwriters, have previously won awards.
This was the second piece of validation I had for this novel, after being longlisted in the Bath Novel Award.
And the best thing was, I won a manuscript edit from The Literary Consultancy, which allowed me to make a whole range of improvements to the book.
It feels more current than ever
I had the idea for this book over a decade ago, after watching a film about the Dirty War in Argentina.
There are many regimes around the world that torture and imprison their citizens, ruling through fear and division. But living in a democracy means that it can be difficult to appreciate the hardships people in those countries experience.
I wanted to write a story that brought this to the UK, to make the reader put themselves in that world and really imagine how it might affect them. In this version of the UK, the internet has been banned and the average person no longer has a mobile phone. People are forced to move from their homes into other accommodation, wherever the government tells them to go. Few people travel abroad, or even have a television.
Over the last year or two it feels as though the world has become a much more unstable place.
Despite being written in 1985, The Handmaid’s Tale feels like a timely story and, for me at least, the same is true of my novel.
Things are very different to what they were a decade ago.
If this post has piqued your interest, you can watch a video of me talking in more detail about the story below.
And if you are interested in reading the book, please support the campaign by buying a copy. There are lots of pledge levels available that offer extras too!
Thanks for reading!