I first got the writing bug around age 12 but started with incredibly soppy poetry which always rhymed. From 13 onwards I wrote angst ridden teenage poetry, so embarrassing the existence of it probably shouldn’t be mentioned. Round about 14 I wrote my first novel in the fantasy genre – Panthra. Due to the constraints of school and long hours spent at the ice rink training for competitions I abandoned my novel and began to write short stories. I however kept up the poetry and have piles of notebooks on a shelf in my writing cubby as evidence of my early productivity.
After moving to the UK my notebooks stayed tucked away in a trunk and didn’t see the light of day until I went off to university as a mature student. Even with all the required reading I still managed to write a fair amount of poetry and began the bare bones of an idea for a science fiction novel which centred round the environment. I finished this novel before I started my teacher training but it was left to languish on a computer disc. Remember those?
13 years into my teaching career I found myself whiling away odd moments on a rather long short story (15,000 words) about a young woman who has a terrifying ability. This was the piece of writing I decided to take along to my writing holiday in Skyros. The group comments I received about this story spurred me to leave teaching and focus more attention on writing. Always supportive, when I told my dad of my decision he didn’t blink an eye and backed me without a moment’s hesitation. In 2012 my dad died. It was the catalyst for what came next. I was desperate to do something to honour his passing. In the meanwhile the 15,000 word fragment had turned into a completed novel (Six Dead Men) which I was editing whilst contacting agents and publishers.
During this period, unbelievably, an opportunity arose to self-publish in e-book format without any expenditure on my part at all through a beta website called Autharium. I wasn’t convinced. It seemed too much like the Devil in a Sunday hat. Not to mention that at the time e-publishing was a total unknown to me. In the wider community there was much debate and most people seemed convinced it would have no place in the world. But several phone calls and emails later and I threw caution to the wind.
I didn’t have the slightest clue what I was doing but the e-book went into the world and I told friends and family all about it. It made the sum total of £12 in royalties and I could not have been prouder.
What I hadn’t counted on was all the other stories in my head just begging to be let out. My first toe dipping experience of self-publishing stirred the desire to write more, learn more, develop as both a writer and independent author. Now I have this avenue, I am, compelled to set my stories free.