Thursday, 20 August 2020

Secure the Shadow Fades Away

A big hug to all the book bloggers who took part in the Secure the Shadow launch tour. Really touched by the reviews.

Touched and surprised. I've said this several times both on this blog and to friends - I was never too sure how to feel about this one. It's not the book I set out to write, and I never really forgave it for that. The original idea was to write a first-person, very sad, very slow story about a woman with a passion for photography who loses her mind to mercury poisoning. A hazard of the profession back then. The idea was that her memories and the photographs would start to blur until she could no longer tell the difference.

That isn't the book I ended up with. It took on a life of its own from the prologue and I just couldn't control it. I didn't expect to meet any of the characters in it. So, when they took over, I felt a very slight sense of resentment because I thought my idea was better. But they wouldn't listen, and I was overruled. 

This often happens to sections of my books, but not usually to the entire thing. 

It's like I suggested, 'let's write a book about photography and ghosts,' and someone else (or a few someone elses) went, 'okay great, give me the pen.'

I thought we could maybe do something about it when we got to the end, but a novel is very similar to a jigsaw puzzle in that the pieces fit together so exactly that any attempt to remove a piece or insert something else just mucks up the whole picture. 

So, I had to accept, this was the book I got. 

Which is why I've been fairly blown away by the response. Because it wasn't what I thought it should be, I assumed it wasn't good. But I didn't listen to my own advice. I teach technical writing skills from time to time. One thing everybody struggles with is shortening a sentence. Once you put something on paper, you fall in love with it. You can't help it. You don't think you love it, but the moment someone else suggests getting rid of it - kill your darlings - you resist with all your might. What I try to explain to people is - you only think you're taking something away from the sentence because you knew it was there in the first place. Someone who never knew those words existed, really won't miss them. There's nothing there to miss. They will be perfectly satisfied with what they see. 

On a grander scale - that was this book. In my head, I had a whole other story. But nobody else saw that story, they saw this one. And this one is good also. It's just taken me a while to accept that. 

A blog tour is something I cringe from. The first one I ever did was with Rosy Hours, that introduced me to the concept. It's an important way to launch a book, like smashing champagne against a boat. Interviews are fun, giveaways are nice, but you just never know what the reviews will say. Each morning you wake up and steel yourself to click a link, only breathing again once you're a few paragraphs in and nobody said it was the worst book they'd ever read.

I was honestly overwhelmed by the positivity. There were a couple of five-stars in there, which is always a glowy feeling. Though I was particularly touched by Debjani's review because she quoted some of her favourite parts. I do that in book reviews, too. Certain things just stick with you, and those things are so individual to each reader. That people go to such trouble as to type them up is truly humbling. 

This is the first time I have seen such eloquent descriptions of death with just the hint of grief accompanying it. - Debjani's Thoughts 

You can find the full tour with all the links here.

The book has had a good send-off and now it's time to turn my attention to other projects. Still slogging away at the Children of Lir and Tangled Forest audiobooks, in that order. But all the nice reviews have given me heart again. I haven't written much in a while now, but once these are out the way, I will get back to it. Everybody, no matter how long they've been writing, needs a little encouragement now and then.

To all creatives out there - keep going. Make the world a little madder, a little badder, more Byronic than moronic.

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