The actual physical book

Every writer remembers their first credit, or their first by-line, and they’re wonderful moments, but today the first copies of my debut novel arrived. I know, there are a million writers out there who have had that moment, but this is MINE, and in the words of ‘Almost Famous’, “Damn I’m going to enjoy this!”

Something like three years ago I had a sudden idea about a boy who could see the past all around him, and the idea rapidly spread into, at least, the core character of a novel. Very soon I had decided to set the novel in Somerset, and specifically around my beloved Ham Hill, the largest hill fort in the country, and the only one with a pub in the middle of it. Then I decided that Max, as I eventually named him, would come to live in the pub. Not so I could spend more time there researching of course…

Max’s ‘problem’ was easily decided – a debilitating combination of Dyspraxia, ADD and PTSD. I knew a lot about all these, largely through my own experiences and those of people close to me. He would be a boy who was shy, anxious, and almost pathologically incapable of relating to other people, who was suddenly thrown into an adventure where he had to learn to get over these disabilities, and do it himself.

That he would be immersed in a world of history, myth and legend was a no-brainer – I have always loved the ancient mythology of this country, and have a very large and very arcane selection of well-thumbed books on the subject. But I specifically remembered back to my own childhood, when I was fascinated by the books of Alan Garner, particularly ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’ and ‘Moon of Gomrath’. Garner was, and is, one of the great children’s authors. His stories so skilfully wove the extraordinary within the ordinary, the mythological within the everyday, using the legends of his own beloved Alderley Edge in Cheshire as their background. I’m not worthy of cleaning his shoes, obviously, but I knew I wanted to do similar things in my own story.Who knows, maybe one day children will come to see the Ham Hill of Max Tovey, as we did Alderley Edge way back then.

But as some reviewers have mentioned, I wasn’t content to leave it as ‘Max journeys through history’. My concepts over the years have always been many-layered, especially Lego Bionicle, which I co-created, and that one still has now grown-up fans trying to figure out the layers, fourteen years later. And so many other facets were added to the story, historical, mythological and just plain made up. I figured that if the audience can deal with the complexities of Dr Who, they could handle Max Tovey. Time will tell of course…

I finished the first draft eighteen months or so, and then spent the next year being messed around by an agent who obviously wanted it to be a different book, before saying goodbye to her, and going with my wonderful new publisher, EPG.

And now the finished article is actually here, on the table. Time for beer…

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