‘Are You Crazy?’ McReady yelled at her when they were outside. ‘Are you out of your mind. He’s insane, Jules.'
She took a deep breath and stared back at him. 'We’re going to get him home, McReady. Mad or not. He’s going to go home.’
McReady threw up his hands. ‘How can you help someone who thinks we’re at war with the French?’
‘You’re wrong. We have to save his sister.’
- extract from Girl with Cat (Blue)
Believing in a multiverse is one thing - actually crossing over into one is risks madness. Discover Lundein - at war with the French (Gauls) - meet Saska Chancellor and her Blue Lynx defending the city to the last, all the while seeking a tunnel to London buried somewhere under the rubble, never quite believeing it is real.
'Saska is awesome' Amazon.co.uk
||If someone came up to you and said they were from a parallel world - in fact came from the same city you were living in but with a different name and history - a city that was at war with the French (The Gauls) you'd back away right? Find an excuse and run. It's uncomfortable talking to someone who probably believes aliens are controlling their mind or at least Trump's mind (oh shoot - that bit's true, sorry). Anyway you get my point. So that's how Girl With Cat (Blue) began. No, not aliens - but standing in a Vancouver Gallery before a beautiful painting of a girl from another planet, her loyal Blue Cat at her feet. I wanted to buy the painting but lack of funds (my more usual situation) prevented it. But I did talk to the artist and he claimed he'd dreamt this girl was real and spoke to him and she insisted he had to paint her. Crazy? Possibly. But as I walked back to my Kitsilano apartment I was intrigued.
(Image: first idea for cover by Liam Berry)
All that was long ago and I can't believe how long it has been since I first saw the painting. About a year later - I too was visited by the girl in my dreams, who crouched in my window and berated me for not writing her story. The image was so real I can still see her there with an extremely a cross expression on her face. I was then in an apartment six floors up and it was impossible for her to be there or real, but nevertheless it was inexplicably detailed right down to her cracked leather boots and blood-stained scarf. I began to think about her a lot and once I discovered her name - Saska - I began to write. But if Saska existed in a parallel world then it was likely that she would have a doppleganger in this world! Once I found Jules and then Merry and McReady I had everything I needed to get started. But then everyone knows that if you meet your doppleganger one of you dies .... I can't say more of course, but you could start reading - I hope you too will be haunted by the Girl with Cat (Blue).
The Making and Unmaking of a writer - Things you didn't know about Sam Hawksmoor
Where are you on social media? An agent asks me. How many followers do you have? We’re only really taking on photogenic authors right now with a YouTube presence. Do you blog? What is a dinosaur to do to get people to read his books I wonder?
Publishing has changed since a great deal since I had my first book published. Dinosaurs truly walked the earth and Apocalypse Now was in the cinemas, along with Alien, Mad Max and The China Syndrome. Then if you wrote a book and sold it, it went into all the bookshops and if you were exceptionally lucky it might get promoted. I was lucky, it got picked up by publishers in New York and I thought my career was set. Three more hardback books followed (two selling to paperback publishers as well) and even though I once made the bottom ten of the best seller list in the Sunday Times, it was only when I started to wonder where my royalties were that I discovered they may not be coming. If I had a time machine and could send myself belated career advice - go into real estate would be the answer.
A friend recommended writing radio drama. I called up a producer and said I’d like to try. He said a writer failed to deliver a play and we have to record something in three days. Can you get me an hour-long drama by Monday? I rushed to the bookshop to look up how to format a radio drama (laptops hadn’t yet been invented let alone the internet) and wrote it in a weekend. Luckily I had been to film school, so writing scripts was no problem at all, but radio is tricky. You better have a good ear for dialogue. I turned up at the studio at 9am on the Monday. He sent me off for a coffee whilst he read it and when I came back he was making calls to cast it. It was about an employment agency for look-alikes and a copycat Marylyn Monroe being murdered in a hot tub. It was risqué for radio back then, but they read it through and then recorded it that day, hot tub sound effects and all. The magic question was then asked. Can you write some more? Say one a month for a thriller slot. Of course I said yes. Three years work was promised. I wrote around 35 in the end and it was hard work. The first 12 were easy, I had a bunch of short stories that had never seen light of day. The next 12 were harder and the last 12 were murder. I was desperate, reduced to asking waitresses for their life stories. Luckily I was involved with the horse racing set in those days and there were quite a few dubious people who found their way into my plays. I never made more than the rent from my plays. They were only ever broadcast once and then the tape wiped to reuse. I rescued about 15 of them on cassette. But on reflection it was the happiest part of my life. All a writer can ask for is that someone wants your work and an audience. In those days around 1.2 million listeners as it followed the top forty charts and people were too lazy to turn off and besides we were taught to write a really catchy beginning to hook them in 90 seconds. Those were the days huh. I seem to recall I won some awards too.
At some point after all this I decided to branch out, go back to screenwriting and pitching ideas. Went to Hollywood and even had two or three screenplays optioned, but it was impossible to get anyone to commit. I had one piece of luck. An historical novel I’d written based on an original screenplay I'd written with a friend sold to an American publisher. I was just making the proof corrections when the New York agent called. ‘The $20,000 check bounced.’
I was devastated. He didn’t seem inclined to continue the professional relationship or try for another publisher and I’d already put a deposit on a flat in Vancouver. I was totally screwed. I wasn’t going to get the money back either.
I’m not sure when exactly, but perhaps just after that when I fell very ill without insurance I realised that other people have jobs, income, mortgages, insurance, cars that don’t need push starts or work with publishers who never pay. ‘Let’s face it, Sam, you have to grow up one day,’ my sister said. ‘If it doesn’t happen soon, you’re never going to make it. You need a job.’ Don’t you just love family advice? Especially when it’s true.
But what to do? Eventually I had to go back to the beginning. Teaching. Study for a Masters…
No one was interested in my previous life or even believed it. Many teachers, I rapidly discovered, have very narrow lives with limited horizons. Twenty-four years disappeared just like that. I still wrote screenplays, wrote a couple of books, but it was like I died and slowly I grew accustomed to the certainty of a salary, a mortgage, new cars instead of old and holidays with my pal Kit. No more worries about being paid. No more flaky producers who never could quite lay their hands on the money or publishers promises about the publicity they were going to do…
But still that burning desire for success was there, not quite suppressed. You can understand why old rockers never fade away, the alternative is so dull, so routine. They must long for the roar of the crowd.
Then I pitched 'The Repossession' to an editor at Winchester Writer’s Conference and she said ‘I’m interested.’ Good grief. You don’t let the fish get away. You write that book as fast as you can.
I’d like to say that there is a fairytale ending and to a certain extent there is, but publishing has changed. Build that social media following they tell you, that's the only publicity you're going to get. The book will sink of swim on your contacts. Well in the end – The Repossession became a trilogy in the UK, won an award (The Wirral) , and finally was published to success in Turkey and France last year. But as for the followers? Social Media … it’s a generational shift. I’m a storyteller not a blogger. The life of a writer is so monumentally dull, there’s no way I could post something ten times a day without going insane and I don’t follow anyone else. Who has time for that? I don’t post photos of my lunch or dinner. I guess I’m doomed. My pal's 15 year old daughter has 50,000 followers for her make-up tips without any effort at all and she gets fan mail and presents. 'You're too old to go on YouTube' she informs me and it's true and besides I know nothing about make-up. I still write. The novels are out there on Amazon. My new novel 'Girl with Cat (Blue)' is now published and my students seem to like it (phew), but I know that it’s a raindrop in an ocean of media.
‘Whom do you write for?’ I asked students at Lincoln University. ‘If the answer isn’t for ‘me’ yourself, you're going to end up crying. You write because you have a story you want to tell and with luck, just a few people will love it enough to tell others. It’s all you can do. If a million discover it and love it, it’s a terrific bonus, but first you have to love it. So many novels lay abandoned because the writers didn’t love it enough, or a reader didn’t care enough about the characters to continue reading. And every month there's another 100 titles published to tempt readers to forget yours.
I got an email from Lily in France last summer after reading ‘VoLontaires’ – is there a sequel please? Honestly that’s the best any writer can wish for. That and when someone discovers one of your books in random places such as Jordan and posts a good review on Goodreads. Simple pleasures really.
|If you have read this far, download the Kindle or buy the print version of Girl with Cat (Blue) personally I think it's my best book and I can't believe how long it took to complete. I await for Saska to come back to my dreams and tell me what happens next. One day, who knows, the story will continue. We shall see.
GIRL WITH CAT (Blue) available on Kindle and in Print from Hammer & Tong on Amazon
We celebrated the publications of Ruya (The Heaviness in Turkish) and VoLontaires (The Repossession) in French 2017
Crafting the YA Novel 2017
Sam Hawksmoor January 2018 - The Sam Hawksmoor Books List
||The Repossession was published in Turkey as TOZ. Toz means dust and that's quite apt. It's in hardback. The 2nd part is called GOLGE and part three The Heaviness (Rüya) was published June 2017 - My thanks to Gamze Tuncel Demir at Marti Yayincilik for the cover designs
* Background research on anti-gravity here -
**Thinkpiece: What if you read a book you loved and never told anyone, especially the writer? more
What did you want to be when you were a child?.... more
One question I used to dislike the most when a kid was ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’
You’re like 12 years old and you have no idea what you might like to do at 20, let alone 40 .... more
Kindle ebook for The Heaviness - Sam in Canada
More Background to Genie Magee's world. Search and you'll find some extra stories about the main characters.
* If you write me on old fashioned email, I do check and will write back as soon as I can. see Contact
'Terrifying alternative outcome to WW2 - the Blitz brought vividly to life.'
of Tomas D
Tomas accidentally goes back in time to London in the Blitz. Captured and tortured for what he knows about the war... WW11 abruptly ends in 1941.
The day after Tomas disappears, his girlfriend Gabriella wakes up to realise she's the only one who remembers that Germany was supposed to have lost the war... Sample Chapter here
of Genie Magee
Someone with a grudge wants Genie dead. Rian is kidnapped and forced to do experiments. Genie and Renée have just 36 hours to find Rian or he dies - but the one person who can help is aleady dead. Gravity isn't the only thing that can pull you down...
'The best Genie Magee story left till last. It might just break your heart.'