Saturday, 27 September 2014

How old do you need to be to write a good book?

It takes time to become an author. It is not for lack of  technical skills, but that you will write far better books once you have experienced a few decades of adult life.  One still has to do research in order to avoid errors, but you know so much more than you did at eighteen, you’ve lived more, felt more, been more.  It all helps make for a better author.  (The eighteen-year-old I once met online who thought she was already a genius, will, of course, disagree.)


When I was around eighteen, I decided to write a book.  It was a failure, not for standard reasons of inadequate perseverance or insufficient knowledge of spelling and grammar, but rather, after just a few pages, (poorly typed on foolscap paper)  there was such a delicious ending that I simply could not resist it – such irony.

  There is no need for anyone  to read it, but just for myself, I am going to reproduce it here, and  looking far more polished  than when I was just eighteen, and hammering away at a type-writer.   



The Amateur Detective

The dark, slender young man smiled with supreme satisfaction. He now had enough evidence to take to the police, to use to convict the brothers. In happy conceit, he reflected that they had finally tackled someone who was not easily defeated. In his investigations, he had met others of the victims of the extortionists. They had all worn that look of defeat, they had admitted themselves impotent when faced with the unpalatable fact that there were another type of people in the world, powerful people, who could squash them, break them to their will as easily as others would step on an ant.
Chris was happy – too young and inexperienced to view with much apprehension the possibility that the criminal brothers knew of his investigations. Before, he had had only suspicions and hearsay to show to the large sergeant whom he had seen.  Surely now, he would be more impressed. That man’s inadequately concealed amusement had rankled, and caused him to become suddenly stubborn and to find within himself an unsuspected aptitude for ‘ferreting,’ as he put it to himself. He had gone on to find proof of his suspicions, but, even so, it had been a lighthearted game to him. He even felt a twinge of regret that it was time to turn his attention back to the humdrum business that was his work. Still, it was an achievement. Again, he gave his spontaneous grin as he sealed the envelope that held the proof to send the Renkin brothers to jail for a good long time. He put it in his hidden safe, ready for the morrow’s confrontation. He hoped it would be the same policeman.
There was a sound at the door.
“Come in,” he called, “The door’s open.”
Still he felt no twinge of apprehension.  Living in complete security all his life, accepting his easy living and general popularity as his due, he knew very little of the darker life that only rarely impinges on the consciousness of the ordinary man.
But when he looked up to find himself facing two guns in the hands of two slightly weary looking men, cold-eyed men, even he could not fail to feel alarm. For a moment he simply stared, incredulous, suddenly realising how absurdly stupid he had been. He knew himself to be an intelligent sort of a person, he found no difficulty when matching wits with any of his acquaintances. Now, looking into those faces, he knew himself to be completely, abysmally out of his depth.
After that first revealing moment of shock, his defences took over. His face was impassive, betraying nothing of his fear and desperate determination not to be taken. Because now he remembered the tales of brutality and sheer sadism of the Renkins. Obviously, he thought, his brain now moving fast, they wanted him alive, at least for the present, or he would already have been dead.
The smaller man jerked his gun in command, silent but quite unmistakable. Rather stiffly, he moved in the direction indicated, where he was instructed to put his hands against the wall in the classic position for a bodysearch. Finding him free of weapons, they spun him around, roughly , but not brutally, and again, the gun commanded. Out into the hall he walked, whirling as he entered and attempting to slam the door on the two gunmen. But he hadn’t been quick enough, even for the moment it would have taken for him to flee. Instead, he picked up the heavy, long-stemmed ashtray and swung it around in the same movement to catch the smaller man, first through the door, hard on the upper arm, causing him to swear, and, more importantly, to drop his gun. Lifting the ashtray again, he brought it down hard on the place where the man’s head had been half a second before. The other man was in the room now, too, but the young man ignored the menace of the pointing gun, still attacking with the ashtray. An admirable weapon, he thought confusedly, Better than the guns which they were obviously afraid of using, probably for fear that the shot would be heard.
But the sharp crack of the .22 went unnoticed by anyone outside the apartment. The huddled figure of what had been a goodlooking and popular young man did not stir as one of the gunmen nudged his head with his foot to show the small wound, fair in his forehead.
Casually, the two men let themselves out of the apartment, and drove unhurriedly away. The orders had been to take him alive, but only if they could do it without inconvenience. Christopher Haywood had been marked for death for some days.

So now I am all grown up, and have eight books to my credit.  The little story above was to have been a full sized novel, a thriller.  But it wound up only 785 words because I simply could not resist the irony of the ending – that he thought they were not going to kill him…     And then they did.

My books now:


Thanks to Jack for allowing me to use his image.
 The Penwinnard Stories, four of them.  These are the stories of boys in a Boys' home - their mischief, their liveliness and their aspirations.  These are, in the main, light-hearted novels and quite short, the longest only 92,000 words. (348 pages)  The background of many of the characters is of abuse and neglect, but this is background. These novels are not about child abuse.

And then there are the Shuki stories. These are the novels I am most proud of. 'Not a Man,' especially, has garnered some very good reviews. The fourth and final book of the series is due for release on the 17th October, 2014. 

 'The Frost and the Sunshine.'


Shuki has such a good life now - his new home, his wives and his stepchildren, and becoming more important to him every day, young Zahu. It is hard to believe that Zahu could possibly want to stay with him when he is so much older. Surely one day, he will realise that a young woman has to suit him better than a middle-aged man.
And then Meriam comes into their lives - Meriam, daughter of Shuki's sister. Meriam, who looks so much like a youthful Shuki. She fascinates Zahu; she confuses him, and she tempts him. But she is not Shuki.

Meriam's baby is born when the frost lies heavy on the ground. But then the first rays of the sun come slanting over, and the countryside lights up. It is a promise - that bitter times might come, but one day, the sun will shine again.

 Find my books on online booksellers such as Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.































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