Being an obsessive music fan, I quite often read all the fine print in those little CD booklets. I think it was a Bon Jovi album where the band had a section called the Hundred Heroes Column. In it, they thanked their families, road crew and anybody else who made it possible for them to do their job. Whilst I haven’t got a hundred people to thank, there are four people who in some way, helped make my debut novel, Monkey Arkwright, what it is.
First up is my friend Darrin. Darrin and I had a go at writing a book and a couple of scripts many years ago, and although we never got them published, the joy we had writing together will stay with me forever. We still fondly recall some of the scenes from our unpublished epics, and the set pieces that we conjured up in our comedy farces make us laugh even now. So, when I was looking for somebody to proofread my manuscript, Darrin was the obvious first port of call. I’d write three chapters at a time and then hand them over to Darrin and my two daughters. I knew what I was doing was right, and what I could do better, by the reaction that I got from Darrin when he gave me his thoughts. If you ever write a book, you need somebody that you trust to tell you what will work and what won’t. Plus, if you don’t like the ending, blame Darrin, because he told me that my idea would work!
Next, my eldest daughter Lauren. She patiently read the novel from start to finish, but Lauren’s main contribution came when the book was finished. She was the one who held a gun to my head (metaphorically of course) and demanded that I set up the relevant Twitter and Facebook accounts, and then she helped me set up my website. If any small part of what I achieve with this book looks good, then it is probably down to Lauren.
Whilst everybody on this list has contributed in some way, it is my youngest daughter Rachel who has given the most time to the project. Rachel is well known for being a maths and science genius, but her skills as an editor were, until recently, well hidden. When we started reading the completed first draft, she pointed out my hideous misuse of commas. A short argument erupted, and it was only later when I went to read some basic grammar guides that I realised she was right. After all, she’d studied the nuts and bolts of writing English far more recently, and compared to my ancient knowledge, her opinion was far more relevant. So, the two of us went through my manuscript line by painstaking line, and with each iteration, we improved the grammar and reduced the errors. I’m hoping that the lessons that we all learned from the process will make writing and editing my next book far more efficient; if this is the case, the credit will be mostly Rachel’s.
Finally, my wife Hazel. Young Adult mysteries are not her cup of tea, so the fact that she gave up many hours of her precious reading time to labour through my clunky first manuscript means a lot to me. Better still, her opinion that “it was alright” was a seal of approval that is the equivalent of the Booker prize in this house. Well, not quite, but you know what I mean.
Tomorrow sees the publication of Monkey Arkwright, and therefore the realisation of a lifelong dream. I am immensely grateful for the time given by Hazel, Lauren, Rachel and Darrin along the way, and their enthusiasm in helping me bring the project to fruition.
In addition to my four beta readers, there are two other people who I’d like to thank for spreading the word ahead of the book’s release. Kelli Drage, guest relations manager at my favourite hotel in Spain, graciously put a post about my book on the hotel website. I did not seek this free promotion; it was something that Kelli wanted to do for me, and this speaks volumes for the wonderful person that she is.
Finally, I’d like to thank Ed Ryder, a fellow member on the Digital Fix forums. By publishing his own book on Amazon, Ed showed me that it was possible for an independent author to create and sell a book that measured up to efforts by authors with far more editing and marketing clout behind them. Ed has provided the few bits and pieces of advice that I needed to get me over the line recently. I just hope that my book can measure up to his wonderful debut – scientific dystopian thriller In Vitro Lottery.