The blank page


I’ve just started to write a new book.

I know, I know, I haven’t properly finished the last one. But I have done all I can do with it for now. I’ve written the first pass and then edited it several times. Now it’s off to beta readers and my proof-reader alternately to pick holes in the plot and to correct the grammar and spelling mistakes.

The unfinished book still needs a title, a cover and a blurb. Those are jobs for another day.

Right now, I’m starting the next story. The page is deliciously blank, like freshly fallen snow or a newly-made bed.

There was a time when this stage would have fazed me. How do you start? What do you say?

But I have been here before. This will be my eighth novel and my tenth book. I started with four juvenile horrors, trunked, shelved, lost, never to see the light of day.  And when I say horrors, I don’t mean scary stories about things that go bump in the night. I mean badly-written horrors.

Lordy, lordy, what was I thinking? I suppose I was learning the trade. That’s probably the kindest thing that could be said about those.

Then came two novels that I did publish – Love, Death and Tea and Global Domination for Beginners. I’m quite proud of those. They seem to hang together. They have had good reviews. Not enough people have read them, mainly because I still haven’t got the hang of this marketing thing.

Then there was a collection of short stories about chess puzzles.

A short story called Hero.

And the as yet unfinished book with no name.

So yes this will be novel number eight and book number ten. Which sounds like a lot when you say it like that.

The exciting thing about a blank page is that you don’t really know where you are going to end up. Stephen King likes to put interesting characters into a difficult situation and see what happens. He reckons it makes for a better story if the author doesn’t know what is going to happen.

I don’t work that way. I need to have at least some idea of where the story is going to end up. All the best stories are questions that are eventually answered.

What is different about this book is that I have already written it. In a manner of speaking.

You see, I am going to rewrite the fourth of my juvenile novels. The same plot, but with different characters and a different voice. It has to be a total rewrite because I want to switch it from third person to first person.

It’s the unlikely story of Earth first contact with visiting aliens, told through the perspective of a sleazy politician who accidentally becomes Earth’s ambassador. With a bit of scifi parody and soft core smuttiness thrown in for good measure.  The bastard love child of House of Cards, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Fifty Shades.

And yes, I do realise that would be a threesome. It’s going to be that kind of a book.

I’ve even got a tentative first line:

“Of course, I love you, Minister,” she said, as she slipped the £200 into her bra.

And then aliens, more sex, political intrigue,  and repeat until the denouement, when … aw, but that would spoil the surprise, wouldn’t it?

Sorry, but you won’t get to see it for a while. Until then, it’s just me and this blank sheet of paper. Having fun.


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