Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog John Marley, author of Standstill that is published tomorrow.
Creativity…with an emphasis on the Tea
Since I started to tell people that I was writing my book, Standstill, one question I have been continually asked is “How do you even start to write a book?”
Good question. How do you write a book? For years I, like most people, didn’t have the first clue.
And now I do. What happens is you sit down and you write. Now I am not being glib or patronizing here, but this is the truth for me. I literally sat down and started to write. And before I knew it I was creating a crime thriller about a master thief, crooked coppers, a determined detective and a huge robbery that would shake London to the core.
That’s how I started to write a book.
There are whole industries dedicated to answering this question. Books, courses, techniques, disciplines and yes, now, there are even apps that you can download on your phone or tablet to help you write your book.
Every author, when asked, will give you a different answer. They can only ever tell you what worked for them. I am always intrigued and amazed by the myriad discussions at author events about technique, tips on how to create character, some writers even using Excel spreadsheets to track the machinations of their protagonists and their personal quirks and interactions.
I just had an idea and I started to splurge it out.
It was for me that straightforward. Now, I’m not claiming I wrote one draft and handed it in. God, no. By splurging, writing in an emergent manner, I created all sorts of cul de sacs for myself. But after several different versions, I got there. The book as you can now read and enjoy evolved through 5 distinct manuscripts but the basic plot, hook and main characters pretty much stayed the same.
But the most amazing part of the process for me was also the most inconvenient one. It was largely written in bursts between the hours of about 4am and 8am.
And there was a simple reason for this.
My characters would wake me up.
I’m not kidding. They would start rummaging around in my head just at that point that the rest of the world was snug as a bug in a rug in their deepest sleeps. Not for me…oh no. I had to be suddenly awake having had a lightning thought about how to pull off the robbery at the centre of the plot. I was being cajoled out of my bed by Danny Felix, my master thief, demanding that I further the plot, help him become a fully rounded character. It was no use just keeping a notepad by my bed, as I could never decipher my sleep addled handwriting the next day, plus my Mrs didn’t particularly like the light going on and me mumbling to myself in the wee small hours when it developed into an almost regular thing.
Ideas on how to get me out of plot problems or secondary characters who have key roles to play in how the story works would feel it was okay to waltz around behind my eyelids, tugging them open and leaving me restless and unable to nod back off until they had their wicked way and got themselves out of my head and onto my laptop screen.
And this is where the tea in creativity of my blog post title comes in. If it hadn’t been for the restorative powers of a mug of tea, Standstill might never have made it to being listed on Amazon here: here
So I’d be prodded awake at some ungodly hour and my habit was to pull on some jimjams, go downstairs, put the kettle on and make tea. After the first few sips I would then start to type. I am fairly sure that I will never make any money from my books because by the time I have paid for all the tea bags needed to fuel my creative endeavours, there will be no dosh left over! If only authors could get commercial sponsorship deals! PG Tips would be first on my hit list.
So there you have it. That is how I wrote my debut novel. It was a right royal pain in the ass…and I have to say I’m very proud of it all. Because I got there. I wrote a crime thriller.
I hope you will enjoy reading it. And may I suggest you do so with a nice cup of tea.
Standstill by J.A. Marley is published 15th September by Avocado Books, price £6.99 in paperback original. Pre-order Standstill in eBook now, for just £1.99.
About the Book
One man’s chaos is another man’s comfort zone…
When young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix, is dragged out of bed by a psychotic cop in an early morning raid, he could hardly imagine he was about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption and coercion follow the very bent Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny by the proverbial balls.
But even the deadliest criminals leave a trail, one that dedicated Flying Squad officer Christine Chance is getting closer to, while trying her best to be mother to a seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?
And most importantly does he have what it takes to use the teeming streets of modern day London to pull off the theft of the 21st Century?
Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed..
The first thing that stood out about Standstill was how refreshing it was. Danny Felix is a thief who is forced by a crooked police officer into carrying out a very large robbery. One that will bring London to a standstill. Harkness, the corrupt cop is a nasty piece of work. He is violent and a bully who won’t take no for an answer. Christine Chance is a member of the flying squad, her team have recently solved a series of cases and she is starting to get suspicious about their luck. She also has a seriously ill daughter.
I liked Danny, he constantly tried to show Harkness that he would do things his way and he was the boss but Harkness always seemed to be one step ahead and knew exactly how to show Danny how things really were. I struggled slightly with Christine, the part that involved her work I was fine with but I found the storyline concerning her daughter difficult to read.
The way that London was brought to a standstill was unexpected. It only covered a couple of chapters but it was a part of the novel that had a lingering effect on me.
A great debut novel, with some laughs, some shocks and a unique storyline.
With thanks to John Marley for the guest post and Sophie for the novel received for review.