Tomorrow my first book – The Green Bicycle Mystery – will be printed. Not published, that happens next month, but actually coming alive on the press. It’s been a long journey.
I suppose it began inside a practically empty classroom with steamed-up windows on the campus of Southampton University. This is where I attended Telling True Stories, a non-fiction workshop for writers run by author Iain Gately, in January 2015.
One of Iain’s golden rules for writing is “2 and 2 not 4” – don’t spoon-feed the reader, let them work things out for themselves. At its most simplistic, if two people are joined by another couple, you don’t need to tell the reader that there are four people in the scene. This idea sank slowly into the depths of my sub-conscious: let the reader work it out for themselves.
It soon reached bedrock where it would continually bubble into my conscious thoughts over the ensuing weeks. Why not write a series of books where readers are invited to deliver their verdicts on what happened? Apply it to true crime, specifically unsolved murders from the past. This was important. We never totally suspend disbelief with a novel, reality often leaving a deeper impression than fiction. But I did not want to examine any unsolved murder. Like many people, I love the fascination of history. I wanted to combine the past with a real-life whodunit, with the twist that the readers are part of the story.
I stopped listening to Iain and started to think of a name for a series of books. It had to be something about a jury, the role the readers would play. Then I remembered there was a famous TV show in the 1960s about pop music called ‘Juke Box Jury’ – I liked the rhythm of the title and it came to me: Cold Case Jury. I bought the domain name that evening.
In subsequent posts I will continue the story – my experience with self-publishing, approaching agents and publishers, and the signing of the deal – which has culminated in a book being printed tomorrow.