I started my first book when I was in junior high school. It never did have a title, it was always just "my book". Of course it was about music; a fictitious rock band, living in southern California on a comet ride to the top. DId I mention the pet penguin? How about the vampires? No? In that case, nevermind.
Trust me, you would have to have read it. I never did manage to finish it, although I have the ending firmly laid out in my head to this very day. Alas, the manuscript (hand written I might add; personal computers were still a thing of the future at this point) has disappeared over the course of years.
I hope to come across it one day. Just for giggles you understand; and yet... maybe I will revisit it one of these days. If for no other reason than to write the ending, which I still think is quite good and would make a fitting final scene for a movie.
But I digress. Over the years writing was never too far away from me. I have been a voracious reader ever since I was young. I credit my folks with that. They would always read to me and encourage me to read back to them. Come to think of it, I owe them my love of music as well. I grew up with melodies of The Sound Of Music, Oklahoma and the King And I permiating the house. Among others.
When I started to collect music on my own it was, admittedly more rock and roll, but my folks never complained.
While I read alot, I also wrote alot. I attended Durham College majoring in Journalism and Public Relations. My favorite class was Creative Writing, although anyone who has worked in the field of journalism know that creative writing is a bit of a misnomer; just the facts Mam. I worked for a local weekly newspaper for a number of years; the now defunct Whitby Free Press. Garnered some good reviews as well.
Journalism proved to be a bit of a dead end for me and so, I gravitated to computers. And my writing languished in the hell which is technical writing, specifications and requirements.
Then, a number of years ago, I met someone who would help bring the writer in me back out. Stefan is a prolific writer who, despite his experience, was excited by my casual mention of that long lost book which I was writing way back when. After giving him a brief synopsis he said he would love to read what I had completed sometime. I searched high and low and, as mentioned above, couldn't find the manuscript.
He next asked me if I ever considered writing again. I had, but not seriously. I never completely stopped writing, although, most of my musings were short anicdotes or online music reviews. But to write a book? I had been daunted by that thought for a good number of years but never attempted it because, I could never think of a satisfactory ending. Regardless of how many different story ideas I came up with, it just wouldn't come.
So I waited for my muse to hit me over the head with an ending. Any ending.
Stefan would allow me to read his manuscripts and asked me for my feedback, a very valuable part of writing I was soon to find out. While his writing style differs quite a bit from my own, I none the less enjoyed spending time in his written world.
One day, Stefan gave me about 30 pages of a new book and asked me to take a look. While the work wasn't quite as polished as his other works, it was engaging as ever. Once done, I asked him for more of the book. When he told me that's all there was of it I had what can best be described as a epiphany. Here was someone who's writing I greatly admired, telling me he had started a book with no clear idea of how it was going to end.
That week I went out, picked up a six pack of gel pens and a couple of steno pads, ordered a glass of wine and set to work. My plan at first was to write a short story to see if my writing muscle was still working, regardless of how creaky it might be.
So, I put pen to paper and within minutes the first line that came out was this:
You know that you are living the rock and roll lifestyle when someone offers you a small block of hashish to you as payment for services rendered... and you accept it.
I liked it. Sounded kind of interesting. Sounded like a pretty good opening, considering this was going to be a short story. Once I started to write though, I couldn't stop. Oh sure there were times when I ran into a bit of a road block, but it was during those times that I would start to transcribe what I had written free hand onto my laptop. This became a first line of editing as I would expand upon some ideas and drop some passages outright.
Stefan read my manuscript as did a few other close friends and their feedback was invaluable. Flesh out here, prune back there and make up elsewhere.
And so, my first book came to life right before my eyes. I managed to find an ending, one that I am very proud of. It was the book that kind of dictated to me what that ending should be. After a number of revisions I found a publisher and my book was brought to life.
I think my problem had alwasy been the fact that my book, written all those years ago had an ending thought out fairly early on in the process. That kind of distracted me into thinking that and ending had to be thought of before the book could every get underway. More fool me.
My first book is called Not Only Am I WIth The Band... a working title that kind of grew on me as I went. That first line is still there as well, unchanged right from the start.
I'm working on my second book now, I have a title which I rather like. I even have an ending in mind, although that is subject to change depending upon how the characters develop. I'll let you know how that one turns out.
Influences, influences... well, I can tell you who I like to read, which to me amounts to the same thing as influencing me. I've always loved Stephen King. I know some people are turned off by his subject matter, but those people are selling him short. The Green Mile, Rita Heyworth and the Shawshank Redemption, The Body. I'll bet alot of people didn't know that those great movies The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me were actually Stephen King stories.
I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Niven and Pournelle, Clive Barker, Ian Flemming, Bernard Cromwell, Clive Cussler, Erich Maria Remarque, Max Brooks, Mordecai Richler... man, I could go on and on.