In 2009, I sat working in a factory, soldering electronic components into circuit boards. As the job was mind numbing, my thoughts would wander. For days, I had been trying to come up with plot ideas for a new book I was working on. My first attempt at writing a novel hadn’t been very successful and suffered many rejections. I felt vampire novels had already been done to death, so I turned my thoughts to attempting to write a Sci-fi novel, or maybe, I should say, more of a time-slip novel.

My father used to pass on to me the sci-fi novels he’d finished reading, often with the comment, you should read this one, it’s a good one. The ones I enjoyed most, weren’t set on spaceships, or a far distant planet with a strange name, but here on earth in the distant future. I can’t tell you how I came up with the original idea for The Phoenix Hour. It was more of a collection of ideas which developed as I wrote it.

As The Phoenix Hour is set in the distant future, I wanted to come up with an idea for a natural disaster, which wasn’t trite in dystopian books, or movies. Of course, there was the normal clichés of natural disasters such as lack of water, pollution, wars and viruses, but I wanted it to be an unusual man-made disaster.

As I inserted the components into the boards, my mind ticked the problem over. If I had been better educated, I wouldn’t have been sitting there breathing in solder fumes while being poorly paid for the pleasure. I’ve always believed the key to freeing people from poverty, was a good education, but education was, and still is an expensive luxury. As a person, who’s parents were uneducated, I’ve always felt that education was important, and if my dyslexia had been properly dealt with in my secondary school I might have received the help I needed instead of being labelled ‘slow of learning.’

That’s when the idea came to me. As further education is expensive I felt most people would jump at the chance to pop a pill to help their children improve their ability to learn quickly. Once this idea formed in my head then rest of the plot began to shape itself.

After rewriting the book many times. I can’t begin to tell you the number of opening chapters, I rewrote. I couldn’t move forward with the writing until I found the tone of the book. Once the opening page has set the tone then I tend to write at least the first six chapters roughly. Then go back and work through them until the tone of the novel starts shaping itself. Once I know for sure which character’s voice is the loudest and clearest I can move forward with the plot.

In The Phoenix Hour I thought I would tell the story through Jarmara Falconer. The opening scene placed her making the discovery of her father’s plans, but it didn’t work. My next version started with the reporter, Coleridge Lockwood, but as my first novel was told by a reporter, and I didn’t want my readers to feel they were reading the same book I didn’t use his voice. That’s when I knew  Madam Louise Elizabeth Brimstone the scientist had to be the voice of the book.        

While at the RNA meeting in London, with my friend, Ivy Lord, I got talking to an agent about my book The Phoenix Hour. I explained the outline of the novel. A look of horror appeared on the woman’s face as she lifted a hand to her chest and took a step back from me. “No woman would ever want to read that book!” she said leaving me standing alone.

I was gutted. I didn’t think all women read romance, I believe there was a large number of women who read the same mixture of books as I did. Lucky for me, my dear friends Ivy and Nicola Slade encouraged me to continue writing the book. I’m just sad that they are not longer with me to see it in print.

This week I have received three reviews from women who have enjoyed reading my novel. You can read them here and here. It’s wonderful to know that women do enjoy reading The Phoenix Hour. Are you up for the challenge? If you are a woman, or identify as a woman and choose to read it, please let me know what you think of it. Thank you.

Here’s my book Trailer. The Phoenix Hour

6 Comments

  1. I guess the agent at the RNA meeting was thinking in narrow terms of only traditional romance with a happily ever after ending. Because the science stuff and the dangerous elements in the book description of The Phoenix Hour appealed to me, and I’m definitely a woman.:-)

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