Starting to write a totally new project seemed like a good way to fill in the time. Now I remember how it felt to start - not even a year ago. It was so mind boggling that I started twice.
In October last year I opened a Word document and stared at the blank screen for a bit. I decided that you should only write what you know and I know misery and grief. I invented a character then killed her mother just to see what she'd do if she was really p***ed off about it. And so Flower was born: a girl with a family of one, who turned into a weed, when her garden was annihilated. Of course, I hadn't factored into my thinking how sad it would be to wallow in misery - it got right in the way of real life.
Half-way through October I decided I wanted to write something a little more cheerful so I decided to put Jess' life in jeopardy instead. But Jess has a lot more control over her destiny than Flower does. Jess and Caleb's story is a simple tale of how love can grow even under the most difficult of circumstances - that it can withstand anything - if you are prepared to work at it hard enough. And, oh boy will they have to work hard!
The new book is convoluted like the Serpentine, or Westbourne River.
THE HAUNTED HOUSE
“Sod off, I’ve got better things to do with my time, Marcus.” Tom shrugged off the hand his friend had placed onto his shoulder, “You dragged me north of the river for this?”
The first time he’d peered through the greying, iron gates to the overgrown garden on the other side, it had reminded him of some fairytale princess’s forgotten castle. Tom had spent moments trying to decide which was worse: the fact that he’d been talked into coming over to Chelsea for a bit of wilful destruction or that he was standing outside a rotting building thinking about damsels in distress. But a little damage wasn’t going to be noticed in this dilapidated house.
It would have been fun to kick a door or two, crush a little glass, rip things up a little and, maybe, paint his tag without being disturbed and messing it up. But that was before he’d caught a glimpse of the house. Well, it wasn’t the house that had made his heart stop and forced the breath out of his body. It wasn’t the window that arced open; it was more what he’d seen in that window.
Tom wiped the perspiration from his forehead, pushing his brown hair higher with the back of his sleeve. The stain on his blue top made him frown. He leaned back against the crumbling, brick wall and rested the heel of his foot into a groove where the brick had worn away. He calmed the shudders more easily with this support while he maintained his image of bored disinterest. He had to rub the cuff over his eyebrows as the last drops of sweat threatened to make his eyes sting. He needed watering eyes like a hole in the head. He couldn’t let his friends see that he was shaken. Shaking.
‘There was a f***ing ghost in there.’ He yelled the words inside his head. Even the echo seemed to agree with him. But he wasn’t stupid enough to say the words aloud.