No, this question is not only directed at those of you who are already sitting on the top of the tree called published. This question grew from the very earliest days of planning NEAR EDGWARE, from the time before the book even had a true name.
Picture the scene:
I jog out of Jazzercise, all enthused, one Saturday morning. Pausing beside my car I think, "What shall I write a book about?"
Or, I stagger down the steps of the class, trailing my hand weights behind me, prop myself against the back of the car and think: "What do I know well enough to write a book about?"
It was October, the new term/school year was already under way, autumn was in full swing and it was raining.
With "You have to write what you know" going around in my head I began to drive. Technically, I was supposed to be driving home. However, I was a bit distracted by the list of things I know well enough to write books about. ;)
Next time I paid attention I realised I had driven the route to my daughter's school, I'd turned right instead of left at the lights, almost as soon as I'd left my class. I had pulled into her school drive to spin around and head back home when I looked - properly - at the stretch of woodland opposite the school. Oh, I knew it was there, everyday when I dropped the Minnow off I reminded her she was forbidden to wait at the bus stop by the woods - she must walk up to the main road - because you never knew what was in there.
Suddenly the rain stopped, sunlight illuminated the woodland bathing the red and brown leaves in golden light. I got out of the car - on autopilot - crossed to the steps leading down to the trees. Slipping through mud, the soft soil made my steps whisper silent. I was yards from the road but miles from anywhere.
Surrounded by majestic trees, jewel bright in the sunlight, I raised my arms. Awed by the beauty, I closed my eyes, the glow was pure orange.
Unfortunately, a sudden snap shocked me back to reality: the man with the black Labrador grinned, and I saw my book.
I have just finished Shiver (where some elements - and not the obvious one - were bizarrely like my own) but it wasn't the inside I coveted, it was the cover I ached to own. I pictured a brown tree standing in orange and gold and it was NEAR EDGWARE, the cover I didn't know I wanted until I superimposed my colours onto the book in my hand.
NEAR EDGWARE is orange and gold.
Each book that follows - has a title, outline, purpose and colour.
Can you see your work-in-progress in colour too?