Thursday, 15 February 2018

Dreaming of a new book

I'm loving writing the new book. This is the way I like to write, incubate an idea for a year or so, while I'm writing something else, then sit down with a clear direction in mind.  In common with several of my books, the character at the centre of my world is a teenager. The adults rotate around her but she is strongly the heroic figure, sorting out the adult world around her. Her story is pouring onto the page, while her father tries to find her and one of her carers starts to wonder if she's been told everything about this comatose, lost child.  

My focus is on dreaming, which by itself is a fascinating area. I remember my dreams (mostly) and some of them are very odd. It turns out some people have way weirder dream experiences that I do, from waking dreams to lucid dreams (when you know you're dreaming and can 'direct' the dream somewhat. Over Christmas I fell asleep in front of the news (bad idea), the stories fed into my dreams. This idea that your dreams can be changed by what's going on around you is fascinating. It mostly happens in non-REM dreaming (non rapid eye movement), which leaves our muscles working and our senses on alert. the dreams are more snappy and bitty, and less colourful BUT they form particular movements of energy and activation in the brain that is in the area of the brain that produces consciousness. It's possible people in 'comas' (although most have moved into disorders of consciousness if they don't wake up) may experience NREM dreaming before their brain learns new pathways to wake up. Now all I have to do is turn that into 100k words of story and characters to make it interesting. Which will be easier when family life stops getting in the way.

Meanwhile, I'm exchanging books with my fellow panellists at my first CrimeFest - exciting stuff! These are two of my fellow panellists - their books, anyway. Bedtime reading when family stuff calms down again...

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Where did the time go!

Well, that was a crazy two months! Two bouts of nasty viruses got us, we went down one after the other until by Christmas week catering consisted of offering a selection of a Strepsils and maybe a Lemsip? I couldn't keep anything down except water, for eleven days (great start to the January diet) but it did ferment lots of ideas and sleepless nights were filled with research. I now know so much about disorders of consciousness, sleep and dreaming even if I couldn't sleep or dream. 

Saving Noah (working title) is turning out to be a terrifying roller-coaster about medical research and ethics. It's giving me nightmares which is funny because my character is sort of stuck in one. At least I've gone back to sleeping... 20k words in I've found my main characters and really, like most of my books, it's about a search for a missing child and/or saving a child. Wish fulfilment. But it's also about the lengths people will go to to save someone, how they will fudge the ethical consequences to try anything that might work. I'm not judging, I've been there. But pharmaceutical research is huge, and sometimes desperate people subvert the ethical guidelines. I've seen patients in palliative care offered 'last ditch' treatments which are not intended or expected to save them, the companies just need data about side effects and efficacy.

I've also met completely trustworthy and caring people who have been hoodwinked by someone who wants to make a name out of groundbreaking research. People selling cancer cures (although no-one calls them that) in private practice who are themselves drawn in by the need to help people. There's money, still, in snake oil.

Meanwhile, despite the bugs and coughing and insomnia, I managed to turn around a full edit of A Baby's Bones and now have... (drum roll) an actual, galley copy of the book!

It looks good, I love that the cover is about an aspect and character who isn't a principal but one of the victims. It is planned for 1 May 2018 so 89 days, two hours and thirty-six minutes (but who's counting). I'm very excited but as always, the current book is taking up all my time. A Baby's Bones will just get a final couple of polishes before it actually hits the bookshelves...