Monthly Archives: July 2017

The Advice You Didn’t Want To Hear From An Agent & How It Can Change Everything…

For the past three months, I haven’t given my little drawer in the internet much attention. It’s grown dusty and well that smell is not going to take care of itself, so I feel I should explain my obvious neglect. I have written a new book. For those of you who’ve read my previous writing posts, particularly the one about my trip to the London Book Fair ( So my Date With An Agent at the London Book Fair 2017 went like this…) you’ll know that I’ve been hitting a regular brick wall with my first novel (more to come on that), but suffice to say the most frequent advice agents have given me, is to write something else.

When I eventually stopped hyperventilating, I did just that, but not entirely of my own volition. The decision was made for me, by a detective I had encountered only in passing. Let me explain. I’d had the idea for a supernatural crime thriller two years ago. Then in February 2016, I wrote a chapter and left it to one side. I just wasn’t feeling it. It was like putting a dish into a cold oven – it was never going to cook and so I took it out and put it back in the freezer, in the hope it would last until its sell by date.

When I went to London, I shook the icicles off it, in case I was asked what ideas I might have for other stories. I had no plan to write it. I was busy writing the sequel to my first novel. I was sticking to my guns and my vampires – digging my heels in – that my book deserved to find its audience outside of market trends. I met a fellow writer friend for coffee, filled her in on my semi-disastrous London trip and told her my pitch. She liked it a lot and from the moment I left her, the notion started to thaw and with it came a charging horde of ideas.

I didn’t want them. I was driving home, blaring the car radio in an attempt to distract my brain. They couldn’t come now. The first book had taken me years to write and I was knee deep already in another. But they wouldn’t be ignored. By the time I got home, I knew all sorts of random things about my detective – my very own detective – and I knew I had to do something. I could hear him in my head – the way he spoke, his American accent. I could hear the pain and regret. He was prodding me from the inside, forcing me to listen, happy to drive me insane if I didn’t let him speak.

So I set myself a goal, beginning the next morning:

First draft – 1,000 words a day, seven days a week = complete in 3 months

I started it on April 1st and finished it July 1st. 80,542 words of a first draft. I had given the Scrivener app a whirl (thank you Bestseller Experiment!) and it proved to be a great tool. Goals work for me and Scrivener allowed me to track progress as I worked towards 80k words and also set a daily goal. To see the bar fill up each day gave me a daily sense of achievement and soon the progress bar on my novel was half way across. It’s amazing if you’re writing every day, how quickly that will happen.

Manuscript

I didn’t know if I could write a modern supernatural mystery – I have lots of procedural detail to add and sculpting to do from here – but I think the story is pretty solid and I’m completely taken with my new cast of characters. My detective is going to be with me a long time.

While ‘write something else’ was the last thing I wanted to hear in London, it may have been the best advice I’ve ever received. Will I find success with this one? It’s anyone’s guess, it’s early days, but I know that I can write faster now and better on the first draft than I had before. So what happens next? Well it goes to rest in a darkened room for at least a month, maybe two. I already know most of the things that need tweaking in terms of plot and I’m looking forward to diving back in but I need a little distance from it so I can do it properly.

What’s surprised me though, is how it has reinvigorated my intentions for my first book. I wondered whether it would be the one I consign to the bottom drawer – the doomed first novel – but that’s not the case. Only last night, my head was spinning with ideas for the rest of my partially written sequel, so I shall go back to that. And the first? Well lets just say I have a few campfires lit in various outposts. I will share news when I can.

Knowing that I have more than one book in me is amazing and empowering. Could I write a book every year? I certainly like to think I could. By this time next year I could have three books ready to be picked up or indeed published myself.

So fellow writers, hold onto your ideas. They will revisit you when you least expect them and when they demand your attention, listen to them for they could just be the one you’ve been waiting for.

Review: SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING (Spoiler free)

Jacob Batalon;Photographer select;Tom Holland

Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr.
Directed by: Jon Watts
Cert: 12A Running Time: 133 minutes
Irish Release Date: 5th July 2017

Spider-Man: Homecoming had a lot to live up to. After a cracking entrance in Captain America: Civil War, in which we were given a mouth-watering glimpse of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) reinvented for the MCU, the first standalone film needed to deliver something fresh. With five films since 2002, we’re very familiar with the story of Peter Parker and key to this resurrection, is the fact that Spidey has now slung his web into the world of The Avengers.

Picking up two months after the airport showdown in Civil War, Peter is biding his time until he hears from Stark again, and like any teen, he is getting impatient – the neighbourhood being too small now for his dreams of fighting serious crime with his mentor. Lucky then, that there’s a bad guy right in his own backyard – a “psychopath dressed like a demon” in the shape of Vulture (Michael Keaton). A weapons designer utilising alien tech, who has managed to stay below the S.H.I.E.L.D. radar, until now.

This forms the framework of the story, but really there are two threads working seamlessly alongside each other –  Peter Parker’s navigation through high school with his best buddy Ned (Jacob Batalon) and him finding his place in the Avenger’s universe. The first gives a nod to John Hughes’ 80’s teen movies, complete with the loyal and funny best friend, the high school bully (Tony Revolori) and the most beautiful girl in school, Liz (Laura Harrier), whom Peter admires from afar as the Homecoming dance approaches.

Of the second, Downey Jr. brings his usual charm and wit as the cool uncle/father figure as he bounces off Holland’s performance, making the pair fantastic to watch but Holland is the star and rightly so. His Peter Parker/Spider-Man is so likeable and director Jon Watts establishes this from the opening frame with a hilarious video diary that makes you love him instantly.

Jon Favreau;Robert Downey Jr;Tom Holland

When it comes to the action, Watt delivers great set pieces, including a vertigo-inducing one that hits the mark, while another, is perhaps a little too frenetic but serves the story well. The only downside to having Spider-Man in the MCU, is knowing that Iron Man isn’t too far away thus dialling down the peril factor when it comes to the scrapes Peter finds himself in, but it’s a minor quibble.

The supporting cast are all great with nice work from Batalon (whom the film would be a lot duller without) Zendaya and Donald Glover. Marisa Tomei shines too in her scenes as the newly hip Aunt May. Having Keaton on board as the villain is a massive coup – his Vulture brings menace and brains and he has one of the best speeches in the film, bringing a serious note to an otherwise entertaining and enjoyable addition to the Marvel universe. Packed full of charm, it’s a perfect summer blockbuster that leaves your appetite whetted for the next instalment. Job done then.

4/5