Inadvertent Author

Just how do you become an inadvertent author? Well, believe it or not, as the name suggests, it just sort of happened.

Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that simple, so I’ll tell you the story:

I’ve always walked around with my head in the clouds. I’m sure my teachers at school thought I was out of my tree. You see, I have one of those ‘what if?’ kind of minds. And it has a very bad habit of asking the question at the most inopportune times.

One minute I’d be sitting behind my desk in the English class listening to Miss Scott extolling the virtues of Hardy, and the next I’d be thinking, ‘What if a velociraptor leapt through the window and ripped her leg off?’

As you can imagine, that little turn of events was far more intriguing to a thirteen-year-old mind than the Mayor of Casterbridge. It didn’t make for the best education, but stories have always been part of my life.

I wrote a lot of short fiction just to get the stories out of my head. I never had any intention of publishing them. But the first novel really did happen by accident.

I had a bit of a trauma in my life so I moved from South Africa to the UK. I was feeling pretty low at the time and, to top it off, I contracted glandular fever. This led to what the doctor called ‘post viral complications’, whatever that means.

To me it meant I couldn’t even walk down a flight of stairs without stopping for a breather. Medical science was of the opinion that it was something I had to live with, and that it may, or may not, improve in the future. Gee, thanks guys! Answers like that are really confidence inspiring.

Anyway, I tried several medications which, despite me having no appetite at all, caused my weight to balloon by 20kg. Daily life became a nightmare and, worst of all, it meant I had to give up my passion – Kyokushin karate.

So what did I do?

I sulked, of course. No, not really, though I did suffer a bout of depression that saw me reluctant to leave the house.

That may have had something to do with the sudden dizzy spells which left me reeling like a drunkard and in dire danger of losing the contents of my stomach. Not the most attractive way to behave in public.

So I wrote.

At first it was just random ramblings with no apparent direction – a bit like my blog, really - but then a friend suggested I try National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo happens every November and the idea is to write 50 000 words in 30 days.

It sounded like just the challenge I needed. So, on 31st October 2007, I signed up and wrote 56 000 words – of utter nonsense.

But something happened while I was writing it. I fell in love. I loved the world I had created, loved my characters and I loved the process of getting it all onto the page. And when I put it to one side at the end of November, I missed it all so much that I couldn’t get it out of my head.

I needed to spend more time with ‘my friends’ so I rewrote the whole thing and Sanchin is the result. A young adult novel about a teenage boy with a chip on his shoulder, issues with his friends and family, and a passion for Kyokushin karate.

Through Sanchin, I discovered the joy of writing and the peril of self-editing. Then, much to my surprise, I ended up with a novel on Amazon.

Even more surprising was the response to it. I’ve sold way more copies than I ever expected and I still get emails from people asking when the next one is due out.

Well, it is going to happen but it’s a slow process. I’m pleased to say that my health has improved in leaps and bounds. I’m working full time and doing art in my time off. The weight is taking a bit of shifting, but then writing and chocolate seem to go hand in hand;) I’m still not able to drive but I have started doing karate again.

I’m training in Shotokan now, not Kyokushin. It’s a very different experience and I’m enjoying the process of learning something completely new. But I wouldn’t have the confidence to write about it yet, so the next novel will still be set in a Kyokushin dojo.

If you want to follow the progress of the second novel, pop over to my Facebook page and join me. I’d love to see you there.