I have recently sent off the manuscript of my latest book, ‘Shadows in Sunshine’, and today idly opened the file and started reading through it again. In the course of writing the book I frequently looked back to a previous section and almost every time thought of changes and perceived improvements to either the text or the plot itself. I am told that this is not a habit exclusive to me, as many authors have said they do exactly the same thing. As I read through four or five chapters this morning I again started to think of further changes and ideas, but later, whilst taking a break for lunch, I saw and read an illuminated text we have framed on the wall of our home.
“The moving finger writes and. having writ, moves on:
nor all thy piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel
half a line or all thy tears wash out a word of it.”
These timely words of Omar Khayyam’s had me returning immediately to my office to close the file and await the judgement of my publishers, accepting that like most authors I will never be satisfied with my work.
Following this rather negative and dampening morning mood I returned after my meal feeling replete and refreshed to turn on the computer and open up a new file.
They say that as one door closes another opens and, to some extent that has been the case with the writing of the Ian Vaughan thrillers. To be honest, when I wrote ‘A Cast of Hawks’ I viewed it as a one off, and myself as a one-book author. It was as I neared the final chapters that someone asked the question, ‘What happens to this poor guy Vaughan and his family?’ That is a good question I thought, and the more I thought about it the more I needed to know for myself; after all the leader of the terrorist group was still alive and in a UK prison, whilst others of the gang were languishing in a Tokyo jail. In fact, the basis for a story of revenge was there, ready for the telling in ‘Batsu’, alongside the story of a wife’s inability to come to terms with the loss of an unborn child.
Throughout the writing of ‘Batsu’, Europe was suffering a major economic crisis and at the same time North Africa was plunged into political turmoil presenting me with the plot lines for ‘Shadows in Sunshine’ and another step along the life path of Ian Vaughan. The question my blank new file presents me with today is where do I go from here? The reason for my indecision is not the lack of plot lines, but more the fear for my hero’s life. Vaughan has been the main character of three books and now it must be decided whether, like James Bond, his career continues or whether he is retired from active service. I am now beginning to feel that, as with many other heroes in this genre, Vaughan’s fate lays more in the hands of the reader than my own, but will his many followers let me know I wonder?