When I started to write my first novel, I was entirely seduced. It was like being caught in a spell – seeing real words appear on the screen, the story unfolding before my eyes. And, never knowing what twists and turns the plot might happen to take – well, that only added to the thrill of creating an entirely new world of my own.
But then, perhaps I was too selfish. The Diamond was all about me, the sort of novel I wanted to read, with no thought of maintaining a consistent genre and no concept of sales and marketing teams and, despite securing an agent, my story was only published in Russia. Not that I’m ungrateful for that, and I think the cover is ‘Brilliant’ which by chance is the name in translation! But, to write a whole book and then be unable to read a word unless I do a crash course in Cyrillic – well, that’s quite a cruel irony, don’t you agree?
It was set in a sinister Victorian world of dark circles and amoral tricksters. It had a maharajah, a cursed diamond displayed in a golden cage, and...Oh, there I go again. But, it’s been so hard to let go of that book when I didn’t just write it, I lived it. I peered into every dingy room, and smelled the acrid candle smoke, and walked every gas-lit cobbled street as if I’d become my heroine: that naive crinolined narrator beset by ghosts and dissolute cads.
And now, I wonder if I was possessed during one of my séance scenes, because all of my characters seem too real. I still muse on what fate had in store for them next – where they went, what they did when I wrote THE END. They’re the dead who still walk, who refuse to rest, who keep drawing me back into their world – so much so that, over the past few months I’ve rewritten the start and added more scenes. I’ve tossed and turned in the depths of night with their voices hissing around me like snakes. It’s been almost enough to drive me mad, except – and might this be too much to hope? – I may have recently stumbled upon a way to throw the spirits off.
I’m going to reclaim my own destiny. I’m going to kill my antagonist – the glamorous and cunning fiend who, despite all of his villainous deeds, I just couldn’t bear to leave behind. It’s painful, but it has to be done. He’s been having his wicked way for too long, seducing and then almost ruining me with his unfulfilled promises and dreams.
I must take a deep breath and prepare to be strong. This time there will be no going back, and I know exactly what to do. He’s going to burn in a terrible fire when a candlestick is knocked to the floor. I can already hear the crackling roar as the flames take a hold of his bed sheets. Oh, but how will I bear his agonised screams? I know – he’ll be drugged and senseless. That way, I won’t hear him call my name and be tempted to save his life again. He’ll die, and my soul will be exorcised.
And, in case that doesn’t work, if I weaken and fail to carry it through – has anyone got a crucifix – or some holy water – or a wooden stake? Desperate times require desperate measures!
As a form of diversion therapy, Sarah has recently started a blog: THE VIRTUAL VICTORIAN – FACTS, FANCIES AND FABRICATIONS. She would love to see you there. http://virtualvictorian.blogspot.com/