Today I’m all like this…
Because yesterday was release day for The Memory Game, and it was an incredible and enjoyable day, one of the best days I’ve had as a writer so far. I have so many wonderful people to thank for that, people who read the book at the beginning and offered their constructive opinions, people who read it again when I’d rewritten it, people who read it to offer insightful and intelligent reviews when it was finished, people who helped spread the word, people who downloaded it, of course, or people who simply told me they believed in the book. I was going to list you all individually, but the list is enormous and I’m certain I’ll forget somebody vital. I would hate to do that because you’re all so important and I wouldn’t want you to ever think otherwise. You people know who you are, and how much I love you for being the best and most supportive friends a writer could wish for. It’s down to you all that yesterday was such a success. An author can produce the work of the century, but if nobody knows about it, there’s almost no point. Everyone has their own motives for writing. It’s true that I write because I’m compelled to tell stories, but I also need my stories to be read by others, it’s what drives me. Without the help I have received, not just yesterday, but all along the publishing journey, that couldn’t happen. I can only hope that this is the start of a long and fun journey, and that I’ll have you all alongside, singing with me every step of the way.
It’s funny how some novels start out. Sometimes there’s a sensible linear journey that begins with an idea, proceeds to draft, and then becomes an edited, finished product. Nothing could be simpler. Sometimes it’s a lot messier than that. The Memory Game is one of those messy novels.
Like many of the books I’ve released this year, The Memory Game started life while I was doing my creative writing degree between 2006 and 2009. I remember sitting in a class and being handed a photo. From that photo, I was told, I had to create a scenario. My photo was of an abandoned bicycle. It looked forlorn to me, as though something really bad had happened to the owner. I decided that the owner was a boy on his paper round. It wasn’t hard for me to make the next connection, that the boy had been knocked from his bike by a car, because, as a teenager myself, I had worked as a paper girl and one of the boys who worked alongside me was killed by a car while out on his round one night. It was one of those deeply affecting events, one moment that changes your outlook on life forever. It was the first time I had encountered such a tragedy first-hand involving someone my own age. Suddenly, I understood that we weren’t as invincible as I had always believed. That memory came to the fore of my mind while looking at the photo in my creative writing class that day. The next thing that happened in my story scenario was that the boy was telling us about the way he had died.
I took the scrap of an idea home and wrote a short story. I sent the short story off to one or two competitions and was shortlisted for one in 2008. This version was called ‘Say Hello to the Living’ and was a much more darkly humorous tale, based on David (the protagonist’s) experiences of the afterlife. Buoyed by the small competition success, I decided to turn the story into a full length work, keeping the black humour, but I never ended up finishing it.
Sometime in 2012 I was reminded of the story while going through some old notebooks. It seemed the right time to dust it off, only this time, as I wrote and planned, it began to turn into something much grittier. New characters were added and a new central conflict in the form of Bethany. I wrote a novella length piece early in 2013 and a couple of writer friends very kindly read it for me and gave me feedback. Having had some experience of self-publishing by then with my Sky Song books and feeling fairly confident about it, I decided to go it alone and publish the book myself. I went back and re-drafted, fleshing out the story until it had become a more complex tale. That’s the version I’m sending out into the world on September 1st with my fingers and toes crossed that people will like it.
This week I’ve been gearing up for the release of The Memory Game on September 1st. ARCs have gone out and the positive feedback so far has been overwhelming. With this in mind, and as I’m not at the day job this week, and because What’s in my Earholes has been missing anyway, I thought I’d share a song that actually features in the book. David, our protagonist (I like to think of him as anti-hero) is a massive Radiohead fan and this is the song that is played at his funeral (don’t worry that’s not a spoiler, he starts off dead!). Anyway, enough of my waffling, here it is…