So, a few days ago, to commemorate the release of Ivory Terrors and the conclusion of the Cavaliers Series, I wrote a post about how it all got started.
“I dug out my old notebook from my teenage bookcase, stood in the kitchen and told my Mum I was finally going to write my book. On the train back to London from Sheffield, I wrote like a woman possessed. I’d barely written anything by hand since school, but with no laptop to hand, I filled page after page of my notebook with a combination of notes and a rudimentary first chapter.”
i still have both the notes and the very first version of the first chapter, and I thought it would be rather fun to share them. Looking through the notes the other day, I found it fascinating what elements had survived to the end through years of writing and editing, which evolved, and which completely changed.
The notes are in full below. If you’ve never read any of the Cavaliers, it’s probably not worth you reading on, as I wouldn’t say they are very representative of how the book ended up, but if you’re either a fan or interested in how books develop between planning and publication, take a look. iId love to read the author’s original notes for some of my favourite books!
Interesting things that struck me:
- Augustine seems to be the only character who has a name at this stage
- The unnamed character who is clearly George sounds like much more of a full-blown villain rather than dark love interest
- Harriet has some sort of “power to see things that happened as though she were there.”
- There’s a “nice human boy, probably from her school” I’m not sure what became of him. I guess he turned into Josh, though here, the insinuation seems to be that he’s a bit of a love interest and gets involved with the Cavaliers
- The paragraph that deals with Harriet’s trip to visit her mother before Oxford didn’t make the book, but did get written. In the original draft, that’s where she meets Tom. I might share that scene at some point.
- There’s a lot more about the Roundheads than ended up being in Oxford Blood, though most of it comes out in later books. Interestingly, they weren’t meant to be evil here, just different. I still rather like that idea, but I think somewhere along the line, I sacrificed that bit of cleverness for villains readers can root against.
- The ending sounds like it was going to be happier in some ways (murder plots foiled) and darker in some ways (has to flee with Tom).
Anyway, here we go. These are completely unedited, so don’t judge me too hard. The actual first chapter I wrote on the train might follow tomorrow.
Her mother and father were city lawyers/bankers. In a car crash one night when she was young. Father killed outright. Mother turned by her boss, who is a vampire leader. She had known him having been at uni with his “son.” Came home for a few days, breastfed child, which is why she got the power to see things that happened as though she were there.
Quickly realised she couldn’t cope, went to live with VL (Austin?) left baby in care of sister in law. Would have liked to have kept her but can’t only care for a baby at night etc, plus registered dead!
She brought her up – friendly but a bit dull. Mother visited about four times a year. all exciting and glam and fun. Tension between her and the sister in law who starts trying to keep her away. Although quite newly made, as she was made by A, mother is quite strong and other vampires don’t mess with her as they’d have him to deal with. Quite bossy even towards him.
Wants her daughter to be a vampire in the standard wanting what’s best for your kids/pushy mother way.
Mother very keen she goes to Oxford. She pushes the education aspect but also the life and broadly social climbing vein.
Gets in just before her 18th birthday. Has a party at home with school friends (this should probably be in to normalise her and introduce home friends properly who will be a bit of a foil to the Oxford people and the vampires.
Waiting and waiting for her mother to turn up. Instead gets a card inviting her to come and visit her in London. Very excited. Shopping, spa treatments etc. Then a party. Very glam. Alternates between loving it and overwhelmed. Struggling to put her finger on quite what’s wrong. Meets the one who will be keeping an eye on her. Hit it off. Then he has to leave (has been asked to be the mother as not a good enough catch)
Then we jump to first week in Oxford. Run with general fresher’s week tales. Overwhelmed, excited. Play up the posh element but also some nice, sat having cups of tea in people’s rooms stuff. We need a nice human boy on the scene. One possibility is someone from her school.
Two groups of vampires – based on cavaliers and roundheads – the glamorous Anne Rice style ones versus the nosferatu type. Obv we’re pro the former, but the divide is to do with style, further divides of those who are evil and those who just do what they have to to survive in both groups. A lot from that time – endemic in Charles court, part of culture of decadence.
The point of the society is to get those who look in with a chance of success in all the main industries under the control of the vampires. About 20 a year invited to join, about 10 turned and 10 killed.
Girls generally just used for sex and blood however talented – not really caught up to the idea that women can be of use for power (or poorer people for that matter). Human friend caught up in this?
There is one caddish vamp the mother is hoping the daughter will get with.
The one from the party is ignoring her on her mother’s orders, but also keeping an eye on her to ensure she stays out of trouble, looking good, reports back to A etc.
At some point she is being taken by the evil vampire whose mind control powers aren’t working due to her own powers (to both of their confusion), although she is charmed. He steps in to rescue her. Sexual tensions then he has to leave.
At some point, she attends one of their parties. Step father on stage shock. (is this when she realises? Or will she look stupid by this point?)
Ends with them getting together and deciding to take a chance on it. Also with the murder scheme foiled.
Is there a totally evil one and a charming cad or are they one and the same? Probably former works best.
When and how does she find out?
First few days – looking round, family meal
First formal meal
First essay and tute (probably interspersed with something weird happening)
First bop (maybe tie into matriculation)
The club/addison’s walk bit
Halloween and fireworks – something scary and something romantic to happen
Christmas holiday interlude – trip to see someone? Maybe a big marquee party at someone’s house
Boat race – stay with Mother? Know by this time so a different dynamic
At the dining society – stepfather there. Learns most of the truth about it.
Prelims – done in a daze
A ball = big dramatic climax there. Someone killed? She’s almost turned.
Packing up the next day. Everywhere is empty. Waiting for Tom to get up so they can flee