Fifteen years ago, I picked up a copy of the Vampire Diaries from my school library and instantly fell in love with an entire genre.
Ten years ago, I sketched out a basic plot for a vampire novel of my own, based around a girl whose mother is a vampire and trying to set her up with an eligible monster. And then University happened, and was wonderful, and the plan got no further.
Four years ago, I spent Easter at my parents’ house, and whiled away a few hours reading a copy of Dead until Dark which my aunt had lent me. It was the first vampire book I’d read in ages, and it rekindled my teenage fascination. 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 (of which more below).
Those ideas, of course, turned into Oxford Blood, and ultimately, into the whole Cavaliers Series. And today, Ivory Terrors, the third and final book, has finally been published.
I always planned it as a trilogy, but I’m not sure that I truly believed, either that day on the train or on many occasions since, that I’d ever have it all completed and available for sale. Frankly, I feel pretty bloody proud of my self.
There’s been lots of other things going on in my life in the four years since I started Oxford Blood – a graduate job, a promotion, an engagement, house moves, friends weddings – but writing the Cavaliers has nonetheless been such a huge part of my life that this really feels like the end of an era. Or at least it will, once May’s over and I’ve finished with the blog tour – for the next couple of weeks, I’m undoubtedly going to continue to have Ivory Terrors very much on the brain. And I mean it to genuinely be an end. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s authors who drag their series out far beyond their originally intended end. I’m half considering writing some historical short stories based around various members of the Cavaliers during various time periods, but its not my next project and it’s not even officially on my to do list. It’ll be strange without these characters clamouring for attention in my mind.
It’d be a lie to say I’ve loved ever moment of writing and publishing my trilogy. There have been days where I’ve struggled to make a plotpoint work or had to force myself to cut a scene I loved or had to do lots of fiddly editing and proofing and formatting. But most of the time, it’s been amazing. I’ve loved bringing characters to life. I’ve loved playing with history and with vampire lore. I’ve loved getting some of my memories of Oxford down on paper, and building on them to create dramatic scenes. I’ve loved taking a tricky scene or bit of plot, and suddenly managing to make it work, and above all, I’ve loved reading back over something I’ve written, and thinking actually, that’s not too bad. And in some ways, that’s the best thing of all. Popular wisdom claims that you should write the book you want to read, and I’ve written three of them. If no one else had ever read The Cavaliers Series, I’d still have been happy that I’d created something that I truly loved.
And yet, it gets better. Because my books are for sale, and people I’ve never met have bought them, and in many cases, enjoyed them and reviewed them and contacted me. And this fact still sometimes blows my mind. PEOPLE I’VE NEVER MET ARE READING SOMETHING I’VE WRITTEN.
What has astonished me even more are the people who have helped me out by beta-reading or featuring me on their blog or in any number of other ways, big and small. Today, for example, Ivory Terrors is featured on the following blogs, which are well worth a look:
The people who’ve beta-read deserve particular credit. It’s astonishing the extent to which you can think your book is finished and perfected, only for a fresh pair of eyes to point out plot issues that seem obvious as soon as they’ve been mentioned. Three people beta-read Book Three, and there were two things that all three of them commented on, that I’d never considered but ended up changing. They’ve really contributed to making my books the best they can be. And more fundamentally, through both the beta-reading process and through reviews both good and bad, I feel I’ve become a better writer over the course of writing the series. I hope I’ll be even prouder of my next book, which I can start from scratch with all of that accumulated knowledge.
I’ll leave it there for now, before this becomes too rambly and emotional, but if we’ve ever had any contact with regards to my books, then thank you. I really hope that if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll buy Ivory Terrors today. If you haven’t read the earlier books, I hope you’ll give Oxford Blood (the first one) a go. And if you read one or all of the books, please leave me a review and let me know what you think.
Finally, if you’ve read this post, please comment and say hello on what’s a really quite special day for me.
Cheesiness over. You’ll hopefully be seeing a lot of me over the next few days, now the hard part’s over. And at the weekend, if I get a)time and b)the nerve, I’ll post the quite hilarious original notes for Oxford Blood that I mention above.