Back to the Beginning - Such Crooked Wood
Writers are likely sick of hearing that the first novel you write isn’t the one you first publish. It feels like one of those comforting things you say to yourself when you’re worried your draft isn’t quite there or, maybe, when you’re scared about what comes next. Publishing a novel, whichever route you go down, is a terrifying thing. That’s why plenty of writers who have imagination and talent never get past the drafting stage. Sometimes, of course, the first book you write just isn’t right. That’s arguably the case with Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, which was released to a barrage of controversy in 2015. That so-called novel’s merely a draft of what turned into Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and its publication has been widely criticised. Anyone interested in Lee and what I’d suggest was her crippling writer’s block and fear of failure might want to read Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep. It’s generally accepted, though, that the path Lee began to walk in Go Set a Watchman led directly to the incredible novel she delivered to the public in To Kill a Mockingbird.
You’ve probably guessed why I’m musing about this - Such Crooked Wood was the first story I ever completed. Yes, I’d started projects before, but thanks to participating in National Novel Writing Month, I had the first draft of what would (slowly) become Such Crooked Wood completed in November 2009. That it’s taken over 11 years for me to release this novel isn’t only down to my perfectionist nature. The novel needed the time to morph into something more powerful, just like Go Set a Watchman did. The premise of Such Crooked Wood remains the same as it was in 2009: emotionally distant protagonist, converted church, friendly local bar. But what you’ll read is so much different (and, dare I say, better) than any of the numerous drafts that have come before. Such Crooked Wood will be released on Thursday 23 April and is available for pre-order on Kindle now.