Sales of Baccara Burning are going better than I expected following its release on Friday.
Considering this was the toughest book I’ve written, I’m as much delighted as I am amazed that I have tangible proof of the elusive “return reader”.
So it was obviously all worth it; I’m pleased with the final version of the book and with its sales. But why was Baccara so hard to write?
The short version is that it was like shitting a brick. There are various reasons for this, which I shall explain in the longer version.
Stella was conceived in 1988 and written 20 years later. It was based on images of ideas I’d had in my mind when I listended to Yello’s album called Stella.
During the writing of Stella, Randolph made himself known (originally the only protaganist was Stella), and so a partnership was formed, leading inevitably to a story that evolved into something larger.
Also, Stella was originally written purely as a personal project; there was never any intention to publish, which is why I was amazed when it was accepted for publication so quickly.
Both of these factors meant that when the idea about a legendary ghost in Edinburgh coming back to murder on the anniversary of his execution, throwing Stella and Randolph into the mix was also a recipe for some tough writing. It meant there was a type of self-inflicted pressure to get it right that I hadn’t experienced before.
Making sure the story worked but keeping it inline with its predecessor was hard going. And when I began writing, the two main characters started to rebel; they didn’t want to do what I felt they should, and kept going off at tangents from the story I was trying to tell.
Then they started fighting with each other. Dialogue kept breaking down into arguments, so it was no surprise when I had to down tools several times and walk away, unable to go any further until it was resolved in my head.
Eventually, I came to the realisation that I had to let the characters go free even if it meant changing the story. In doing so, the story started to work and the characters led me to the conclusion – a conclusion I hadn’t planned for, I might add, but it was a conclusion all the same.
All in all, Baccara Burning took about 3 years to complete. It’s only 30k! Two years were as i’ve described above, the final year involved editing, leaving alone, and doing nothing for the rest of the year. Only right at the end did I return to it able to finishing it off with some more major editing and polishing.
I think that given the problems and struggles of writing this book, I feel more chuffed to see it selling so well, and selling with clear links back to Stella.
I’m not planning any more paranormal books, not for a while anyway. Right now I’m in a similar position with a crime novel that’s caused me a lot of similar pain to Baccara.
That book is called Gatecrash. I spent the weekend reading up all my notes on it and shall begin editing and polishing later today.