Sunday 17 July 2016


As writers are regularly asked about their writing process, I’ve decided to use this blog to talk about the process of writing CLOSER BY MORNING.

To plan or not to plan? The eternal question for anyone writing a novel. Jackie Collins, one of my favourite authors, claimed that she never planned a single one of her books. That she made everything up as she went along. I have great admiration for authors who work that way, but it’s never been successful for me. I don’t think my memory is good enough. Heck, I can barely remember what I did last weekend, let alone a plot point I might have started writing six months ago. So planning is crucial when I start a book.  For Closer by Morning, I began with an outline of the full story. I’ve heard writers say that they feel stifled if they have to stick to a plan, but I would never set out on an unknown journey without consulting a route planner and I can’t start a book without a plan.  The finished book rarely turns out exactly how I intended but I have to know where I’m going for at least the first two thirds of the way.

Closer by Morning took about two weeks to outline, though the process began much earlier than that with character sketches, scenes ideas, research etc in my note book.  With all my notes assembled I typed up the synopsis and character profiles – everything I would need to refer back to over the coming months.

I often begin my first draft writing in long hand. There are several reasons for this. Mainly, it allows me to take my time and really get into the story and characters. I’ve always found writing with pen and paper to be more involving. Also my day job involves staring at a computer screen for 7.5 hours a day.  When I write in the evening and on my days off, I want to escape from all that. It has it’s draw backs, mainly in that it’s a lot slower. If I wrote entirely on a computer, I could probably finish a first draft in around three to four months. The first draft of Closer by Morning took six months. I didn’t write it all in longhand, but around two thirds. By that stage, all of the characters were established, I knew where the story was going.
First draft of Closer by Morning in long hand

Around this point I began to deviate from the plan. Not massively. The book still ends more or less where I intended it to, but I took a few detours along the way. One character, intended to be relatively minor, began to push forward and demand a bigger role in the finale. Who was I to refuse?

With my first draft complete and fully transcribed to the computer, it was time to take a break. Revision benefits from a little distance. I wrote a short story, Love in Portofino, which was recently published in Bold Strokes Books anthology Men in Love, before beginning my second draft. Let me say one thing first: I HATE second drafts. They’re hard. You realise how far from perfect your original version is. You have to slog through it, line by line, trying to make it better. (I once wrote an entire novel that went nowhere because I hated the second draft so much. It’s now in a box in the garage and unlikely to be seen again) Closer by Morning wasn’t the toughest second draft but it was no picnic either. I was determined to make it work and overhauled the whole manuscript in about four weeks.

The drafts pile up

After that I took another short break to concentrate on my submission package; drafting a cover letter and a clear synopsis. I also drew up a list of publishers I thought might be interested in the book. I’ve self-published before, but because this was a new genre for me, I wanted the backing and support of a traditional publisher. Self-publishing would always be there as a back up but I was determined to put the book through the submission process before resorting to that.

Then it was back to the third draft. This was really just a polish. The tough worked had been done in draft 2, so I was only looking to refine things in this pass and it took about two weeks. Following that, it was one final proof read before sending the book out for submission.

All in all, I started writing the first draft in January and competed the final draft in August. It was a very intense, focused time. I’m not one of those writers who likes to have two or three projects on the go at any one time. What I’m trying to say is that I start something and I finish it before moving on to something new. That’s my process.

And now it really is finished. Closer by Morning is already available exclusively for early release through Pride Publishing. I hope you enjoy it.

Friday 8 July 2016

The Inspiration for CLOSER BY MORNING

The inspiration for CLOSER BY MORNING

Closer by Morning was originally born from a desire I had to write something different from what I’d done before. I’d been pondering the idea of  MM novel for some time without ever setting anything down on paper.  Towards the end of 2014 I decided I was ready for a new direction; a new pen name, a new genre and new stories. It was time to get started.

I wanted to write a MM love story within the genre of a thriller. I was also determined to set the story where I lived, in Durham. So many books are set in the same major cities – London, New York, Rome etc.  Why not Durham? It’s smaller than those other cities, but is just as beautiful. Dating all the way back to 995 AD, it’s steeped in history. The mixture of ancient streets and modern design make the perfect location for a contemporary thriller like this one.

PHOTOS – Durham

Despite the location I wanted to bring a bit of Hollywood glamour to my local city. This came in the form of one of my hero’s – the gorgeous Dale Zachery. Dale is an American actor who has known some success but his career is stuck in a rut, until he lands the lead role in a UK TV series. Dale is filming that show in Durham, putting him right at the heart of the action. Dale is a great character – he’s sexy, warm and funny. Unfortunately he’s stuck firmly in closet. Now that his career is finally on the up, he can’t afford to jeopardise it by coming out.

For the hunky American actor, I knew I had to have a sexy local boy. Matt Blyth is a successful lawyer. He’s young, smart and great looking. Matt is completely comfortable with himself and out to everyone he knows. Being in the closet holds no interest for him. When Matt and Dale meet, they ignite sparks.

They meet when a killer is prowling the streets of Durham. A sadistic predator who preys on young men. Men just like them.

While I knew the things I wanted to include in the story, there were also things I definitely didn’t want in there. I’m not a fan of angsty love stories. I read a lot of books where the characters spends most of their time bickering and arguing about nothing. Seriously, if I ever met one of those crazy boys who fly into a rage at the slightest misunderstanding, I would dump his ass. Dale and Matt had to fall in love and want to be together, not bitch about nothing the whole time. That meant the conflict had to something external – a very real danger. The Durham Strangler.

How did their stories play out and entwine? Well, I had a fabulous time finding out; developing themes and relationships. It was an absolute thrill ride.  I had so much fun writing Closer by Morning and I hope you’ll have feel exactly the same when you read it.

Available to pre-order now in both ebook and paperback formats.

Pride Publishing
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

Tuesday 5 July 2016

CLOSER BY MORNING is almost here

I’m very happy to announce that my new novel Closer by Morning is available to pre-order now from the Pride Publishing website.  This has been a long time coming and I’m so happy that the book is finally done and about to be published.  I started writing this novel in January 2015 and the fine line edits were completed just last week. Phew.  When the book goes on general release at the beginning of August it’ll have had a whopping 20 months start to finish process. Obviously it hasn’t been constant work all that time. I submitted the book to Pride last August and we only started working on the edits this spring, but it’s still been a lengthy process.

Passion and love bring them together. Murder could tear them apart.
When Matt Blyth, a handsome young lawyer, joins an early morning boot camp, all he wants is to get in shape. His thirtieth birthday is approaching fast. He’s ready to throw away the past and embrace a new future. The last thing he expects is to fall in love…or become embroiled in murder.
Dale Zachary, an American actor, is stuck firmly in the closet. He spent his twenties playing good-looking jocks in bad horror films and romantic comedies. But that boy-next-door act has a limited shelf life. Dale lands the role of his career playing a sexy, psychotic killer in a major British TV series. It’s a part that could make him a star. It’s no time to fall in love, but when Dale meets Matt, the attraction is impossible to resist and they both fall hard.
Someone is killing young men in the city. A killer like no other. The murders bear an uncanny resemblance to the script Dale is shooting. A devious mind is at work. As their relationship becomes more complex, Matt and Dale find the murders intruding further into their lives. The killer is closing in on his next target. It could be either one of them…or both.

Available to pre-order now in both ebook and paperback formats.

Pride Publishing

Amazon UK
Amazon USA