1st October is a special date in my year. On this day in 2014 my debut novel, Starting Over, was published by Affinity eBooks (now Affinity Rainbow Publications). I received a lovely bouquet of flowers from my mother, and Champagne from my wife to celebrate the occasion.
When I began writing Starting Over I had no idea it would become the first part of a trilogy. It was just going to be a simple love story, a happy ever after lesbian romance.
Being a pantser when it comes to writing, the going got rough quite near the beginning. I was stuck on where the story was going and already had six characters introduced in the first chapter…you would think that would be enough to be going on with. But I decided to introduce yet another. And little did I know that she would prove to be the catalyst for writing Book 2.
An archaeology professor, Dr Kathryn Moss, entered the story. During her brief affair with Ellie Winters, the potter who lives on a farm in the hills above Huddersfield, she had located what she thought might the remains of a Roman outpost. After obtaining permission to excavate the site to give her archaeology students some hands-on experience, a major discovery is made.
The archaeology theme continues throughout the three books, throwing up some surprising elements. Kathryn starts a new affair but is still somewhat obsessed with Ellie. Professionally, the professor’s career goes from strength to strength, but her love life is a mess.
When I’d finished the first draft of Starting Over, I then took part in a two-week volunteer excavation session at Vindolanda. This is an amazing site near Hadrian’s Wall, which is still providing new discoveries each year on the Roman occupation of that part of Britain…uncovering how the soldiers lived and interacted with the locals. Taking part in the dig gave me some useful information to help flesh out the dig scenes in the book. I loved the experience so much…I have excavated there every year since and always there is something new and exciting to come out of the ground.
Much like writing…scrape away at the surface and something unique will eventually emerge. Being a pantser can be hard work but it has its rewards when you discover a hidden artefact that might have remained in the deep recesses of the mind if not teased out with a metaphorical trowel.
I wanted to continue Kathryn’s story in Book 2 of the trilogy. And I’m glad I did. Saleswise it wasn’t a success and Affinity thought a new cover would help. So when the trllogy was released in February 2016, Arc Over Time featured a younger model. I rather liked the original – as I could see her as Kathryn. Some readers have told me they thought she looked too forbidding. The trilogy cover woman on the right clearly isn’t Kathryn and reflects one of the other younger characters.
I would be interested to know which one readers prefer. Please leave a comment if you would like to let me know what you think.
Happy autumnal reading!
The Starling Hill Trilogy: