In 2012 I entered a writing competition run by the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and the Writing Magazine. The theme was Ten. It was the tenth year of the festival. The word count was 1,800. At that time I had only one story and seven nonfiction articles published.
The company where I worked was cutting back on it work force so I applied for redundancy after my husband and I had worked out the numbers. With the money I would receive we would be able to finish paying off the mortgage, clear our loans and could pay our way with one wage coming into the house.
After leaving work, I had a bit of a panicked attack as I wasn’t sure whether I had done the right thing. I had heard it said, ‘Don’t write for money, write for the love of it.’ To start with I knew my standard of writing wasn’t good enough for any publisher to want to publish my work, and my confidence was at an all time low. I was poorly educated and what I knew about writing to be published came from books my husband had purchased off EBay for me.
The first thing I knew I needed to do was to build a writing CV, so with that in mind I decided to enter writing competitions. Having subscribed to the Writing Magazine (UK) I came across their joint competition with the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. Russell and I had been attending them, but took the decision not to go to the festival this particular year as it meant saving money.
The competition crime theme was ten. It took me a while to come up with something, but I knew I needed to think outside the box. I read somewhere that to think of three idea and throw the first two away, as most other writers will think of the same thing. My first idea was someone buried underground and they only had ten minutes of air left. I had read about a real case of a man keeping a young woman in a coffin-like box in the floor of his garage. To start with she feared him, then over the time she was imprisoned by him, she began to fear him not returning to her. She lay in the dark not able to move with only a thin pipe giving her oxygen.
My next idea came from the fact most people walk around with their heads down. They never seem to look up, even less now with the invention of mobile phones. My ideas was to hide the bodies in plain sight. But how could I do this? Also I need the murderer to be able to do the deed on his own. The golden rule about murder is there’s less chance of being caught if no one else knows about it.
With this in mind, I created my main character and his ten victims. Roofscapes the short story when down well at my writing group so I then felt quite confident about it as a story, but whether it was a winning story I had to wait and see. Russell and I arrived home from the Whitby Goth Festival late on a Monday afternoon. Just before going to bed I checked my email and found I had won, that I was the overall winner. To say I was shocked was an understatement.
The Harrogate Crime Writing Festival kept Roofscapes on their website up until last year. The comments and feedback that I received on my winning story often asks when was I going to turn it into a novel. It took me two years of thinking about it, before I could put pen to paper.
I knew I couldn’t take the short story and turn it into a novel, but I could take the characters and tell it from a different view point. The story is told from the last victim’s point of view, while the novel Stone Angels is told from the serial killer’s point of view.
Stone Angels is available to preorder on Amazon and will be launched on the 11th August this year.