The Story Behind the Story – Part Five – Clinically Dead
When I started out writing it was a form of therapy as much as anything else and I certainly never planned to share any of my work. But I’m an ambitious person and the more I wrote, the more I felt my storytelling improved in quality. I was writing the kind of fiction I wanted to read myself and there came a point when I wondered if anyone else would like to read it too.
Approaching agents and publishers is well known as being one of the most soul-destroying experiences for writers but I have to say that although I did get my fair share of rejections, I also received a lot of incredible and encouraging feedback. After a couple of months of submitting to agencies, I got an offer of a three-book deal with a small independent publisher. It should have been the happiest day of my life but I had a bit of a nagging doubt…
I did quite a bit of research into the publisher who offered me the deal and they were quite well-respected and legitimate but the more interactions I had, the more uneasy I felt. There was quite a lot of talk about how rapidly I could continue to write the books and this added to my anxiety. In the end, the worry of the book deal induced a hypomanic episode. I was mentally very unwell and had to back out completely.
It was a bit of a low in my life at the time. I remember crying a lot and feeling that I had just self-sabotaged my chances of any writing acclaim. But everything happens for a reason and when I was well enough, I decided to independently publish my books instead. That way, I could have more control over the process and I could take as long as I needed without feeling pressured to produce something.
Self-publishing is a rough road in itself but I am glad I did it because I learned a good deal in the process. The first four books in the Cathy Moreland Mystery series came out but ultimately, after a year of mediocre sales and raging imposter syndrome, I decided that I was in a better place to approach publishers again with my fifth book written.
When I signed my seven-book deal with Bloodhound I felt far less pressure than the first time as I had a really good feel for the series and knew where it was going. Clinically Dead flowed out of me without too much effort if I’m completely honest. I wrote the first draft in six weeks and then fiddled with details for another few months after that. By this point, Cathy was very real in my mind and her bolshy A&E consultant friend Suzalinna had become an important character in her own right too. I wanted to bring Suzalinna into the plot more and allow her hapless attempts to solve the crime to hinder poor Cathy. I think of Clinically Dead as being one of my more light-hearted books although, of course, it has some darker stuff in there too. I hope it foxes as many people as possible. My editor certainly had no idea who the culprit was until the end! I hope you enjoy it!