Life Cycle Of A Writer: Letting the stories lead you

I’ve broken some of the rules.

I’ve gone a little bit crazy. A little bit rebellious. Much like the character of Olive.

You see, The Gin Shack on the Beach is a book that misbehaves.

It doesn’t sit neatly in a genre. Even a couple of the reviews have said as much. In fact, Olive would like to believe she’s a genre in herself.

“The book was a cosy hilarious feel good mystery if that could be a genre.” Kim the Bookworm

“This book is a whole lot of fun and as I was reading it, I found that I enjoyed it more because it’s not like anything I usually read. Of course the traits are still the same – a strong lead character, troubled pasts, plenty of friendship and frolics, but there was no need to categorise this and try and make a genre out of it. It was simply highly entertaining, and reading it was a great way to spend a day with a big smile on my face.” Sophie Headley – Book Drunk

But sometimes, the idea, the notion of the story is so strong you have to go with it, especially when your editor and agent encourage you just on the back of a blurb:

When Olive Turner’s son pushes her into a retirement home several years too early, she isn’t going to fade away to oblivion like he wants.

She sets about proving that the residents of Oakley West Retirement Quarters aren’t finished yet by turning her beach hut into The Gin Shack Club. But word soon spreads about the secret weekly meetings and everybody on Westbrook beach wants to become a gin connoisseur. The secret club becomes a legitimate business possibility, but are the residents of Oakley West too long in the tooth to pull it off? Or is it about time life began at eighty-four?

A story of friendship, defiance, and the quest for the perfect gin and tonic.

I’d sent two story ideas to my editor, both good ideas, both ones she was happy for me to write. The other story (I’ll write it one day) was in similar vein to my first two books and The Gin Shack was a wild card. Victoria was happy to support me with whichever one I chose, but I’m pretty sure there was a glint in her eye for gin.

I ended up having a phone conversation with my agent, Hattie Grunewald, to come up with an action plan of what I should do. Having not written a word of the book yet, I wasn’t sure I could do it justice. My first two books are emotional reads with an element of romance. This was completely different. We decided I should write the first chapter and see if it was something I could manage. So, I did. And I have never enjoyed writing a chapter so much and it didn’t take long for the rest of the story to follow.

And it was exactly that. The story led (Olive is a character) and I followed.

We never intended to break the rules. We didn’t mean to get rebellious, but sometimes the story leads you and as Sophie said “there is no need to categorise this.” It’s just the metadata guys I feel sorry for.

So, yeah, break the rules. Don’t conform. Go ahead and #BeMoreOlive