by Louise Mercer
Ever since being a little girl, I have always wrote short stories. More to humour myself than anything else. Despite reading large quantities of Enid Blyton and as I got older, romantic fiction, I never found the ‘perfect book’ for me.
Back then, I couldn’t quantify what my perfect book would be either, but at bed times, particularly during the colder months when my feet were snuggled around a hot water bottle and the rain blew hard against my window, I would imagine myself in another world, somewhere safe, warm, cosy, and of course….with the ‘perfect man’. Ideas in my head would build and I’d store them up ready for bedtime; the sea whipping against my windows, a log fire burning away, a business that I could grow as I saw fit.
One evening, after a stressful day at work I came home and started to write in the hope of reducing my anxiety levels. I thought to myself if I just write a few lines it will help me to concentrate on something else. Four hours later I lifted my head up, looked at the clock and thought to myself, ‘Why the hell have I not done this any sooner’. Que ‘If Only you knew’.
As for the main plot and the side plots, they grew with me as I started to write. Within minutes of my first paragraph, characters started to build in my head, and they became as real to me as the people I could visibly see and touch. I couldn’t wait to finish work so I could come home and add the next instalment. I found that when your characters are well-defined, you can start to play with them and put them in situations and see how they react. Quite often I would start a chapter and not know where it would take me, I’d let the characters walk me through. Sometimes they behaved predictably and other times they’d come out with something that totally shocked me and lead me straight into another scenario.
I have been very lucky in my life to be surrounded by the best and most loyal group of eclectic friends and it’s from all their experiences combined that I built both Laura, Amy, Olly, John and Aiden. As for Lucas…well, my husband goes around telling all my readers that the character is based on him! – God bless his cotton socks! However, one thing my good man has taught me is how to fall in love, do it well and make it last. I guess he does deserve some credit.
I’ll admit when the book was finished, I had no intention of doing anything with it, other than saving it on my laptop. However, I had the good fortune to meet one of my favourite authors. She said to me ‘On your death bed, would you regret never going to Australia, probably not. Would you regret never buying that handbag, probably not. Would you regret never seeing my name on the front of my book?’ Yes, I would, I’d regret that deeply. And suddenly, I wanted this more than anything!
After taking honest advice from many good friends, including those at CCP, I decided to take the plunge and try to see if it was worthy of being published. I’ve never looked back!
Whenever I feel stressed or anxious, I imagine one of my characters in that situation, after all, they do say write what you know about, and I use those emotions to enrich my story. I’ve also found since writing that days out are very different. A village is no longer just a village, it’s a potential scene in my book. A duck crossing the front of my car becomes a way of resolving a plot in my head. People I see and how they look, talk, walk…they all become something I notice.
As I wrote my last line for ‘If Only You Knew’, I cried because it was time to say goodbye to them. However, a few hours later I opened my laptop again and started another story!
I do hope people who read my book get as much enjoyment from it as I did writing it. Alongside the people at CCP, I can’t imagine another life now 😊
Purchase Louise’s book, If Only You Knew, here: http://bit.ly/IfOnlyYouKnew