Today I am pleased to be able to share a guest post by Mark Edwards, whose new novel Follow You Home was published by Thomas and Mercer on 30 June 2015. You can find my review of the book on my blog yesterday. Mark has written a guest post explaining how even he didn’t know what had happened to his characters Daniel and Laura in Romania!
How I Nearly Lost the Plot Writing ‘Follow You Home’
Follow You Home is by far the most ambitious book I’ve written. The Magpies and What You Wish For were both pretty straightforward stories. Because She Loves Me had a big twist at the end and a good deal of misdirection on my part, making the reader believe one thing before turning the story on its head. But with each new book I set my personal standards higher and feel the need to make the plot more complex.
When I started to write Follow You Home I had no idea exactly how complex it would become or that halfway through I would be plunged into hair-tearing despair, wondering why on earth I hadn’t chosen an easy profession like brain surgery or rocket science.
It started out simply enough. My two main characters get onto a night train in Hungary that takes them into Romania. They meet another young couple on the train and get kicked off in the middle of nowhere. Then something terrifying happens that changes their lives forever. The first part of the book almost wrote itself.
The trouble was, I had no idea what this terrifying event was. I didn’t know what Daniel and Laura had experienced, had yet to decide why their lives were falling apart. Confident it would come to me in a flash of inspiration, I carried on, lobbing little grenades into my unhappy couple’s lives and developing their characters as I moved closer and closer to the point where I needed to describe what had happened to them…
And then I was stuck. The flash of inspiration had been delayed, possibly cancelled.
I have developed two methods for dealing with plotter’s block. For little brain blockages, I vacuum the house. Somehow, the drone of the Henry and the monotonous task of trying to remove every white fleck from my red carpets almost always helps me solve the riddle in my head.
Larger, more stubborn blockages require something more radical: going to Rymans to buy a new notepad and a number of Sharpies in different colours.
Armed with my new pad and pens, with my phone switched off, far from the temptations of the internet, I went into Wolverhampton city centre and sat on a bench in the churchyard (hoping for Divine intervention), telling myself I wasn’t allowed to leave until I had figured out the back story and the main plot points.
Somehow, it worked. I left the churchyard with a lot more of the back story worked out. There were still some big gaps but then my unconscious mind kicked in, working it all out while I slept, causing me to leap out of bed shouting, ‘Eureka!’ and scaring the cat.