Writing a Novel

It’s really simple. Anyone can do it. However writing one that other people might read … well that’s a little more difficult. I’m no expert but I’ve been far more successful than I ever could have hoped to be. And no – I don’t have a magical formula for success.

I recently finished my tenth novel ‘Green Skies at Night’. It’s a thriller/romance sort of disaster novel. I intended to set it in Australia but my editor (who loved the initial 15k) said, ‘absolutely not, Alan. You’ve picked on your home country before with Firestorm and it’s having enough problems with the bushfires without adding your extreme weather to it.

Green Skies began with photo I saw on t’internet back in 2012. At the time I’d just had a children’s story called Possum accepted by the NSW Education Department for inclusion in the school magazine Orbit. I grew up reading that magazine in school during the fifties and early sixties. All primary students received a copy to help with classroom reading. Possum had a strong female lead heroine about 11 years old. The editor loved it because of the role model.

I wrote a serial of 4000 words about another young girl, dealing with a crisis when Green Skies appear on a family holiday. Both her parents are injured. It’s up to her to find help before her family are killed by the hail storm. It was published in 2014.

Fast forward to 2018 and I wrote another version with an adult lead. That story was published in Australia in Jan 2020 issue of That’s Life Mega Monthly. It was the only fiction story in the magazine.

In a discussion with a fellow novelist, Dawn Knox, I wondered about a novel where the characters and background could be developed. Originally set around Canberra, the final version changed to Tulsa, Oklahoma and It was accepted by the editor at My Weekly seven days after submission.

Now it has been accepted for publication in a new My Weekly Pocket Novel in June. There was a lot of research to do about Tulsa, the area around, American and Oklahoman expressions and slang and even down to using ‘rain boots’ instead of ‘wellingtons’ and ‘faucets’ in place of ‘taps’. I try my best to be accurate to the point that it’s a flavour of the area rather than so exacting that a native from Tulsa would wonder how many years I’d lived there.

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