The Start Of It All
Yes, I’m sure you realise by now, that this site is about my novel. Well. I guess I’d better let you know a bit more then, eh?
The novel started when I was 13 years old, desperate to find something cool to read. All my other reading material had dried the hell up and when I was stuck with the likes of Mills and Boon and Sweet Valley High, even I realised that my reading days were numbered if I didn’t find something damn quick. And then I realised… I could just write for myself! I didn’t need to read other people’s shit if I could write my own, right? Oh and bear in mind, by the way, that I was twelve, and
probably definitely didn’t swear as much then as I do now.
So… what did I do…? I sat down and started scribbling. I started scribbling about some girl called Topanga who could cast spells, invoke genies and all sorts of other rubbish. I wrote about another girl called Brandi who liked shopping and shoes and one more story floated by, about a girl called Michelle was was desperate for the cool boy at school to like her. But, alas, I got bored. Bored as hell. In fact, bored enough that I started watching TV again, which was a mistake.
Anyway, that was a bust.
Ileandra Is Born
Two years later, I’m watching TV – ugh! – and Hercules is on. You know… that tongue in cheek, comedy version of the Roman (yes, Roman! Hercules is Roman; his Greek name is Heracles mooooron! Look it up if you don’t believe me!) hero and his adventures with the kinda weak and piddly Iolas. Hercules was played by Kevin Sorbo and, I believe that was about the time my infatuation with long hair on men began. Anyway, Hercules lead me to Xena… you know, same period, same awful dialogue and costume, Xena played by Lucy Lawless who, despite being an absolute stunner was always referred to by my mother as ‘that one with the big man-neck?’ And its in watching these shows that I hear a name that has stuck with me and, as is obvious from this blog, become well loved; Ileandra.
I loved the name. I loved it from the second I heard it and immediately made it mine. It became mine. I used it everywhere; in every forum, in every chatroom, on every game; I was always Ileandra. And with that name came the idea for a story which has followed me right through to 16 years later… Ileandra The Teenage Vampire, written by Ileandra. Of course.
What would it be like to still have to go to school knowing that you could probably spin the teacher on your little finger if they pissed you off? What would it be like to have friends you were afraid that you might end up eating them if you let your guard down? What would it be like to have to drink blood every single day for the rest of your life! And… of course, never look older than a teenager.
I was fascinated by the idea and sat down at Mum’s computer, tentatively two-finger-stabbing at the keyboard to pick out the words ‘To Be A Teenage Vampire.’ And I started writing. I wrote about how Ileandra lost her human life to a mean, ginger vampire called Jason and how she was forced to keep it from her friends. I wrote about Nick, Ileandra’s older, more mature boyfriend, taking her under his wing and teaching her ‘how to be a vampire’ while, the whole time, he kept her family locked in the basement of his home so he could syphon off their blood to feed to her.
Looking back, I think that’s pretty heavy for a 15 year old. Bear in mind, that 15 then, wasn’t like 15 now either. I still thought boys were gross and had only the vaguest idea of why anybody might want to put their tongue in someone else’s mouth. And even that didn’t make sense… especially if they weren’t eating sweets or chocolate! I guess its no surprise that I’ve ended up writing the way I do, if I was already thinking like that early on.
Death of the Two-Finger Stabber
Anyway, the project took ages. I mean ages! And I was on the verge of giving up when I entered into the first year of my GCSEs. I took a course called Office Applications. In hindsight, I was always a computer nut, so that course was a complete cop-out, it was a guaranteed A* from the second I stepped through the door. Anyway, it was in that room, on scabby old BBC computers first, then finally onto the gloriously fascinating and wonderful, brand new Windows OS that I learnt to touch type. And that saved my writing career, because I tell you what, trying to stab out 700 words a day with two fingers, is hell. HELL. I was getting bored, ideas were getting lost before I could even write them down and going back over the work to change it was laborious and tedious with my younger sister behind me constantly screeching that she wanted to use the computer. But then, suddenly I went from two finger stabber to 40 words per minute (wpm). 50wpm. 60wpm… three months down the line, I could copy type at a staggering 85wpm and the story was just pouring out of me! At 10:20pm on 13 September 1999 I finished the first draft of To Be A Teenage Vampire – I remember exactly, because even then I was anal enough to write it down!
I remember jumping up and down, screaming, crying, frightening the living daylights out of my mother, ignoring my father and exalting in the fact that I’d done it, was done! I was going to be published and it would be great and I’d be rich and buy an awesome house and six miiiiiiiiillion cars and whatever else it was I decided I wanted at 16 years old.
68 thousand words. I shit you not. 68,051 words, to be exact, and I was thrilled. And I couldn’t stop. I wanted to know more about Ileandra and her new boyfriend Shawn (well she obviously wasn’t going to stay with Nick, when she found out what he’d done, was she???), and her two best friends Ramona and Verni. What about her mother and her father and her annoying little brother? So I kept writing, two days after in fact, and spat out a sequel in about the same amount of time. And another, and another. By the end of May 2000 I was on the fifth book and showing no sign of stopping with a sixth one planned to round it all off. And yet something – I still don’t know what – made me go back to the first one and re-read it. And all I could say was; “Awww, hell…! This is really shit! I need to do that again!”
Rewriting And Procrastination
And so the rewriting process began. Even early on, it seems I understood that things have to be rewritten a number of times before you’re happy. And yet, even then, I had the writer’s art of procrastination down to perfection. Instead of going back to To Be A Teenage Vampire – 1, at that time shortened to TBATV1, I started on another project called ‘If Only.’ It was about men with wings and big blue beasts with scales and tails fighting a war on some far distant world, into which an unsuspecting human suddenly steps, to change it all forever. I then wrote another thing called ‘IDKY’ (I Don’t Know Yet – I’m still useless at titles) about Michelle, a homeless girl who, against her better judgement accepts the gift of a hot meal from a well to do business man, only to discover he is a thousand year old aspect of some long dead and forgotten race, looking to find the last traces of the old blood, through which he can restore the people to their old power. It was probably about this time that I discovered play by post RPGS as well so I was writing character backgrounds for all of my new creations (one of whom, of course, was also called Ileandra). Hell, I even distracted myself by conning A-Level buddies into projects where I thought it would be an excellent idea to film the story; so I was writing screenplays too (of all five, since it never struck me to do one at a time).
It wasn’t until 2001 that I touched TBATV1 again and, at the end, realised that I still didn’t like it. Nor did I like it the third time I finished it. The fourth time I was ready to hit my head against a brick wall and call it a day. By this point, I’m at university, I have moved away from home, I have free access to as much alcohol as I can afford and somehow I’ve got to fix work in there too. The writing frequency suffered. But it grew… as I grew. Ileandra was no longer a teenager, she was twenty, because I was too – as in every rewrite her age had changed to match mine. And she was no longer in school, she was at university. And so the name of the story had to change. From this, came Silk Over Razor Blades.
Silk Over Razor Blades
Silk Over Razor Blades (SORB) has been written four times as of November 31 2013. I started completely from scratch and rewrote the tale during NaNoWriMo of 2013, telling myself (and meaning it this time) that enough is enough. I need to get the story down and done. I publish it or I don’t, but to keep returning to it over and over to the detriment of other projects is stunting my growth as a writer. It has to end soon.
During all these rewrites and false starts I’ve learned a great deal about myself and this character. I’ve been through university, a couple of boyfriends, moving house (over and over and over!) and working a steady job. Hell, I have children now! The character, now named Lenina Miller, has evolved from a 15 year old school goer, into a 27 year old museum curator on the verge of marrying her boyfriend of several years.
There are several key elements to her becoming a vampire which are very different. In addition, there are no longer six stories; there’s no need. The complete story of how Lenina becomes a vampire and how it affects the lives of her and her family is now planned into three novels (Silk Over Razor Blades, Walking The Razor’s Edge & On A Knife Edge – that last one may change).
This novel is now available (YEEEEEEEEEEEEY!) . . .
. . . and I’m hard at work on ‘Walking The Razor’s Edge’ which is tentatively scheduled for release in November 2015. May 2016 will see the release of ‘On A Knife Edge’ and completion of the Saar’s Legacy trilogy.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. I realise I talk a lot and am grateful that you’ve made it this far down the page. My posts to the blog will (quite often) detail updates on how I’m progressing with the story and slowly narrow down a publication deadline. I hope you’ll all be with me at the finish line.