I’ve been a published romance writer for more than thirty years now. That’s seventy books for Harlequin Mills and Boon and a few more for other publishers.
I was in a groove – some people might call it a comfortable rut – but I was producing books that enough people loved to keep me in contract and an advance and royalties coming in.
It’s hard to give up that up just because you’ve had a story in your head for a very long time that refuses to go away.
When you’ve had that security for thirty years, to write a book in a totally different genre — crime — on spec, with no publisher, no advance or promise of publication is like stepping off a cliff.
Sink or swim?
Maybe it was lockdown, the sense that life was out of control and might never be the same again. The sense that if I didn’t do it now, then when? That if I didn’t take the risk, would I go to my grave regretting that I didn’t have the courage, or the self-belief that had the “do it now” bells ringing.
I’d delivered the last of the books on my current contract. I could take six months out for a passion project – I knew the story – inspired by a documentary I’d seen. I had my victim, I had my murderer, I had my “sleuth”.
I’d lived with them in my head for a long time. I could give them six months of my life.