Hi, I’m Rob Kail-Dyke and I’ve just published my first novel, Black Moon Over Malvern, on Amazon. It’s taken me about twelve years to complete because it began as a side-project which I worked on whenever time allowed.
When I started out I was employed full-time as regional manager for a national charity. It was a demanding job, so most of the time I was preoccupied with work issues which tended to eat up a lot of my creative energy. Nevertheless, whenever I had a chance to just sit down and write, it was a huge pleasure to be able to lose myself in a world I’d created and worry about the challenges faced by my characters rather than the ones I was facing myself. Sometimes (and I’m sure this is common to all writers) the words poured out, but more often it was a slow, laborious process which, though frustrating, was still a welcome relief from the obstacles I’d otherwise have been grappling with in the “real world”. I also realised that writing isn’t something you just do (unless you’re a literary genius of course; which I had to concede I wasn’t), it’s something you have to learn to do.
By the time I officially retired from full-time work, five years ago, I had a sprawling manuscript which, to all intents and purposes, was a finished book and at that point I suppose I should have asked someone (my wife maybe) to read it and give me some no-holds-barred feedback, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Basically, I knew it was all over the place and needed a major rewrite before I’d be to be prepared (confident enough) to share it with anyone else: the plot was too complicated; it was written from too many characters’ perspectives and it was riddled with continuity/consistency errors. A close (and painful) re-reading also told me that this was a book I’d written primarily for myself – a sort of therapeutic exercise – and now it needed to be turned into one that would genuinely intrigue and entertain a wider audience. There was nothing for it but to go right back to the beginning and reappraise everything I’d written. I decided to base this re-appraisal on three guiding principles: there should only be one perspective, that of the central character, Dennis Powell; the narrative should be led by dialogue rather than exposition; all unnecessary (pretentious) complexity should be rejected out of hand.
Five years later (January 2020), after at least three major overhauls, I finally had a novel that I was ready to share – albeit, only with a select group of people: my wife; my youngest son and a close friend who is also a writer/blogger. I chose them for one important reason: I knew they would’t hold back from telling me (in the nicest possible way of course) if I’d been deluding myself for the last twelve years and what I’d written was absolute rubbish! Fortunately though, all three of them thoroughly (and I’m sure, genuinely) enjoyed it. My wife and my friend are both avid fans of crime literature and they both said that Black Moon Over Malvern is at least the equal of anything else they’ve ever read in the genre and in some cases – dare I say it – a lot better. My youngest son, aged 19, has read it (slowly, it has to be said, but he’s read it nevertheless!) and he says he was gripped throughout.
So, on the strength of that, I decided that it was time to introduce Black Moon Over Malvern to a wider audience by self-publishing on Amazon. Having done so, just a month ago, I now genuinely want to hear what people think of it – warts and all – because although I know, twelve years on, that I’ve become a much better writer, I’d be deluding myself if I didn’t accept that, like all of us, I’ve still got a lot to learn.
Next time I’ll share my experience of self-publishing for the first time on Amazon and hopefully give those of you who are thinking of doing the same a few useful tips based on my experience…