The roots of this book stretch back a long way. I was 17 and living in Oxford whilst I took my A'levels.
One afternoon, cycling along the Banbury Road into the centre of town a car pulled out from a side road, right in front of me. I applied the brakes but it was raining, the road surface was greasy and I couldn't stop in time. Thwack! I hit the side of the car, somersaulted over the bonnet and landed in the road. By some miracle I was unhurt although the driver didn't bother to stop and find that out. Over the years I have looked back at that incident and thought how extremely lucky I was. My guardian angel must have been with me that day.
So that is where Last Chance Angel starts, with fourteen year old Jess cycling home in the dusk and drizzle, without lights. Jess is not as lucky as I was. When she collides with a car she ends up in hospital, in a coma. Hovering between life and death Jess is called to Heaven where she meets Darren, an Angel of Death. But Jess has been called on the wrong day and Darren is afraid of his mistake being found out so they strike a bargain. Jess can return to her earthly body and, in invisible form, she is given the chance to visit her friends in order to say goodbye. But when she does, nothing is quite as she expects it to be. I suppose if I had to write a one page synopsis of my book it would be that - 'things never turn out quite as you expect them to.' Or to paraphrase Heraclitus -
'Expect the Unexpected'
Certainly, when I started this book I never anticipated that it would take me quite so long to write or the turmoil that would overtake my life during those few years of on/off writing. I stuck with this book through the deaths of both of my parents, health issues, legal problems, family rifts and difficulties within my husband's business. At the same time I was dropped by my previous publishers, Macmillan, spent 6 months working on a series for another publisher which came to nothing and received rejection after rejection for other pieces of work. I considered giving up writing for publication and took a year off to re-train as a reflexologist. But I loved my tenacious heroine, Jess and she would not let go of me. So, little by little I was drawn back to this story and to writing in all its forms. I was forced to acknowledge and accept a simple fact:-
'I need to write'
To see that written large on the page looks a little meldramatic but writing is a large part of what makes me who I am. My mother used to tell me that I thought too much and she was right. But I believe that getting those thoughts down on paper is good for me. My family would confirm that it certainly makes me easier to live with!
Last Chance Angel was not an easy book to write and I am incredibly grateful to those friends and family who supported me throughout the project and showed faith in my ability when I was lacking faith in myself. I'm also grateful to my editors at Templar who have been so enthusiastic about the book and helpful in refining it. I love Jess despite the fact that it was at times exhausting putting myself in her position and I hope readers will love her too. If I was ever lucky enough for this book to be made into a film I would want it to be set in the U.K. and I'd definitely want a British actress to play Jess, preferably someone completely unknown.
I'd like to give a big thanks to Debbie White for asking me to write this blog as part of The Next Big Thing where authors nominate other authors to blog about their latest work or work in progress. You can read about Debbie's latest novel, Deceit, at http://deborahjwhite.blogspot.co.uk/
And finally to everyone out there who is struggling with a piece of writing or getting those rejection letters dropping on to the doormat, just keep on going, have faith in yourself and in your work. It will pay off in the end.
Thank- you for taking the time to read this blog.