Thursday, 4 July 2013

How does it go again? by Zoë Sharp

I should be used to it by now, I really should. It happens every time. Yet this morning I sat down to start work on a new project and was disappointed to find it had happened agai
I couldn’t remember how to write a book.

The fact that I’m planning to make this next one a novella rather than a full-length book does not, sadly make it any easier to get into.

I have the title for the novella, which will feature my series heroine Charlie Fox. After much indecision I finally went for ABSENCE OF LIGHT, which I hope is reasonably intriguing.

There are a few reasons behind this choice. For a start, the books have all had two-word titles right the way through from KILLER INSTINCT to DIE EASY. The short stories on the other hand tend to have longer ones—Across The Broken Line and Postcards From Another Country for instance. So for something in between I wanted a different shape of title.

The story itself will see Charlie acting as a replacement security advisor for a group called Rescue & Recovery—R&R for short—as they deal with the aftermath of a major earthquake. R&R’s job is to go into disaster areas to help rescue the trapped and injured, recover the dead, maintain order and start to rebuild damaged infrastructure. She’s joining a tight-knit team who trust each other with their lives. But their last security guy was killed on the job in what can only be described as suspicious circumstances. Is the rest of the team covering for someone?

I knew the story was going to start with Charlie and another person buried underground following an aftershock. Will she be rescued or will she have to fight her own way out of the darkness alone?
And from that image came the title. When I looked up the definition of absolute darkness there it was—a total absence of light.

Putting the team together was fun. An uptight French doctor and pathologist, a laid-back Aussie helicopter pilot, an ex-Marine Corps structural engineer and a young Brit girl with a labrador retriever trained to sniff out both the living and the dead. All have a past from which they’re trying to escape and none of them are keen for Charlie to find out what that is. But how far are they prepared to go to stop her?

Eventually I had to resort to pencil and paper to find my way into the story of this tangled group. After much scribbling and scribbling-out, the opening line eventually deigned to present itself to me:
‘The last time I died they didn’t get a chance to put me in the ground for it.’
Whether it remains after the final edit remains to be seen. Meantime, I’m shakily getting my writing legs under me and I think I might—just might—be able to remember how to do this after all …
Wish me luck! 

This week's Word of the Week is malversation, meaning dishonest or unethical conduct in office, such as bribery, extortion or embezzlement; corrupt administration of funds, from the Latin male badly, and versari to occupy oneself.
Zoë Sharp


  1. I sympathize. Every time I start anything, i find myself poking through my tool kit much the way Peter Graves used to go through the heads shots of potential Mission: Impossible team members at the beginning of each episode. ("This will work. This won't. Hmmm, maybe.)

    As Yogi Berra (?) once said, nobody knows nothin'.

  2. Thanks Zoe, it's reassuring to know that I'm not alone in suffering from this syndrome - (though given that I haven't written as many books as you, a little daunting to know it might not get any easier with future books!)
    Best wishes.