Today kicks off my first guest blogger as part of the summer virtual blog tour. Please welcome Mr. Joe McCoubrey!
What got me started on writing? By Joe McCoubrey
I have completed two full-length action novels (each about 100,000 words), a short story of 5,000 words and am now working on my third full-lengther. So how did I get to this point?
For a long time, much too long as it turned out, I thought I would probably never complete the first book, let alone any follow-ups. I started the first one during my time as a working journalist in the midst of the worst of the so-called ‘Troubles’ of Northern Ireland in the 1970s and 1980s.
Here we are, thirty-odd years later and the project has finally come to fruition! The fact that ‘Someone Has To Pay’ is about to climb into the light of day, to be followed by a second – ‘Absence of Rules’ – makes me wonder what could have been accomplished, literary-wise, during all those lost years of excuse-making and procrastination. Would more titles bearing my name now be gracing the electronic and physical bookshelves?
I would have to think so, not least because the very act of completing the process first time around taught me not only that can it be done but also how it was done. I started book number two a mere few days after the final proofing and editing of book number one. It has also been completed to the first full draft stage and I’ve started work on the third offering, the plot for which is beginning unfortunately to blur into the final chapters of my current venture!
In between I penned a short story of 5,000 words which was included in an Action anthology ebook with the works of 35 other authors. It was published last month.
Writing has been a huge part of my life. I could never, for example, understand why classmates struggled to fill a prerequisite A4 essay page while I handed in anything up to ten pages on the same subject, albeit with flowery add-ons that probably bore absolutely no resemblance to what was asked for, and usually got me into trouble with a teacher unwilling to see beyond the parameters of the particular assignment.
After schooldays I found a great outlet for writing through my local newspaper where I was later to become Editor. Those first days, when I reported on my own football team’s activities before progressing to a general sports role, and eventually into college to learn the art of journalism, were the best I can remember. What strikes me most about those days is that this mad urge to write needed to be tempered by my need to learn how to do it in a way that would touch a chord with readers. Thanks to the skill and patience of tutors, sub-editors, editors and colleagues, the raw edges were knocked into a shape that I could feel more comfortable with. Not unnaturally therefore my horizons began to broaden beyond the limited scope of newspapers.
It was around 1978 or 1979 when I began thinking about the plotline for ‘Someone Has To Pay’. I can’t tie it down any better than that, if only because there wasn’t some momentous event or epiphany to convince me of the need to write a novel. I remember thinking that the almost daily diet of bombings and shootings – tragic and senseless though they were – offered fertile ground for the imagination of the thriller author, something I was now convinced I would become. Using my old portable typewriter I began to churn out pages until the milestone of the first one hundred was reached. I paused to read over what had been achieved, realising, perhaps for the first time, the enormity of what lay ahead. Rewrite followed rewrite as I tried to find a style to suit the story I wanted to tell. It just wouldn’t click into place, and I found the gaps between my ‘book’ days beginning to lengthen until finally, the sheets were consigned to a desk drawer where they gathered dust for quite a few years.
I recall later making a conscious decision to transfer the typed pages to the new-fangled word processors, if only to store them for posterity. As things turned out, it was that act of retyping which rekindled the fire and made me want to complete what I had started out to do. I guess the break also gave me time to sort through the original plotline, and agree the research needed to make the story informative and credible. I found I was throwing myself into the work with the same enthusiasm as a decade previously, though this time I found that being a little older – and a lot more patient – helped to get the book over the finishing line.
It’s now with Tri Destiny Publishing and is due to be published soon.
FOOTNOTE: Joe McCoubrey is an action thriller writer. You’ll find more info about him over at his site: http://joemccoubrey1.com/