A history of Kings and Criminals
It's taken a long time but I finally managed to finish it and it's going to be launching in January.
The book's called Kings and Criminals and it's the first in a series of 6 books. It starts with a schoolboy who's sick of how he sees countries and governments being run and who decides to create a secret group. His aim is to put its members into the most influential and powerful positions in the country in order to circumnavigate the politics and corruption he sees in the world. He recruits the members one-by-one for their varying interests and skills, before bringing them together to ask that they dedicate their lives to the pursuit of something bigger.
The first book chronicles the final school years as the members are recruited into the group and are asked to plan their paths towards their future positions. They're young and naive and before long they start having to do questionable things in order to protect the group and its long-term goals.
The book is mainly aimed at a young adult audience. I wanted to start the characters in a school as that's where the idea first came to me. I've essentially based the book around the Wirral and there will be parts that are recognisable to anyone from there. As the characters grow up, so will the content.
For some background... I've always loved pondering the world. In school, I was a bit of a daydreamer, allowing my mind to wander and come up with new ideas. Most of these ideas are fleeting, never to be thought about again. Some make it to a list (it used to be on paper, nowadays it Excel) which grows constantly, growing dust (in the metaphorical sense).
The idea for Kings and Criminals never made it to any list. But it was such a persistent idea that it stuck in my mind for years, resurfacing at relevant times, over and over again. It wasn't even an idea for a book, but a genuine way that I thought someone could change the balance of power in any country.
It was only during a late night conversation with a school friend who was staying on my couch in London that the book became the vessel for the plot. He was working in TV at the time and telling me about his idea for a kids TV show. I reciprocated with my idea about a secret group that started in a school and would see the members dedicate their entire lives to their ambitions. His reaction is the reason I started writing the book the next day.
The first 18 months were very slow. I was (and still am) working full-time for a technology giant so finding the time to sit down and develop the characters and the plot was tough. I'd set my target at 30 chapters which felt really daunting at first. I found myself working long into the night or every day at weekends to try and make progress. Keeping the motivation was an ongoing battle. However, once I passed the 15th, something just hooked me and I couldn't wait to finish it.
Finally, something resembling a book came together. I worked with an off to an editor who gave me an education in writing, including pointers on how to use point of view (POV) more effectively. Due to work and life, the rewrite took 9 months. Back to the editor it went for more input and another set of rewrites took 6 months before it was ready for review, copy edit, proofread and then production design.
At every stage, I had to learn what the next step was. Writing, editing, copy editing, proofreading, cover & internal design, printing, publishing. At the end of each stage, it felt natural to move onto the next without really thinking about each. Then came the decision to publish. It was only after I'd actually made that decision, without giving it much thought, that it hit me that this is real and now it will be out in the world for any willing reader to see.
That step is a big one. And I'm sure all who have been in this position before have been filled with the same excitement and trepidation about allowing something that has been so personal for so long to be read by others. One can only hope that people enjoy it and want to read more about the characters that combine to create the story.