Posts Tagged ‘Things He Never Knew’

First Chapter of Things He Never Knew

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

As promised I have made available the first of three sample chapters from Things He Never Knew. As it’s the first one in seems only fitting that we start with the opening chapter so you can meet Steph, Theo and their girls in the way in which I intended.

All the chapters will be posted on the new chapters page which you can see in the top menu or just click here.

Hope you enjoy it and as ever would love to get your comments.

Background to Things He Never Knew

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

This is not going to be a normal blog post for me today. Frivolity and accounts of my sometimes bewildering life will go out of the window, and self-imposed structure will replace it. The intention behind this essay-style entry is to give you an idea of the background to Things He Never Knew and to help you understand the motivation of my characters to do what they did. And this is relevant whether you have read the book or whether you haven’t. Plus I spent the two A-Level years of my life doing 45 minute timed essays at least three times a week on such riveting subjects as Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain, Elizabeth I’s foreign policy, Calvinism, Othello, The Tempest, Chaucer and Wilfrid Owen. Therefore I must make the most of any residual skills – though I will not be restricting myself to 45 minutes by any stretch of the imagination.

Imagination however, is a key word. Because it’s important to remember from the start that these people are entirely fictional. I know that I’ve already made this point about Steph, because I was forced to, but they are not real, I have conjured and created them from the depths of my mind. That said, they are made up of real people. Their experiences, emotions, decisions, desires and motivations are all very real ones. There is nothing in Things He Never Knew that is impractical, implausible or unbelievable. In fact I would go so far as to say that the exact situation that I describe in the book has happened and is happening out there right now. But I digress.

My main characters are called Steph and Theo Hammond. They met at school when they were very young. They lived a typical, slightly-incestuous, village life in their early days where everyone knows everyone else and what everyone else is getting up to. It was a closeted environment with little outside interference and little to disturb the day to day ordinariness of life. It was probably much like my own early life, except that I left the village where I lived to go to school half an hour away in a much bigger town. Steph and Theo did not, they lived, played and were educated in the same place. And this inevitably bred in them a naivety about the Real World. And a restlessness to see what else life could offer them which in turn leads to slight recklessness. This would have been subconscious, they were not seeking opportunities to stretch boundaries, but yet when they make the decision to leave their village, the lack of life experience afforded to them is undoubtedly a factor. Both in a curious sense, and in an immature sense. Steph and Theo would have been better to have done some planning, made some realistic plans and worked out what it was that they wanted before endeavouring to find it. It is a difficult situation which prompts their departure from the village and one which they don’t handle very well and thus end up alienating a very close friend of their, called Ed, whom they also met when they were very young. Ed is a bit of a strange character; quite aloof and alone he struggles to make friends easily and relies heavily on both Steph and Theo in this sense, developing a strong attachment to the former which he imagines to be love. Of course it isn’t, but there is no way that Ed can understand this at such a young age. Taking this into account, it is easy to see why Ed is so hurt and upset when Steph and Theo essentially abandon him. He can’t understand why they have done it, nor why they should want to, and this has a lasting impact upon him, ultimately changing him fundamentally as a person. He harbours a deep grudge and lasting resentment, though this last stands him in good stead so far as determination towards his career goes.

The life-altering mistake that Steph makes is dual-fold. It results from a piece of late-night stupidity and then from overwhelming fear and shock. And probably her biggest problem is that once she makes this particular mistake, it is irreversible. Of course she could stand up at any point over the next ten years and admit to it, but the human psyche doesn’t work like that. In one of the chapters I describe Steph as thinking very much like a child; with the time that passes from the crime, the assumption is made that so must the danger of being discovered too. However this is not the case. What Steph has managed to do, and do very well, is convince herself that if she isn’t looking at her mistake – metaphorically speaking – then it will not be looking at her, and thus she can avoid the consequences. This is a very childlike and naïve attitude, and one which she is able to have because of the sheltered life she has led. Steph has gone from village childhood into cosseted adulthood. Theo is lucky enough to have been extremely swift at climbing his career ladder and carving out a privileged life for them all. They have a large and expensively decorated house, the twins attend a private school and they have all the accoutrements of wealth; as well as their loving marriage and happy, healthy children. In other words they have everything, or so it appears to the outsider. The point of the whole story is that it is possible to appear to have everything and yet be missing some of the crucial underpinning to life. Steph has personal ambitions which she has not properly acknowledged, let alone achieved, because before she can do that, she must deal with the fact that her entire life is based on and wrapped in a tissue of deceit. There are many things that could and should be happening in Steph’s life, but because she is trapped in this vortex of lies she can’t progress any of them. And this is something which Theo fails to understand. Necessarily protected from the truth, he can’t understand why Steph behaves as she does. And the one criticism that we can level at Theo is that he doesn’t think as deeply as he might about Steph’s behaviour, nor afford her the luxury of being able to see that something must be very wrong for her to act as she does. He deals with his wife in a very shallow way. He doesn’t mean to, but their lives have knitted together in such a way as to make him believe that nothing can possibly be wrong and he resents it enormously when Steph refuses to give him what he wants.

In some ways it is a sad story, and yet I was careful to write through exactly what my characters were experiencing. I dislike it when authors ‘bookend’ the traumatic main event of a book, i.e. they devote chapters and chapters leading up to whatever it is that’s going to happen and just as the climactic point of the story is reached, they drop the narration and pick it up again on the other side, once the event has happened so we see the aftermath but not the actual event. I didn’t want this for Things He Never Knew, I wanted my readers to have to go through every horrible emotion that Steph and Theo do because it is only then that you can understand them properly. And it makes a better book in my opinion. It’s harder to write but ultimately you craft a better and more satisfying story.

So that’s it. That’s the bare bones of my thinking behind Things He Never Knew, ahead of making the first chapter available to read tomorrow online.  And I tell you what, it was a darn sight more interesting and easier to write than essays about Henry VIII and the Nuns Priests Tale.

That was obviously where I went wrong at A-Level, I clearly should have studied my own work.

Things He Never Knew has officially been released! It is – The Day.

Friday, September 24th, 2010

And so…..here we are. We have arrived at The Day that I have been waiting for most of my life. The day that I finally become a published author!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s right, Things He Never Knew is officially released today, Friday 24th September. The countdown to publication is over.

If we tally up everything that has been building to almost this precise moment, it’s quite a lot:

-          28 years of life for a start.

-          19 ½ years of full-time education (we won’t calculate the school/Uni fees as I’m not sure that my royalties will EVER cover them. Sorry Daddy.)

-          I estimate 300+ examinations (as in the test kind, not ill-health kind), including 11 GCSEs, 3 A-Levels, an AS-Level and a Law degree. And all the years of work they entailed.

-          One ‘discussion’ with my husband about exactly why I should be allowed to stay at home and write stories, rather than get up and go out to work like most people.

-          Literally thousands of hours of creativity poured into my various stories/poems/manuscripts.

-          Even more hours spent in perfecting Things He Never Knew so that I have told the story in the best way that I can, that it will hopefully draw you into Steph and Theo’s ravaged world and that you will be both intrigued by and sympathetic to them.

-          A LOT of determination and perseverance to get where I am now.

Obviously now that the book is released, it’s available online at www.amazon.co.uk and at www.waterstones.com, as well as at all good bookshops. Well, I say ‘all’, I don’t actually get told where it’s being stocked so the best thing if you hope to buy it from a bookshop is go in and ask if they stock it, and if they don’t or they’ve sold out they will certainly be able to order it for you.

And once you have it and you’re reading it, can I ask – please don’t take against poor old Steph too much. In a sense what she did wasn’t her fault and her best excuse is that it was unintentional, although an excuse is all it is. You will all see the drama that unfolds across the pages and although Steph deserves this, it isn’t a nice thing to have to go through. As for Theo, it would be easy to sympathise wholeheartedly with him, but I would ask that you bear in mind that he hasn’t been quite as accommodating or understanding to Steph as he might have. Over the next couple of weeks or so, a complete in-depth blog about the background to Things He Never Knew will be appearing here which will reveal why what happens in the book, happens. But for those of you who read immediately, do try and keep an open mind for Steph. And whilst I’m on the subject of Steph – I’d also like to make it clear that her character is not me! I wasn’t expecting so many people to make the assumption that it is; maybe I made a mistake in casting myself in the role of Steph on the front cover. But no, she is not me, nor anyone of my acquaintance. She is entirely fictional, she exists only in my imagination and in the pages of the book where the consequences of her rash actions are played out.

I’m going to leave it here for today because I think the events of the day kind of speak for themselves and I am happy to let a brief and reverential silence descend across Revelations and Revelry for now. I am thrilled, delighted and awed to have finally become a published author….it really is a dream come true for me. Thank-you to everyone who has supported me and bought it so far, I really hope that you all enjoy reading it and witnessing Steph’s apparently perfect life coming undone at the seams. I would love to have any comments on the book, either here or on my facebook page or via email, sarah@sarahhaynes.me.uk. I’m impatient to know what everybody thinks! So if you read it and have something to say, please do let me know.

So I shall sign off for now: Sarah Haynes LLB (Hons)…………and  PUBLISHED AUTHOR :-)

My display!