About Writing a First Draft of 'Mission Longshot' - Published May 19th 2021
I have just published a new YA Cli-Fi novel. Lockdown does wonders for the concentration, however this particular story started life quite a few years ago.
It was 2013. I was in Montreal promoting The Repossession of Genie Magee (*re-issued on Kindle books) and it was cold, as you would expect in winter. I was in the coffee shop directly opposite the Assassin’s Creed factory (yes it’s full of artists and coders in a giant white building and there’s always a group of smokers furiously filling their lungs with poison outside). I was quickly realising that the publishers weren't going to make any efforts publicity wise and being somewhere around -20c staying warm was a priority...
I was suddenly struck with a ‘good idea’ for a new book. These are important moments for a writer. Once you finish a book you often wonder where the next idea will come from, if ever, so if comes, and quite often fully formed, you want to get it written down as fast possible. I spent five hours in that coffee shop writing by hand and anxious moments between the bucket-sized coffees hoping the one and only toilet would be free very soon.
It’s a story set in space. A hard one to write about a young girl; a lone survivor of a major disaster with zero chance of ever getting back home. I spent all those hours detailing every plot point, developing a second story thread and characters backstories. It was great. All there. All I had to do when I got back to England was write it. I went to the loo one last time and when I came back my notebook and coat had gone. No one saw it go, especially the girl I asked to keep an eye on it. I’m not going into how gutted I was, or annoyed my coat had gone as well, it being -20c outside. Take the coat if you need it, but not someone’s notebook. You just don’t do that.
“Did you write your phone number on it?” Someone asked.
As if the thief was going to call and return it, or my coat. I felt exhausted and numb. It’s no use saying, well just sit down and rewrite it again. I was under inspiration (and caffeine) and now I only felt despair. I couldn’t possibly recapture that moment or the five hours it took to work it all out.
The next day I caught the train to Toronto and as time went by the loss slowly faded and I came up with different stories and I buried that girl in space.
Last autumn I was developing a YA script under the mentorship of Anna Southgate at Euroscript and the lost girl in space made her reappearance. She may have lost hope of rescue but what if there was a chance she could be saved? The first draft script was 156 pages. Too long and Anna had serious questions about the ‘lesson learned’. She got me to cut the script to 120 pages which lost much of the humour, but I don’t think I ever quite got to the ‘lesson learned’ bit because it involves climate change and well you and I know that we are in the process of shutting the barn door years after the horse bolted.
I decided to explore the story as a novel, taking me back to 2013 and all the hopes and dreams that that lonely girl once had about survival. She might be alone but now there's others coming to her rescue. I had fun developing them and good arguments with my mentor about how to get them involved despite their young ages. I remember my young self reading sci-fi and devouring books about kids in space or Philip K Dick stories with their bleak outlook that has stayed with me for life, this was well before the genre Climate Fiction was coined. The thing to remember is that kids are passionate about what they are interested in and lock on to that. It was fun to write and I hope enjoy it too.
Finding the title was hard, so many were already taken - 'Notes on Choosing Titles' here.
Meanwhile – take a look at a novel I finished last Christmas. We Feel Your Pain might seem like offbeat crime fiction but I suspect it’s more a character study about unlikely people drawn to each other to feel safer and more secure. But what do I know; I’m just the writer.
© Sam Hawksmoor May 2021 - The Sam Hawksmoor Books List and other links
The Repossession of Genie Magee
returns in a new Kindle edition
Combining the elements of science fiction, mystery and supernatural, it is definitely one of the best, and most fascinating, debut novels I've ever read. more
The Hunting of Genie Magee
returns in a new Kindle edition
Genie and Rian must flee down the river with a $10,000 price on their heads. They must fight for their right to exist. more
||'We Feel Your Pain' by Sam Hawksmoor
ISBN-13: 979-8699087693 Published by Hammer & Tong December 2020
Print or Kindle from Amazon
Reviews: '...a captivating adventure which could be compared to a Roald Dahl tale filmed by Wes Anderson ...where rythm,wit,humour and punchy dialogue mix with irrepressible, warm sentiment...'
'I really enjoyed living with Delaney, Asha and Maria. And I particularly revelled in that obedient and loving dog, Rufus. They were lovely characters and it was a good story. The author evokes amazing, vivid pictures'. 2. 10. 2021
Delaney and Asha run the Office of Berg City Oversight. Their role is to expose the scams, keep the city safe from unscrupulous people. When something looks too good to be true – it’s a scam, right? But what if the scam works? What kind of scam is that? When Delaney finds himself left for dead at the bottom of a cliff he gets the message - someone doesn't want him near their honeypot.
The Sara Troy interview with Sam Hawksmoor 1.12.21
About the Writing of Girl with Cat Blue here
More about Sam Hawksmoor and his writing background here
Hammer &Tong (UK) is a small indie publisher of Sam Hawksmoor's books
Based in Lincolnshire - all messages via Sam Hawksmoor contact page
* Background research on anti-gravity here -
**Thinkpiece: What if you read a book you loved and never told anyone, especially the writer? more
What did you want to be when you were a child?.... more
One question I used to dislike the most when a kid was ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’
Kindle ebook for The Heaviness - Sam in Canada
More Background to Genie Magee's world. Search and you'll find some extra stories about the main characters.
* If you write me on old fashioned email, I do check and will write back as soon as I can. see Contact
'Terrifying alternative outcome to WW2 - the Blitz brought vividly to life.'
of Tomas D
Tomas accidentally goes back in time to London in the Blitz. Captured and tortured for what he knows about the war... WW11 abruptly ends in 1941.
The day after Tomas disappears, his girlfriend Gabriella wakes up to realise she's the only one who remembers that Germany was supposed to have lost the war... Sample Chapter here
of Genie Magee (Book Three)
Someone with a grudge wants Genie dead. Rian is kidnapped and forced to do experiments. Genie and Renée have just 36 hours to find Rian or he dies - but the one person who can help is aleady dead. Gravity isn't the only thing that can pull you down...
'The best Genie Magee story left till last. It might just break your heart.'