The story behind 'Silent Winter'
It's been a long haul so far...
My forthcoming novel, 'Silent Winter', has enjoyed something of a tortuous journey to publication, and in many ways it's proved one of the more difficult of my books to bring to completion. I almost didn't write the story at all. The idea came from something I read about a medieval punishment, which was to incarcerate the wrongdoer in a sound-proofed, pitch-black room in solitary confinement. The prisoners were fed and given water, but denied all human contact. Sensory deprivation is harmful in prolonged doses and results in hallucinations and other unpleasant symptoms. Under such circumstances these individuals quickly lost their sanity, and from the research I did for 'Silent Winter', I'm not surprised. We are social creatures; even the most introverted people don't fare well in solitary confinement, and its use in prisons has been widely condemned. I wasn't sure whether I could handle such a distressing subject but the idea continued to intrigue me. I eventually decided to write a story based around the premise, but to keep it at novella length and offer the book as an opt-in incentive for my newsletter list.
Lots of chopping and changing has been involved!
I started to flesh out the plot in late 2017, so you can see how long the project has taken me! At first I planned to start the story with Drew released from his captivity, and to examine the complex emotions he would face as he tried to resume some kind of normality. I quickly realised that wouldn't work. For readers to empathise with Drew and the horrors he suffers, they have to endure them alongside him, albeit in written form (thank goodness!). That entailed adding a new front part to the book, which would bring it closer to novel length rather than a novella. With that in mind, I decided to write a full-length novel, still with the idea of offering it as an exclusive opt-in offer for my newsletter.
And so I began. The plot posed problems, however. How was Drew going to escape incarceration? What would his former captor do to snatch him back? How would Drew overcome his nemesis? I wasn't happy with the first draft. The resolution of these issues relied too much on coincidence, and I shelved the book, frustrated at my lack of progress.
However, I loathe wasting writing effort. There I was, with 70,000 words written of a project, and the subject matter still intrigued me. After a long break, I took another look at 'Silent Winter'. I stripped out everything that didn't work, axing tens of thousands of words in the process, and thought hard about what changes to make. From somewhere inside my head came the answers, along with ideas of how to forge some neat twists in the plot. I also decided to make 'Blackwater Lake' my opt-in offer, and that 'Silent Winter' would be available for sale alongside my other standalone novels. With that settled, I got to work.
It took a lot of effort. I was revising the book amid moving home, and along the way I suffered a broken elbow, which put paid to any writing for a while. Gradually, out of the mess there'd once been, a new story took shape. Keen to get it published after so many false starts, I sent the manuscript to my long-suffering editor, who pointed out what still wasn't working and offered helpful suggestions. Back to the drawing board or, more accurately, my laptop...
Eventually, at the end of August 2019, I felt confident enough to set a publication date of December 5, and for the book to be sent to my lovely beta readers at the end of September. The ARC version for bloggers and reviewers followed one month later. It's been a long haul getting to this stage, but I'm very pleased with how the novel has turned out, and so relieved that I didn't ditch it. Here are some of the lovely comments I've received from my ARC readers:
Now available for pre-order at just 99c/p!
'Silent Winter' will be priced at 99c/p in the US/UK for the first week of sale, and if you pre-order the kindle version now you can lock in that bargain price. The paperback and audio versions will follow in due course. You can pre-order by clicking/tapping any of the graphics or via this link: Silent Winter. Thank you! In the meantime, here's a reminder of the story:
On an icy November night, Drew Blackmore is beaten unconscious, then abducted. He awakes to find himself in total darkness, naked and chained to the floor. Fed just enough to keep him alive, Drew is unable to identify his captor, or the reason for his incarceration. As reality fades, hallucinations take over. Can Drew escape his prison before madness claims him?
Meanwhile Drew's wife, Holly, despairing of ever seeing him again, turns to his brother for comfort. As the worst winter in decades sweeps the UK, she learns of Drew's tragic past. Could his disappearance be connected with that of a prostitute years before?
A story of how the mind responds to solitary confinement, 'Silent Winter' examines one man's desperate attempt to survive the unthinkable.
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