My first two novels, The Istanbul Puzzle and The Jerusalem Puzzle are set mainly in the cities of their titles. I decided to write them because I’ve always enjoyed travelling, seeing other cultures and trying to understand what make them tick.
The Istanbul Puzzle was easier to write because I have been there about a dozen times. What struck me most about the city was how different it was from my preconceptions. We don’t see much in the media about Istanbul, even these days. Whatever we do see is usually about football hooligans or bomb attacks, and it’s usually quite negative.
I had never, for instance, heard anything about Hagia Sophia, the symbol of Istanbul and one of the greatest buildings in the world. What attracted me to Hagia Sopia were the mysteries that still surround it. One mystery I explore in The Istanbul Puzzle is what is underneath it. There have been few underground excavations at Hagia Sophia.
The Easy Road to Writing Success
As with most things in life it’s the details that count. My first novel, a thriller titled, The Istanbul Puzzle, is coming out January 19. And I’m as excited as a puppy with his first friend.
I recommend the feeling to any aspiring writer. Or to anyone in fact. It’s the recognition you’ve always wanted and the dream you never told anyone about. Ok, I hear you think, how did he get here? Was it really that easy?
The answer is yes, depending on how you view the small matter of time. My journey went like this:
In 1998 I bought a book on screenwriting. It advised writing a book first.
I started writing a novel in the middle of 2000. I’ve written almost every day from then until now. I reckon I’m a slow learner. You’ll probably pick it up a lot faster.
I mean who takes that long to learn how to write?
I finished my first book in 2005 and started on The Istanbul Puzzle. My first book has never been published. That’s for the best. I sent it to a paid for editor in 2006 for a review. I had to sit down as I read it. I couldn’t write for a week after. Maybe it was because I could only afford her cheapest review service, but she certainly didn’t spare the knives. Though why she went on for so many pages I still don’t know. A perverse generosity, I suppose.
But from 2005-2010 I took every point she’d made and started to work on my writing. I read about 50 books on the craft of writing, attended conferences (Winchester do a great one) and night courses. Then I started getting up at 3-4AM to write. I’ve been doing that ever since. Don’t even ask what that does to your life.
Then I joined Authonomy to see what Harper Collins were doing online, but I couldn’t submit anything as I’d already sent The Istanbul Puzzle to agents and it didn’t feel right having it on Authonmy at the same time. But I read everything on the site and on every other writer’s site I could find. Eventually my wife wanted to get me an addiction counsellor. But she never gave up on me.