Nearly nine years ago, I had the notion to turn my family history into a novel. Not because I’d always wanted to be an author – the thought had never crossed my mind before – but because the story of my ancestor’s lives was swirling around my head and wouldn’t leave me alone!
I’d never written fiction before and it took another six months before I reluctantly decided ‘to give it a go’. The only way I could start was by plotting out the story (which came to a mere nineteen chapters) in an effort to break myself in gently. I also promised myself that it need never see the light of day if it wasn’t any good.
But that was then…
Today, I’m delighted to announce that Different World, the fifth and final instalment of what is now The Ambition & Destiny Series, has been published as an ebook on Amazon. The paperback should be available in August.
The story starts in with a prequel in 1839 and my original outline saw it end in 1890. Putting family history facts and figures into a novel, however, (not to mention including a number of fictional subplots) takes a lot more words than I’d anticipated. By the time I reached 1890, I was at the end of Part 4 of a series!
I shared an early draft with a few family and friends and realised that the books weren’t as bad as I’d feared they might be. It was at this point, at the end of 2015, that I made the decision to have them edited and published. As I worked through the edits, however, I knew there was still more to tell. That was when Different World came into being.
Different World is the longest book in the series and compared with Hooks & Eyes (Part 1), which took several years to write, it was written in about three months. Much of that reflects the fact that with so much practice and following the advice of a couple of wonderful editors, I now had some idea of what I was doing!
The first four Parts, all take place in and around Birmingham, a city in the centre of England. Part 5 differs as it follows the main character, William-Wetherby Jackson from his hometown to the thriving port of Liverpool on the country’s North West coast. At the turn of the 20th century, Liverpool was one of the busiest ports in the world and rivaled London for importance in the UK. Perhaps because I grew up in Liverpool, or because the story moves into the 20th century, this book felt more personal than the others.
Having said that, from the start, the whole project has been a fascinating journey. Because I needed to write about day-to-day events, it forced me to look at the research I’d accumulated from a different perspective. Everything needed to be examined and understood (where possible), while the cause and effect of each small action needed to make sense. This led to many eye-opening moments, as well as a great deal of sadness, and now I feel confident in saying that the challenges, obstacles and hardships faced by our Victorian ancestors put many of our modern-day problems into perspective.
I do have a couple of ideas for stand-alone books relating to some of the characters and so there may be more to come…but for now, I think I’ll take a moment to stop and reflect on the journey I’ve been through.
The Ambition & Destiny Series is available on Amazon as ebooks and in paperback.