In the beginning there was a blank screen.
Writing does not get any easier, the more books you write and get published.
The blank page was still as daunting to me on book four as it was for my debut novel. I am sure authors in to the double digits published will say the same.
But the blank page is a challenge you have to grab with both hands. It offers endless and exhilarating possibilities.
When you are bogged down with research much later, it is good to think back to that first thrill when you tentatively punched out those first words on the keyboard. There is the excitement of watching the story grow and develop like a seedling bursts open and reaches for the sky with just the right about of sunlight and careful watering.
It is my favourite time of writing the novel, bar of course when you reach the last magic words, ‘The End’.
In those first days of a novel, it is like the whole theatre has been booked out for you and you alone. You have a ringside seat to the story as it unfolds and you can stand up and ask the actors on stage to hear you out.
The characters are vying for attention offering different lines, trying to twist the plot , but I am in control, like a captain at the helm of a ship.
In those early days it is all about getting the story written down, getting to know the characters, giving some of them latitude and pulling others back.
It is my secret world when nobody, even my agent and editor has an iota of what I am writing. I will only share this new story when I am a few thousand words in and only then, to my editor and agent.
About 10,000 words in, the characters take over and suddenly they are dictating to me; I am their willing slave. The characters shout in my head, slugging it out in my head. The only thing to do is get it all down on the page.
Sometimes the characters bring me down roads I never saw coming, the plot moves and twists at their bidding. Other times, they make me work so hard, it is like the words have to bleed on to the page. But after the hard slog, the vista from the top of the mountain can be breathtaking.
And then comes the rewriting.
While there may only be two things we can be sure of in this world, taxes and certain eventual death, the author has the unusual satisfaction of certainty in relation to one other thing: that it is a writer’s life to rewrite.
Rewrite, rewrite and rewrite.
The best novels emerge in the rewriting. It is a difficult, but ultimately satisfying endeavour. I equate it to when you have the builders in. You never really appreciate them until they are long gone, after a job well done.
My Mother’s Daughter is my fourth book. My other three titles have been published in the US , bestsellers in Ireland and on Amazon kindle and translated in to ten languages. There was no pressure then for this my fourth novel.
At the heart of My Mother’s Daughter is a story about two children swopped at birth and the struggle of their mothers to come to terms with this all these years later. It asks the question what would you do if the baby you had created, the child you had named and raised was not yours at all, but an imposter who had hung his or her hat on the hook and climbed in to your heart. Where would your loyalty lie to the child who had your family name or the child who was robbed of it?
It was exactly this dilemma that intrigued me and a case in France was the inspiration behind the novel. This is the story of two women, their daughters, their families and their lives and how they overcome the terrible wrong inflicted on them in the past.
There was a lot of research and a lot of writing and rewriting, but now My Mother’s Daughter is ready to be launched out in to the world.
It is exciting, but for me a blank page beckons again. Let the adventures begin.
(c) Ann O’Loughlin
A leading journalist in Ireland for nearly thirty years, Ann O’Loughlin has covered all major news events of the last three decades. Ann spent most of her career with independent newspapers where she was Security Correspondent at the height of The Troubles, and was a senior journalist on the Irish Independent and Evening Herald. She is currently a senior journalist with the Irish Examiner newspaper covering legal issues. Ann has also lived and worked in India. Originally from the west of Ireland she now lives on the east coast with her husband and two children.
About My Mother’s Daughter:
County Wicklow, Ireland. Margo has just lost her husband Conor and is grieving his passing, unsure how she and her daughter Elsa will survive without him. Then she receives a letter that turns everything she thought she knew on its head. Not only has she lost her husband, but now Margo fears she could lose her daughter as well.
Ohio, United States. Cassie has just split from her husband acrimoniously. Upset and alone she does not know how to move forward. Then her ex-husband demands a paternity test for their daughter Tilly and sorrow turns to anger as Cassie faces the frightening possibility of losing her daughter.
A powerful, moving stories of family, resilience and compassion, and how women support each other through the most difficult times, My Mother’s Daughter takes the issues closest to our hearts and makes us ask ourselves the most difficult questions – what would we do in Margo and Cassie’s place?
Order your copy online here.