Hemingway is reported to have said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.’
For me it is not so much a matter of ‘bleeding’ but rather of ‘needing’. I have always been a writer. Even before I wrote my first novel, my teenage diary entries were written as though they might be viewed. I hesitated to criticize friends or family in case my notebooks were ever, horrifyingly, discovered. I was actually quite relieved to destroy them when I got older. They were written for me by me and I would have hated anyone else to see them despite the slight curating of their content.
But what I really wanted to do, what I always wanted to do was write a novel. The fictional world I could create held much more interest for me than the real one.
I’m always slightly irritated by writers who say they only ever wrote their novel for themselves and they are shocked that it has somehow become a bestseller. If you write for yourself, it is simple to finish your novel and then stick it in the bottom of a dark drawer and only bring it out occasionally so that you enjoy your own words.
That’s not why I write. I write for connection, to explain, to understand, to inspire, to help, and entertain. I write to take you away from your day, from your own world just for a moment. I write because I know what it means to me to be able to read. We are told, by the great teachers of the world, that we need to find our purpose in life and pursue it with passion and then everything else will fall into place. I believe I have found my purpose and it only took a decade of trying and failing before it fell into place.
I am a story teller. But I am a story teller who attempts to reflect my life and the lives of those around me. I am drawn to those of us-all of us at some stage-who are living lives of quiet desperation. There is no more wonderful discovery in the world than the discovery that you are not alone. As a teenager, seeking a way to navigate the world, I turned to books to find characters who were living the same experience. Today’s teenagers have the internet and millions of connections available to them but young adult literature is a gigantic part of the publishing industry because they are still, many of them, seeking a way to understand themselves through the lives of characters in a novel.
For me, a novel begins with a moment. A one-minute story on the news, the headline of an article on the internet, something I overhear in the grocery store and from there, from that small thing-a novel emerges. I have found that if it comes quickly, if the story is there and the characters are real from the beginning, the novel is meant to be. I have written novels over the years that I dreaded working on, that I laboured over and slogged through until the end and those are the novels that are in the metaphorical bottom drawer. Even now with eleven published novels and the twelfth about to be released, I can still begin a story-get ten thousand words in and then abandoned it because it isn’t right.
It is frustrating and sometimes terrifying to throw away thousands of carefully crafted words but I have learned that even though writing is mostly about sitting down and doing the work, some novels, some stories simply want to exist. Sometimes when I have an idea, I imagine a whole lot of loose threads floating in the air and I wait until I can find a way to connect them all. This cannot be forced and when it is-I do not enjoy the work. It is a terrible thing to sit in front of your computer and hate the work you’re doing and yet I still find myself in that position sometimes, even after all these years.
Last year, during COVID-19 lockdown, with my teenage son next to me, I wrote a novel that I struggled through. It was, in the end, almost a relief to have my editor tell me it needed a huge rewrite and I didn’t have to think twice about sending it to the bottom drawer. I was already working on another novel, on the novel that has become Bring Him Home. This novel came quickly, the characters speaking for themselves and the story threads joining up effortlessly. That’s how I knew it was right and I am hoping that readers will feel the same way.
(c) Nicole Trope
About Bring Him Home:
Where is he? Where’s my precious child with his father’s blue eyes and a halo of golden curls? My little boy is out there on his own. Please keep him safe, I silently beg, please, please just keep him safe.
I sit bolt upright, my heart racing. I look around, the room coming into focus. The hospital bed, the white walls, my hand tethered to a drip, rain lashing against the window.
Images flash in my mind. Voices raised. The glint of a knife. My husband telling our son, Theo, to run.
But the rest is a blank in my memory. If I close my eyes I can almost see it. Something big and dark, something suffocating.
Now my husband is fighting for his life and my little one is missing. ‘They are looking for him,’ the nurse told me, ‘but the storm is slowing down the search.’
The police think Theo has the answers, that he knows what tore our family apart. But I have no idea where he is. No clue if he is safe. And that’s the most terrifying thing of all…
A completely gripping, beautifully written and totally heartbreaking page-turner, which examines what happens behind closed doors, and the secrets that can shatter a family. Fans of Jodi Picoult, Diane Chamberlain and Liane Moriarty will be totally addicted to this breathtaking novel.
Order your copy online here.