It has taken me a long time to pluck up the courage to write this.
More than a few people have asked how a man of my age could write such a tactile story from the perspective of a 15-year-old girl. It’s a question I’ve asked myself several times, trust me.
Rebecca & the Spiral Staircase took a number of years before I was ready to set her free upon the world. I started writing around twelve years ago, and my first attempt at a novel was a manly style sci-fi chronicle. I struggled with this tale, and eventually realised it just didn’t suit me, or importantly my literary voice. With writing shelved, I returned my attention to my art. In the back of my thoughts though was this unrelenting voice telling me to write.
I guess it was around two in the morning when that voice woke me. Somewhere in the deepest recesses of my subconscious was Rebecca, and she had come to the surface. Sixteen hours, and twenty thousand words later, the start of her story was now on paper. You can’t edit blank page, haha.
Interestingly, as Rebecca’s story continued to unfold, there was this constant voice saying, “Not like that, likes this.” I of course mostly ignored this voice, believing my ideas where best. With 150,000-words on paper, I believed Rebecca’s story was done. Something though was telling me it wasn’t finished. Once again, I shelved her tale, and returned to my art. Then one day, from nowhere, that voice told me to return my attention to Rebecca.
This time, my approach was different. Having now accepted my literary voice had a distinct feminine influence, I started afresh on page one. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say I virtually rewrote the whole thing. Importantly this time, I listened to that voice that was suggesting alternative words, and decisively how to put those words together. Anything that wasn’t taking the reader, Rebecca, or I anywhere was binned. Once again, I believed I had finished, but still I wasn’t ready to set her free on the big wide world. Then from nowhere came the last chapter, and those of you who have read my first novel will know just how important that chapter was.
No sooner that game-changing chapter was complete I was ready to let the world decide if she belonged on the ultimate book-shelf. Soon wonderful reviews started to flood in, inspiring me to write the next chapter in Rebecca’s life. This time, I listened to a voice that was stronger than ever, to the point of arguing with me, and changing my planned direction.
If this sounds odd to you, how do you think I felt?
So, with my second novel, Rebecca – A Way Back, complete and on the shelf, I mentioned to a friend of mine how I could actually hear Rebecca’s voice telling me what to write. A couple of days later, he returned to me suggesting he had mentioned my story to a friend who was a spiritualist. That person asked if I’d had a near-death experience. When I was sixteen-years-old, I was in a house fire. On the fourth day in the hospital, I briefly slipped to the other side, being registered as dead for nine minutes. When I told of this, the spiritualist suggested I should consider a reading. He believed I may have picked up the spirit of Rebecca while on the other side.
Initially, I laughed at the idea. I guess if I am honest, I wasn’t quite ready for this unexpected twist. A couple of months passed, and I decided to give it a go. Long story short, I went along to have a reading, and the person who performed the reading knew of Rebecca the second I walked through the door.
Now, I am not suggesting that I believe in this kind of thing. Possibly I should, perhaps I do, because it does answer a lot of asked and unasked questions. Importantly, it somehow, all-be-it weirdly, explains Rebecca’s voice telling me what to write, and how to write it. Crucially, that voice tells me which direction the story should follow. One thing I will say, if this is the case, which it could be, it explains the complex nature of Rebecca’s tale. A few have said that I have an amazing imagination. Hey, maybe I am telling a true story, Rebecca’s story.
Conceivably you’ll laugh at my account, possibly you won’t. Either way, if you read Rebecca, you may be a little closer to understanding what drives my words…
As always, please feel free to have your say.
Steve – Stephen M Davis
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