It’s three years since my debut novel, A is for Angelica, was published. I’ve talked about it plenty, especially on my podcast for writers, but there are still a few things that you may not know.

  1. When I started writing the novel, the narrator was a teenage boy who was fascinated by Benny, his ‘older brother’s best mate’. The line, ‘Benny paints pictures with his eyes closed,’ was the first thing I wrote and actually made it to the finished product, years later.
  2. Apart from the five main protagonists – Gordon, Georgina, Angelica, Benny, Don – every character is named after a friend or family member.
  3. The book was originally written as 26 chapters, one for every letter of the alphabet. It was rewritten to 40+ chapters just before submitting to publishers.
  4. I didn’t and don’t have any first-hand experience of stroke or caring for someone who’s had a stroke. However, in final edits, my auntie developed a brain tumour and suffered many of the symptoms. It was a pretty tough time. I wrote about it here.
  5. The novel’s medical references and timescales were checked for accuracy and plausibility by a senior speech and language therapist from Sheffield University.
  6. Kipling the dog was originally called Harvey. I changed his name because I wanted to include a particularly exciting joke about cakes.
  7. A is for Angelica was written over roughly seven years, on and off. I lived in at least four different houses and used at least five different computers.
  8. The first chapter is the only section of the novel that stayed almost exactly as it was first written. However, at the last minute and after much thought, I did decide to remove a rather fruity swear word.
  9. Gordon and Georgina’s race across the beach against the incoming tide is one of the few autobiographical moments in the book. Me and my wife had a similar experience, which involved some impromptu rock climbing.
  10. On my hard drive sits an alternative ending to the book. Only three people have ever read it, including me.

You can find out more and download a free sample of A is for Angelica. This post first appeared over on the blog at Legend Press.