- 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.
- Apart from the five main protagonists – Gordon, Georgina, Angelica, Benny, Don – every character is named after a friend or family member.
- 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.
- 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.
- The novel’s medical references and timescales were checked for accuracy and plausibility by a senior speech and language therapist from Sheffield University.
- Kipling the dog was originally called Harvey. I changed his name because I wanted to include a particularly exciting joke about cakes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- On my hard drive sits an alternative ending to the book. Only three people have ever read it, including me.
10 things you didn't know about A is for Angelica
Some terribly exciting behind-the-scenes stuff for my debut novel, A is for Angelica.