Day three of #meettheauthor is all about your proudest writing achievement.
There’s been a few… leaving a very good job to pursue this dream, getting my awesome agent, being shortlisted for awards with If I Die Before I Wake and being chosen as Waterstones’ Thriller of the Month back in March.
Day two of this #meettheauthor series and here’s my favourite book. Or one of them, at least… there are several!
I read Toni Morrison’s Beloved in sixth form at school, again on my uni course and a third time for my creative writing MA! Hence all the highlighting and notes… one of the reasons I love this copy so much.
The sales figures are in for the first week of If I Die Before I Wake being on the shelves and I’m thrilled to say that it went straight in at number 18 on the hardback fiction chart… making it a top 20 bestseller!
More than 1,400 hardbacks were sold – a fact that I am still trying to get my head around. Thank you, if you were one of the people who bought it.
It’s been a busy week in If I Die Before I Wake land.
The e-book was released on Thursday – a week ahead of the hardback release on January 11. Book bloggers who received preview copies have been uploading their reviews to Amazon and I’ve been blown away by their comments. As I write this there are no less than 74 reviews – I’m so grateful to you all for posting them, and for taking the time to read the book and post on your own blogs about it.
Thank you for picking up IF I DIE BEFORE I WAKE, my debut novel. And, while I’m thanking you, let me extend my gratitude to someone I like to call Mr Renault Laguna. Without him, I’m not sure this book would ever have been written.
Almost ten years to the day before this novel’s publication date, I was about to sit the final exams in my journalism training course. I was on my way home, walking out of Mile End tube station in London, my head full of facts and figures. I started to cross the road, but didn’t make it to the other side. As I crossed the first two of three lanes of traffic, the green man started flashing. When I stepped into the third lane I was swept off my feet by a Renault Laguna, whose driver had ignored the amber flashing traffic light warning him to approach with caution.
I broke both my legs and suffered bad ligament damage in both knees (the doctors were very excited by the near-identical injuries in both legs), and smashed the windscreen of the car with my head. It was a rough time: I struggled to imagine being able to walk again. But now, several years on, I am grateful for it, because those morphine-laced days I spent in hospital recovering helped me write this novel.
I can’t pretend to know what it is like to be ‘locked-in’, like my character Alex, but I have some idea how vulnerable you feel when you are unable to get out of bed and are totally reliant on other people for basic care. I know how trippy it is to be drugged up on painkillers, and how surreal the visits from your friends and family are as a result.
But my run-in with that Renault Laguna gave me more than just material. More importantly, it galvanised me to sit down and write the book I’d always known I wanted to write. Would I have left my job to write this book if I hadn’t been hit that day? I’d probably still be putting together newslists for tomorrow’s paper and telling myself: ‘One day, I’ll write my book.’ It’s a rather overused phrase, but life really is too short.
As you read this book, you will see Alex grappling with this issue, too. He feels he has wasted too much time – and as he tells his story, more of his days are slipping away.
I hope you enjoy joining Alex in his race against the clock, piecing together the mystery of what has happened to him. I hope it keeps you turning pages, but also makes you hug your family a little closer each time you put the book down. I hope you do that thing you’ve always wanted to do (once you’ve finished reading this book, of course!).
Thanks for reading.
I am now in possession of the audiobook of If I Die Before I Wake, narrated by Finlay Robertson.
And, even more excitingly, I can share an extract with you! Listen to the first chapter here or by clicking play below.
I love it. Hearing Finlay read Alex’s voice is giving me a whole new experience of the story. It’s a cliché, but it really brings the book to life.
You can pre-order the audiobook here.