Badlands – from idea to book.

A lot of work goes into a novel before a writer starts the first draft and my upcoming debut novel, Badlands was no different.

As I count down to publication, I went through some of my old notes from when Badlands was in its development stage and I thought I’d use today’s post to give a glimpse of how the story grew over time.

It began with this note…

Even at this early stage, two things stand out; the idea already featured someone trying to uncover a mystery about a relative, and there was going to be a gang or bikers/surfers.

Although these elements have changed between then and finished book, essentially the core of the story was there from the start.

By early spring 2019, the book was in full development phase. Yes, it can take that long for an idea to brew, but by March 2019, I had a cast list.

Of the characters mentioned above, only one remained unchanged from this point on; Goddard. You’ll notice there’s no mention of Willow (although she had existed since 2014, when she appeared in another story I was writing then; Half a World Away). While “Suicide Girl” was called Ellie, she wasn’t Willow’s sister Ellie Rae (and though this version Ellie was dead, she hadn’t committed suicide).

From March until May, the story stumbled through development hell. Then came the note that changed everything.

At this point, everything came together. Turns out Willow, the girl with the red dreadlocks who had ruined Half a World Away, was the missing piece of Badlands.

With some minor tweaks to her back story, she slotted into the plot perfectly and by 18th May 2019, the cast was pretty much set.

There were a couple of name changes, (Melody became Fiona and Amber became Ruby), and one particular character was still missing from the list (Raven) but otherwise things were set.

On 3rd June 2019 (the day after my birthday btw), I started writing the first draft of Badlands.

Two and a half years and one global pandemic later, as of writing, it’s only 9 days until the book is released.

There were many changes between then and now, including the removal of one whole storyline that could form the potential for a sequel.

But while the finished book is a very different animal to the first draft, at its essence it’s stayed true to that original note.

It’s the story of a young woman searching for a missing relative, while a gang of smugglers, blackmailers and murderers close in around her.

I hope you enjoy it.

Badlands is released on 21st January 2022 & can be pre-ordered here.

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