Nearly thirty years ago, I embarked on the novel that would – well, not change my life, exactly, but take it in a new direction. Until then, I’d written several novels of indeterminate genre, although a certain criminal element had been creeping into the later ones. Then, two murders in Salisbury in December 1986 made me realize how much I wanted both to create a ‘real’ detective character and to capture the city and landscape in which I grew up.
The Price of Silence was the result – a crime novel in which Detective Inspector Jeff Lincoln unravels the mystery of Holly Macleod, the popular businesswoman found dead in public toilets on the outskirts of Barbury – a market town somewhere near Salisbury Plain. While I sent the manuscript off to agents – such optimism! – I embarked on a sequel (girl’s body found in churchyard; group of middle-aged townsfolk hiding a decades-old secret; Lincoln falls for dead girl’s aunt…) But by the time I realized The Price of Silence was NOT going to be snapped up and published, the middle-aged townsfolk were verging on the geriatric, and the whole plot was looking pretty sad.
But still I didn’t want to let Lincoln go, updating that first manuscript continually and never giving up hope of getting it out there. When I found myself out of a job in 2011, I published it as an eBook (complete with pseudonym) and did nothing to promote it. By the time I’d moved back to the West Country and begun writing a new Jeff Lincoln novel, I was beginning to think The Price of Silence needed a complete overhaul to bring it in line.
Once I’d published The Shame of Innocence in 2016 and A Saintly Grave Disturbed in 2017, I was convinced I had to go back and rewrite The Price of Silence. Otherwise, that first novel would always feel like unfinished business. So I unpublished the eBook and, despite second and even third thoughts, started again.
I’m so glad I did. Technology has advanced so much in the intervening years that much of the original plot wouldn’t have unfolded the way it did. From mobile phones to the internet to electronic banking, so much had changed that my only option was a drastic rewrite. I submitted the manuscript to Silver Crow Books in December 2018, and I have now completed the revisions the reader panel and coordinators recommended. I’ve resubmitted it and – fingers crossed – The Price of Silence will be deemed worthy of the Silver Crow logo!
To begin again seemed like a chore at first, but before long it felt good to be giving D I Jeff Lincoln and his team the start he deserved!
The submissions window for Silver Crow Books is closed now until September 1st 2019. Check out the websites for Silver Crow and Frome Writers’ Collective.