We Hear Voices

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A few years ago I couldn’t shake the idea of writing a story about a boy with a voice in his head. The starting point, in fact, was a conversation I had with a friend about John Wyndham’s books, which made me go back to a childhood memory of reading Chocky.
I was lying in bed, ill, as a bookworm child of about ten. In those days when we didn’t have phones, a few days in bed sick would mean I ploughed through book after book after book. My mum gave me a pile of John Wyndham novels, and my world changed. I was captivated.
Chocky was the story of a boy with a voice in his head, as seen through the eyes of his worried parent. It was fascinating, enigmatic, and I spent hours imagining what it would feel like, to have something that isn't you, speaking to you in your own thoughts.
Many years later as I started writing my own book about the boy with the voice, the story merged with the memory of reading it while convalescing, and became a story about a boy who develops an imaginary friend after recovering from flu. I started writing, just to see what happened.
That went on for years. The story went through many, many different incarnations. I wrote it alongside other books. I left it alone for months at a time, and came back to it when I remembered, or when I had a moment. I changed plot, characters, narration. Storylines came and went. When I showed it to my amazing agent, Steph, she immediately understood what I was trying to do and kept me going when I would have given up. My husband Craig became so familiar with it that I could just say something like, ‘you know that bit when they’re at the park?’ and he’d immediately know exactly what I was talking about. Eventually, and after many twists along the way, the book came into the hands of its perfect editor, Jen Monroe at Berkley, NY.
Since then it’s been a flurry of editing and more editing, and now it’s done, in that it is less of a manuscript and more of a book. Its title is We Hear Voices, and it’s going to be published in the US in October. I know it looks like the most casual thing in the world when an author says, ’Oh, here’s something else I wrote in my free time’, but it’s taken years and it's been exhilarating, frustrating and one of the most exciting things I've ever done.

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