It’s a new year and a big one for me. Ghost Girls, my first novel, will be out on March 1. Already, I feel the rumblings of this via internet mentions from strangers in possession of advanced proof copies of the book. No opinions yet, but the feeling of knowing my book is out there on somebody’s summer reading or 2016 review pile is a curious one.
I think I expected to feel terror.
Instead, I feel an odd sense of calm and a slightly more understandable impatient anticipation.
My book, following an exhilarating editing process (yes, I do chose the word ‘exhilarating’: I found the editing of Ghost Girls to be a profoundly satisfying experience and I’ll write more on this later) is at the point it was always supposed to come to.
A writer friend of mine said recently that ‘a writer’s first book is the book that has taken their whole lifetime up to that point to write.’ She didn’t mean this literally, in a time frame sense, but that the ideas, themes, character traits and tone of a first novel have often been shaped by the author’s lifetime of ‘wanting to say something’.
This is true for me in that so much of what is in Ghost Girls has been influenced by personal experiences and journeys going back decades.
For starters, there's an attraction to dark and mysterious stories and strong female characters that goes back to my childhood, as well as a lifetime’s interest in relationships developed across cultures and distances.
In writing this novel I was inspired also by my deep 20-year love affair with the work of Hong Kong auteur Wan Kar Wai, whose film Chungking Express influenced the book's visual style.
As well, my long interest and connection with China and its food and people was also instrumental in the writing of this book.
So, yes, Ghost Girls is a novel that contains many threads and experiences and ideas from the seams of my life thus lived.
I think it’s also a great story.
I’m ready and pleased that 2016 has ticked around and that Ghost Girls is starting its journey into the world. I’m very much looking forward to all this year has to offer and to sharing more of this journey with you.
See you soon! Cath.