My mum was a reader, and she taught me to read, long before I started school. I loved getting a new reading book, and I was always eager to finish so I could get onto the next.
When I was five, I discovered something new. My parents took my sister and I on a day trip to London, and my favourite part was Madame Tussauds. Only, when we came to the Jack the Ripper exhibition, I was disappointed, there was no one there. Why not? Who was this Jack the Ripper? What did he do? If they never caught him, how did he have a name? Why is he famous? The questions were endless, and nobody could give me answers.
Things come and go in life, people, interests, favourite bands, and I was no exception, but my love of books and interest in Jack the Ripper always stayed. I should explain myself, I’m not a ghoul. What he did doesn’t fascinate me, it’s the unanswered questions, why. What would drive a man (or woman) to commit such terrible crimes against a fellow human?
As readers often do, I began writing (or trying to) when I was still quite young, and I’ve wanted to write about Jack the Ripper for as long as I can remember. But with so many books already written on the subject, what did I have to offer? What research could I do that might shed some light on the mystery?
So I kept my interests separate. I continued to write, I continued to read, and I continued to read about Jack the Ripper. Until one day I realised I didn’t have to discover irrefutable proof of which suspect committed the crimes, or discover a new suspect. I didn’t have to write a fictitious story that barely touched on the facts of the case. I would write about Jack the Ripper using the facts as the backbone, and write my story around it to fill in the holes.
I began writing THE WATCHER in early 2008. At first I found it difficult. Even though I was already quite knowledgeable on the subject, I researched meticulously, not wanting to get any detail wrong. I tried to address some of the questions about the murders: Why did he start? How did he choose his victims? What type of person was he, that he could do such terrible things? Why did he stop?
I found an FBI profile on Jack the Ripper, and given the amazing accuracy of their profiles, I used that as the basis for the character. The story is different to any I’ve seen or read, and I wanted it that way, nothing ghoulish or cliché. But I also wanted something familiar for those already interested in the subject, so I took characteristics from many of the recognisable suspects.
As a single mum with a full time job, I sometimes had to put the book away, not working on it for months at a time, coming back to it when I had the chance. Eventually, in May 2010, I finished, put it away, and then began editing two months later.
It took me almost a year to edit (eight times in total), and after a professional edit, the manuscript was returned to me exactly a year to the day that I’d typed ‘The End’. I was happy; I’d done something I’d wanted to do for almost my entire life.
Of course, in the time that I’d taken writing my book, everything changed. E-books were on the rise, bookstore sales were declining. Whilst several agents were interested, they were reluctant to take it on; most felt I’d pushed the boundaries a little further then they were comfortable with. Another year later, I decided to give up and publish THE WATCHER myself, as an eBook.
I had a cover designed, figured out how to format the manuscript, read everything I could about e-publishing and finally put THE WATCHER on Kindle in September this year. I don’t regret it. I’ve now had a lot of interest on a second novel, not about Jack the Ripper, but just as dark, but I’m enjoying this process so much that I don’t think I want to try the traditional route with the second book either.
It’s the indie life for me!
Sam Croft is the author of novels exploring the darker side of historical fiction. Her first novel, The Watcher, was published for Kindle 14th September 2012. Sam is currently working on her second novel, Requiem, due to be released in 2013.Connect with the Author:
Find The Watcher at Goodreads and Amazon.
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