The Inspiration and Process
Gatecrash has been a while in the making; 10 years in fact. Readers of the old version of my blog back in the day will remember me talking about it a lot while it was being written, and then on and off over the next few years as it ebbed in and out of my writing priorities. It’s safe to say that it is definitely the hardest novel I’ve ever written, certainly the most complicated, but also the most rewarding.
I feel more fulfilled by Gatecrash than any of my other novels, purely because I didn’t give up on it when it would have been far easier to forget about it altogether. Too long did I procrastinate over it, although much of that meant the birth of other works, it always remained as the most irritating unfinished project I had. And I hate unfinished projects. For me to move on after a string of major changes in my personal life, I knew I had to return to it and give it the devotion and intensity it fully deserved.
But back to the beginning. The first draft was written as my NaNoWriMo project of 2007. I’d been struggling with an idea for it until I had a very vivid dream one night, which involved me waking up in a cold bath and discovering that I’d been attacked and was sporting a rough scar on my back. Don’t ask me the psychological analysis of that dream – I’ve been too scared to look at it that closely – but I knew immediately that I had to use it as the prompt for my NaNoWriMo novel.
Over the next thirty days Gatecrash was born in a very linear fashion. The dream was the starting point and I took it from there, just managing to get it over the 50k word count by the end of the month. But although it succeeded on number of words, it was failing in my mind; it started well enough but always moved away from the original concept, and I’d never been able to control that. I always felt that I’d sacrificed the idea purely to hit the word count goal.
Over the next four years I tried going back to it several times but failed drastically. I would read through it and attempt to fulfill the story but then either struggle too much or just lost interest.
Then in 2012, my personal life hit a bad patch where writing just wasn’t something I was able to do: I got divorced, moved house, changed all my goals, and started running my own business. Everything was changing and it was hard enough keeping control of my personal life without worrying about manuscripts. What’s more, I lost touch with a lot of writing friends during this time and regret this hugely.
Then last year, my circumstances finally changed for the good: the storm waves settled, the clouds parted, and it dawned on me that I’d guided my life into a place where I had choices again. The first thing I decided was that I wanted to get back to writing, so when I finished up on my last job at the start of the year, I decided to reopen Gatecrash. I would dedicate myself to it and give it the due attention it needed; I would make it the novel I always felt it could be.
First up was to deconstruct my understanding of the novel. I sat down and got to know each of the characters one by one, and I took each chapter and worked through it in detail, asking myself if what had been written was good enough to stay in (this resulted in a lot of deletions). And finally, I wrote out a plan, chapter by chapter, one page at a time. In doing so, I soon realised that the dream I’d had wasn’t how the story should start – it was the midway point! So I began writing the novel from scratch and to my delight (and relief) the novel unfolded naturally. While I still hit problems, they were enjoyable challenges that meant renewed vigour and research, and a refreshed outlook on the whole book.
Over the past few months Gatecrash has gone from being the absolute thorn in my side and reflective of a crappy period in my life, to being the biggest writing success I’ve had, and in doing so, being dually reflective of the changes in my life and where it is now.
I’m in a happy place these days and I truly believe that my inner happiness and calmness is what helped Gatecrash to be not only the most complex book I’ve ever written, but also the most enjoyable to read – I hope!
Colin Galbraith was born in Paisley and brought up in Bridge of Weir in the west of Scotland. He has been writing fiction since 1999. After living in Leith for 15 years, he has now happily settled in South Queensferry with his soulmate and their two rabbits. He is a joint owner of St Mirren Football Club, a keen fly fisherman, a proven rabbit tamer and an outstanding fake faller.
Gatecrash is his fifth thriller.
His website is at: www.colingalbraith.co.uk
Excerpt (with buy links)
“What day is it?” said Kyle.
“Saturday,” said Matt. “It’s Saturday because I was at a party just last night.”
“But it’s Monday afternoon. You’ve been AWOL since Friday night and so has Damian. You wake up in a bath today all freaked out and wet, but where the hell is he? What have you two gone and done now?”
The reality began to seep into Matt’s dazed mind. “I don’t understand any of this,” he said, and turned to sit down on one of the chairs. He was beginning to feel sick again and needed to get to ground and close his eyes for a moment. “I just don’t understand.”
“What’s that on your shirt?” said Kyle.
“On the back of your shirt. It looks like blood. Are you bleeding? You’re bleeding all down your back, mate.”
“I don’t think so,” said Matt. “There was some blood in the bath but it was from my sick.” He tried to twist round but the burning in his back was too much.
He reversed up to the mirror and sure enough, the back of his t-shirt had a large patch of blood oozing through the material.
“Take your top off,” said Kyle, holding his arms out to help him.
“Just take it off,” said Kyle, and helped Matt remove his shirt.
Matt looked at Kyle’s face in the mirror. He looked as though he was hoping to find an easy answer but only managing to display the paleness that deep worry can bring. Suddenly, his blank gaze was replaced by a horrified stare.
“What is it?” demanded Matt. “What d’you see? Am I cut? Have I been stabbed?”
“You better look for yourself,” said Kyle, and picked up a small face mirror from the table and held it in front of him so he could see the reflection.
Matt angled his head and stared at what he saw: a swollen ten-inch scar on his lower back held together by a series of crude black stitching. Blood seeped from the wound, the area immediately surrounding it heavily bruised. He began to shake.
“Matt,” said Kyle, and held out his hands. “Matt!”
Matt’s legs gave way and he landed hard on the wood panelled floor. In the distance he could hear Kyle shouting for him, but the blackness enveloped him quickly, and soon he was gone.
Gatecrash is available now from:
Kindle (UK) – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B072VMNW7D
Kindle (US) – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072VMNW7D
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/731571
Apple iBooks – https://itunes.apple.com/gb/book/gatecrash/id1251230286
B&N (Nook) – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gatecrash-colin-galbraith/1126625138