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Soulcat's development

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

Back in the depressing early days of the Covid19 lockdown, a friend of mine started a book club. There were only five of us in it, but it became a source of routine and comfort in an otherwise difficult time. Not only did it give us all some focus during those dark days, but our weekly/fortnightly meetings gave us a social element we'd all been missing.

Yes, you read that right, we started out meeting weekly. We chose novellas and short stories, so we could read them in a week, and as we expanded to longer novels, we'd check in every Sunday to see how we were getting on, and then meet up on Zoom when we were ready to discuss it (usually when we'd finished the book, but that wasn't always the case. The Three Musketeers is a source of trauma for us all!).

After a few months of book club, I had a light-bulb moment, and I asked my trusted story-loving friends if they'd like to read Soulcat. They jumped at the chance, and lapped it up like kittens with a saucer of cold milk on a hot day. Already familiar with the work, I didn't re-read it, as I had a particularly busy week, leaving me with no spare time. In fact, I was working on another project; a novel I'd been writing over the previous twelve months. The book club had read an early draft of it and given me lots of great feedback. So I offered them Soulcat as a light read, with a view to working on publishing it.

My fellow book-clubbers loved Molly's story, although having read some of my more recent work, they pointed out that if I were to re-read Soulcat, I might find that I'd want to do some more work on it. They were right. I decided to read through it with a view to potentially making some amendments. What actually happened was, I got a few lines in, cringed, and decided the whole thing needed re-writing.

So, I re-wrote it. Then I added in photos of Molly, one to punctuate each chapter, and I found a cat-related quote to add another level of quaint cuteness. I was pretty chuffed with the outcome and started to picture myself holding a copy of my book and selling it in the local cat cafe - because why not!

However, I realised I might have a problem. I wanted Soulcat to look good in printed form, but at that stage it was around 30,000 words long. That sounds like a lot, but most novels are more than double that. I didn't want it looking like a pamphlet, I wanted a real, full-sized book! After some head scratching, some blue-sky thinking and some general day dreaming, I came up with a solution. Cue Part 2! I'll explain all in my next blog post...

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