Before Nightfall: the story behind the story

A kidnapping, a terrorist threat, and a hero with a dark history – how the heck’s a girl supposed to escape?

The release of my second novel, Under Fire, coincided with the need for us to return to the UK to catch up with family in September 2013 and, after rushing around for two weeks to fit everyone in, we left for home, via a week’s break in Malta.

I’d had an idea bubbling around in my head for a few weeks. All I knew was that a woman was in trouble. She had a sack-cloth over her head, and it stuck to her nose and mouth when she breathed. It was so real, this visualization, that I could feel what my character felt as the material clung to her skin.


The above photograph shows my original notes, which I hastily scribbled down while we were on a boat trip towards the end of our holiday, chugging along the Maltese coastline.  You’ll see that I didn’t really know my leading character’s names yet, but I had to get the idea down quickly, before it left for good.

When we did get home, I attended a writing conference here in Brisbane – I’d already made a start on the opening scenes (see below) but the plot was still unfolding.

A writing friend who attended the conference with me suggested we have a go at bashing out the first draft of our current projects by Christmas.  I’m competitive by nature, so it was just the sort of challenge I needed to kick things off.


I completed the first draft by the end of November – a very rough 50,000 words which still needed a LOT of work!  Sadly, two days after I finished the draft, our rescue greyhound, Bailey, was diagnosed with advanced cancer out of the blue and the wind went out of my sails.

I stopped writing. Completely. I just couldn’t put my heart into it for weeks. I didn’t want to talk about my latest project – heck, I didn’t want to talk about any of my books. My confidence just disappeared.

I work full-time and it was only when the office shut down for the Christmas break that I pulled the manuscript out again. I was still struggling, but I knew I had to finish the story. Except that lack of confidence kept nagging at me, and I still couldn’t get back into the writing.

Nick, my other half, acts as a structural editor for my work.  Usually, by the time he gets to read anything, he has a finished manuscript to work with, something which is several drafts along from what I  had here. However, I had to know if I could still write – losing Bailey had really shaken me and I didn’t know if I should keep going, or just throw in the towel now


Thank goodness, Nick enjoyed the story. He tore it to shreds, mind – pointing out plot holes, characters that needed further development and other things which just didn’t work at that first draft stage, but there was still a STORY.

Six months, several drafts later and a few heated discussions over a bottle of wine (hey, it helps!) and Before Nightfall is ready to share.

I hope you enjoy it, and thank you for your ongoing support.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *