Monday, 24 October 2011

What's 'A Vested Interest'?

Back in March 2007 my wife, Shelia Chapman, started writing a story about what would happen if people lived forever. It featured a character Donna Rigden, an American, who crossed the Atlantic to live and work in the UK.

The male lead at the time was that of Richard Triplet, basically a nice guy but handicapped by too much money.  Yes - I know - you wouldn't mind a handicap like that.

I got involved helping Shelia with research and the male point of view. We felt it was important to write a plausible plot, one which even if it wasn't real, sounded real.

For about six months we worked on the story, adding characters as we needed them and sub-plots galore. Eventually we had a 700 page book and still no title or any idea of how it was going to end. We realized that we had the makings of a good story but it was far too long. Reluctantly we started deleting. Out went the long descriptive bits of Donna's journey. We killed the car chase by fake police; we lost the breakfast where Donna talked about cutting throats; we deleted Brenda's murder; we removed the reporter Jack Brantley. In the end we had a story 150,000 words long and no ending or title.

For a year almost it languished unfinished before suddenly I got an idea for an ending and with it came a title 'A Vested Interest'

We ended up with a story 172,000 words long, complete with loads of factual and grammar errors. OK the fun bit was over - time to get down to work.

It took us over two months to go through the book and correct everything. Having done that we went through it again. By the third time we went through it we began to feel it was ready for publication and set about investigating how that was done.

Extensive research on Internet indicated we needed an agent. Curtis Brown was selected and off went sample chapters and covering letter. A month later we had our first rejection. 'Well,' we thought. 'J.K Rowling had Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone rejected 15 times so that's not a disaster'. Off it went to another agent who rejected it also. After out third rejection we did a little more research.

  • Prologues are not a good idea in a first book.
  • Those first 30 pages have to get the reader hooked and wanting more.
  • A first book shouldn't be too long.
Our book had a prologue, no hook until chapter 3 and 172,000 words. Out came the prologue, in went the hook and we cut the book again ruthlessly but couldn't get it below 152,000 words. There was only one option - we had to split the story between two books. I didn't think it could be done without destroying it.

Shelia eventually found a way of doing it and she convinced me by saying 'We can put back some of that stuff we cut earlier.' So we did it.

Of course when we started writing again, we got more ideas and in no time at all we found the second book was too long again - so we split that too.

...and the 'A Vested Interest' series was born.
Unlike Stephanie Meyers we don't plan on making her greatest Twilight series mistake. We are dealing with immortals so the saga will go on (No - not vampires - a different kind of immortal)

That is... if you tell us you want more.


  1. Are you stuck with the 3rd cover? I love the first one, for sure. The idea is interesting. How you can write so much is beyond me. Yeah...I sorta write. But right now, my completed story, before editing, is only 18,000 words. I didn't even have 20,000 words worth of ideas. Maybe I'm not a writer after all!

    But its so awesome that you and your wife work that well together.

  2. The cover of the first book shows Langley Castle, a castle just a few miles from where we live and Blackett Level on the River Allen, at Allendale. To that we added DNA and a 'nanobug'.

    You can see a panoramic view of Blackett Level at See if you can find the troll there :)

    Book two, Dark Secrets shows... Heck that's worth another blog. Thanks for the idea Rhea.

  3. Well I wrote the blog about the covers but it's way too long to go here and would only be of interest to our greatest fan (If you're a fan - that's probably you!). Find it on my other blog IMHO at



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