Why I wrote ‘He is Not Worthy’

I didn’t imagine myself writing a novel, even after starting my writing journey. Initially, I wrote non-fiction books, including books related to the profession I was working in. Although, obviously, academic writing, and books about business, or books to help others, take time and a great amount of skill and expertise, but there isn’t generally, as much imagination involved. They deal with facts.

So, it was only after entering a short story competition and then publishing my own book of short stories, I can honestly say, I felt like an author. Why? Because the ideas had come out of my own head! Mind you, just because I had the ideas, didn’t mean I could put them down in a readable order.

Eventually, after writing a memoir and several poetry books, I began to wonder if I could write a novel.  Then, of course, I had to think of an idea that would work. One that was interesting enough to fill an entire book. Could I manage the challenge of writing sixty-thousand plus words?

Initially, I considered extending one of my short stories into a novel. I’d even started thinking about it quite seriously, and having conversations with my husband about the characters. He would ask questions, trying to poke holes in my plot, which was very useful, because in the end, I wasn’t convinced I couldn’t extend it to the length of a novel.

I watch a lot of thrillers, and had recently watched one about a stalker. I wanted to write about someone who was just obsessed with a girl he had met several years before, but I wanted readers to feel sympathetic towards him to start with.

I began to day dream about the story, even waking up thinking about some if the characters, and gradually, it began to take shape. My love of thrillers stops at me reading and watching them on TV, because I don’t think I have the type of mind to work out all of the plot lines. It’s hard enough making sure that everything links up and flows in a normal story, let alone one where you are supposed to be dropping hints and clues. In my book, my female character knows she has an admirer, but she doesn’t know who he is, but as the reader, we do.

I walked around with the idea inside my head for quite a time – I have to be able to tie the plot up before I start writing. If I can’t explain the story to someone else without me noticing holes in the plot, then I’m not ready to write.

However, I had decided on my three main characters, where the story was situated, and some background about each of the characters, to help them become real to me.

They say you write about things you know. Well, my heroine is an art teacher. I know about education, I worked in that profession for thirty-four years, though as a music educationalist rather than art, although I did study A level art, so was able to pull on experiences from then. However, I might add I didn’t have the experience of a romance between a teacher and student, which is part of this story.

Writing about obsessive attachment was something I wanted to try to do, but without it being a cliché.  I wanted people to care about my male character who is obsessed with my teacher. I wanted him to be more than just some weird guy, and hopefully that comes across in the story.  His obsession does escalate, but not perhaps as one would expect.

One of the people who I asked to read through when I’d finished asked if I was writing from experience – so I have obviously done something right. Luckily, I’ve never been stalked, although I did have one boyfriend when I was much younger, who wouldn’t leave me alone when I finished with him. He was older than me, and actually got up very early in the morning to follow me on my paper-round! You’re probably laughing at that, but at the time, I just wanted him to go away and accept it was over.

So, yes, there are experiences that can be used, and some that did help my writing. For example, my husband is a lot younger than me, though I wasn’t going out with him when he was as young as the character in my book, but I could draw on feelings about the age gap.

However, as a writer, you can’t experience everything you want to write about. Part of my research was talking to people who knew about the things I didn’t know. I much prefer having a conversation with someone compared to reading academic books – not sure what that says about me as a writer though…

I talked to several friends. One who is studying psychology to ask about obsessive attachment, which was extremely useful.  Two others who helped me with police procedure, and another who helped me to be able to phonetically write a Polish surname. Where would we be without friends?

From the initial thoughts about the book, it took me three years to complete, I finished it in October, and on 27th May, ‘He is Not Worthy’ will be published. And yes, I did manage to hit sixty thousand words, and beyond in the end – ninety-six thousand words!

In a nutshell, the novel is about obsessive love and inappropriate love. It comes under the genre of contemporary fiction, and the publishers describe it as ‘romance and dark desire collide in this intriguing narrative’.

I hope you’ll enjoy reading it.

You can buy the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Not-Worthy-Lis-McDermott/dp/1800421931