How I got here

by Nick Lucas

- written for the update to celebrate the 10th year birthday of TOTV -


My writing ‘career’ began as a teenager I suppose. I wrote what some poetry during my literary awakening whilst studying for my O and A levels (British school exams at the time) and tried my hand at a few stories.

I was always writing those days in long hand, filling many exercise books but never really knowing what to do with it. I had a few bits published in magazines, I remember a kid’s story for a church magazine, but it was all too personal...and too difficult to share.

The first version of the Reformist saga, as I think of it, evolved in long hand in the 80’s. I wrote a science fiction story where Earth was invaded by an alien race who considered women to be the inferior race, which involved Victorian fashions and the first incarnation of a guardian. Initially this filled a huge lever arch file and about 400 pages, and it certainly included all of my interests. Where those came from is less clear to me. Where does one learn what one likes? But since that time I have always been fascinated by repression, by history and by the battle between the sexes. My heroines all fall under the cosh as it were but many are strong characters who learn to live with it and find a way to live their lives.

Around 1986 I got my first computer and writing and re-writing became a lot easier. In long hand it was slow work for me as I am a perfectionist, agonising over every word. I used to keep all my long hand efforts, and had thousands of first pages. Nowadays I keep an archive of all my false starts and often use them for inspiration which is much easier electronically.

The story was always in my mind. I tried in from various directions, first person, third person, using flashbacks, narrators and just about every style you can think of. And meanwhile I read extensively starting with books and magazines and then on the internet. I must have found TOTV around 2009 because it was several years before I wrote a short story which I thought might fit.

I remember being in a fallow period for my novel. In other words, I had finished yet another version and had decided it was total rubbish. I do that a lot. Not that it really bothered me. I have always written primarily for my own pleasure and as I approached my fifties had long since decided that I would never try to get anything published. But TOTV changed all that. It gave me an outlet and I wrote a couple of short stories for the site.

I got a fair amount of positive feedback and that gave me the idea of adapting my story to fit the TOTV domain. It was the religious aspect of veiling that gave me the initial idea but I did not want to do a Muslim based story. Politics is an interest of mine and I asked myself the question what would a Christian Revolution look like, and Reformism was born.

To complete a story I have to feel that the whole thing hangs together...that the reader will be able to suspend their disbelief and not get distracted by something that could never happen. It is why I so admire JK Rowling because she created a totally believable fantasy world that supported seven brilliant books. And almost as soon as I started writing the first part of the Reformist saga I could see that hanging my original ideas around a political Christian Revolution would give me the solid background necessary to support the tale I wanted to tell. That first part simply flew out of me and it seemed to go down well when it started to appear.

Then Dee emailed me and I made a friendship which became incredibly important to me. We emailed each other every day, with me sharing the second and third instalments with her, and her suggesting things that I had never considered. She even contributed a lot to the third instalment and it is her encouragement that convinced me to turn it all into a series of novels and try and get it published as such. Her death following a car accident hurt me deeply but my passion for writing managed to keep me going. I now have four finished novels, totally some 600,000 words believe it or not. The TOTV versions are essentially my template and I have filled in around the stories you are all still seeing unfold each month.

The story still absorbs me. As does TOTV itself. I was inspired to try stories for the site by all of the other authors and I still read everything that is published on it. When the Reformist saga has finally unfolded I will be able to offer other little vignettes based in the same world, if the guys will have more of me. But I can’t until you know where the story ends up.

My characters live for me. I love the process of writing and of course I fill my stories with the things which excite and interest me. I hope the reader is just as excited and interested as I am. What I tried to do for TOTV was give the audience what they wanted, which is very much your own business, but put it all into a story which made sense, entertained and gave food for thought. I am still trying to perfect that in novel form. One day I hope you will be able to buy the book.

And I cannot end without thanking Dave and Bo for what they do. Sites like TOTV are important to their readers. I visit regularly and wait eagerly for each update. To have kept it going for a decade is absolutely amazing and I for one hope it will keep going long after I have stopped tapping away at my keyboard.

Nick Lucas 10/10/15