Sunday, 12 February 2012

Explain yourself, Jonathan Hatfull, and what is this novel of which you go on about?

Hello there.

So I'm going to explain myself a bit. If any of you read this blog with any kind of regularity, first of all, thank you, and second of all, you've probably heard me moan about The Novel That Nobody Wanted (Yes, it's a reference to the fantastic book The Bear That Nobody Wanted by Janet and Allan Ahlberg which insanely seems to be out of print...but I digress).

It's a novel that I started writing while doing the amazing MA in Writing Programme at The University of Warwick. I spent a lot of that time wondering how in the hell I managed to trick them into letting me on the course with people clearly more talented than me, and a lot of the rest of it starting work on My Novel.

It started with a short story. I was swapping short story titles with Will Metcalfe (District Reporter for at North West Evening Mail in Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria). It had been pretty productive. I stole the title for my story Gilly Is A Victim from him and it was my story in our MA class' anthology of short fiction (download for kindle HERE!) but more importantly I took the title A History of Outpatients, which was my first short story that I submitted for the MA's fiction workshops.

In the story, Thomas Colburn remembers his relationship with his childhood doctor, Roberta Fisher. Thomas fell in love with her, and she took his blood, telling his mother that Thomas was suffering from some mysterious sickness. When the mother finds out that Roberta has been taking blood from all the children in the village using the same excuse, the doctor flees from the outrage. But Thomas has never resented what she did. He was in love.

This short story grew into a darkly comic horror novel called Lovely Creatures. Thomas, now an adult, is convinced he is still suffering from the strange malady Roberta described and sets out to find her before it's too late. Accompanied by his best friend Poppy, Thomas' journey takes him into a strange and terrifying world of human monsters and monstrous humans and finds that the answers to his questions are in the most dangerous places. In the MA anthology I described my then-in-progress is as being about "Blood, monsters, family, European cities, and how annoying it is to be stuck in a car with the same people for days on end." This is still accurate.

I've been unable to find a home for the novel. I have thought about just letting it go, but I haven't been able to. So in a final act of self-delusion, I have decided to give it one last edit before e-book publishing it myself. There's almost certainly a better way of phrasing it than that, but I'll find all this out soon enough.

Basically I just wanted to explain what I was up to. Editing is such a wonderful and excruciating process. You get to rip out all the bits you hate, but you also realise quite how much of it you hate. But hopefully at the end of this there will be a novel that you can download (if you want) for some kind of small fee. Until then, the stories will be still be going up on here, and I will occasionally mention how things are progressing with Lovely Creatures. And now you will know what I'm talking about.

Oh, I'm publishing this on Valentine's Day. Happy Valentine's Day. Here's a song:


  1. Hey Jonny, that sounds good to me! You'll have to share the link to buy it with me eventually... although I will need to acquire an eBook reader doobrie...

  2. I will keep you informed, David! If I'm honest, I don't have one either. But there's print on demand service which I've been advised to look into which could be good for anyone desperate for a hard copy. In the meantime there's a lot more editing to do than I thought!

  3. I'm sure it will bring people a lot of joy when they read it, even if it's causing you a lot of pain to edit it. I look forward to reading the finished product.

  4. Thank you Helen, that's very kind! I am enjoying the editing to be honest, I like fixing it. But at the same time I can't believe that I thought it was good enough to send out last year.

  5. Haha. We've all been there. Trust me.