It is always an exciting day when I get a painting for a new book and which in time will become the front cover. Today I got the picture for Paperback Editor, Vol 2 of the Paperback Writer series.
Paperback Writer (Volume 1) This is the story of Jules, an intelligent if unproductive novelist. After many years of writing futility, he decides, Today is the day I will write my epic. He doesn’t care if it’s a masterpiece or drivel as his personal and writing life is spiralling into the abyss of unfulfilled potential; he just needs to finish something, anything. There is a parallel story of Lucy, an anthropology student who is writing her thesis on coffee shops. She is a waitress and compulsive day-dreamer who constantly butts heads with Ralph, the son of the café owner.
The story starts at 6am on a frosty London winter’s day shortly before Christmas. Jules hears his alarm clock go; in a drunken haze he goes back to sleep. 10 miles away, Lucy hears her alarm goes but she gets out of bed and helps her three step-brothers get ready for school. Jules eventually tumbles out of bed, his interest perked by a mysterious message written by his drunken-self the previous day and a newspaper clipping on the ceiling. He eventually deciphers his clues, that being the concept for how to write his whodunit - get inspiration from people-watching.
Fate leads Jules to Jeffrey Coffee Beans, this where Lucy works and which is to be his creative haven. For eight hours Jules types his criminal masterpiece. Lucy proves to be his muse, and the café’s customers and employees are unknowingly incorporated into the murder mystery. The reader learns where Jules, and creatives more generally, get their inspiration: overheard conversations, reading articles in newspaper and online, eavesdropping on arguments and, deciphering what the colours of clothes reveal about the wearer. All sources of creativity are incorporated into his novel. However, as Jules writes, and as all writers do, he contemplates where he has plot inconsistences, poor grammar and unconvincing characters.
With the café about to close, Jules is happy with his overall output of his first draft: Volume 1 of the Whitfield Mysteries (approximately 20,000 words) i.e. Jules’ draft is fully contained within Paperback Writer!
Paperback Writer ends with Jules leaving the coffee shop more determined than ever to dedicate himself to completing his novel, writing the first draft, as all authors know is just the beginning of the process towards a final copy ready for submission. However, he is disappointed at not having the courage to ask Lucy out on a date.. but fate intervenes, the pair coincidently meeting on a bus as each travels towards their respective home.
I’m currently drafting Paperback Editor (Volume 2) and which is set over a week’s writing retreat in a rural hotel. Jules edits volume 1 of the Whitfield Mysteries while drafting volume 2. I’m collecting ideas for Paperback Agent (Volume 3).