Rod Humphris on the making of Bloodstock
29 October 2020
The curse of the second book!
I know it’s the fourth in the series, but Dead Ground and Starlight are novellas. Bloodstock was my second full-length story and it was a challenge. It was like I was having to learn again from scratch. I nearly accidentally rewrote Go Fast in another form. And then my first draft was so self-indulgent and unfocused that it was pretty much a pile of poo. Which my initial readers, for which I am very grateful, told me. And I had to dig in and focus and work and work. I think I threw away almost as many written words as I kept.
It took me a year longer than I wanted it too, and it was very good for me. Writing books is very good for me. Sometimes they’re like the difficult bits of life; they aren’t fun at the time, but they move you on. Writing Bloodstock moved me on. In the end it came out well and it feels like a whole complete thing. As more and more readers tell me about it, I’ve come to know it again through them, and I’m really proud of it now.
It’s more complex, more intertwined than anything I’d written before. I’m not surprised I got a little lost sometimes. But, as always, it’s the characters who pulled me through. I always come back to them; what they want, what they’re thinking, feeling. It ended up being quite a cast. I was almost sorry that some of them had to die, though, some of them, we may meet again. Who knows.
I always say that a book doesn’t come into being when I write it, but when you read it. And, of course, I don’t know what book you’ll read. It’ll be different to the one I wrote, I know that. But the things that were behind it, whether they come through or not, were things I was really interested in. They captured my imagination and I still think it’s a privilege to be able to spend so much time diving into things and working them into a story. Robert Graves’s White Goddess started the process and I have my own pagan roots to draw on. And drawing in characters from acquaintance, girls seen from café tables, people from the past. The feelings of the countryside and the city. And the feeling of powerful women. Powerful in their own right and on their own terms; against the tide of the last couple of thousand years. It was inside me wanting to be written and I have written it.
Now, for me, it’s a done thing; it’s in my mind, but not on my mind. It belongs to my readers, more than me. It’s off out into the world now and can get on with that without me. I’ve other things to think about.
by Rod Humphris