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Fiction Writing: The joys of a first novel

Everyone will no doubt have moments in their life where they feel nothing but immense pride. Last year was when I walked on to the stage of the Usher Hall in Edinburgh to officially confirm my Batchelor of Arts degree and a few months later, I was back in my coveted “Redcoat Uniform” during last year’s Butlins Reunion at Scarborough.

Working as a Butlins Redcoat around 30 years ago was a special moment in my life that not only transformed me as a person and also changed my life. And you could say that those two moments have come together resulting in an exciting new chapter that I would never have thought possible a few years ago. (That last part was a bit of clue)

On Saturday I was chuffed to bits when my first novel, “What Time Does Midnight Cabaret Start” was officially published. It is a work of fiction, but it does draw on my past experiences of working at Butlins in Ayr as a Redcoat during the early 80’s. For those who knew me whilst growing up in Greenock, will know that Fiction Writing and me was a combination that just did not work. Much like a black forest gateaux with double cream can be washed down with a Diet Coke. When I was a school, I used to put my school teachers on overtime with my response to the literary classics.

I regarded Shakespeare as the best cure for insomnia on the planet. In fact studying for my English Higher exam, I had to study Hamlet. It was the best sleep I had in ages. If I read classics like the “Old Man and the Sea,” or “The Pied Piper,’ I very rarely got past Chapter Three without starting to think that watching and episode of “Crossroads” was a more attractive option. Nothing against stories which as regarded by those in the know as classic novels, but back in those days, I was a literary philistine. It’s amazing how things can change.

I think working 15 years as a freelance journalist would have had some effect. Especially as it was my job to appreciate how information was collected and that sentences were assembled in a logical order. But I thought that when it came to writing that was as far as I could go. That is until just over two years ago, I ventured into “Creative Writing” as part of my degree course. Appreciating styles of writing, ie biographies, fiction, non-fiction and even poetry? Maybe that was pushing things a bit far.

But thanks to encouragement from a fab tutor, barriers were broken down. And after I produced some writing and I include poetry in that, I experienced the joy of creating something new out of my head and even other people enjoyed. That was it, I was hooked. One of the first things I was taught on that course was that when you are writing something for the first time, it is a good idea to write about stuff that you know. So almost two years after that course, I am no proud to say that my first book is out there and have been really pleased that people are liking it.

Now if you regular readers of this blog, I know what you are going to say next. “That is not your first book.” This is true, but the first one was a co-production, focussing more on the journalistic side and the other was a freebie e book. They don’t count.

This is my first novel, whether you read the Kindle or the paperback version, I hope you enjoy it.

What Time Does Midnight Cabaret Start: By Frank McGroarty, is available now. To purchase either a Kindle download or a paperback copy, then click here.

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