Gibson Dickie, the author of Count To Ten, released his book in June 2020. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life has been treating him since he was published.
I have always wanted to write a novel, without ever considering becoming an author. A few failed efforts in my younger years dampened my enthusiasm, usually compromised by having to work and being unable to commit time and energy to the task. When I committed to writing Count to Ten I found the story developed organically as my involvement and commitment increased. At the time of publication, for the first time, I feel like an author.
My first job, at age twelve, was delivering newspapers to residential addresses. Even then I was a fan of the written word.
My first summer job, at age sixteen, was as a kitchen porter in an NHS hospital. I sliced my thumb on my first day while peeling potatoes, there was a lot of blood.
My first proper job, at age seventeen, was as a marine engineering cadet in the UK merchant navy. I managed to set my coveralls alight while welding. There were a number of moderate electrical shocks as well.
Having abandoned the cadetship, at age eighteen, I returned to tertiary education where I supplemented my income by working in a bar. I spent the majority of my earnings in the same bar, after hours, rationalising the efficiency of drinking at staff discounted prices.
Upon graduation, at age twenty-one, I commenced my first real job as an electronics field engineer with Racal Decca Survey, where I spent extended periods of time overseas providing navigation assistance services to the oil industry. Allowing a naïve twenty-two-year old to provide information affecting huge investment oilfield decisions was a massive gamble. I believe I got away with it.
Following a significant surgery, I no longer retained the desire to endure the pressures associated with being a company director. While considering early retirement, the urge to write a novel became an important element in my impending life decision. As the ideas for the story developed, I chose to retire from my career and commit myself to write at least one novel. One will not be enough.
I wanted to create a crime fiction story with a different perspective from the traditional format.
In most cases, the police characters will be led by a brilliant detective who can see the solution through the contradictions. Usually, this detective will be a misfit, commonly an intermittent alcoholic with a fractured family life.
My idea was to have a team of police detectives, each facing their own issues and problems. Some of them competing for a promotion, another a novice trying to survive, another attempting to balance his career with the demands of a nymphomaniac girlfriend.
My main character is a complex, psychotic, flawed, female serial killer. Or she will be. In different circumstances, she could have been a tragic statistic, instead she is resilient and ruthless, and copes with her mistakes in a meticulous and destructive manner.
I had fun doing it. I will write more.
I have held several high-level career positions, including numerous overseas postings. My natural business instinct is to be analytical, rather than inventive, which has resulted in many people being surprised to see me produce a novel. Writing has allowed me to express my thoughts and allow my imagination to flourish.
Struggles? Bucket-loads of them. Where do I start.
When interest rates rose to 15.4%, I almost became bankrupt.
While working offshore for extended periods, I missed my children.
When I was promoted beyond my ability, I almost fell to pieces.
When I was detained overseas due to an expired permit, monitored by a small man with a big gun, I faced a day of absolute panic.
If I could offer one suggestion about overcoming struggles, it would be this. If you don’t know what to do, do nothing, until you know what you can do.
The main reason I am not facing struggles since I became an author, is that I am older, I do less, and the experience remains relatively new.
There has not been any real change to my life, except for the silly smile on my face when I remember I am now a published author, and it feels really good.
I usually wake between 6 and 7 a.m. I begin with my medication regimen, wait for a half hour, then take coffee. A brief catchup with the local news on tv, before taking a walk for between 40 and 60 minutes.
The following period, post shower, is my most likely time to write. I do not write every day, nor do I subscribe to a word count per day. Mostly I write when I have an idea, and if no ideas are coming, I may attempt to clean previous work.
If I have succeeded in writing, the remainder of my day will involve an activity I enjoy, such as cycling, swimming or visiting a beach.
I enjoy cooking, almost as much as I enjoy eating.
In my quieter moments, I allow my brain to run wild, examining future scenarios for my main character, imagining her reactions, plotting her resolutions. Amy / Jessica is real, she lives in my mind, and she is waiting to be released to the world.
Each milestone has been memorable for me. This may be a series of clichés, but the following all apply.
Finishing the first draft of my first model gave me a massive sense of satisfaction. Staring at my laptop and understanding that I had written a 94,000 words novel, I was blown away. I texted almost everybody I knew.
Having that draft reviewed positively by a friend provided me with confidence. Waiting for feedback from my first reader made me so nervous. Impatience gradually overcame my nerves but the good review was an enormous relief.
Receiving the positive response from Pegasus may be the single most memorable moment. Having sent my manuscript to only one publisher, I was hopeful it might be accepted, while prepared for likely rejection. Receiving that email is a highlight of my life.
Being given a date for publication made the whole thing real.
Hearing the news that a person known to me had placed a pre-order for the novel was so exciting.
Reading on Facebook that my novel had been delivered to a reader, indescribable.
Having friends contact me as they read the story, updating me on their reactions, questioning if a character is based on them, well this is just priceless.
Straightforward. I received guidance and support at each stage of the process. When I received a note from a proof-reader telling me how much they had enjoyed the story, I felt happy, even proud. The people I have dealt with have made the experience so enjoyable. Now there is a finished product. It feels amazing.
Having little knowledge of the publishing industry, I began to look for publishers who were welcoming submissions from new writers. Pegasus ticked this box, their website was user-friendly, and the process for making a submittal was clearly explained and easily understood. Pegasus was my first-choice publisher, and the only one where I submitted my novel. I have absolutely no regrets about this selection. I trusted my instinct, and it has been a pleasure to conclude the process and produce my first novel.
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