I wrote a submarine horror novel. It took three years and genuinely gave me nightmares, which was possibly my first clue that I wasn’t cut out for penning terror. I duly sent it off to agents that I admired, or at least had heard of, and waited for the advances and royalties to roll in.
As that wait grew unaccountably longer, I figured I’d write something short, as a bit of a pallet cleanser. I’d been watching Columbo* and really wanted to do something with clues in it. I had this paranormal investigator character from a comic I’d half drawn years earlier, so I blew the dust off, and threw her in a story. That was Argana Zeit and the Haunted Busker.
When the replies finally came in on the submarine novel, they were all delightfully polite variations on ‘this is very imaginative, but you haven’t got a clue what you’re doing’. I rediscovered that manuscript recently, the same way you find a rotting vegetable at the back of the fridge hiding behind the cheese box, and about as appetising. I’m eternally grateful that no one was foolish enough to publish it.
But that’s okay. I enjoyed writing Argana so much I came up with another seventeen adventures, and probably more by the time you read this. They’re undeniably cosy stories, set in a green-leafed world where nobody ever dies on camera, the swearing is mild, and the paranormal threat is undermined by the chaotic humour of the background characters. It’s this way because – the aforementioned nightmares aside – when I started writing in 2020, I needed an antidote to the strong possibility that the world was about to end.
It didn’t, though, and fortunately neither has Argana Zeit.
*It’s to Columbo that Argana owes her terrible driving and tactically dishevelled look.