How do you feel about reading a dark tail of your own world? Is the grim reality too much? The not very gory but hyper real details of what can happen in your own office; organisation or neighbourhood can be an uncomfortable read – or worse, a complete turn off? Although I love reading fiction with strong workplace stories, I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I wondered how much people might really want a local council/ local politics bus-mans holiday? Or if it might be too painful to spend even more time “at work” when you live it every day?
Of course it depends on how you tell it and if you can offer something different. The challenge for me was to look at my working world out of the corner of an eye, to shine a light in the murky corners of an organisation that no-one wants to see and to weave a web of connections that offers new meaning. I also had to focus on characters that could drive the story and that readers who know this world, would understand if not like. I also put my familiar workplace characters in new situations and different roles including both heroes and villains.
It worked for me as a writer and a reader. I loved writing it and I’m chuffed to say that the response to Hard Change from people who live and work in the world of Councils and local politics has been fantastic. Readers love it when the detail is right and there is real empathy for their world. And they love it even more when they are surprised, taken in new directions or given hope.
The feedback on the concept of a town hall thriller – and how you can tell a different story about local politics – has also been very encouraging. That the Guardian newspaper picked it up and published my article showed that there’s something interesting in the idea. That the book works for readers who work in the public sector is a great sign for the future and a second novel in that world.