This is the cover of the first book (indeed, the first story) I ever wrote. As you can see, I was a big fan of the bespoke, handmade approach back in those days (circa 1987), but quickly learnt such personal attention did not quite go hand in hand with an initial run of 3,000 copies.
I quite presumptuously named the book The Stories, as you can see, as if I had not just written a bit of fan fiction, but had invented literature. In my own little way, I suppose I had! Hopefully the writing has improved a bit since, though.
If you’ve spotted the shark’s fin on the cover, you can probably guess what happened in The Stories. The day before I wrote it I had seen Jaws for the first time and when I woke up on the morning I became a writer, the world seemed just a little different somehow. I set about writing my sequel to Jaws, which involved Chief Brody’s kids narrowly avoiding being eaten again (this is actually the plot of Jaws 2, as it turned out).
Here are some sample spreads (publishing term for you – are you impressed?) from inside the book. As I am sure you agree, it was quite a suspenseful tale. However, I can reveal that poor Hannah was indeed confirmed dead on the next page.
To be honest, I don’t know if I’ve ever written dialogue any better than this Hemingway-esque exchange:
‘Mike, go with Jo to the USA.’
‘No, no, I am not going to the USA with Jo.’
‘Well, you go to the USA.’
If you’re wondering what all those DD-DD bits are about, I asked my dad how to write out John Williams’ Jaws theme…
I went on to write plenty of other fan fiction sequels before I started coming up with my own ideas. My most notable sequel was probably the postmodern follow-up to The Towering Inferno in which all the actors from the movie (Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Fred Astaire… and O J Simpson) get caught up in a real burning skyscraper.
Yes, I am very much a child of the movies. Who knows, if my family had had money and a video camera, I might have ended up making films instead.