By Yannick Hill

An epic novel about identity in the internet age

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

How I write novels #5: Southend-on-Sea

In the six months I lived in Southend in Essex I wrote one-and-a-half novels, it was mental. Seven days a week, 2000 words a-day, I spent most of that time in a kind of trance state, blueberries for breakfast (proven to improve cognitive function!) and miles of skateboarding along the promenade. Something about that place. The sense of departure I think: cargo ships headed out into the North Sea, their giant engines making the walls of my house vibrate at night sometimes. I moved there in the spring and the sun never went away. There was a dream logic to Southend. The train that took you to the end of the longest pier in the world. Hectic views of the estuary from Adventure Island's rollercoasters. The smell of candy floss deep into the Indian summer. Drag racers parking up and playing music loud. The ice cream factory bang in the middle of town. A prom that looked like an Old Kent Road Venice Beach with its miniature palm trees and long-boarders. 

I wrote one and half-novels and it was a golden time. Every time I was about to cross another 10,000-word milestone I'd go to the hotel bar at the end of my road (Marine Avenue – lush) and have a pint of Guinness to celebrate. I miss Southend. I miss the people, gorgeous people, warmhearted and welcoming. Something about that place. I wrote my heart out. Sometimes it's about the conditions. The sunshine. The water. The sense of departure. It felt like a long, long holiday, I could see the water from my living room window (just). I love writing on holiday. On trains. Cars. Buses even. When I'm flowing it doesn't matter where I am, but Southend was special. I might go back one of these sunny days, or actually maybe I won't. Rare you go back to sleep and dream the same dream. 

I wrote Versailles in Southend-on-Sea. To help make the Versailles dream a reality, it would be amazing if you could make a special effort to get someone you know to pledge for the book. I can't wait to get it out there, let the characters breathe the same air as you and me. x


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