If you read this blog and follow my social media, you know I’ve been through a tough time in the last two years. The two years I passed writing Supernatural Fog (among other things). It took me much longer that planned to finish this book and in this post I’m going to tell you why. This is going to be a long post, so be ready to seat and read for a while! But first two things:
- THANKS TO MY FANS FOR THEIR AMAZING SUPPORT! Guys, you passed these 2 years emailing me, asking me when Supernatural Fog would come out, encouraging me, you were amazing!
- If you’re one of those people who think that animals are ‘things’ to be disposed of, that a dog isn’t a family member, but “just a dog” and should be put down once he gets “useless”, well, I’m not asking you to understand me, but at least to respect me and my feelings. Thank you very much.
At the end of 2012, my urban fantasy Supernatural Freak was out and doing pretty well. It got excellent reviews from the start, a successful blog tour and shared a bunch of hard-core fans with the awesome Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
After a month of plotting Supernatural Fog, I started writing it when I got home for the Holidays. I had finished the first two chapters, when my dog Martino got very ill with a massive pneumonia. Like the fictional Martino in Supernatural Freak, he got shot by some bastard before I rescued him. He has sixty hunting pellets in his lungs and guts, which gives him a number of health problems. This time, his condition was very severe, to a point that we didn’t know if he would make it. Here’s a photo of my buddy:
After nearly a month of antibiotics, nutritious food, sleepless nights, he started to develop symptoms which had nothing to do with pneumonia. At the vet clinic, we discovered that he had leishmaniosis, a parasitic disease similar to malaria in people. There was a cure, but it was painful and could be dangerous for a dog already old (he was 12 at the time) and with compromised lungs. I decided to try, knowing how tough he was. During the cure, he got nephritis twice and lost a lot of weight, but after four months of recovering, falling ill, then recovering again, Martino finally started getting better FOR GOOD. YAY! It was May 2013 already and I was about to go back to the UK, when one morning I woke up with an unbearable pain in my lower belly. Having suffered of polycystic ovaries since puberty, I immediately called my continental gynaecologist who was so concerned, that he booked me an ultrasound for the following day. I thought he was overreacting and went to the visit pretty relaxed. But I was wrong and he was right: I had a cyst the size of a tennis ball in my right ovary, plus a bad case of endometriosis. I needed surgery ASAP, since the cyst could get septic and, well, KILL ME. Fortunately for me, I live in Europe, where health care is rather efficient and FREE: my surgery was booked, I underwent a lot of blood tests and was forced to rest in bed. In spite of it, I did very little writing during that period of time: you must excuse me, but the idea that I could go septic any minute, was kind of distracting, if you know what I mean. I started thinking that the book was jinxed and brought bad luck.
Anyway, surgery went very well, I got a speedy recovery and returned to the UK this time, sadly, without my dog, since the vet stated that the cold British weather was too much for his compromised lungs and taking him with me would shorten his life. So, my parents took him to the Alps, I went back to Bath but stopped in London first, where the wonderful children’s author and illustrator Suzy Jane Tanner treated me to a visit to the Harry Potter Studios!!!
A couple of months passed quietly, no problems, no accidents. I caught-up with work and wrote a lot. In early October, Supernatural Fog was 60% done. I started to regain my optimism, the book might not be jinxed, after all … Or might it? One Sunday afternoon, I was writing in my room, when water came from under my door. I opened and saw that the kitchen and half of the ground floor were flooded!! NOOOOOO!!!!
Among my flatmates, I was the most affected, since I was the only one living on the ground floor, my usual luck! That day, the landlord informed us that he not only would fix the kitchen, but would also take the chance to renovate the whole ground floor, yay! We lived in a dilapidated Victorian house, so any renovation would be good … NO. After renovation, the rent would be raised. Like, a lot. Like, it would be almost a London rent, absurd to Bath standards. I couldn’t afford it, so I was virtually homeless. A bunch of freelance friends suggested that I move to London, since Supernatural Freak was selling relatively well, I had some work, so … Why not trying? London offered many more opportunities and, after all, I had to move from my room in Bath anyway. Maybe it wasn’t a bad idea.
I went back squatting Suzy Jane Tanner’s house for 3 solid months (that woman’s a saint, I tell you!). Yes, due to my low budget and the lack of accommodations in London, it took me 3 months to find a place. Three months passed being interviewed, visiting dozens of houses and rooms, and spending all the time left working and searching for clients, since London is crazy expensive, you have no idea!!
Finally found a place in December, right before going home for Xmas. Martino was doing fine.
After the holydays I went to my new amazing and EXPENSIVE place in East Dulwich and was glued to my writing desk for a month, mostly doing copywriting work or looking for some, since, again, LONDON WAS EXPENSIVE! I wrote a couple of Supernatural Fog chapters, but nothing more. Still, I kept plotting it and took notes, determined to finish it, eventually. After all, there were people out there waiting for it, I didn’t want to disappoint them.
I was slowly getting back on my feet, when my mum called, announcing that Martino was very ill: this time, he had pancreatitis.
I flew home in a heartbeat. Again medications, sleepless night, rushing to the vet, powerful antibiotics … Barely time to finish the little work I had, not in the position to get any more. I spent two months with him, he recovered again. I went back to London. Decided to focus on the book for at least a month, to catch-up with the story: the more I wrote it, the more I liked it, which was a good sign. I had barely restarted getting a sense of the book, when my mother called again. Her bad ankle (which she broke several times in the course of her life) was hurting again, while Martino had started not sleeping at night on and off. With demanding jobs and a lot of other pets, my parents couldn’t handle the whole situation, so I had to go and help. It took my mum two weeks to get better and this is when my new, exhausting life begun. I would be home when the dog wasn’t sleeping (which was sporadically, at the time) and fly back to London when he was back to normal. Fast forward to November 2014. I was home, when Martino got pneumonia again. This time, it took him 3 weeks to be just a little better. He was so ill, that I considered to put him to sleep, wasn’t he just suffering too much? My vet told me to wait and see a couple of more days, since my dog was as tough as hell. He got better, then fall ill again, then better again. He went through multiple infections until, in April, my vet found a new medication called Donperidone which boosts dogs’ immune system. Martino started getting much better and pulled through once again, but he wasn’t the same dog anymore. Now, he wasn’t sleeping only sporadically at night, HE WOULD SWAP NIGHT WITH DAY, HAVING NIGHT TERRORS AND ASTHMA.
I stopped sleeping to care for him. I would look after him during the night, have a couple of hours rest, then go out with the other dogs and try to work at my stuff. This, on a good day. On a bad day, I would do the best I could to stay awake until my mum came back from work and then collapsed on the sofa for a few hours. It was horrible. Rescue remedies didn’t work, we tried Xanax one night, but it gave him hallucinations.
We entered a long, dark period where I wasn’t a writer, a professional, a friend anymore. I was my dog’s carer. In March, I had to give up, face the situation and sub-rent my room in London. My dog needed me 24/7.
Many suggested that I put him down, but I always refused (and sent them to hell, obviously). Martino was there for me, when I lost my dream job. He was there when, only a month later, the man I thought was the love of my life (muahahaha!) dumped me for someone else much less weird than me. I wouldn’t have made it without Martino, I would have fallen into depression. But no. My dog was there, in spite of his illness, with his wagging tail and his humble, discreet smile.
I learned a lot, during those long, exhausting months. I learned the importance of friendship and patience. I toughed-up (there is nothing like carrying a dog covered with poo in the shower at 3 a.m to build-up muscles). I also learned how my writing is important to me.Maybe do not defines who I am, but surely is what makes me happy and keeps me sane. During that time, in spite of how tired I was, I always tried to write a few lines every day. Sometimes, as little as 100 words. When I was so exhausted that I felt nauseous, I wouldn’t write even those, and those were the darkest, saddest days of all.
I used to tweet during my long nights and got a lot of support from other pet owners who sent me jokes and kept me company! My twitter account, passed from a little over 2000 followers, to nearly 10000!
I was getting used to this new life, got physically much, much stronger to be able to resist and take care of Martino. In August, I started thinking that nothing would change. That I’d never get my life back, my job back, that I’d never finish Supernatural Fog. I was with my parents in the Alps, in our old house, surrounded by stunning beauty which helped cheering me up in a way and kind of made me accept my situation with Stoic wisdom. Then, at the end of August, during one of his night terrors, Martino got a mild stroke. We rushed to the vet, I thought that that was it, that he would die and, in spite of everything, I WAS DESPERATE.
After two days not knowing what to do and if he’d make it, HE PULLED THROUGH AGAIN! He had all sort of blood tests WHICH CAME OUT NORMAL!!!! My vet was stunned, he suggested the dog had super powers or something (by the way, in book 2 I had already given the fictional Martino super powers, to celebrate his resilience J). Still, he wouldn’t survive another stroke, so needed to be kept calm. My vet then called a specialist he had just started to collaborate with and, together, they created a cocktail of Valium, melatonin and rescued remedies which I’m gladly to say WORKED!!! After a nightmarish year and two months, MARTINO RESTARTED SLEEPING AT NIGHT! And I with him.
Now rested, In September 2015 I banged over 1000 words per day and in early October I finally finished Supernatural Fog. I nearly cried when I wrote the craved “The End” at the bottom of the last page. 106000 words, the longest and most exciting thing I’ve ever written.
I spent two solid weeks polishing it, then contacted my previous editor who, very diplomatically, informed me that she was now too established to care for the work of a mid-list indie like me.
I was restarting thinking that Supernatural Fog was jinxed, when I stumbled upon the very well written (and incredibly funny) CV of a former editor and now Hollywood TV producer, the amazing Lori Aronsohn. Yes, on one hand she was super-experienced, famous and established, so maybe too much for a humble indie like me. On the other hand, I liked her so much and we had such a similar sense of humour that, maybe, it was worth a try. I mean, what was the worst that could happen? That she turned me down, but real writers are used to rejection and I AM A REAL WRITER. So I emailed her. She said that she was very busy, but would consider editing book 2 if she liked my previous one. So I sent her Supernatural Freak and … She LOVED IT!!
So here I am now, my life slowly getting back to normal, with a Hollywood producer turning my book from good to AWESOME, organising a blog tour and already contacted by a bunch of happy fans looking forward to reading this new Robyn Wise adventure!
What more can I say? Just remember to always chase your dreams, hold your ground and be there for the ones you love (whether they have fur or not) and I PROMISE that good things will happen to you!
Read the next post to see the release day! 🙂