What’s the single thing a writer must have in order to write? The answer will vary from writer to writer, but for me the answer is very simple: my wife, Zara.
Before I got married, I had written very little except a couple of screenplays and a few short films. I had major writing ambitions, but my quest to find a soulmate overrode all other concerns. Once that quest was fulfilled however, I suddenly found myself writing and I have barely stopped since.
It isn’t merely the presence of my wife that allows me to write. She has also been a hugely important critic of the early drafts of my work. In addition, since the death of my father (who acted as both editor and general “Eye of Sauron” in terms of scrutiny), that mantle has also passed to Zara in a somewhat spookily supernatural way.
Not only does Zara act in the above capacity, but she also puts up with my many mood swings during the writing phase – whether they be fits of “George McFly” syndrome, peculiar habits (such as getting up and writing in the middle of the night), obsessiveness, temporary insanities and so forth. She is also brilliant at calling me out on bullshit when I blow things out of proportion, and bringing the vital, much needed perspective.
Needless to say, many characters in my writing have been inspired by Zara or aspects of her. For instance, the fiercely loyal Meredith in the George Hughes novels is unquestionably a version of her. Suzie, a peripheral but important character in Children of the Folded Valley, is also very much Zara. She also crops up in other as yet unpublished works – including a major fantasy epic I have been working on for years – in various guises.
I know this all sounds a little nauseating (you may vomit if you wish), but it really is true that without Zara I wouldn’t be writing at all. I would still be on a quest, looking for her.