Elizabeth HaynesMy name is Elizabeth Haynes and I’m a writer living in Norfolk, in the East of England.

I’ve been writing stories as long as I’ve been able to write. I remember my stories being passed around the playground at school, who knows – somebody reading this may remember that too. You may have chosen to forget. I bought a second-hand electric typewriter when I was about thirteen, possibly from a jumble sale, more likely from the Friday-Ad. It was supposed to be portable but I could barely lift it. I spent many a happy rainy weekend hammering out masterpieces on it, not having any clear purpose in mind, it was just something I had to do.

In October 2005 a friend introduced me to National Novel Writing Month ( www.nanowrimo.org ), the site I’d been waiting for all my life. It’s an annual challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. There is no grand prize other than the right to call yourself a novelist at the end of it; no reason to do it other than for the sense of achievement you get afterwards. The novel doesn’t have to be good, it just has to be written. And who knows, at the end of it you might have something worth editing. The whole point is just to get over writer’s block, to get over the self-doubt – to carry on even thought it feels like what’s being written is rubbish.

In 2005 I wrote a laughable serial killer-thriller in which the characters consisted entirely of people I knew. I also had two characters called Simon, which was a huge mistake. I thought I’d been extra clever, since in real life we all have friends with the same name, don’t we? But it doesn’t happen in novels, for a good reason. It’s horrendously confusing, and of course can’t be easily fixed by using Find/Replace!

Nevertheless, I did it – I wrote 50,000 words in a month, the story had a beginning, a middle and an ending (although a hard disk failure meant I lost the last 5,000 words – learn from me – back up, back up, back up.)

In 2006 I had a pretty decent plot and some good characters. By the end of November I’d written more than 50,000 words and I was less than half way through the actual story.

In 2007 I cheated and carried on writing the 2006 novel, which hadn’t been touched for a year. I don’t recommend cheating at NaNoWriMo, in whatever form. It’s not nearly so much fun. In any case, I got to the end of the month and I was up to 130,000 words and still hadn’t finished it.

In 2008 I wrote the first draft of Into the Darkest Corner. I enjoyed writing it, and at the beginning of December I thought my 56,000 words weren’t half bad. I left it alone for a few months and then started tinkering with it again, adding some scenes and moving other bits about. Two of my friends were badgered into reading it, and to my surprise they both liked it. I started wondering if it might actually be worth trying to edit it, to see if it was something I could actually send off. Unfortunately I’m useless at editing, so I got some help from Greg Mosse, who very kindly put me in touch with Myriad Editions, and after that things got very exciting indeed.