Charlotte’s Lodge began way back when I lived in a village called Woodlesford.
It is about 92,000 words long and was probably the equivalent of my first paddle in the sea. I’d already dipped my toes with other bits and pieces of writing, and this was my first full immersion.
This was also my first effort at producing a cover (in about 2011), from a photograph my brother took for me. “I need a spooky cottage,” I’d said. He did a pretty good job.
Anyway, I wrote Charlotte’s Lodge about 1986 or ’87, and based much of the book on places I’d discovered in my own village, including the church, the papershop, and the canal. The story concerned itself with an evil grandmother, Charlotte, and her family. She takes a huge dislike to her grandson, Richard, and eventually drags him back to the Lodge when he’s in his 20s or early 30s, and makes mincemeat of those he loves in retribution for him being a prick when he was ten years old. Nope, she doesn’t have any sense of fun, doesn’t Charlotte, and had forgotten what it was like to be ten probably as soon as she reached eleven.
I enjoyed writing it all those years ago, but I didn’t enjoy the rejections I got back from publishers and agents too much. And now that the years have passed and I can appreciate what it really is to be a writer, I can honestly say it’s a horrible book. The story is good, but the point of view switches and the lack of decent description make it an annoying read.
A year or two ago, I decided I’d resurrect my dinosaur and give Charlotte’s Lodge a workover. A whole chapter in, and that was enough to change my mind. Some things should be left in the bottom drawer, and that’s why I pulled it from Amazon sometime around 2011.
You live. And you learn.