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How It Started

'Shen' was first written in 1995, around the time Leonard Nimoy's memoire, "I Am Spock" came out. I bought the paperback, finished it the night before I was due to take my finished manuscript to an Arvon Foundation workshop. Next day I caught the train to Leeds and arrived with hours to spare before my connection. To pass the time I went window shopping in the city centre. I happened to pass a branch of Waterstones, and saw people lined up out the door and around the block. Who wouldn't be curious?

And it turned out Mr. Nimoy was there, doing a signing. Of course I kicked myself, because my copy was at home. Long story short was this: bought a hardback copy, got it signed, met a really nice woman named Diane in the queue and we went for coffee after. By the time I caught my connecting train I had that buzzy elation that can only follow a really good coincidence.

Thank goodness for it. The editors running the workshop read a sample of "Shen" and knew a bad book when they saw one. And while it's true I went for a walk in some deserted part of Yorkshire so I could cry as loud and long as I wanted (gave myself one hell of a sinus headache), the events in Leeds compensated, balanced the negative with positive.

Fifteen years later, a friend who'd read "Shen" told me they still remembered the characters fondly. I realised I did too. And you can call me superstitious and irrational, because you'd be right -- but it was hard not to look back at Leeds in 1995 and think it couldn't all be for nothing, surely?

Anyway, first chapter of the rewritten book appears below. Enjoy!

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January 2015

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