That Elusive Cure

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The Pleasure of Writing

Six months ago Jessica Smith got in touch. She was looking for an editor, could I take a look at Godcorp her debut novel.

After reading the opening chapters I had one word for Jessica: Wow! cover27

Godcorp was an editor’s dream. This was a natural storyteller, and the story she had to tell was unique, fresh and the writing of the kind that scrabbles at you from the page and devours your time in no time. A page-turner. It is rare that I would recommend any writer to approach a film studio, but I could easily see Godcorp on the big screen, no doubt about that. Send the big players a copy of this, I said, with a note on it saying `Make me an offer`.

Watch this space, because Godcorp is a creation of genius, an imaginative supernatural chiller that bounces along with its tongue in its cheek as it sucks you into its marvellously meaty maw. Working on Godcorp turned out to be a creative blast as we honed the elements, stretched the imaginative, polished the drive along the twists and turns of a plot unpredictable to its end.

A week after completion Jessica sent me the start of Godcorp II and I was wowed once again. Rarely does a sequel better its predecessor, but here the tack was changed and the emotionally-packed result was so good, so real, it literally was storytelling Heaven and editing bliss.

Yesterday we signed off Godcorp II. An hour later, Jessica sent me this:

`– a testimonial.

Johnny and I have just signed off my second novel and I have to say I couldn’t be happier. Johnny is an incredible editor. He polishes, he chisels, he sculpts along with you, until you are left with a stronger, healthier, much more vibrant version of your original vision. I can’t thank him enough.

Working with Johnny on both Godcorp I and II has been a tremendous experience. He gets it. He lives it with you. His suggested additions are always flawless. They integrate with your style with seamless fluidity. Your characters speak through his words in the same way they’d speak in your head. That’s an incredible talent, I feel, and one that’s been so very useful throughout this project.

His eyes are hawk-like, picking up any bits of fluff collecting in the corners, and testing every single word for substance. His ideas are wonderful. I’ve also been lucky enough to receive some gems from his very own muse, and wow, were they sparkly!

I could rave for hours about how wonderful his talents are, as many others have done before me, but there are two other things in particular I’d like to mention:

1. The enjoyment factor. Working with Johnny is great fun. The sight of an email in my inbox with freshly edited chapters provokes a massive rush of excitement. It’s a great experience. It’s enlightening, it’s challenging, it’s all-round goddamn BRILLIANT! You will feel that too, working with him is a real buzz.

2. The learning experience. Johnny is so knowledgeable of the writing craft, and his advice so sound, that you cannot help but learn from him. Two books in and I see things in my writing that I’ve learnt as a direct result of his input. Recently I read through one of my old short stories. I tore the thing apart in seconds. This was solely down to Johnny. I’ve matured as a writer, I’ve learnt from his edits, I’ve raised my game as a result of his meticulous approach. It’s made me a much better author, undeniably. I saw the story with fresh eyes, immediately picking out weak spots, potential improvements, overwriting and general fluff – it was an undeniable moment of realisation that working with Johnny has improved my craft beyond recognition.

He will improve yours too. You won’t regret it. Not for one single second.`

Jessica Smith

Author of the Godcorp series.


The smile was still on my face when the outline for Godcorp III dropped in my inbox.

Three hours and ten emails later and the outline’s basic shape was settled upon; a skeleton waiting for its flesh. And I’ll get to help dress that skeleton, pick the lint from its finery, make it shine.

Thank you, Jessica and Godcorp.

That is the pleasure of writing.

A Writing Masterclass Success

Shani knew there was something not quite right with her opening chapters but didn’t know what.

She asked if I could put my finger on it.

So I did.

After identifying the problem areas, we did a masterclass, shaping and honing those skewed elements and ensuring a good understanding was achieved.

My enormously apt pupil Shani Struthers had this to say: apple

`John was fabulous to deal with, he’s direct but he’s funny with it and very encouraging. I thought I knew loads by the time I came to novel number three, but I made mistakes and John showed me how to fix them… from this point onwards, I hope! John’s also very quick, which, as an impatient soul, I really appreciated. So, if you’re stuck on a WIP, if you need guidance, if you just don’t know who to turn to next – I’ve got one word for you – John! He really does have great analytic instinct for what works and what doesn’t, and certainly knows how to explain his findings in the simplest of ways.`

Read Shani’s full review on her blog:

Thank you, Shani. It was a pleasure.

More details on the masterclass process coming soon.