The Shadow Dancer

I’m a big believer in fate, I think our future is waiting for us to fulfil it, that doesn’t mean we are incapable of changing the path we’re on but there are certain things we are born to do. I’m lucky to say I have no doubt I’m on the right path, not because I expect to make millions from selling books, but because life makes sense to me when I’m writing. It’s great to be able to share years worth of work with other people, but if no one was ever going to read it I would still do it. And there’s nothing better than a sign from the cosmos to say: you should be in this exact place at this exact time, doing exactly what you’re doing.

In 2010 I was editing my second book The Shadow Dancer, during the editing process it’s sometimes nice to take my work somewhere else, the library is an obvious choice but it’s quiet and being surrounded by thousands of books is encouraging. There’s a couch tucked in a cosy corner, so one day I settled myself down and started working. I can usually go a couple of hours without a break and then I need to do something to refresh myself. I started shuffling through a pile of books that had been sitting next to me on the couch the whole time. Amongst them was a DVD called Shadows in the Sun, I’m sure there are many books and movies with shadow in the title but since my books are about shadows it caught my attention. I read the synopsis: An aspiring young writer tracks a literary titan who is suffering writer’s block to his refuge in rural Italy and learns about life and love from the irascible genius”.

It could have been coincidental but the title and subject matter intrigued me so I borrowed it and watched it that night. It turns out that the literary titan in the movie had a bestselling book titled The Shadow Dancer, I couldn’t believe it, the exact name of the book I was working on! When the movie finished I was eager to find out more, I Googled it and found that the working title of the movie had been The Shadow Dancer and it was only changed to Shadows in the Sun at the last minute. It no longer seemed coincidental that the movie—about two writers, featuring a book with the same name as the very one I was editing—was left on the couch in that cosy corner. It was the perfect affirmation.

I enjoyed writing The Shadow Dancer more than any other book, the characters were already well established so they were easy to work with, I had a strong writing rhythm and my enthusiasm for the project was probably at its peak. The characters in the movie reminded me to love and sustain the craft of writing, it is a very solitary activity but its joys are universal and I can keep them for the rest of my life—once a writer, always a writer.

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