When I was nine years old, I woke up in the middle of the night, and crept through the dark of my bedroom to find a piece of scrap paper, and I wrote down a few words before dropping back to sleep again. A few weeks later the piece of paper got lost among the other junk hanging around in my cupboard. However, the words were forever imbued into my head. Four weeks ago, my little brother found that scrap of paper as he was going through some old photos.
For years I didn't tell anyone about this idea I had formed in my head. There was too much else going on! When I was eleven, I wrote a short story about cat mutants wreaking havoc on London. That only turned out to be thirteen A4 pages when I was done with it, and it truly sucked but I told my friends about it and their support was really amazing!
A few months after trashing "The Cats of Shishkaboo" I turned my mind back to this idea of a spy story. I came up with the idea of the BIA, British Intelligence Agency, whose emblem you can see on the backdrop. It was over two years later that I realized that it was a copy of the CIA, but to be honest, I didn't really want to change it. By that time I was completely attached to my plans. Fact about the emblem: I drew its shape using one of the school cups as a tracer! That's why it has curvy edges.
When I was thirteen I started to draw my first impressions of the characters and glue them into a school exercise book. By this time my main character's name had evolved from Safira Peytil Yester to Sophia, although nowadays she is known as Serena Penelope Young. Unfortunately I lost this little book and ignored the ideas for a few months.
However, my mind became more and more preoccupied with my spies, and eventually, sitting in the car on the way home from spending New Year's Day of 2010 at my grandparents, I couldn't take it anymore. I picked up my iPod touch and started writing out the introduction that I had been perfecting for five years. That same first paragraph is still the opening of my novel. I still feel so attached to my iPod, because I wrote the entire first draft of the book, 64,000 words, on it, emailing it to myself chapter by chapter. There was a point where I almost gave up writing after I accidentally pressed the delete button rather than the send button on chapter seven, and really didn't want to rewrite it...
Fortunately my friends spurred me on, and if it hadn't been for them, I would never have finished. There is a small part of each of my friends in the story, whether they wrote a paragraph, created a character or did something stupid to inspire me. I would like to proudly say that chapter twenty was inspired by my school, so if you want to hear the crazy, you'll have to keep reading my posts.
One of my friends, who I was sharing a dorm with during the first part of my writing stayed up late with me for weeks and we brainstormed the entire series. I'm not altogether sure where the titles of the novels came from but they sort of appeared one morning!
- Live by the Knife
- Work by the Bomb
- Fight by the Bullet
Finally the evolution of my own pseudonym came around. I don't know why I want one, and I don't know why it should matter, but I do, so don't ask. When I first decided I wanted to hide my name, my first choice was Millie Hartie, and there it stayed for about two years due to my nickname Harty. Then I played around with MJM Hart and JesM Hart, and finally decided to go with J M Hart, after my middle names.
To be honest, when I was younger I never really fitted in and I wanted to write stories at first just to escape. For me it was about being in control of something, where I could be myself and not have to hide. These days I am absolutely content with who I am! Being able to have the independence of my own goals, to show off my efforts to the world and share my stories makes me who I am today. When I was six, my teacher, Mrs Wells, told my mother I was going to be a writer. My mother told me that this summer.
Well, Mrs Wells, you must be a fortune teller.