THREE THINGS I LEARNED WHILE WRITING – ONCE WE WERE with Keighley Bradford
1. Writing the book was the easy bit.
Writing the narrative for this book was the easy bit of the process; it was all the stages after the first draft that had been the hardest. I wrote Once We Were chronologically, becoming acquainted with my characters and their story. By the end of the first draft, however, I knew that this story wasn’t one that could be told from start to finish. So, I introduced a non-linear chaptering style (‘Then’ and ‘Now’), which added a whole new level of depth that the narrative needed. However, I can’t deny that it was much harder to wrap my head around the narrative structure after doing this when it came to re-drafting and editing – I had to ensure that narrative flowed chronologically and non-linearly, that moments interlinked with other moments throughout the story, and that no critical elements were missing.
Then, of course, as an author new to the indie publishing scene, there was a lot to learn (and still learn) when it came to publishing my book. It took a lot of studying to understand the processes involved in the publication process, particularly when it came to the finer details like legal deposits, file types, and working on consignment. In the end though, I discovered that I actually enjoy working on the admin side of the writing business, just as much as the writing aspect of it.
2. ‘Happily Ever After’ is in the eye of the beholder.
When writing Once We Were, it didn’t take me long to realise that I wanted to explore a different type of ending then one would traditionally expect when reading a romance. Being a contemporary romance aimed at new adult audiences, I wanted to highlight the modern society we live in by exploring and focusing on the different forms of love that operate with this, be it romantic love, family love, or friendship love.
Not everybody is going to love my book for this reason, while others may love it for it. And that’s okay; art is subjective. In the romance genre especially, happily ever after is always going to be in the eye of the beholder, whose definition of this will be shaped by their own life experiences. It’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but for this story I wanted to demonstrate just one alternative perception of what ‘happily ever after’ in the twenty-first century can look like.
3. I fell in love (again)…with writing.
Growing up, you would always find me either reading or writing. There wasn’t really anything else you’d catch me doing, except for perhaps studying and watching the odd TV show or movie. Nowadays, however, I have a lot more things going on in my life – somehow, writing got pushed right down on the list of those priorities. Working on Once We Were opened my eyes to just how much I’d neglected my practice over the years and reminded me of just how much I need it in my life. The process instilled that need and desire – to always be writing – back into my body to the point that not doing so felt unnatural. And though I must admit that I have taken a little time away from writing since completing Once We Were (to focus on the publication side of things), I am eager to start working on my next book.
About Once We Were
Best friends or lovers? Nobody really knows.
But the relationship between Bea James and Alex McClay certainly stirs up scandalous rumours wherever they go.
Bea is flirtatious, witty, and knows how to appease a crowd. Alex is charming, determined, and knows exactly what he wants. Their only rule? Honesty, always. Lies and secrets have no place in their relationship; any form of omission could be costly.
Take that one night in Paris, for instance. It was supposed to be a fun, no-strings moment; one that subsequently began their downfall.
Alex may have won back the heart of his ex-girlfriend-now-fiancée, but at what expense? Losing his best friend’s trust. Now Bea is torn between what to do: tell Alex the truth, and risk ruining the relationship she treasures most—or keep her greatest secret yet, and risk losing him once and for all.
Keighley Bradford is an Australian writer and creative industries professional based in Newcastle NSW. She has a background in writing, editing, publishing, marketing and arts administration. Keighley has previously volunteered in various capacities in her local arts/literary community through writing organisations, writers’ festivals, and student media. Her short fiction pieces have won several awards, with her non-fiction articles also published in several publications. Additionally, her debut novel, Once We Were, was released late last year as part of her postgraduate studies at the University of Newcastle.
You can find Keighley at: