What doesn’t kill you… helps your novel writing by Kendra Smith

A few days ago I wrote a blog post about how my life didn’t turn out as I’d envisaged and how the best laid plans can’t always come to fruition – you can read that post here. Today, I’m delighted to welcome Kendra Smith to share her inspirational story.

Along the theme of ‘when life gives you lemons’, a head-on car crash is up there with the sourest of experiences. And so did I ‘make lemonade’ afterwards? Well, I certainly made the nurses in the High Dependency Unit laugh when I determinedly pushed them away from helping me to the commode at the foot of my bed because I couldn’t walk. ‘I go to the gym,’ I said, my mouth set in a firm line, trying not to cry and willing my arms not to give out. One nurse, let’s call her Emily, stood with her arms folded and watched me. ‘Fair enough,’ she said as she could see my determination (and probably fear) as I managed a task that would normally involve the help of two nurses.

My journey of recovery wasn’t just about being determined to heal from the physical injuries: broken foot (actually it was bent backwards), six broken ribs and a punctured lung – I also had to get back to being ‘me’ in my headspace. That has probably been the hardest.

Before the crash I had written some of a book that I had hoped to get published. I have always written, from being a journalist to would-be novelist, but the crash rather put paid to finishing this particular book. When I came home from hospital and could not walk, I watched some TV. I was not a big daytime TV-watcher, but I had limited options. Let’s just say organising a cup of coffee genuinely took me about 50 minutes. That’s if my children had remembered to leave the milk, coffee and cup by the kettle. If not, it was hop-along-the-kitchen on my Zimmer frame for a good half a day to reach various items.

One morning, finally with a cup of coffee next to me, I pressed ‘play’ on the remote. On came some Breakfast TV. It had been snowing. The presenter said, ‘We’re going round the UK to show you the photos our viewers have sent in of cats in the snow!’

Cats.

In.

The.

Snow.

That was it. I could not sit there on my saggy sofa and watch felines frolic in frozen gardens. My brain had had enough. I clambered unsteadily to a make-shift desk. My manuscript needed editing, it needed polishing, hell, it needed finishing. Which I did. About two hours a day and it exhausted me. Later that year, when I had sent it to various agents and publishers, Aria got in touch and said they wanted it and could I do a few more? That was a lovely moment. And so A Year of Second Chances made it out to the big wide world. The book is about three women who all have very different lives and through the course of a year, as they connect as one life changing event binds them together and allows them to re-evaluate their worlds. They laugh, cry and discover that friendship comes from many different places.

Find ‘A Year of Second Chances’ on Amazon

Since then, I have gone on to write a couple more. My latest novel, Everything Has Changed is about a car crash. It’s a pivotal moment, but I don’t dwell on it in the novel. Instead, I use it as a plot point. But I felt able to write about it as enough time had lapsed from real events to turn it into something I could use in fiction. It’s about two sisters who need to re-write their past and move forward. But can they? I had great fun writing this novel, as one of the protagonists, Victoria, loses her memory. After my crash, I remember thinking: what if I had woken up to a new world? What if things were different? Luckily for me, things were the same, but for Vicky – or Victoria as she thinks she is – her whole life has spun on its axis. Her adorable 10-year-old twins are now stroppy teenagers and her darling husband is more distant than the International Space Station. She has lost nearly seven years of her life, and her job is to find out why Everything Has Changed…

Find ‘Everything Has Changed’ on Amazon

You can find Kendra on Twitter @KendraAuthor on Facebook @kendrasmithauthor