THAT ELUSIVE CURE is about facing up to illness, both mental and physical, of family struggle and above all, the amazing power of hope.
Part Two from Lisa Hinsley:
Chemo kills creativity, at least it did for me. Except… that’s not entirely true. I couldn’t write, but I could think. And I did, at length while I fought nausea and horrid side effects. A couple of novel ideas came to me, complete, like a little acorn gift, waiting to be planted in the soil of Microsoft Word.
I noted these down, ideas, possibilities, things that made me think. I simply had no ability to follow through. Chemo came to an end in May 2013. My brain slowly began to reconnect and the urge to write, which never left, but was simply dampened, came at me like an unfulfilled addiction. The odd thing was, I didn’t revisit any of my stored acorns. I set myself a goal of 500 words a day. In June I started, reacquainted myself with ABCtales and to begin with, those 500 word stories were few and far between. They were hard to write, I sat at the computer desperate to distract myself with Facebook or the news or Googling stupid stuff.
But each week I did a little better. It became a little easier to put the words together. Then it happened. I got that itch, that inkling of an idea, a starburst of inspiration, and I began a new novel.
The last novel I wrote was Plague. I wrote it in 2011. I published in December that year. I started polishing an older novel for publication in the summer, then I got sick and nothing else happened. I stopped editing. I stopped writing. I stopped caring, and it didn’t even bother me that I’d stopped caring. Usually I’m a non-stop conveyor belt of writing. I love it. I need it like I need air. Suddenly, at the very end of June 2013 I found myself back there. And I loved it.
My initial goal of 500 words, that was so hard to begin with, became easier. The chapters started to build up, and although I knew how I was going to end the story, I didn’t know how I was going to get there. All of July I wrote. In August I took time off, it was the summer holidays and I spent my time with the kids.
Then I had SIRTs a type of internal radiotherapy. Come September, my youngest son was back at school, and despite still being in recovery from SIRTs I was writing again. The train had left the station, there was no stopping me. 500 words in a morning became 1000, then 2000. Towards the end I could do almost 5000 words in the same 1-2 hour slot I’d previously been struggling to write 500 words. Then at the end of October I was finished. The first draft of That Elusive Cure was complete.
I know my health is precarious, and this wasn’t the time to stuff the book into a drawer and let it mature for months. I hope readers will emanates the feeling of hope and peace I hope readers will come away with after reading my novel.
Less than a year after I wrote the first words, That Elusive Cure is published. I’m proud of the book, and I hope as a reader you can come away with some inspiration to live your life in the moment. Have hope, there is magic out there just waiting to be mined.
I followed Janie’s car, one of those odd-looking little Fiat 500s in lilac, through the countryside and into Birkenhead. She’d said where we were going, and I knew the place. I’d passed by the church on many occasions. I’d even daydreamed about buying it and setting it up as a flat for my daughter, keeping part of the space for me and creating a studio. That was me letting my bohemian side through. The place Cass lived in was grotty, but she refused to move back home, and my dream was to buy her a decent place to live. She had this boyfriend who seemed to be quite handy. I’d let them live there for free in exchange for his manual labor.
We pulled into the tiny car park. I still had the key in my possession, and I thumbed it nervously as Janie got out of her car and walked up to the door. We were in the town center, a stone’s throw from the council parking lot I used almost every week. To think this mystery machine had been there the entire time almost made me feel taunted by it. I searched briefly for hidden cameras, my eyes settling on Janie as she stood on the stone steps by the sad-looking church, patiently waiting for me. Taller buildings crowded in on three sides casting the building into shadow.
“You ready for this?” She took the key from me and inserted it into the lock. “You need to give it a little jiggle or the mechanism won’t turn.” She yanked on the key, her fingers white for a moment as she struggled. Then the key turned. I glanced up at the windows. They were so dirty I couldn’t tell if they were stained glass or not. Wire mesh covered each and added to the camouflage. The stone walls might once have been a warm grey, but now traffic dirt covered every surface and the building looked as if it was covered in soot.
My nerves were getting the better of me now, like a ball of static had got inside of me and needed me to jump around to get it out. I stamped my feet and tried to regain control.
“Go on.” Janie indicated that I should turn the handle.
“Okay…” We swapped positions and I pushed the door open. It was one of these heavy oak affairs, although the wood was so grimy I couldn’t actually tell what kind of wood it was. My belly ached, the tumors making themselves known, and I stepped over the threshold.
Inside was dark, the windows shedding little light. We entered the nave, our footfalls loud on the stone floor. Someone had pushed all the pews up against the walls, piled like firewood and abandoned. A pod-like machine big enough for a single person rested in the cleared space, its metallic hull gleaming like buffed silver. In the background a large cross still hung behind the altar.
“This is it.” Janie knelt beside the machine and put her hand on the surface, almost like a lover’s touch. “This is what cured me.”
Born in Portsmouth in 1971, Lisa Hinsley grew up in England, Scotland, and America. She now lives on the Wirral, in northwest England, with her husband, three children, and four cats.
Lisa’s novels Plague and The Ultimate Choice have featured regularly on the UK Amazon bestsellers charts and are now published in the USA by Simon & Schuster. Visit her website Lisa C. Hinsley
Lisa has been interviewed on the BBC regarding care for cancer patients. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22023820