2020: My Year of Dichotomy

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

It’s a rainy October day and finally I’m sitting down to write my blog. 2020 – the year that in many ways feels as if it never was, yet a year that really was. But amongst the hardship, restrictions and anxiety, I truly believe that empathy, care, unselfishness, altruism, and a sense of pulling together, has been a positive outcome to a catastrophic period. This collective and philanthropic consciousness hasn’t been seen so clearly since World War Two – more about WW2 later …

January and our trip to the Tate in London (that’s me outside the Tate in my website photo, and the last time I ventured into London) feels like a long time ago. Another life – pre-face coverings, pre-one-way supermarket yellow arrows, pre-fear, pre-death. Because it is death, of our loved ones, of our elderly relatives, of other people’s elderly relatives, friends, and acquaintances, which is driving the worldwide Covid 19 response.

I can only think that the dissenters and armchair conspiracy theorists have not been touched by the virus’s fall-out. If that is the case, I do understand – with no direct and palpable effect, people don’t see a cause, (the cause does exist, it is a virus, and it is not the flu), but if people see no cause and hence by extrapolation no effect, then what’s the big deal?

There is though a problem, and I’ve no wish to debate the politics of how the problem is being handled in the UK, but the undisputed fact is – the world is in the grip of a pandemic and it has impacted massively our day-to-day lives, including mine and my family’s.

I’ve opened with these thoughts, most probably, to give me an excuse for allowing my blog’s starvation over the last 6 months. I’m aware that other writers have been prolific, and this is borne out with the large increase in submissions to literary agents and publishing houses this year. Although on a personal level, for me the panic and anxiety set in early, and I was unable to write new words, only finding the motivation to revisit old ones and breathe new life into them. And here begins that particular story.

In the autumn of 2019 I decided to independently publish, (self-publishing and my tortuous writing journey will be the subjects of later blogs.)

Fast forward six months and The Walls We Build, which is set during WW2, was released on the first day of lockdown, March 23rd 2020.

Because I’m published traditionally as Julie-Ann Corrigan (Falling Suns by JA Corrigan, Headline Accent) with my contemporary fiction, I decided to publish my historical novel under the pseudonym, Jules Hayes.

I would become a Hybrid Author!

I’m really happy with how the book’s been received; it has 53 ratings on Amazon with an extremely healthy number of 5 star reviews, and some lovely feedback. 58 reviews and ratings on Goodreads too. Thank you to everyone who bought, read and reviewed the book.

My long-term plan was to publish book 2, my next historical novel, later this year, (I will hence refer to the book as The Spanish Novel.) With this in mind, I asked my friend and mentor, but also a phenomenal writer herself, to take a look at the manuscript. I needed honest feedback before publishing The Spanish Novel.

However, as often happens on our life’s path events don’t always go to plan, although sometimes that’s a good thing.

Sarah read The Spanish Novel and loved it, offered some editorial feedback (always appreciated), but more importantly, encouraged me to submit the book to literary agents to find representation, in the hope of eventually finding a traditional publisher. Please do check out Sarah’s new book here, written under her pen-name Rhiannon Ward; a wonderful gothic ghost story –

The Quickening

The Spanish Novel was the very first novel I wrote, coming to life way back in 2010 via a short story.

The reason I share this little bit of history is because The Spanish Novel has gone through many redrafts, at least ten, probably more, and I’ve written four more books since writing the first draft. Although in between writing each book I would always find myself going back to The Spanish Novel.

It was a habit I couldn’t shake off, a lifelong project, an obsession.

On the back of Sarah’s editorial notes I redrafted The Spanish Novel again and in May of this year I submitted to several hand-picked literary agents. And yes, it received interest!

One particular agent asked: ‘Do you have more novels in the drawer?’ – I did, and explained that I wrote contemporary thriller fiction too as JA Corrigan. She asked to see my portfolio, loved all of it – historical and contemporary fiction – and offered representation.

During lockdown in June 2020 I signed with Camilla Shestopal at Shesto Literary

A month later an editor at Orion Dash, Orion’s digital imprint contacted us saying she wanted to publish The Spanish Novel.

My manuscript has finally found a home and will be published on March 15th 2021.

The novel, a dual timeline story, is set during Spain’s civil war and 1976.

The Spanish Novel now has a title…

The Spanish Girl

A country torn apart by war Two love stories divided by decades One chance to discover the truth... 

The Spanish Novel's journey is the journey on which I truly learned my writing craft, but I was passionate about my story and sensed strongly it was a tale I had to tell.

For research (I'm big on research) I visited the Basque region in Spain, I took a trip to Barcelona, I visited Guernica – I did all of this to enable me to lay out the narrative as authentically as possible. Writing and re-writing this book was the training ground for my later books, and the boot camp for the very final draft of The Spanish Girl

2020 is my dichotomous year – apprehension surrounding publication of The Walls We Build, increasing anxiety related to Covid 19 and the challenges we’ve all had to face, and angst that for most of this year I’ve been unable to write one new word, which for a writer is pretty catastrophic.

But. It’s also the year I signed with a good literary agent and saw my 10-year project – The Spanish Novel – come to life. I’m hoping by the end of 2020, and as we all face on-going restrictions, I might have more positive news. Who knows? You never know.

What I do know though, is this: the world will survive Covid 19, we will hug again, we will have have learned a lot, we will be intrinsically kinder and more compassionate, and I will write new words.

We will survive. Because that is what the human species is good at. Honestly.

Fear less, love more, forgive without thought.

Take care all and continue to stay safe.



Buying Links:

On pre-order: Orion/Dash - Publication - 15th March 2021 The Spanish Girl

The Walls We Build

As JA Corrigan

Falling Suns: Headline Accent (July 2016)

For exclusive access to my short story, which inspired The Spanish Novel, please do sign up to my newsletter. I plan to publish the story to coincide with the book’s cover reveal. Don’t miss it!

On Friday 16th October 2020 Jules is a guest over on taking part in Jill's wonderful "Five on Friday" blog. I had great fun answering the questions. Take a look and let me know what you think! I always love to hear from readers and adore interacting on Twitter. See you there!

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