John Mountford's blog on his novel, Kill Mandela.

The answer is: I don’t know!

I have always wanted to write full time. But feeding, housing, clothing, entertaining and educating four children came first for thirty years. I started two novels that I got to about chapter thirty-something twice over the years, but they shrivelled on the vine as I repeatedly ran out of time – and inspiration.

The truth is, though, that even if I had had the time then, both of those novels  would still have died.


Ideas for novels, by John Mountford, author of Kill Mandela, a novel.

Because they were born in my head, and not in the place ideas for (good) novels should come from. Where is that, again? Again, I answer, ‘I don’t know’. But I do know where they don’t come from: the writers brain.


The best stories are the ones that want to be written. They already exist, out there somewhere, before the writer rolls that first piece of paper into the typewriter, or opens that first folder.

‘Where is that somewhere?’, you ask.

Yes, you guessed it: I don’t know.

But I do know that it exists, because I visit there every time I get my bum onto my writing chair and stay there long enough to deserve to be taken there. It’s a wondrous place, and each time I visit I am filled with the sure knowledge that we are not alone in this universe.

Inspiration comes unbeckoned and in a form that always surprises me. I have come to understand why: because if it didn’t, I would think it came from my own head.

But it doesn’t. How do I know?

I don’t know. But I do know.