Jim Mannell : I Write


The Time Before

This work of fiction is a romantic drama and psychic thriller. The depiction of post-World War 1 Munich is historically accurate.

This was actually the first book I wrote and the one I feel is my best. It pre-dates A Chalkie of the State. Although one of my teaching subjects was German at the time, the idea for the plot came right out of left field. At the time I was a frantically busy head teacher of foreign languages at a local high school, but somehow I wrote The Time Before, the original title of which was Dying in Time,  in only five months, at the cost of quite a few sleepless nights (because I was “on a roll”).

I was uncharacteristically upbeat about its chances of success and as I wrote it I played heavily on visual impact, with the somewhat naïve belief that when it was snapped up by some big publishing company, I could easily write the screenplay. My agent at the time was so excited about the book that she sent it straight to Century Hutchinson in London. I began to plan a huge party to celebrate. Alas, although CH conceded: “Mannell can write”, they added that they didn’t want to publish this style of novel. That was circa 1980. I’ve submitted it on and off several times since then. 2013 is the latest. I’m now exactly double the age I was when I first penned the novel.