2014 has been an incredible roller-coaster of a year. I thought it would be useful for me to share my experiences, not only because I’m incredibly vain, but because of what I’ve learned from what’s happened.
The first big news, of course, is that in March I published ‘A Love Most Dangerous’ which sold more copies than any of my other books by an astonishing margin. The second big news is that Lake Union Publishing asked to republish it.
The new edition will come out on 27 January but is available for pre-order. And it’s an e-book, a paper-back and on audio.
So this is what I’m going to write about over the next four weeks.
But first, I’m going to back-track a little to recount how and why I became a self-published writer, an Indie.
I’ve written since the age of eleven and have had two main ambitions in life. One was to be a teacher (which I did). The second was to be a writer.
I studied English and History at the University of East Anglia which, at the time, was the only UK University which an interest in creative writing. Malcolm Bradbury was one of my tutors and I very nearly enrolled for his flagship MA in Creative Writing. But I decided that I wanted to see more of life first, and besides, I had my other ambition to fulfil. So I went to be a teacher instead. I’ve half regretted this decision ever since. But only half.
I still kept on writing. I wrote a novella, short stories and plays but gave up poetry at the same time as acne. I won a short story competition and had the thrill of hearing it on radio. This was a children’s story and I wrote a dozen more. I used to read them to my class, pretending that a friend had written them. I could see by their reactions, what worked and what didn’t. It was the best form of critique imaginable.
And I accumulated lots and lots of rejections. In 1992 I conceived the idea of combining my two loves of writing and history and wrote my first historical novel about an Elizabethan spy. There were lots of rejections of this including several from an agent who told me that the historical novel was as dead as the dodo. But then, one day, the publisher Robert Hale said they wanted to see the whole book.
Yikes, I hadn’t quite finished it. I burnt the midnight oil and sent off the completed manuscript. And I heard nothing. For six weeks. Then the manuscript came back, dog-eared, coffee-stained and very well-thumbed. They turned the manuscript down because, although they loved the writing, they thought the plot was weak and needed improving.
So, of course, you’d expect me to settle down and get to work to improve it. Did I heck! I didn’t know how to do so and started another novel instead. And then another.
I continued to submit my writing (and what an interesting word submit is when you come to think of it. Talk about ideas of win and lose, power and the absence of it.)
Increasingly, as the years wore on, my work was rejected without even a cursory glance. How I yearned for the consideration which the dog-ears proved Robert Hale had given to my work.
In 2008, the Kenneth Grahame Society organised a short-story competition to encourage writers to create sequels to Kenneth Grahame’s classic novel, The Wind in the Willows. I loved the book and set to work to write a story. I was thrilled to find that my story, ‘Mr Toad’s Wedding’, made it to the final long-list of 20 stories. And then, on the morning that Barak Obama became President of the USA, I heard that I had won the completion and my story would be published along with other winning entries.
NEXT UP – I BECOME AN INDIE WRITER.