A few weeks ago something happened that I had worried would never, ever happen.
I signed a publishing deal with Oxford University Press for my children’s fantasy adventure book –
Mold and the Poison Plot.
Gosh. Even writing that seems bizarre!
I feel a bit like Dorothy when she woke up in OZ - dazed and stunned and wondering if it's all a dream. Weeks later I'm still wondering if I've had a bump on the head!
Getting the very thing I’d been dreaming of for years is an amazing thing. But it has actually, properly, REALLY happened. During a meeting with my soon to be editor at OUP HQ in Oxford last week it finally sank in. A whole team of wonderful, talented people would be working with me to publish MY story! WOW!
|Myself and my agent Kate Shaw outside OUP|
I suppose you might be wondering how I got to this point so let’s Cue The Backstory and vanish back in time…
As soon as I began writing in 2010 it became clear just what a difficult and competitive industry I was trying to enter. I did my best and followed all the advice: Writing draft after draft, joining SCBWI, setting up a crit group, writing another book, going to events and conferences and workshops, reading books on craft and writer blogs and then writing some more.
I finished several projects, was rejected many, many times and kept on going regardless. I felt I was making progress but just not enough to break through.
I had been writing for over three years when the idea for this book popped into my head. I spent the next three months furiously writing the first draft and then, took a leap of faith and sent the first three chapters to The Golden Egg Academy.
Although I felt I had a plot and a voice and a story worth telling I also knew it wasn’t at the level it needed to be, not yet and I hoped GEA would help me get it there.
In January 2014 I met Imogen Cooper for the first time and our discussion sent sparks of inspiration flying in my head. I was lucky enough to be recommended for mentoring and my subsequent meeting with Maurice Lyon gave me such a clear path for the redraft that it almost didn’t feel like editing!
I did more work with Imogen until I finally felt it was ready to be seen by agents and in October 2014 I met and signed with the marvellous Kate Shaw from the Viney Agency.
More edits with Kate followed where I had to lose a full 10,000 words and then the hardest stage of all – submissions to publishers!
It was this part that felt the most terrifying. This was the make or break. Either someone would buy it or they wouldn’t and if they didn’t then I was looking at having to say goodbye to my much loved story and start again with something new…
Holding my nerve and staying positive through rejections was much easier with the help of my lovely supportive agent but it still tested my very sanity at times. (big thanks to my writer friends who put up with me and managed to make me laugh when I wanted to cry!)
And then the interest from publishers began and I held my breath, wondering if that interest would become something more concrete… and oh frabjous day it did!
And so, we can return to the present day –
Summing up then, it’s taken two years since first beginning Mold and the Poison Plot to secure a book deal with OUP that will lead to its publication in Spring 2017 – nearly FOUR YEARS after starting it and SEVEN YEARS after I began writing!
The years of scribbling away may have been long and often arduous but they have given me so much more than a publishing deal; I’ve learned what makes me really happy (stories and writing), discovered I have more strength and grit than I ever imagined (who knew?), found supportive and wonderful friendships that I hope will be part of my life forever ( I’m not giving them any choice in the matter.) and a whole host of wonderful things to look forward to in the future from launch parties to school visits and hopefully more books!
I feel very lucky indeed and I'm going to do my best to enjoy it all, keep learning and try to remember always that the journey is just as important as the destination.
Feel free to ignore the next bit everyone! It is a bit Oscar speech I’m afraid but I wanted those included to know how very much I appreciate them all. I could have waited for the book acknowledgements or my launch party speech but that is far away and life is uncertain so I just wanted to get it out there now –
I will be forever grateful to -
1) The Golden Egg Academy, most especially Imogen and Maurice - for offering not just insightful editing advice and instruction on story but never ending support and the most wonderful writing community of which I am so happy to be a part of.
2) My agent Kate Shaw for believing in me and my story.
3) My crit group past and present who have been clever and funny and marvelous over the years (Thank you - Miriam, Allison, Meira, Gail, Karen, Tania, Paula, Larisa and Michelle)
4) Vashti and James for being the best writing chums a girl could ask for.
5) Jude for knowing me forever and loving me anyway.
6) My mum who took me to the library every week, sat and listened to me read endlessly and always believed I could do anything.
7) My dad who told me such good stories about the pet crocodile he had as a boy in India that I believed they were true for years! Still kind of wish they were.
8) Steve – who supported me in every way possible, never grumbled about my new obsession and took his own joy from seeing me happy. Love you.
9) Luke – my heart, my reason for writing, my sounding board, my harshest critic and always my baby boy. Sorry for the mushy stuff.