If I wrote this in a story or a script, it would be too on the nose … but honestly, half an hour after posting that last blog entry, I got a call from an agent. I couldn’t explain why I burst out laughing so haplessly spluttered, “Sorry, I’m just eating crackers!” Smooth!
It was SO thrilling to be able to talk about the book in detail with someone who had READ THE WHOLE THING (I’d thought about getting a beta-reader before sending it off and I think in many cases that is the best idea, but I had had so many extracts critiqued and rounds of edits, it was at the point where I knew it was ready to go). And who said it made sense! Who was engaged with the characters and surprised by the twists!
I was very lucky to get several great offers which was amazing – I genuinely did think I’d be lucky/happy to get one – but also quite anxiety-inducing, in that I had to decide who would be the best fit for the book and, if all goes well, future books. I genuinely agonised and was a bit miserable for a week even though I understand it’s a good problem to have, etc.
But! In the end I am very, very happy to announce that I have signed with
Louise Lamont of LBA Books. As well as having the most glamorous name in publishing (undeniable echoes of the fabulous Lina Lamont in Singing In The Rain), Louise is lovely, very experienced, an Anne of Green Gables fan, and absolutely understands my vision for the novel, what I want people to take away from it and talk about, what I would want a publisher to do for it and how to make those final tweaks that will get it there. I am truly excited about what the next year will bring and the prospect of finally getting the book out there to be read.
While that’s in hand, I have started what will be my next novel! It is early days but I love the basic concept. I want it to be quite a different experience to The Ghost Marriage, in two ways: one, the tone and the central character should be quite different (even though it is another historical novel about a woman in an unusual setting; I like what I like), and two, I have to learn from all the mistakes that I made last time. Some basic things like organising research materials better and labelling drafts (has anyone used Scrivener? I am giving it a try), but also I now see how important it is for me to get the first draft done much more quickly. Not just because I would literally die of frustration if it took as long again, but because I realised how absorbing the editing process can be and how just going through it fast can solve those plot problems that held me up for months.
But it’s fun to realise just how open the project can be at this stage. I sketched out a basic synopsis and I can see that it would work, I could write it that way; but I don’t think I want to, because it would take on a certain tone that I don’t want to enmesh myself in for a year. So I can change it! Nothing is written in stone yet, it’s so flexible now and I really want to enjoy that after spending years fleshing out something that I had fairly fixed. I mean, I’m not saying that there are going to be witches flying above the WWI trenches in it, but there could be! It could be anything!
I’d be interested to know what other people think when they’re starting a new project. How do you stay open to the possibilities of a first draft?