I had a lovely launch party at The Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, where I got to sign my book for the first time. What an evening!
Spotting the book in shops has been a thrill, and it still is. Here's one of the first sightings of the hardback "in the wild" at Waterstones in Banbury, five days before the official publication day:
There's a part of me that finds it hard to believe any of this has happened. Part of me even feels it shouldn't have happened... I don't really deserve it, a little voice tells me. In a way that's true. There is a certain amount of luck involved. Yes, I worked hard on my novel, but so do lots of writers. I found agent representation on the strength of it, and got published by a "big five" publisher. But so do all sorts of books, and some of those are of dubious merit, as we all know. I like to think my novel falls into the well-enough-written-with-a-strong-enough-hook category. The problem is, that's quite a difficult formula to replicate!
Having one book out there doesn't guarantee there will be another. Currently, I have three "completed" novels under my belt. One of them got a book deal, and the others probably won't. Rejection really is part and parcel of a writer's life, published or not, and over this past year I've had my fair share of rejection. I've cried bitter tears, experienced a massive (but transient) confidence dip, and bored my nearest and dearest with my expletive-riddled whinges. My finger has even hovered over the "unfollow" button on Twitter (I got a grip. I didn't do it).
1. Rejection isn't personal. Most often it's a matter of taste and/or economics. It's that simple. Publishers are there to do a job, which is to publish profitable books.
2. Publishers are not there to make my dreams, or anybody else's, come true. The dream-come-true bit is a by-product.
3. I love writing. More than anything else, I love the thrill of making up people and their worlds. I love getting to know my characters so well that they become (almost) friends. I love the editing process, working on each sentence, trying to make it do exactly what I want it to do. I love hitting delete and getting rid of swathes of excess or useless or bad writing. I know I will continue to write whether I'm published again or not, and after much soul-searching I've realised I have to write the stories that only I can write. In fact, these are the only stories I can write. Hopefully one of them will hit the jackpot again one day. But if not, I hit it once and that makes me a very fortunate writer indeed.
Foyles, June 2014