It’s publication eve! My debut novel will be out tomorrow! Ellie and the Harp-Maker will be in bookshops! What a strange mix of emotions: Excitement in shedloads, anxiety in spades, and also, even now (a full year and a half after getting my contract) utter disbelief.
Yet it must be true. So much has happened this last month to prove it. People I don’t know have contacted me saying how much they enjoyed reading the advance copy. There have been reviews. There have been giveaways and sweepstakes involving my book, one of which even puts it together with the fabulous bestseller, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I’ve had interviews about my book not only with BBC Radio Somerset but also with a journalist in Texas! (I didn’t actually go to Texas. That one was by phone). To top it all, I’ve received some actual, beautiful hardback books bearing my name in gold letters! AND I've seen photos of Ellie in a special display in Waterstones Yeovil. Soon I shall see such things with my own eyes…
How am I celebrating? Well, I recently travelled up to the Edinburgh Harp Festival to choose a new harp! Here are some of the snaps I took. There were loads of fabulous harpists and wonderful concerts – but for me the real draw was the harp-makers’ exhibition. And yes, I’ve ordered my new harp. But… there’s an eleven month waiting list! As with the writing, I’m going to have to be patient. And, as with the writing, I know it will be worth the wait.
A quick look back at my journey to this point.
Early years. Always said I’d write a novel. Didn’t.
Later years. Tried. Failed.
More recent years. Got severely ill and couldn’t do anything for ages. Was saved by surgery. Decided life was too precious not to do want you really want to do. Started playing harp and writing in earnest.
2014. Wrote a short story that won me a free place at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School. Met other lovely writers there, my vital support group. Scribbled v rough, short draft of novel - mostly sitting in fields, pen and paper. Then abandoned it.
2015. Wrote stories for comps, managed to win some more! A hard year for me personally, though, so went to Swanwick again in August to cheer myself up. Somebody there said: "How about that novel?"
Autumn 2015. First three chapters long-listed for Mslexia comp. Hooray! But - yikes! - I had to finish whole novel and submit it within ten days! Mad flurry of writing to meet deadline. But it was later short-listed - and for 3 other novel prizes!
June 2016. Winchester Winchester Writers’ Festival, pitching to agents. Was immediately summoned to London by an agent. Hooray again! Signed on the dotted line. Thought that was it, I’d done it, publication was just around the corner. Was oh-so-wrong.
December 2016. The pits. Lost my agent.
Early 2017. Cross with world. Rewrote novel and started subbing to agents again. Was rejected, had some feedback. Rewrote novel.
Found Darley Anderson! Who said if I was happy to rewrite novel he was happy to represent me. Rewrote novel. Again.
3 months later it was ready, just in time for Frankfurt Book Fair. After a 5-way bidding war between German publishers, rights were bought by HarperCollins Germany. Also sold to Serbia. But still no deal in my own country.
Christmas 2017. A two-book deal with Transworld, Penguin Random House!
2018. More foreign language deals and a two-book deal with Berkley, PRH America!
May 2nd 2019. Ellie and the Harp-Maker will be published!