Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Lions, Planets and Dreams That Come True

According to the Waterstones website, my novel, Tying Down The Lion, is only 110 days away!

November 3rd is the date set for its release, sliding in nicely with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall in the same week. (In a small twist of fate, the Wall was built on my first birthday in 1961. And it came down on the date that would become my middle daughter's birthday.)

There is a little blurb about Tying Down The Lion and a small interview about me here and here, which some of you will have seen on Facebook. Thank you for all those heart-warming words of support. Truly, thank you. As you all know, writing is a solitary delight, but the encouraging words of friends bring an immeasurable support that spurs a writer on. It reminds me of learning to swim as a child. I really struggled as I left my depth and was on the verge of panic. And out of the blue, one of those thick polystyrene floats bobbed by, just within reach, and also large and white enough for me to see without my glasses. (Not that I knew what it was. It felt like a huge slice of Sunblest bread. Why were those floats always so nibbled-looking?)

TDTL was a joy to write and I always hoped like mad that it would be published. But I knew there were no guarantees and I didn't want to have any expectations in case I was disappointed. Huge thanks to Rosemary for suggesting I try approaching smaller, independent publishing companies. As soon as I did just that, I was offered the contract and everything fell into place.

Brick Lane are fabulous - friendly, efficient and brilliant at keeping me informed at each step of the process. I couldn't ask for more. They are organising the cover at the moment, having shown me all their exciting ideas for it before they were sent to the artwork designer. When I see it, I know I'm going to be absolutely overwhelmed. Just seeing the ISBN stopped me in my tracks. But the cover will make it all feel real and a fifty-year dream will have come true.

My short stories are being published in hardback by Ink Tears, who approached me in 2012 after I was a runner-up in their competition. They are bringing out their first three collections soon, all of which I hope to talk about in a future post. Mine, which is called When Planets Slip Their Tracks, will follow on after those, possibly this winter or early next year. Once again, the experience is a joy. I have met some lovely people and been kept fully informed every step of the way. There are so many things to think about, from blurbs and bylines to interviews and endorsements. But my favourite part of the magical process was proofreading and polishing the stories, all of which are from various competitions and many have appeared in anthologies over the years. I read each one out loud and loved every minute of it. I tucked myself away in my youngest daughter's bedroom (she was at school sitting her GCSE exams), where I wouldn't disturb my husband and middle daughter working in other rooms. After reading them, I was amazed by how many improvements there were to be made. And the copy-editors might find more!

It's wonderful to imagine these stories together in one volume and feels as if it's come about almost by magic - if gluing myself to my chair, hunching over the keyboard and frowning at my screen from dawn until dusk could be construed as magic. I certainly remind myself of a grumpy old witch weaving a spell. I even let out the occasional cackle.

I hope everyone who reads either of these books will enjoy them, especially if they feel moved enough to smile, laugh, or maybe even cry. Again, I'd prefer not to have high expectations, but if any of the characters remain with you, that really would be my ultimate dream come true.