The Many Hats of the Modern Novelist

Writing a novel is difficult and demanding, and many fall by the wayside. It’s tough but it’s a process with a clearcut and straightforward goal, right? An obvious beginning and end.

You have an idea. You labour to transfer it onto the page and fashion it into a book – let’s call it My Debut Tome. You struggle to find an agent, publisher – anyone! – who will help you get it out to readers. Eventually you succeed and MDT is published. You do a bit of publicity, heave a sigh of relief, and reward yourself with some time away from the keyboard.

Except, it’s not like that. Not at all. Let me tell you about the multiple literary hats I am currently wearing. My Tome Number Two – that is to say, the comic fiction A Novel Solution – is out in just under three weeks in March. Naturally I – along with my publisher SRL – am pulling out all the stops to get the title in front of as many readers, reviewers and booksellers as possible. That has to be my priority. My biggest bonnet, you could say.

However, at the same time, I can’t neglect My Debut Tome – that is, Note to Boy – since the launch of the new novel offers a great opportunity to promote my first, and find a fresh audience for it. Another hat.

However, qui n’avance pas, recule, as the French say. Those who don’t go forward, fall back. I need to plan ahead, and balance another titfer on top of the other two.                 

As every writer I know finds, before the ink is dry on the last book, people are asking ‘What are you working on now?’ Plus writing is an addiction. Without a text to tinker with, I’m like a vaper craving their next fix, and probably as grumpy. So, I am about 75% through drafting Tome Number Three and hoping to have it in good shape for submission later this year. We’re up to three hats.

However, as you may have noticed, I am also involved in a project with Breakthrough Books to publish short story anthologies. Two volumes have been produced already; the well received and reviewed Taking Liberties and Order & Chaos, both of which include stories from me as well as other established writers. Ideas for short stories are constantly bubbling in my brain, demanding attention. I need to work on them, ready if the call should come for a third anthology. Four hats.                              

All this is in addition to marketing and social media activities, and, if I’m lucky, finding time to read other writers’ books. By now the pile of hats is in danger of toppling.                    

Being a novelist, straightforward and clearcut? I should coco.                                                                                                                           

Out in March. Grab your copy.

Countdown to publication – one month to go

Only a month to wait now before Trish is launched into the world. I can hardly believe it. On 19 March, A Novel Solution will be published, to be followed a few weeks later, in June, by the paperback.

It’s taken a while. As you may have gathered from these occasional glimpses into my life and writing habits, I’m not the most organised of authors. Like a DIY decorator let loose with a paintbrush, I have to create an unholy mess before I can start to see exactly what it is I am actually aiming for.

I make no apologies for this unashamed ‘pants-ing’. For me, as I’ve said many times, the magic comes in the edit. It’s there that I explore my characters, shape the story into something that resembles a coherent plot, and add a few extra funny moments. Which means, though I can dash off a passable rough draft in a few weeks, the editing process takes an age and needs careful thought. With help from SRL Publishing and a host of writerly friends and supporters, I think I have pulled it off once more!

So, if you enjoyed Note to Boy (still available from the usual places) or my contributions to the short story anthologies Taking Liberties and Order and Chaos, please do take a look at A Novel Solution. One of my very favourite authors, the peerless Lissa Evans (Old Baggage, and many others), says kind things about it. You can preorder now – a good thing, they tell me, for favourable algo-whatsits.

PS Thank you to everyone who sent good wishes after my recent hip op. Happy to say, I am at last on the mend and on the move.