This post marks three months since the publication of my debut novel, Sugar and Snails, and a possible a transition to another stage of my writerly identity. A few weeks before publication I wrote of my ambivalence at claiming the title of author but, once my book was out there, and people were saying nice things about it, I felt less of a fictional fictioneer. Now, as I start to soft-pedal on the selling (for non-British readers, flog is slang for sell), get ready to edit the next one (another contract is signed and Underneath is scheduled for May 2017) and revisit the fast first draft of what I hope will be my third, I’m wondering if author is big enough to encompass the size of my ego. With three novels in mind, am I now a novelist?
The analogy isn’t very original but, like many clichés, it’s one that works: like children at different stages of development, these novels require different kinds of attention, fluctuating amounts even, as they venture into the world. Of necessity, my firstborn has been the priority over the last six months and, while it’s always going to need me, it can stand on its own two feet as I snuggle up with the baby, and the middle one prepares for its turn in the limelight.
As you’ll see from the plethora of links, my website has gone somewhat manic with all this, especially in the last few days, belatedly getting the advance praise page looking respectable, even though we’re well past the “advance” stage. Do check out my brand-new page for those who have read the book, including a survey of people’s experience of the novel, and let me know if you spot any glitches. And it’s almost had my husband tearing his hair out – Why don’t you just write books? quoth he – but I can now show you some videos of the launch, starring Mr Tangental at the book signing, and including a big thank you to my blogging supporters from around the world.
In the next couple of months, I’m looking forward to two scheduled therapy-lit talks, another library signing session and a trip back to my former workplace to talk about the book to the LGBT forum. I’m hoping these will provide enough respite, but not too much distraction, from the intensity of focus on what I’m daring to think of as Novel Number Three. Along with that, I’ll be reading for reviews, blogging and practising the art of the 99-word story (although probably not next week as I’m having a weekend away).
On which point, Charli Mills has been talking mattresses and cemeteries, challenging the Rough Writers and friends to compose a 99-word story featuring a final resting place. Now, while I’m encountering a little reticence among some booksellers (despite the increased discount) regarding print-on-demand, at least I won’t have to deal with this:
I couldn’t ignore his calls forever, but I could have a damn good try. Friends said I should get over it, move on to the next. But until I heard him say those words, the dream lived on in my mind.
I understood his reasons: the spark had gone, every avenue pursued to a dead end. Gathering dust, redundant, we had to make space for the new. I poured myself a brandy and called him. It wouldn’t hurt so much if I took control. Just don’t send my unsold books to landfill, I pleaded. Grant me that, at least.
What projects do you have lined up the next few months?