Fast forward through the dreaded Second Book. And then the Third Book.
I didn’t know it then, but this was the watershed.
I did not enjoy writing these two books. Was it because I wrote them under contract? Was it because I wrote them in collaboration with my editor, sending her chunks at a time for approval, discussing every next step with her? Was it the pressure to perform, the knowledge that I was being watched, the expectation that I now had to confirm myself as a Published Author? Or, now that most of my main financial problems were solved, had I also lost my motivation to write at all? A worrying thought, that last one.
Maybe all of those played a part. But I can best sum it up in four words: the magic was gone.
I had written Of Marriageable Age in a lightbeam of enchantment. Every day it I had entered my own little private world where the characters were my closest friends, their story a journey I travelled with them, eager to kmow its outcome. Never mind that I had to leave that world for cold reality every day: still I knew that it was waiting for me the next day.
My novel was a magic carpet that took me far away; but at the same time, entered me and drove me and moved my fingers. And somehow that magic entered the novel; “magic” is the word readers most often descibed it by. Not magic in the waving a magic wand sense, but in a more personal sense. Readers felt touched.
Writing is such an intimate occupation; the words you put down on paper are the visible symbols of who you are and where you are. Each word is a portal through which the reader enters your world, your being. As if by magic, readers were pulled into the same enchanted world inwhich I’d written it. What more could a writer want?
The feedback was strong and overwhelming: people loved this book. Again and again I heard those precious words: “I couldn’t put it down.” A friend of mine who never reads novels complained that she had to stay home all day to finish it and thus missed a day of chores. I met my German editor, whose enthusiasm positively bubbled out of her.
Good things were happening in Denmark, too: in the first week of publication all the the national newspapers had brought out glowing reviews. They’d compared my writing to Isabel Allende’s, and OMA was already at number 8 on their bestseller list. A Danish journalist came over to interview me.
And then I met my French editor.
The news coming out of France was fantastic.
Patrice, my editor at Flammarion, told me that the entire house was excited about this book. They had decided to make it their major title for the summer of 2002. The marketing department had loved it so much that they themselves had proposed a budget of €100000 to promote it. Never in all his publishing life had such a thing happened, Patrice said; usually he has to ring each promotional penny from Marketing. He asked me to come to Paris to help withthe promotion; meanwhile, he was sending over a photographer.