Out in the Cold

I’ll make it short and sweet.
She didn’t like it. Or at least, not enough to overcome its fatal flaw.
I knew there was trouble when two weeks had passed and no word. And then three. And then four.
I nudged her ar four, and got the encouraging reply that the agency was moving office. An excellent excuse, so I continued to wait.. The ants by this time had stopped scurrying in the pit of my stomach. I already knew the answer.
She was quite ploite about it. Made some comments about this or that, and then, at the end: “You do realise, don’t you, that your publisher is not going to be pleased at the Guyana location.”
I wrote her back:
“I knew. I took the risk anyway. Please send it in.”
She did.
The waiitng began anew.
At about the three-week-mark I got a brief note from Agent saying that Editor was a third of the way through and thought my writing was better than ever.
Aha.
But “good writing” never really set me on fire. What about my story? Wasn’t THAT great? That’s what I wanted to hear.
Two months in I began to get restless.
Why should I give them this great story anyway? They hadn’t treated me well; they didn’t trust me to write a good book. They tried to manipulate me as a writer. They subjugated my creativity, my writer’s instinct, to the market.
I wanted a new publisher.
I broached the subject with my agent; she said it wasn’t a good idea; for several reasons. And anyway, it was an option book. I had to wait it out.
I began to hope for a rejection, just so I could find that great new pubisher that would recognise my genius.
The option period passed; the very next day I wrote my agent and asked her to start looking for a new publisher.
That’s when the rejection came.
It wasn’t the book itself.
It was the fact that Guyana was a larger-than-life-character in it.
Well, that had been my intention, hadn’t it?
Feeling very cocky, I asked my agent to find me a new publisher.
She said there was no point.
“They will all ask why you’re moving away from HarperCollins and when they know you’ve been rejected for your option book they won’t want you.They’ll think of you as a failure. Nobody wants a failure. Nobody is going to want this book.”
Well, thank you very much, dear agent!
I’ll show you!
If she wans’t prepared to shop Last of the Sugar Gods then I’d find an agent who would.
I wrote her a polite but firm and yet passionate letter, thanking her for all she’d done for me to date (which was a lot – she had been the best agent up tp now) but letting her know that the time had come to part company.
So there I was.
No publisher.
No agent.
All on my own again.
And strangely exhilerated. It felt good to be back at the beginning.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cutting Loose

I’ll make it short and sweet.
She didn’t like it. Or at least, not enough to overcome its fatal flaw.
I knew there was trouble when two weeks had passed and no word. And then three. And then four.
I nudged her ar four, and got the encouraging reply that the agency was moving office. An excellent excuse, so I continued to wait.. The ants by this time had stopped scurrying in the pit of my stomach. I already knew the answer.
She was quite ploite about it. Made some comments about this or that, and then, at the end: “You do realise, don’t you, that your publisher is not going to be pleased at the Guyana location.”
I wrote her back:
“I knew. I took the risk anyway. Please send it in.”
She did.
The waiitng began anew.
At about the three-week-mark I got a brief note from Agent saying that Editor was a third of the way through and thought my writing was better than ever.
Aha.
But “good writing” never really set me on fire. What about my story? Wasn’t THAT great? That’s what I wanted to hear.
Two months in I began to get restless.
Why should I give them this great story anyway? They hadn’t treated me well; they didn’t trust me to write a good book. They tried to manipulate me as a writer. They subjugated my creativity, my writer’s instinct, to the market.
I wanted a new publisher.
I broached the subject with my agent; she said it wasn’t a good idea; for several reasons. And anyway, it was an option book. I had to wait it out.
I began to hope for a rejection, just so I could find that great new pubisher that would recognise my genius.
The option period passed; the very next day I wrote my agent and asked her to start looking for a new publisher.
That’s when the rejection came.
It wasn’t the book itself.
It was the fact that Guyana was a larger-than-life-character in it.
Well, that had been my intention, hadn’t it?
Feeling very cocky, I asked my agent to find me a new publisher.
She said there was no point.
“They will all ask why you’re moving away from HarperCollins and when they know you’ve been rejected for your option book they won’t want you.They’ll think of you as a failure. Nobody wants a failure. Nobody is going to want this book.”
Well, thank you very much, dear agent!
I’ll show you!
If she wans’t prepared to shop Last of the Sugar Gods then I’d find an agent who would.
I wrote her a polite but firm and yet passionate letter, thanking her for all she’d done for me to date (which was a lot – she had been the best agent up tp now) but letting her know that the time had come to part company.
So there I was.
No publisher.
No agent.
All on my own again.
And strangely exhilerated. It felt good to be back at the beginning.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Sugar Gods Smile Down

I kept my appointment with myself.
On October 1st 2004, 4 am, I sat down to start my big Next Novel.
I’d discarded Novel E, so this was Novel F.
I could only hope that F, in this case, did not stand for Fail.
But no, how could it?
From the very first day the story danced. I loved it. It was the story of a foundling, a baby left on the banks of a Georgetown canal; the wonderful family that found and raised her, and her hero, the boy who loved the wilds, who knew the Rainforest like the back of his hand and went on to love and protect jaguars; her mother, and her own story of forbidden love.
And all interwoven with Guyana’s extraordinary history.
The more I researched that history the more excited I grew. For the first time ever, I discovered Jock Campbell, the Scottish reformer. Jock had been Chairman of Booker Brothers, the legendary company that owned most of my country in pre-independance days. Coincidentally, that very month a new biography, Sweetening Bitter Sugar, on Jock Campbell was published. As far as my novel was concerned, that book was buried treasure.
Here’s the cover; that’s Jock, in a field of sugar cane .

Now, remember Cheddi Jagan, from my last post?
Cheddi had grown up on one of the very sugar estates owned by Booker Brothers, under appalling circumstances. He knew the desperate situation of the sugar workers from first hand. He grew up with one overriding passion: to free them from their yoke. And one goal: to kick Booker Brothers out of the country. He vowed to bring the British Empire to its knees, and with it President John F. Kennedy. He was our local Gandhi, but an angry, wilfull, stubborn version.

Cheddi walked right into my novel. So did Jock Campbell. Jock represented the almighty Sugar Gods; Cheddi stood up for the Small Man, the downtrodden kuli. The son of a sugar labourer and the son of a British aristocrat., a communist and a capitalist, natural enemies, and yet – a white hand stretched out..
Could a Sugar God be – on the side of the Small Man?
Cheddi didn’t believe it. He was wrong. And he paid the price.

What a story!

Cheddi, Jock and my cast of fictional characters told the story of Guyana’s struggle for independence, the racial violence of the early 60’s, the challenge my people faced as our country faltered and fell and tried to find its feet.
It’s the story of a small country with a great heart. I loved it. It was my big book; through it I celebrated life and declared my regained pride in my homeland and showed it to the world. Guyana had made me who I was, and this book was my thanks.

I wrote between 2000 and 3000 words a day, and in two months I had finished the first draft.
I spent all of December revising it.
In January I sent it to my agent. Its title was The Last of the Sugar Gods.
Yes, it was an early draft and it needed work, but I had always delivered early drafts. That’s so that if my editor had suggestions, I could incorporate those before revising further. They – my agent and my editor – would see through the unpolished surface to the jewel that would one day shine.
Yes, they were expecting a big Indian novel; I was sending them a big Guyanese novel. So what? It was a novel from my heart, my best one yet. I believed in it 100%.
They were going to love this.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Magic Returns!

Something happened at my book launch, something big.
The room was packed, with most of Guyana’s cultural leaders present. A few women who had known me as a child spoke; Janet Jagan, and – horror of horrors – Mrs Jarvis, my old English teacher and one-time headmistress of my High School.
Mrs Jarvis said she had known me as a lazy and rebellious student, but very talented in English.
“We are so proud of you!” she said, and tears pricked my eyes. That old dragon Mrs Jarvis saying such nice things! She was human after all!
Later, I gave my own talk. I told them a little about my books, about growing up in Guyana and my first writing attempts; my first job at a local newspaper. I told them a little about my adventures in publishing.
I told them that my editor had rejected a novel set in Guyana as “unmarketable”.
Guyana was too small, too insignificant, too untrendy for Western readers.
I could almost hear the mental booing.
I told them about the problems I’d had getting a new contract.
And then, without thinking, I blurted::
“I’m going to write a new book, and it’s going to be set in Guyana.”

As one person the audience applauded, loud and long, sealing my fate.

After the talk I signed books for several people. Here’s me signing for Mrs Jarvis:

When I went home to England it was with new purpose and new strength.
I had fallen in love with my home country, the people, the history, with the very idea of Guyana, and something big was moving inside me, and I knew it was a book.
It was the Big Book my editor had asked for; only thing, it was not going to be set in India, but in Guyana.
Even though she had forbidden me to write about Guyana.
Even though I did not have a contract, and even though I was facing the Deep Dark Option-Book Pit.
Something was stirring inside me, and I knew it was the magic. It was back, and it would not take no for an answer.
This time, I would not talk about my story. It would be my secret. I would preserve the magic, protect it from prying eyes.
I would not tell anyone what I was writing.
I would not even tell anyone that I was writing.
Let them think I had given up.
I would simply write it, and then present it as a fait accompli, Guyana and all.
If it was a good book – and I knew it would be – surely they couldn’t reject it?
I had to take a chance. I really didnl’t have a choice – I could feel this new story moving inside me, eager to come out. It was a tiny seedling benetah the earth, nudging at the surface of my consciousness, aching to see the light. I had no idea what plant would come forth. A flowering shrub? A tree? No inkling. I just knew I wanted it to grow.
But there was a problem.
Because of my financial straits, I had started a small business with my son, a business that just kept us above water, and took most of my time.
Where would I find the hours needed to write my new Guyana novel?
I decided on the morning, before I started the day.
I set a date and a time:
On October 1st 2004, 4 am, I would start writing, write every day until 7am, and not stop until the book was finished, my big Guyana book.
They say that all writers are a little bit crazy.
I certainly was.
Don’t you agree?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Agony (Part One)

So there I was in my little boat of a novel in the middle of the sea, and no wind. Not even the tiniest breeze.
Every day, religiously, I sat down at my computer and tried to write. And nothing happened.
Words came, indeed, but they were stilted, tortured words, and few.
This was not how writing was supposed to be; not for me.
It’s supposed to be a joyous thing, the story pouring out of my fingertips and into the keyboard and onto the screen.
If I don’t feel the joy, however will a reader?
If the story has lost its breath, where can I find a second wind?
Where do stories come from, anyway?
I’ve always felt there’s something almost magical to the act of storytelling, a theory that my more prosaic writing colleagues will lambaste but which worked for me – till now.
How I wished, now, that I was simply a craftsman, and could just write! Who needed magic! I wanted a contract!

But the magic was gone, and I had no idea how to reconjure it, or how to write without it.
My story was dead. And I think I know why.
Dorothea Brande in her wonderful little book “Becoming a Writer” explains it in a way I can follow.
I don’t have the book with me here so I can’t quote directy, but she says that when we have a story living inside us we should keep it a secret. Never tell a soul, because a story can be told just once. If you let it out, talk about it, discuss it, the unconscious mind assumes it has already been told, and won’t tell it again. Talking about your book before you have written it, she says, is the surest way to kill it.
And that’s what I had done. Killed my story.
And I didn’t have another one to take its place.
And I didn’t have a contract.
I was really, truly, out on the open sea. I didn’t even have a boat, much less a wind.
But life goes on. The summer holidays were upon me, and I never write in the holidays anyway. Perhaps a new story would come in September. I could only hope.
In September, however, I was summoned to Guyana.
My mother told me that Mrs Janet Jagan had read my books, loved them, and wanted an official launch.
(Janet Jagan photo: Reuters News Service)

History lesson begins.
Janet Jagan is a living legend in my home country. American-born and passionately idealistic, she was the widow of Dr Cheddi Jagan, the country’s most prominent political leader. Jagan was the son of abjectly poor East Indian sugar estate labourers, but had grown up to study Dentistry at Howard University. Returning to the then British Guiana with his young bride Janet, he’d plunged into political activism, got himself elected as the country’s first Premier, was thrown from power with CIA help, railed on as Opposition Leader for several decades, and was finally elected Prime Minister. At her husband’s death, Janet became Prime Minister until retiring for health reasons.

Cheddi Jagan had been a thorn in the side of President Kennedy, who had feared a second Cuba in Guyana. He was a people’s hero, well liked and acknowledged as the country’s greatest leader, truly dedicated to justice and equality, but sometimes fatally stubborn. Though his politics were often one-sided, most people agreed that his heart was in the right place. After his 1992 election victory, in a fair election overseen by Jimmy Carter, Jagan had moderated his Marxist policies and introduced a free market in Guyana. After decades of economic slump under a corrupt USA puppet, the tired country was now slowly limping back to normality

History lesson over.
(And yes, it’s relevant)

My father had been Jagan’s Press Secretary for many years before his (Dad’s) death, and while growing up I had met both the Jagans several times at Dad’s office or occasionally at his home. Now, my mother said, Janet had nominated me for the Guyana Prize for Literature, and had been disappointed to find that I was not eligible, as I was no longer a Guyanese citizen. But she wanted me to come; Janet had herself written and published several children’s books, and was active in promoting all the arts.
It was one thing to look forward to.

Having nothing better to do, no books to write, I went.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

She Didn’t Mean ME…..???

When I was a little girl my father, bless his heart, loved giving me little life-lessons, one-liners which he hoped would shape my world-vision and make me a worthy human being. Things like “God is a human invention” and “Money is the root of all evil” and “America is the Evil Empire“. Dad was a die-hard Marxist, and meant well; and though I later figured out my own world-vision, one quite different to his, some of his wiser aphorisms stuck, and did indeed guide me through life.
One of his oft-repeated mottos was “There’s no such word as can’t. Those words must be ingrained into my consciousness, because they have pulled me out of so many bogs. And once again they proved true.

Who said I can’t write a synopsis? Of course I can! And I did!
Once I put my mind to it, it came easily. Within a week I had a good, strong story mapped out. I mailed it to my editor, and continued with the novel, confident that now I was back on track.
Before the week was over she sent the return mail. Three pages long.
Basically, she liked the synopsis. But….
There were many buts, too many to recall now. One of them had to do with the main character not appearing as an old woman (as she was in my frame novel) but ending it when she is still young, and giving it a Happily Ever After.
Now, imagine being out on the high seas in a sailboat, whipping along in a joyful breeze, the sail full and billowing, the sky blue above.
And suddenly the wind stops. The sail droops. And your little boat is stranded in the middle of the ocean.
That’s how I felt.
Devastated.
I rang my agent and told her I could not work to these revisions (there’s that awkward little word can’t again!) I told her I was more than willing to make any number of revisions to the novel once it is written, but to actually bend and manipulate it during the writing – everything inside me rebelled against it. It just wasn’t right.
For me, there are two distinct phases to writing.
There’s the right-brain creative phase, in which the story is growing; first the embryo of a story, the vague outline. And then slowly limbs grow out of it, and indiviual features develop, and then it’s there, a fully formed first draft.
The first draft is a mess. It emerges from my depths in an exhilerating rush; my thoughts often race ahead and my fingers stuggle to keep up and I make hundreds of typos whihc which I simply leave in becaude because to correct them now would slow me down and I can’t slow down because the characters are rattling at the bars of their prison and screaming, let me out let me out!

In the second and subsequent drafts I do slow down. I exchange my creator’s hat for my editor’s. I turn into a strict discipliarian. I shape and cut and switch scenes around; I am my own worst critic, but I also welcome outside opinions and, since I value my editor’s judgement, there’s almost nothing I wouldn’t do for her to make my story strong and, maybe, perfect.
But not now. This was the right-brain’s arena! And the only rule here was NO EDITING ALLOWED!

To have her analyse my synopsis – which was really nothing more than a guideline – in such detail, to prod and poke at it and shape it into a being of her construction – well, it strangled the baby.

Instead of replying to the mail, I thought about it. And thought some more. I dug deep inside myself to find out what to do. I knew I could not go on this way.
Finally I found my answer. I came to a decision.
I called my agent with my decision. I took a deep breath, and spoke.
“I’m going to ignore these notes,” I said.
Silence.
Then, “Ignore them? What do you mean?”
“I mean – I’m going to go ahead and write my story the way it wants to come out. When I’m finished, we can revise it and pull it into shape. Not now.”
“You mean…?”
“Yes. I’m going to write it without a contract – on spec. When it’s finished I’ll submit it and take it from there.”
“You’re crazy. You need the advance!”
Indeed I did. England was expensive; I’d recently bought my own home and had not only a mortgage to pay but my daughter’s private-school fees. Finishing the book might take six months to a year. I needed a shot of cash much sooner.
“I know. But still. I feel so sure about this. So confident. It’s what I have to do.”
“You know what a risk you’re taking?”
Sure, I knew. My agent had often told me of the Deep Option-Book Pit awaiting certain authors. Authors like me, who had not earned out their advances. She had always told me laughingly, playfully, never threateningly: these authors get dropped. Their option books rejected. Even authors the publisher had once loved and drooled over. Love in the publishing industry is often quite shallow, and irrevocably linked to the bottom line.
It’s sometimes harder to get a third book published or a fourth than a first, she’d told me.
Getting
published is easy. It’s staying published that’s hard.
My agent often put it like this: either you’re huge as an author – or you’re nothing. And I certainly wasn’t huge.
But I was safe. It was simply a matter of getting this book – a book my editor loved, and I loved, but just needed moulding into shape – finished. Once that was done the Aquisitions people would love it too.
Those horrible stories – well, they were just that, stories. She told me them to amuse me, not to warn me. They happened to other people.
She didn’t mean me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Playing the Game

I hate parties.
Amend that to “I hate parties where I don’t know a single soul and there are lots of famous people and I’m just a little nobody and know it.”
Case in point: the HarperCollins Summer Party 2004 at the Serpentine Gardens.
I’ve never been good at small talk, and once again this not-so-fatal flaw became all too obvious. I stuck to my agent’s side as she introduced me to this publishing person and that, only to clam up when it came to conversation.
I met one famous person: Doris Lessing, whose hand I was honoured to shake.
The rest is all a blur.
I rememeber lots of elegant literary people walking about the lawn with flutes of champagne in their hands, and everybody knowing everyone else except me.
Did I ever mention – I’m shy?
I did meet one first-time HarperCollins author and we stuck together in our anonymity for most of the party. I even remember her name: Anita Anderson.
Luckily, she was quite chatty so I didn’t have to speak much myself. I’m always grateful for that. I’m a listener.
And of course I met my editor.
She immediately drew me aside.
The whole party heard the hammering of my heart and stopped to stare.
Or so it seemed.
I was about to get – The Verdict.

And now a Break for Commercials.

My second novel, La Danse des Paons, was doing brilliantly in France. Here’s the gorgeous cover:

Like its predecssor, Noces Indiennes, it was in the French Top Ten but this time you’ll really have to take my word for it because I’m not scanning any more lists. But yes, it was up there rubbing shoulders with books by Robin Cook and Danielle Steele and Stephen King and lots of French authors I’ve never heard of.

End of Commercial Break.

“I love it!” she said. And my little heart soared.
We had a great conversation. I told her that I was now far enough into the story to know where it was going and I was sure I could write a synopsis.
I even had a working title: The Cry of the Brain-Fever Bird.
She was happy, I was happy, my agent was happy.

Driving home later that evening, light-headed from all the bubbly, I giggled to my agent:
“Of course I can play the game! I’ll give them their bloody synopsis, if that’s what they want!”
Oh, the silliness of Aquisitions people!
I’d give them a nice little story to get a contract – I was a writer, of COURSE I could write a synopsis! – and then just write my book the way I always did – by following the characters.
That’s what’s called Playing the Game!
I was a Professional, and I’d give them just what they wanted!
Call it Ecstasy, if you will! Champagne induced ecstasy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Agony Begins

The trouble began with the next novel.
Let’s recap: Novel A never found a publisher. That was my Apprentice Novel.
Novel B got my foot in the publishing door.
Novels C and D: a two book contract. I was Established.

This was Novel E; the Option Clause Novel.

***An aside for those who might not be entirely clear on what an option clause is. An option clause is the clause in your publisher’s contract that gives them the first right of refusal on your next book. This means that you cannot submit your next book to any other publisher until your current publisher has either let the option period lapse, made an offer, or passed on the book. An option clause is standard in nearly every publishing contract you will ever see.*** (From BookEnds blog)

All of my published novels – ie, B through D – to date had been set mostly in India. I loved India and Indians, had lived there for a total of maybe three years at most, and loved writing stories set there. But now I felt like a change.
A story set in my home country, Guyana.

So I started to write, and very soon I had 100 pages. I was pleased with those pages; once again, a story was growing out of nothing. I passed them on to my editor.

She said no.
She told me that Guyana was too obscure a place to set a novel in, whereas India was totally in trend. Publishing lives by knowing the trends, present and future, and India was going to be it for many years to come. Write India.
She sent me a big fat book, “White Mughals” by William Dalrymple, the true story of an Indianized Englishman who fell in love with a Muslim princess in 18th century India.
She wanted something along those lines: set in India, historical, a great interracial love story with a rich, exotic, perhaps royal setting. A big book, an epic story.
Okay, I said, and started again.
I wrote a chapter or two and sent them in. “How’s this?”
“Wonderful! More of that, and let’s have a synopsis so we know where it’s going.”
My heart froze.

If you’ve been following this story you’ll know that I don’t work from outlines. The story comes to me as I write it. I never know where my story will take me.Sounds weird, but it works.

I had never worked to a plan before.The idea of writing a synopsis in advance of the story froze my brain. I knew I couldn’t. I confided my insecurity to my agent.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “That’s just for the Aquisitions team. You need a new contract and they want to be sure of what they’re getting.”
“But… I thought she (editor) liked my writing?”

Again she reassured me. “Of course she does. But she has to appease Aquisitions. They’re a bit cranky. You see, sales haven’t been as great as they’d hoped and so they need this. They really do. Don’t worry about it;. You’re a writer. Just do it. Give them what they want to keep them quiet, and write your story the way you want to. Play the game.”

Back at my desk, I tried to get that synopsis going. But try as I might, I did not know the story. I could not know unless I was myself involved in it, writing it as it came. I could write neither an outline nor a synopsis; and forcing myself to do so, I felt sure, would drain all the energy form my story, It just wasn’t the way I wrote.

I decided to try another tack. Instead of a synopsis, I simply continued to write my story. I’d show then that I COULD write without an outline; reassure them that that they could trust me as a writer.
I climbed back into my story and simply wrote; and as I wrote I began to see, very vaguely, where it was going. Hope budded in my heart. I knew I had a story, a real story, a good one.

I sent it in.
A week passed, a second week. No reply yet from my editor.
Meanwhile, HarperCollins invited me to their annual Summer Party at the Serpentine Gardens in London. My agent invited me to go along with her. She also hadn’t heard back from my editor; but, she reassured me, all was well. Just play the game, she said, play the game. It became a mantra to me. Play the game.
I knew my editor would be at the party; I knew she’d give me her verdict.
That fourth contract was vital. I needed it. If I had to play the game to get it, well, so be it.

* * *

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Ecstasy (Part Two)

Back in England – where I had now moved to with my daughter – things were also moving.
One fine day, my agent and editor came down from London to visit.
They came to my home, saw the corner where I worked; we went for a walk on the seafront .

After that, we had lunch at the Eastbourne’s posh Grand Hotel

We joked about what a great setting the Grand would be for a Victorian murder mystery.
Blood on the fine beige carpets! Or maybe the corpse woudl be found in the quaintly old-fashioned but luxious bathroom? (A few years later my agent told me that someone had indeed written a murder mystery set in the Grand..)
We talked for a while about my latest book, and where it was going. My editor seemed happy enough with it; though, as I’ve mentioned, I wasn’t. But I didn’t voice my doubts.
That would be rude.
Instead, we discussed my writing career.
My editor asked me how I saw myself – and my books – in five years time. I said I thought of the books as long-sellers rather than best-sellers. This was the right thing to say, for Of Marriageable Age was by no means a best-seller. Not in England, at any rate, and France didn’t count.
She nodded, and agreed with me. She then revealed her plans for me: she was going to build me slowly, book after book, until I had a “name”. And then there’d be a “major book” and a big bang.
It sounded exciting. She then spoke the words that I’d never forget: “Write what we want you to write for now, and when youre big you can write whatever you want.” I nodded eagerly.
They returned to London, I returned to my desk, hearing only the one word big, still believing in the dream,
After all, it had just been confirmed by the person who mattered the most, a senior editor at HarperCollins. My editor.
I was on my way up. I was going to be big.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The Ecstasy (Part One)

Paris! Oh, those heady days of Summer 2002!
Here’s the cover of Noces Indiennes:

Flammarion had gone all out, mobilising the French media and pushing my precious first book to the forefront.
The media pricked their little French ears; after all, Flammarion is one of France’s most presitigious publishers, counting the likes of prizewinning, controversial, and, according to a publicist I spoke to, utterly despicable Michel Houellebecq among its authors.
I was in Paris Match and Le Monde and France 2 TV.
Readers bought the book.
Here’s a slightly wonky French bestseller list from July 2002:


Do you see me there, at number 6?
You might need a magnifying glass.
Or just take my word for it.
That’s right, just one notch below John Irving’s The Fourth Hand, and several above John Grisham’s Last Juror, at number 15.
It really happened. Sometimes I need to pinch myself. It really happened.
It flew off the Paris shelves.
All that summer long, Noces Indiennes bounced up and down among the likes of Mary Higgins Clark and Stephen King.
A writer’s dream come true. right?
Right!
Oh, vanity of vanities, and all is vanity!
That was the Ecstasy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized