When we decided to start The Inspiration Diaries at the end of last year, it could have been virtual tumbleweed blowing across our screens with nothing much to tell you at all. And then a picture fell off Catherine’s wall, and now look! What all of us have learned in the years we’ve been writing is that a career as a writer has more ups and downs than a theme-park rollercoaster ride. We work hard and hope for the best, and when the best happens … pure magic!
March has always featured heavily in my writing life, for some weird reason. I self-published Mousetrapped in March. I got The Call in March, when my agent rang to tell me that we’d got a deal for Distress Signals. The Liar’s Girl came out last March. And this March… Well, we’ll get to that.
From the get-go, it was a busy month. On the first day of it I flew to Germany with a pink PowerPoint presentation to deliver a talk on crime writing to the Frankfurt Writers Conference. The following week I was down in Cork, taking part in The Business of Books, a Network Ireland event that was held in the lovely Vibes and Scribes bookshop on Lavitt’s Quay and I did a school visit to Coláiste na Toirbhirte in Bandon the following morning, where I got to tell a group of fifth years (age 16-17) what I wished someone had told me when I was their age. The next day – World Book Day in Ireland – I was interviewed on Cork’s 96FM about female crime writers and book clubs while sat in my parents’ bedroom. (They listened to it go out on air downstairs. The glamour!) Then it was off to London for a party my publisher always has on the eve of the London Book Fair and after all that I needed a lie down and we weren’t even half way through the month. But I had work to do: UK page proofs and USA copyedits on Rewind. (Page proofs is the stage after copyedits, which you check the typeset/final pages.) I also finally managed to finish the detailed synopsis I needed to do for Book 4 and was WELL PLEASED with meself when I finally figured out a good ending for it. Rewind proofs have now been printed and are, as I type this, winging their way to some of my fellow authors in the hope they’ll get time to read it, like it and provide what we call ‘blurbs’ which are those little endorsements you get to see on the cover of books that, everyone hopes, helps sell the book. This is a TERRIFYING time because it’s the first time anyone outside of my agency or publishing house will be reading the book. And that was it. Wasn’t it? I feel like I’m forgetting something…
JK! Obviously the big news for me this month was that I could FINALLY tell everyone: I’ve signed a major new US deal for 6 more books. For a week, this was plastered everywhere – on my blog, on Twitter, in the media – and by the week’s end, I had a double-page spread in the Echo alongside my brother (who stars in a movie called Beyond The Woods which was up for an award in the UK) and appeared on the Today show with Maura and Daithi, so I think enough’s been said about that. But I’m very, very happy and excited and what I really love about this moment is that this isn’t a story of overnight success, or a headline grabbing deal for a debut, but an example of hard work and hanging on in there. If you want to read more about that, I’ve written about it on my blog.
Finally, I’d just like to say: The Inspiration Diaries were Hazel’s idea and boy oh boy, am I glad she suggested we do them in 2019! In previous years it would’ve been mostly crying and Netflix.
Apart from spending most of March being incredibly proud of our Catherine’s phenomenal NEWS (in ALL CAPS!), it was a busy and strangely emotional month for me. On International Women’s Day, I returned to the law firm I left ten years ago, where I participated in an event with Marian Keyes, Emilie Pine and Sinead Gleeson. To be back in the boardroom where I used to have Very Important Meetings, and to sit beside Marian discussing my writing career, was a real full circle ‘pinch me’ moment. Marian then very kindly recommended Meet Me in Monaco in her St. Patrick’s Day ‘fillum’, and my cup completely runneth over!
March also meant DEADLINES, and I’m enormously relieved to have finished the manuscript for my next book (when I say ‘finished’, I mean ‘finished that draft’). It is now with my agent, and I’m in that agonising phase of writing called Waiting To Hear if she likes it/loves it/can immediately sell it for a bazillion dollars! A family skiing trip to Austria was the perfect wonderful distraction for a week, but now I’m back pressing F9 a thousand times a day. Fingers crossed for good news soon. I feel like a debut author again, biting my nails.
For the last week of March, I was Writer in Residence for The Book Club Girls, a large Facebook Book Club group who picked The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter as their book of the month. It was so lovely to chat with them each day about different aspects of researching and writing the book. And in Very European News which has nothing to do with Brexit, I signed contracts for French, Italian, German and Swedish rights for the book. Ooo la laa!
Finally, I visited a wonderful creative writing group at Drumshallon Forge Heritage Centre in Drogheda, and also spoke to the Transition Year students at Cross and Passion College in Kilcullen, and presented the 2019 Hazel Gaynor Creative Writing Awards to the three winners. So much talent. The future of Irish writing is very bright!
April is for sleeping, right?
March was all about the edits. Most writers I know would rather play a never-ending game of Jenga with Trump than tackle their edits. But I love this stage of the process. Once the shitty first draft is written, it’s all gravy for me. Unfortunately, things became complicated when both my kids caught Scarlet Fever, something I thought only existed in a Jane Austen novel! Alas, no. With half of the H house at home sick, the juggle struggle got real. I had no choice but to work when the kids were asleep or napping during the day. It was tricky, but I still handed in Finding Greta Gale on time. Why is it important that I tell you all of this? Because life has a habit of throwing curve balls at the most inopportune times. The trick is to not let those balls derail you from following your dream. Or as Jane Austen would say, get thine arse in a chair and scribe!
I’ve had a long editorial chat with both my editor and agent post edits. The good news is that they still love this book. Yay! The bad news is that the first third is still running too long and needs to be trimmed. Not so many Yays! But I also know that they are right and the book doesn’t feel ‘right’ yet. I’ll know when it gets there.
In other news, plans are afoot for the paperback release of A Thousand Roads Home later this year in the UK and Ireland. I’ll be visiting Harper Collins in London for a presentation to outline strategy and marketing plans next week. And I’ve also started work on two outlines for what will be Book 9 and 10! I need to tease them out to see if they are viable, novel-length stories. Then it’s time to share them with my agent to see if she likes them and can ultimately sell them! I know some writers hate the commercial side of books. But here’s another top tip my friends, if you want to pay the bills as well as following your creative dream, then it’s important to embrace that!
Right now it’s time to get myself ready for The Elaine Show. I’m back in the Virgin Media studios for more fun and games on the panel. Have a great month!