Dystopian YA fiction author

Dreaming the Life: On Book Deals, Fear and Nostalgia

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On 22 November, I signed a 3 book deal contract with Bookouture for a dystopian trilogy set in post-apocalyptic London.

There, I said it. Or rather, wrote it. Since I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t go on and on but one thing that’s become really clear to me over the last eighteen months is that it’s great to have a dream but if you don’t take any actions consistent with it, that dream will never happen. I’d always tinkered around the edges a little, writing bits and pieces but, since I was sixteen, I hadn’t written anywhere near the volume / quality of work required to make any kind of dream come vaguely true. 

I’m not saying that this is true of everyone but, when our dreams take a tumble, sometimes it’s really easy to give up. I know that I had more invested in being an aspiring writer than in a failed one, so it followed – if I didn’t really try then I would never have to deal with being a failure. My job / relationship / career / kids-I-don’t-have / travel could all be deemed to be more important than following what I have always wanted to do. And so I quite quietly and quite successfully dreamed of being an author, a writer. Until I got a wake-up call.

I won’t go into exactly what it was, but what I really learned about myself was that I was too afraid of failure, to try hard enough to succeed. And what if I did succeed and it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be? If I had to face the disappointment of my lifetime ambition not being cracked up to what it was supposed to be, THEN WHAT? 

What was clear was how I had just let my dream of being a writer get hidden under my work, career, clubbing and other stuff. So I made a decision. I was going to try. And see where it got me.

I started on the short story competition circuit and had to read and write A LOT before I got a style that was worth developing. I wrote countless stories that even just a year and a half later, I am more that a bit embarrassed of. And with that came countless rejections and competition feedback that was *nice* but not really good enough. Gradually, over time, I got a bit better and started to get short-listings and placings in smaller competitions, and then national competitions. And then, everything started to take off.

When I received an email from Bookouture saying they were interested in publishing my book, I had to read it several times. Not only were they interested in the concept of my book and the world I had created but they had actually read it. Like, all 320 pages of it! There’s no other feeling in the world than somebody saying they like something you’ve written so much that they actually want to publish it. I guess it’s like someone wanting to marry your son or daughter. Or is that just a weird analogy?

So now begins a whole new journey. The final draft of the first book is due with my publisher in January and then, all being well, will be published in April. In addition, The Spit and Swear Promise, a story shortlisted in the Rubery International Short Story Award 2013 will be in print from (I believe) February 2013 in their anthology of shortlistees. I am beyond excitement at both of these prospects! In the meantime, some snippets of pre-published work are available by clicking here

What’s next? Well, so far, I am part way through making the changes my editor has suggested and about 10% of the way through part II of the Paradigm Trilogy. Watching the story arc over three books (which will work out at almost 300,000 words) is a terrifying prospect – and the potential for failure is huge – but not something I can entertain. Because now everyone knows what I am up to – there are even news articles on line about the signing (links to them are here). They compare my new work to The Hunger Games & Divergent. When I read that I knew I had to keep going. So I won’t stop – mostly because I can’t now :-)

Anyways, that’s not to say this whole thing has been easy or that it is in any way over. What I have noticed is that wherever I am on this journey, there’s always somewhere else to get and someone better to be. And after that, there will be somewhere else. It’s stopped being directly about success or failure, as trite as it sounds, it’s about finding out what I will allow myself to be capable of, if I throw myself into it.

Things are already different. I am not the person I was a year ago, and definitely not the one I was two or three years ago. I feel I am getting back to something, returning to a past and doing something I should have always done.

I am nostalgic for the future*

 

*Fereidoun M. Esfandiary (FM2030)

 

 

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Showing 3 comments

  • cris
    Reply

    Congrats! I read the description of your novel and I’m curious to read more. I hope it’s better than The Bone Season which is also dystopian YA set in London.

  • lynseywhite
    Reply

    Congratulations! What you say about dreaming vs. taking action is SO true. Great post.

  • cerilowepetraske
    Reply

    Thanks both! Lots more work to be done but I’m trying to carve some time between now and the new year to get the final edits of book 1 done. Then, it will be back to book 2! Very exciting times.

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