Saturday, 19 April 2014

Dark Aemilia Publication

It is 23 days since my novel Dark Aemilia was published by Myriad Editions. Why, you might ask, did I wait this long to blog about such a momentous event? Partly because in a rather OCD manner, I felt that I should complete my Top 10 writing tips before having an intermission to talk about My Actual Writing Life.

Partly because of emotion - the joy of knowing that my book is out there is counterbalanced by the anxiety of not knowing what out there will make of it. 

Authorial anxiety

And partly because of good old fashioned busyness: I have spoken at two conferences and chaired a short story seminar since the book came out. And as well as working for the Open University, being the mother of teenagers is somewhat time consuming. 

Here's Georgia, on an early pub outing before she went all Katie Puckrik:

Georgia sitting quite near a bottle of beer

And the one in the green-rimmed shades is Declan during his 2008 film-making phase: 
Declan and Digby in the mean streets of Brighton

Keeping tabs on the two of them is a bit like trying to glue peanut butter to the ceiling. Writing fat books set in the Early Modern period is a breeze in comparison.

Writers, as Fay Weldon once said, have lives. One of the defining attributes of my own writing life is muddle - each day seems like an attempt to extract writingness, or to decide whether reading other people's books or talking about being a writer, or watching films to learn about plot is writingness enough, or whether real writing, in a notebook, must always take place. (It should do, but must it?) 

Publication day is always going to be one of the great events in the life of any writer, but it is also a curiously anticlimactic experience.  Unless you are already famous, the emergence of your new work will be incremental rather than immediately operatic. Your novel may already be on sale (mine was spotted at various airports by various friends). It may not immediately appear in all known bookshops. Amazon may seem curiously immune to its status as a major cultural artefact. And so on. The last 23 days have not shaken the world. It has remained on its axis, though there was a small earthquake in Rutland the other day so it did wobble slightly.

But just to focus on the great event of the birth of Dark Aemilia, here is a short extract from the speech I made at my launch party: 

'Like most writers, I’m rather obsessive and end-driven. It’s easy to get sucked into a state of mind in which all you think about is the next goal that Must Be Achieved – finish the draft, find the publisher, get reviewed, appear on the short list, improve your Google ranking. It can go insatiably on and on. But sometimes, a good thing, a brilliant thing, happens. And then it is time sit back and say – this is great. And today is one of those days – one of the happiest and most satisfying days of my life. Dark Aemilia is an actual book, and in one way, it doesn’t matter what happens next.'

More on how this all goes later, and before then I will impart six more nuggets of timeless wisdom about writing historical fiction.