Creating a book and getting it out into the world is a little like having a baby – though it usually takes far longer. It grows more erratically and more slowly and its birth involves many people of different skills. But both baby and book are hugely fulfilling.
The idea for my new book, Dear Magpies, to be published on 18th November 2019, had been floating around in my head for months before I started the research for it. As a lifelong writer of letters, I had always wanted to write an epistolary novel – one that is written as a series of letters or diary entries. This book, about a woman searching for her long lost grandchildren, lent itself to the form and so I worked out my plot and worked on my characters. The writing the first draft took over a year, after which I planned to re-read, reflect and then start on the edit.
However, I got a time-consuming job and work on the book came to a halt whilst I got to grips with a very different working life, one that took all my energy and commitment. I didn’t revise or revisit my draft manuscript for eighteen months – which was not ideal, but at least I could see more clearly what needed to be changed. Then began the PEP stage – pruning, editing and polishing. What a marathon! I took advice from a few people who had read my manuscript and I must have done at least seven edits.
Then followed the publishing which took many more months. My publishers, SilverWood Books, so helpful, efficient and sensitive, have been responsible for getting my book into print. And so, about five years after the initial idea, last week the first copy arrived at my home and into my hands. My ‘baby’ had arrived – it was a good moment.
I love the front cover, designed by my publishers, with the silhouette heads of the teenage grandchildren, Tom and Lottie, who flew off into the pale blue yonder and, like magpies, stole the peace of mind of their grandmother, Josie, who writes them letters she cannot send.
The big question – “Will it please the reader?”- has yet to be answered and I will have to wait until after publication to know. It pleased me to write it, though at times the progress was painful. Now my child has reached maturity and is about to leave home and make its own way in the world. I wish it well.