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A. M. Howell on the highs and lows of the submission process and her journey to publication

In case you misseAM Howelld it (if you’re living under a rock, or have become a hermit, or get all your news delivered by snail), last week was the Frankfurt Book Fair. It’s where everyone announces their big books, and it’s easy to get lost in the buzzy deal headlines and general excitement. And that news is great – but it isn’t necessarily normal.

What we don’t talk about is how many titles don’t get published, or how long it can take agents to find a home for their authors’ books. Publishing is an industry peppered with failures and it’s safe to assume that every single author out there will have faced rejection at some point in their careers.  

Someone who knows this better than most is middle-grade author A. M. Howell. In this week’s post, A. M. Howell gives a brave and honest account of her experiences submitting to agents and of her sometimes difficult journey to publication, as well as some invaluable advice for aspiring authors.

I often think back to summer 2015 when my internet search history mostly consisted of terms like ‘how to get an agent’ and ‘my journey to publication’. I picked up quite a few tips when I was submitting my first book to agents, and since then, and thought it might be helpful to share them, as well as talk a little about my own (quite lengthy!) route to publication.

It’s really tempting to start submitting to agents as soon as you’ve written those magic words ‘The End’ on your manuscript. But it can be really helpful to put your book aside for a few weeks and then re-read with fresh eyes. You may find ways to tighten that tricky ending, develop a character a little more or correct some annoying typos, all things that will help make your story shine even brighter before it goes hurtling out into the world.

Buy or borrow a copy of the latest edition of the Writers and Artists Handbook. It contains a wealth of information on literary agencies and the types of manuscripts they accept. I created a spreadsheet of my top twenty ‘dream agents’ then also visited the individual agency websites to see what was required for submission – normally a full synopsis (detailing the ending), the first few chapters of the book, along with a covering letter.

Do your research and spend some time tailoring your submission – a little personalisation can make you stand out from the crowd. If an agent tweets that they are looking for a comedy about unicorns, and that is what you have written, then you can mention that in your covering letter!

As hard as it may be, try and prepare yourself for some straight rejections. I don’t know a single author who hasn’t received some. It’s natural to be upset, and by all means rant and rave internally, but try and resist firing off an email to the agent saying they are missing out on the next big thing. Agents do, of course, know other agents and word is likely to get around! Focus your efforts on taking on board any feedback you get, grit your teeth and send off another submission.

Many writers and authors I know have had their first book rejected by agents and/or publishers. Try not to be disheartened. If you have received positive feedback it might be worth re-writing. But the best thing might be to start something new. Don’t view that book as wasted work though, as every word you type helps to hone your skills as a writer.

If you do get a full read request from an agent it is time to celebrate! If this is followed up with an offer of representation, your instinct may be to accept immediately and go and eat lots and lots of cake. But perhaps take some time to consider if this agent is good fit for you and your book. When I began submitting my first book, I got some straight rejections, then one agent asked if we could meet. She offered to represent me and I was over the moon, but when we met there was something that just didn’t quite click.

I chased up the other agents who were still reading the full manuscript and then Clare Wallace from The Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency, an agent at the very top of my wish list, asked if we could chat. We shared the same vision for the book and I didn’t hesitate in saying yes when she offered to represent me.

Clare went on to submit that book to publishers but even though it had positive feedback sadly it didn’t get picked up. I was very upset, but dusted myself off and got back to writing something else to take my mind off the disappointment. But then the very same thing happened with my second book! It wasn’t until my third book that I got to the stage of talking to an editor at a major publishing house on the phone, with the book subsequently going to acquisitions. Clare and I felt quietly positive, but then we got the sad news that while overall they loved the story, the sales team had concerns about sales of similar types of contemporary teen fiction and so they would not be making an offer. This was another real low point and I wondered what to do next. After a few weeks off and chatting things through with Clare, I decided to try something new – historical fiction, something I have always read and enjoyed. I remember sending Clare the first three chapters of what was to become The Garden of Lost Secrets and she emailed me straight back. ‘I love it – just write it,’ she said. So I did.

In the end it was my fourth book – The Garden of Lost Secrets – that was The One that eventually got me the book deal of my dreams with Usborne this year. I guess the moral of this is to stay determined – both at the ‘trying to get an agent stage’ and the ‘trying to get a publisher stage’ but also don’t be afraid to experiment with different genres and styles of writing if what you are writing doesn’t seem to be working. While my first four books will always have a place in my heart, the switch to historical fiction was the best decision I ever made and now I can’t imagine writing anything else!

The Garden of Lost Secrets was published by Usborne in 2019 and has gone on to experience great success. The Times chose it as their Children’s Book of the Week, calling it ‘an impressive debut … [with] an effective twist that goes off with a bang’. It’s also had rave reviews in the Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and the i, and it was picked by The Bookseller as One to Watch, who described A. M. as a ‘brilliant new voice’.

A. M. Howell’s latest book, The House of One Hundred Clocks, will be published in February 2020. It’s full of dark secrets, ticking clocks and mysterious ghostly figures, and you can read an extract here. You can follow A. M. on Twitter and Instagram or visit her website where she shares her future projects.

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Advice for Authors Darley Anderson Authors On Writing Submissions

Beth Reekles’s Five Top Tips for Writers

Beth author photo TO USE1When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? For super-star author Beth Reekles, that urge came at fifteen when she started sharing chapters of The Kissing Booth on story-sharing platform Wattpad. It quickly accumulated over 19 million reads and was snapped up by publishers Random House. Since then, Beth has written three more Kissing Booth books and three other YA novels, had her story turned into a smash-hit Neflix film starring Joey King and Jacob Elordi, and is now writing for adults too.

To achieve all this around university and a job (as well as parties, holidays and, well, life), Beth has had to develop some strategies for her writing, from editing all the way down to just getting started. We asked her to share her top tips for budding authors out there, and she came up with some brilliant suggestions:

Five top tips for writers

  1. Write the book you want to read

I absolutely swear by this advice. I consider it my motto! I find myself so much more inspired and motivated when I write the kind of book I’d like to be reading, and I definitely would never have written The Kissing Booth if I didn’t follow this advice – I wrote it when vampire romances were all the rage, and I was just a little bored of that, wanting a regular high-school romance instead.

  1. Read

When I’m not reading, I’m less inspired to write. I think a lot of that is because when I’m reading, I’ll end up thinking about the kind of storylines and characters I’d like to see that maybe aren’t showing up in the book I’m reading. But also: reading definitely helps you develop your own writing style and pick up on techniques that you might struggle to learn otherwise.

  1. Set goals and get organised

I wouldn’t get anything done without my ToDoist app and lists of monthly/yearly goals. I’m a forgetful person anyway, but holding down a full-time job and working on seven books in one year keeps me pretty busy – so organising your time is vital. I’d really advise scheduling in any chores or commitments first, so you can figure out what time you have to write… and set yourself goals, even if it’s just hitting a milestone in your word count, to hold yourself accountable and treat yourself a little when you meet them!

  1. Get social

Social media can be pretty daunting and difficult, and I’m not going to pretend that I haven’t unfollowed certain authors because they make me feel like a failure sometimes. But overall, I’ve found the bookish community – especially on Twitter – to be so supportive. It’s great to connect with other writers and something I love to do is share when I am writing and how many words I’ve managed to do in a particular writing session, because it helps drive me. Plus, there’s the added bonus of broadening your audience and connecting to more readers.

  1. Just start!

The worst thing you can do when you’re thinking about writing a book is to worry about how to start it. Editing is hard – but trust me, it’s so much easier to edit a bad chapter than to try and write a perfect one in the first place. You’ll edit your novel no matter what, and they do say ‘done’ is better than ‘perfect’. Give it a try and get stuck in! You never know what might happen.

Beth Reekles is the author of The Kissing Booth series (The Kissing Booth, Going the Distance and The Beach House, Penguin Random House) as well as three other novels for young adults (Out of Tune and Rolling Dice, Penguin Random House, and Cwtch Me If You Can, Accent Press). Her first story for adults, It Won’t Be Christmas Without You, is out now in eBook from One More Chapter and will be available in paperback on the 31st October. Beth has also been selected as one of the World Book Day authors for 2020, and her World Book Day £1 book The Kissing Booth: Road Trip! will be published in March 2020.

You can follow Beth on Twitter, Instagram or visit her website where she shares more of her top tips as part of her Writing Wednesdays series.

It Won't Be Christmas Without You - Beth Reekles

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Advice for Authors Darley Anderson Authors On Writing Submissions

Samantha Tonge’s Top Tips for Writing

Sam Tonge new photo 2018_nSamantha Tonge is a contemporary women’s fiction novelist whose debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best Ebook award. She has also won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook award, and is a Top Ten Amazon Kindle bestseller.

Learning the craft of writing is a task with no end. After eight years of writing manuscript after manuscript, and receiving numerous rejections (yes, a couple from Darley Anderson!) my debut finally came out in 2013. Since then I’ve had 11 books published. My 12th is out soon. And during the last six years every new project has taught me something new.

Thank goodness. Because if I ever got to the complacent point of thinking I knew enough, it would make for one very boring career – and probably wouldn’t produce my best work. Part of the joy, for me, is a sense that I am always improving and that there is fresh knowledge to take from each new book.

Here are my five top tips.

1 – At all times work to propel the reader forwards to the next page. To do this make sure the end of each chapter is gripping. This doesn’t have to mean a series of big cliff-hangers. In the first manuscripts I wrote (before getting published) I eventually noticed that I used to tie up each chapter nicely at the end, as if each one was a complete short story. This was satisfying for me as the writer, but where was the hook for the reader? Why should they carry on turning pages? I soon learnt to always leave the reader wanting more.

Then a fellow writer shared a tip a prospective agency had given her – to begin each chapter with a hook as well. Again, this doesn’t have to be anything momentous, just enough of a hint of intrigue in the upcoming chapter for the reader to keenly plough ahead. Or it might just mean a really tightly-written, crisp first paragraph. Don’t ever get lazy and feel that because you are a few chapters in you can take your foot off the pedal. Yes, pace needs to wax and wane – otherwise the reader will feel exhausted – but this doesn’t mean the intrigue needs to disappear.

And don’t forget the crucial first line or lines of the whole novel. It/they must grab the book browser and reflect the tone of your story. Here are examples from some favourite books of mine.

Even before stepping into the cottage, Gary knows that this is bad.” The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor

The thing about lying to your parents is, you have to do it to protect them. It’s for their own good.’ Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella.

From the very beginning there was not the slightest doubt that Olga da Polga was the sort of guinea-pig who would go places.” The Tales of Olga da Polga by Michael Bond.

I am old. That is the main thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe.” How to Stop Time by Matt Haig.

2 – To really grip the reader – and any agent/publisher considering your manuscript – begin where the story really starts. In other words, cut the backstory. My 2018 novel, One Summer in Rome, is about a woman fed up with her London life who decides to escape her problems and move to Italy. Originally my opening chapters were about her life in England and what was wrong with it. But as my agent pointed out, the story is really about her trip abroad. So the final published version actually starts with her sitting on the aeroplane and all of that previous set-up is instead threaded through the following chapters.

3 Raise the Stakes – you want the readers to really be rooting for your main character and to become totally invested in their story. For this to happen the stakes need to be high. My 2019 women’s fiction novel, Knowing You, is about Violet, an unassuming young woman taken under the wing of a domineering new best friend. The result of this threatens a romance, threatens her friendships… but I realised, after feedback, that this wasn’t enough to really pull the reader into the story, and might produce an almost “so what?” reaction. Therefore in the final version her whole career and livelihood are put at risk as well.

4It’s all in the detail. Really explore the five senses whilst writing your novel, in order to offer your reader a fully escapist, satisfying, realistic read where they can imagine the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures of the literary world you are inviting them into.

My upcoming release, The Christmas Calendar Girls, is my 3rd festive book and in those novels I work hard at creating that magical December atmosphere by describing the smells – of pine needles, mulled wine, roasting turkey… the sounds – jingling bells, children’s laughter, Christmas music… and so on.

Readers don’t just need to know how to simply visualise your characters and settings – after every paragraph you write consider if you’ve offered a full sensory experience.

5 – A brief one here – yes, you often must “murder your darlings”. You know, the parts of your novel that you think are outstanding, those paragraphs or ideas that you’ve harboured and held onto and possibly lifted from a previous unpublished work, that you’ve polished and re-read hundreds of times because you think they are so good (or is that just me!)? Often you’ve become too attached to them and they need to go. But no matter. As I’ve learnt from experience, the mind of a creative is a fickle thing and you’ll soon replace them with something new.

Don’t give up – and good luck!

The Christmas Calendar Girls will be released on the 3rd of October and is available to pre-order here

You can follow Samantha on Twitter or Facebook and visit her website here, where Samantha also blogs about her writing journey and mental health.

The Christmas Calendar Girls

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Why Dave Rudden is supporting #DACBaccess

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Dave Rudden is the author of The Knights of the Borrowed Dark trilogy, and is our partnering author for YA books in our #DACBaccess month. Here is why Dave is supporting the open month:

When I’m not writing, I run a live roleplay show in school for 10-year kids. It’s glorious and chaotic – the kids all play characters, I and the other performer tell them a story, and they provide suggestions at crucial moments. That’s all stories are really – a selection of crucial moments, and what people decide to do in them. We’ve had kids defeat the story’s villain by proposing to them, unlock magical cages by singing, and teachers are always so impressed that the kids not only accept the crucial moments we throw them, but are well fit to come up with a host of solutions that have sometimes surprised even us. We could just tell the kids a story, but we learn a lot more when we listen and they tell us theirs.

The thing is, kids are immersed in nick-of-time rescues and famous last stands from the moment they’re old enough to be read to. By the age of ten, kids are fluent in adventure. Proficient in peril. They soak up every rule and detail of the stories they hear because it’s at that age that you believe you may need them.

The only time I’ve ever seen a kid nonplussed is when we unveil the artwork for our characters. The leader of our party of heroes is Lady Jayna Falchion, who has armour, a sword that talks, and dark skin. When we clicked through to the slide with Jayna’s picture (drawn by the very talented Dearbháil Clarke) a little black girl at the back of the room exclaimed;

‘She looks like me!’

She didn’t say this with joy, or pride, or interest, but with a blank sort of shock. She simply had no frame of reference for seeing herself as a main character, let alone a leader of a band of heroes. When I hear white, straight people (usually men) complain that the world is being taken over by diversity, that every character now must be a person of colour, or LGBTQ or other than themselves, I don’t think about the numbers –

(though the numbers are damning. Bigotry is as irrational as it is systemic, but research shows that, no matter how loud certain protests are, no such takeover is taking place)

– I think about just how much children learn from story. Stories tell kids what is possible, and what is impossible, and all the odds in between. We are soaked in the visual language of narrative, and when you present heroes as all white and straight and able-bodied, you are lying to your audience.

You are letting them know where they stand, telling them that crucial moments and the options bound into them only belong to others, and not to them. It’s our responsibility as authors and creators – especially those who have directly or indirectly benefited from being on the inside looking out – to not right this wrong, but to make room for the voices that have not yet had a chance to speak, because you can only learn so much from telling your own story again and again and again. There are better stories out to hear.

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Darley Anderson Authors

Delving into the DA Agency Authors’ Inspiration – Part One

Have you ever wondered how some of the Darley Anderson authors got into writing considering their diverse lives and careers? Want a sneak peek into the secret life of an author? Ever felt like you might have a book in you somewhere and you might just need the inspiration to do something about it?

Cesca Major’s heartbreaking debut novel, The Silent Hours, was published to huge acclaim in June (about to be published in paperback on 5th Nov) and Woman & Home featured the inspiration behind her getting into writing. Inspired by this article we decided to ask our adult brilliant authors about their own journeys into writing…

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Jane Costello, author of nine bestselling novels including the RoNa nominated THE TIME OF OUR LIVES (Simon & Schuster):

As a teenager I became hooked on that feeling when you’re so engrossed in a book that you just have to keep turning the pages, no matter how late at night it is. It was that feeling that made me want to be an author, yet saying that felt as fanciful as, ‘I want to be the next X-Factor winner’. So I became a journalist, which at least gave me the opportunity to write. I loved my job, but my secret ambition never left me and for years I made repeated clumsy attempts at writing a novel, none of which were ever finished. 

 Then I had my ‘eureka’ moment, while in a pew at a friend’s wedding, watching her walk down the aisle followed by her bridesmaids. I thought, why has nobody ever written a romantic comedy called ‘Bridesmaids’ – one about the dramas, the friendships and the sheer fun of something most women experience at least once in their life? I decided there and then that if nobody had done it, it had to be me. I started writing the next day, never dreaming it could turn into the best-seller that it ultimately became.

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 Rosie Blake, author of HOW TO GET A (LOVE) LIFE and the upcoming HOW TO STUFF UP CHRISTMAS (Corvus):

I used to write endless diaries which were all full of angst and TMI about who was looking at me funny or who I wanted to kiss that week. They were for my eyes only but they got me into into the habit of writing regularly. The first feedback about my writing was from friends. Before social media (*stares at you over reading glasses, readjusts dentures) I used to write very long emails to a group of friends when I was travelling. I tried to make them amusing (“I’m being stalked by a parakeet” “I got chased by a monkey – LOL” etc) and really loved writing them. The more absurd the better. Some people asked for more and I started to believe I could write. I moved onto writing short stories and won a couple and started working on a novel. It went from there…

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Phaedra Patrick, author of the upcoming THE CURIOUS CHARMS OF ARTHUR PEPPER (Harlequin Mira):

I’d always, secretly, wanted to be a writer from a very early age, however I told myself that ‘people like me’ didn’t write books. In my mid-twenties I visited a tarot card reader with friends. I’m not a big believer, but when he told me (without prompting) that I would be a writer and sell lots of books, I took this as the sign that I should follow my dream and put pen to paper.

 With a lot of hard work, experimenting, research (and many rejections along the way), I got here in the end. I now write full time and The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper will be published in eleven countries during 2016.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper final cover UK

B.A. Paris, author of the upcoming BEHIND CLOSED DOORS (Harlequin Mira):

 ‘You do it, Mummy!’ Those were the words that spurred me to write. One of my daughters had told me that she had an idea for a book so when I came across a competition for an 80.000 word novel, I was really excited for her. But when she checked the rules, she found she was too young and encouraged me to enter instead. I had always wanted to write but imagined myself as a writer of children’s stories rather than novels, so the thought of writing 80.000 words was daunting. That night I had an idea for a story and the next day, I began writing – and found I couldn’t stop! It became an obsession. Freshly-baked cakes and neatly-made beds became things of the past and I began to resent anything that took me away from writing, even the teaching job that I loved. It took me about a year to calm down and integrate writing into my life rather than letting it take over. But six years on, if I could spend all day, every day writing, I would!  

Behind Closed Doors

Tim Weaver, author of the bestselling David Raker series (Penguin):

I’m not sure if this is a defining moment in terms of choosing to become a writer, because I always wanted to be a writer from as far back as I can remember, but I’d say it was the difference between getting published, and not getting published. I’d spent almost eight years trying to get anyone interested in Chasing the Dead, and the more rejection letters I got, the harder I’d tried to work at it – editing, re-editing, editing, re-editing. But the absolute best thing that ever happened to me was taking a six-month break from the manuscript after my daughter was born. Coming back to it after some extended time away allowed me to see the work-in-progress for the less-than-stellar piece of writing it was, and after spending a year rewriting it – pretty much from the ground up – I found myself an agent (Hello Camilla!) after only three months of trying. So, if you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to get some distance.

What Remains UK

 Lee Weeks, author of the bestselling Johnny Mann and the top 20 Ebony Willis series and the upcoming COLD JUSTICE (Simon & Schuster):

When my twenty-year marriage was coming to an end I began examining my life. It was when I was looking at my own collection of poems, that I came across Morning Market, a poem I had written whilst living in Hong Kong, at a time when I hit rock bottom. The poem sums up the brutality and desperation of my life at that time. I used it as inspiration to write a semi-autobiographical story.

 When the end of my marriage actually came, I had a ‘this is my time’ moment. I decided to give writing a proper go. I worked on my story, bringing out the Hong Kong detective who had tried to help me at the time, and the Johnny Mann series was born.

Cold Justice

 James Carol, author of the acclaimed Jefferson Winter (Faber) series:

 I wrote my first novel back at the turn of the millennium. At the time, I was just curious to see if I could actually do it. I’d always loved reading, but writing one… When I got to the end, I discovered a curious thing. I wanted to write another. And when I finished that book, I wanted to write another. See, that’s the thing no one tells you. Writing’s an addiction. It’s a drug. The days when the words line up exactly how they should are pure joy. That’s the high you’re chasing. I’ve been writing novels for fifteen years now and I love doing it. I can’t imagine doing anything else. The truth is I don’t want to do anything else.

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Lesley Pearse, bestselling selling author of 23 women-in-jeopardy novels including the No.1 bestseller WITHOUT A TRACE (Penguin):

 My career in writing began with a humorous letter to Woman’s Own about the contents of my fridge (or lack of edible content really) To my shock they not only printed it as letter of the week but paid the princely sum of £25 for it.  Somehow it altered my whole outlook. realising I wasn’t likely to be able to make a career out of letters, I started on short stories, including doing a home study course on short stories. As soon as I began the first of 16 lessons, I knew it was my thing. Nothing stopped me writing, not three small children, a business and home to take care of. It was to be many years before I got my first book Georgia published,  3 other books banished to the dustbin. But I see that time as my apprenticeship and like any focussed apprentice I never allowed myself to doubt I wouldn’t get there in the end.

Without a Trace PB

 Jo Platt, author of READING UPSIDE DOWN (sold in 6 territories worldwide):

I have always enjoyed writing, and my preference has always been for comedy.  Maybe it was because my focus was on making myself and others smile, that I for so long viewed writing as a guilty pleasure, and far too much fun to be a potential career.  And then, one afternoon, I was having a cup of tea with a friend at her kitchen table when she mentioned a spoof school newsletter, which I had written and circulated to friends, to cheer us all up at a rather bleak time.  She was laughing over something I’d written when she suddenly said, ‘Why don’t you write something longer, Jo? A book.  We all think you should.’

 It was such a simple, perhaps throw-away, comment and yet that was a defining moment, perhaps the defining moment, for me in terms of my writing.  It felt as if I had been given permission, a mandate, to make writing a greater priority and to take it seriously.  As a result, I went home and started drafting Reading Upside Down that same evening.

 Of course, since then, there have been other moments and events which stand out for me and which I will never forget.  The extremely assertive friend, threatening me with menaces until I had promised her that I wouldn’t simply leave the finished manuscript to rot at the back of my knicker drawer, but would instead send it to an agency.  And, not long after that, the moment I received an email from my now agent, Camilla Wray, telling me, with great enthusiasm, how much she loved my book – an enthusiasm and belief in both myself as a writer and in Reading Upside Down as a novel, which she has never lost.

 But, before all that, came those kind and encouraging words over a cup of tea at a kitchen table, without which I would still be scribbling and giggling away in secret, instead of being out and proud as a writer.  And for those kind words – and that cup of tea – I shall remain forever grateful.

Kerry Fisher, author of THE SCHOOL-GATE SURVIVAL GUIDE and THE ISLAND ESCAPE (Avon):

Before I started writing novels, I was a journalist and one of my jobs was reviewing books for Candis, a national women’s magazine. The more I read, the more I thought I’d like to have a go at writing my own novel. I was ridiculously naive about how hard it would be to stay motivated to finish a book, let alone how hard it is to get published. However, one of the things that really helped was taking an online novel-writing course with the University of California, because it provided immediate feedback and deadlines. As soon as I started the course, I felt so excited and passionate about writing again – something I’d lost over the years of working as a journalist. It took me a few years to summon up the courage to give up journalism completely and write novels full-time but I don’t regret it at all – it’s a luxury to inhabit a fictional world where you make everyone do what you want! 

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 Emma Kavanagh, author of the critically-acclaimed FALLING and HIDDEN (Arrow):

 I’ve written my entire life. For as long as I can remember I have been constructing stories. I had never, however, written a novel. There’s something about that word, the sheer vastness it implies, that makes it seem impossible. How do you manufacture 90,000 words out of thin air?

 Then, one day, I was standing on a police firearms range, taking part in close protection (bodyguard to you or I) training for firearms officers, and a story came to me. I attempted to shrug it off. I was busy and, frankly, if I didn’t pay attention, there was a chance that I would get shot. But the story remained. So, I decided to try it, to just see if I had it in me to right something that could be considered a novel. As it turned out I did. It wasn’t a very good novel. But it was enough to convince me that 90,000 words could in fact be manufactured if you just give yourself the chance.

 The logical next step was to continue with my business (a consultant in police and military psychology) whilst I attempted to write a book worthy of publication. Unfortunately, logic is rarely my strong suit. Instead, I scaled back my travel, began limiting the jobs I took on, and threw myself into writing. It was the writer’s equivalent of putting everything on black. I am, however, an all or nothing kind of woman. It was a massive gamble, but, thankfully, one that paid off. I remember hearing Lee Child talk about his career. He said it worked, because it had to. And for me the same was true. I had no choice but to be successful.

 I had to answer a question earlier – what is your greatest ambition? And my answer was, this. To keep doing what I’m doing. Not many people are lucky enough to say that!

HIDDEN

 Part two coming next week featuring Darley Anderson Children’s Book Agency authors…