Marvellous Mrs Mole
The first ever book I wrote, almost a decade ago, was a children’s book called Marvellous Mrs Mole and the Candy Cane. After that I went on to write a couple of YAs and, for a couple of years, worked with an agent from a big UK firm before being dropped.
The Cry of the Lake is the fifth full length adult book I’ve written and is the only one to have been published. Each of the other four were completed, edited and sent off to agents and publishing houses; two got as far as full manuscript requests before they were rejected, but none of the others managed to slide their way off the slush pile. And with good reason – they weren’t very good!
But when you’ve slaved for over a year on something and had it in your thoughts for such a long stretch of time, it’s hard to let go. As with all artists throwing themselves into the public arena – you have to have the skin of a rhino and these early rejections have certainly helped to create some of the necessary armour for the inevitable criticism. Don’t get me wrong, negative comments are never easy to hear, but I’m quite experienced; I have a quick blub then move swiftly on. But the most important thing I’ve realised is that these rejections are necessary pre-cursors to the real deal. They are me, swimming with a buoyancy aid in the shallow end, waiting for someone to notice my fabulous doggy paddle and let me into the big pool.
But, and here’s the most brilliant thing about all these rejected tales, parts of them still remain fabulous. And there’s nothing to stop you going back to the earlier stories and pinching your own ideas back.
I’m fairly obsessed with lakes and ponds - they always seem to crop up somewhere in my writing. One of my villains in The Cry of the Lake, Uncle Frank, is a watered-down version of a previous, more odious character. The setting of the book I’m currently writing is straight out of another story I wrote about bullying within a girls’ boarding school and the major incident which occurs I borrowed from one of my earlier YA stories. So, in this era where recycling is essential, I’m delighted to say, I’m doing it with words.
I’m not sure Mrs Mole and her skill of making delicious peppermint candy canes will make it into another book but I’ll keep you posted.