After a couple of years of exhaustion and disenchantment with the whole publishing journey, I decided to relax and find the creativity and joy again. Of course I did - basically anything creative I do circles back to story and writing and novels. My lockdown novel, Northern Penguins has been on a journey. It started out as a heap of barely related scenes written compulsively and sorted itself into a book by May this year. I sent it off to a few agents and one gave me some invaluable advice - write the backstory as a historical strand about a baby in a carpet bag. I wrote and wrote all through the summer and completed and edited the book by September. I mocked up this cover so I could print off a few draft copies for the Appledore Book Festival.
Feedback from readers was encouraging so I sent it out to Bookouture, which had been recommended by my last agent. They liked it and now it's travelling on its journey. I'm waiting to see if the book (and a couple of sequels) are needed. It's women's fiction (I think, I'm never really sure where to put a book in a genre) but has a male protagonist trying to rediscover his mother's history through doing up the house she grew up in. The historical strand tells the story of her mother Patience, and how she tried to have her cake and eat it, bringing home an 'orphan' baby and adopting it, keeping her job as a teacher. The whole book is set on an island (a lot like the Scillies) because my village felt like an island during lockdown! It feels like going back to writing is fun again, and I know better than to put my head in a creative head collar again. Ideas for books 2 and 3 are piling up in my journal, and I have basic outlines. If Bookouture don't want the books, I'm going to have a go at sending to big publishers, then some smaller ones. Ready to go!