Tag: debut book

debut book

The Book Baby Blues

Debut author Laura Kemp joins us today on Missdemeanors to discuss her reaction to the publication of her first novel, Evening in the Yellow Wood, and her approach to getting back to writing.  December 12th was a big day for me. It signified the birth of my Book Baby. I’d spent months, even years on perfecting my manuscript so that a publishing house would pick it up, and when they did I spent another chunk of time editing and re-editing so that the finished work would meet their standards.  Needless to say, everything was leading up to a point in time, a proverbial Mount Everest and when the day came the flurry of activity was intoxicating. My adrenaline took a serious hit as friends sent well-wishes, tweets were re-tweeted and posts shared. I watched my Amazon sales climb and shared my excitement with those closest to me (middle schoolers).  And then the next day came and a heaviness settled over me, a feeling of… what’s next? The adrenaline had crashed and real work began.  But what was this phenomenon? It’s was almost like post-partum depression without the baby.  And then I started researching.  Other writers have experienced this- in my own publishing house and beyond, the feeling that the real work was just beginning and the excitement was going to wane and then… gasp I might have to start writing ANOTHER novel.  What would my first novel think?  Going behind their back and toying with another manuscript? I’d invested so much in my first novel that writing its sequel almost felt like infidelity. However, what I learned from my research says different.  The overwhelming solution to the Book Baby Blues was to start writing again.  And soon. I can get so caught up in promotion and sales and trying to hit my ‘target audience’ that I forget what makes me tick… putting words on paper.  That’s why I appreciate blogs like this one, it’s a place for me to get my thoughts down in a quick and easy format.  Novel writing is tedious, and I often spend just as much time editing as I do writing.  Stream of consciousness projects help,  as does poetry, and sometimes short fiction, or going rogue and writing a scene for my novel that hasn’t been written into its proper sequence yet.  I just need to sit down and do it.   And after that, I need to remember that publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.  Which is hard for this OCD, solution-focused girl to do.  I want results! And NOW! But the results come slowly- in my blog posts and poems and (gasp) other novels.  All that together makes up the tapestry of what a writer’s life looks like. And it’s all okay.  We’re allowed to experience all these things, even if we don’t want to talk about it for fear of feeling ungrateful (you’ve published a book, what do you have to complain about?) And the full landscape of these emotions is what makes us good writers.  So feel the Book Baby Blues for a bit, then shake it off and get back to writing! How do you bounce back after finishing a major project? Leave a comment or join the discussion on our Facebook page.   Author Bio- Laura is a teacher who loves to write about her home state of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University where she studied under Stuart Dybek, and has had her short fiction and poetry published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Word Riot, Tonopalah Review, SaLit and SLAB: Sound and Literary Art Book. “The Pursuit of Happiness,” – a short story she wrote while at WMU, was chosen as a finalist in the Trial Balloon Fiction Contest. When not writing, Laura enjoys musical theatre, hiking, swimming, reading and performing with her Celtic folk band- Si Bhaeg Si Mohr.  She also enjoys spending time with her husband and children as well as her dog,  four hamsters, ten chickens, two horses and eight  (and counting) cats. Laura loves to connect with readers on her blog: laurakemp.author@wordpress.com (Sea Legs on Land), as well as on Facebook, Twitter (@LKempWrites) and Instagram. (lkempwrites)(woodys_book_tour)

Read More

An interview with Edwin Hill

Please join me in welcoming Edwin Hill, author of the twisty and beautifully written debut novel, LITTLE COMFORT (which Publishers Weekly proclaimed “a standout” in its starred review.) Harvard librarian Hester Thursby knows that even in the digital age, people still need help finding things. Using her research skills, Hester runs a side business tracking down the lost. Usually, she’s hired to find long-ago prom dates or to reunite adopted children and birth parents. Her new case is finding the handsome and charismatic Sam Blaine. I was fortunate to be able to ask Edwin some questions, which are below.  Should you want to read Edwin’s book, and I know you will, you can find it at all the usual locations, as well as at the Porter Square bookstore, which is FEATURED in the book. You can also check out his website at https://www.edwin-hill.com/ So, on to the questions:  As a person who stands only 4’11, and that if the wind’s not blowing, I was greatly intrigued by your protagonist, Hester Thursby, who is “a quarter inch into little person territory.” Could you tell us more about her and how the idea for her came to you? One of the benefits of writing a first novel is that you get to spend as much time as you want writing – because absolutely no one is waiting for it! And, honestly, when I first decided to try writing LITTLE COMFORT, I didn’t really know what the plan was or if I’d even finish. Hester evolved through the creative process of thinking (and sometimes bashing) my way through developing a crime novel, which I really didn’t know how to do when I started. The first character who came to me was Sam Blaine, a sort of Tom Ripley-like antihero. I knew I wanted him to be someone who could charm his way into any situation. I drafted a number of chapters, and decided he needed a stronger foil than the one I had developed, and Hester was born. She changed over time, too. She was really just any 36-year-old woman living in the city when I started, then I gave her a home life and set her up in an interesting living situation. Hester started to take shape for me once I figured out that she has her own apartment in a house she shares with her long-time partner, and that she retreats there to watch ‘80s slasher movies. From there, I started to evolve her physical description. A book I’ve always loved is Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride. There is a character in that book called Tony, who is short, like Hester, and one of the things that stood out for me in reading that character was how much Tony had to fight for respect as well-meaning people accidentally dismissed her. I started to imagine what it would be like if Tony had to deal with those same subtleties while fighting crime. I also liked the idea of giving Hester a physical description that would make her really stand out in a crowd. Standing out makes undercover work really challenging! 2.       Part of what makes Hester so appealing is her relationship with Kate, the 3-year-old child who has been abandoned into her care by her best friend, who is also her non-husband’s twin sister. Clearly family—biological and created—is a theme of this book. Could you address that a bit? I put family front and center in everything I write, both the family we are born with and the ones we wind up creating. For Hester, who grew up mostly on her own in a very challenging situation, so much of her life has been about surviving that she struggles with the generosity needed to raise a three-year-old. One of the themes of the novel is choice.Hester has to choose which path she’s going to take with Kate, and what kind of world she’ll create for Kate, and I didn’t want it to be an easy choice for her. Hester is a thirty-six year old woman who has consciously opted out of having children, and doesn’t necessarily want this one. 3.       Your characters are so beautifully drawn, and it’s impossible not to like them, whether they are behaving virtuously or otherwise. Do you have tips for writers hoping to improve their characterization? Oh, thank you. That is really kind of you to say. I guess I start by trying my best to like every character, as a human being. Every person on earth has something good at their core, and I try to remember that when I write, and to make that the focus of the character, rather than their actions. As a writer, when you focus in on that good, it makes the contrast of terrible actions and decisions all the more powerful. 4.       You take us behind the scenes into the exclusive world of the Boston Brahmins. How did you research that? My research around the Brahmins was mostly through reading – there is no more overrepresented group in literature that the rich and privileged! I really like Susan Minot’s books, especially Monkeysand Folly, for example. She does a terrific job of capturing the closeness and claustrophobia of a privileged life. I also went on a garden tour on Beacon Hill to get a glimpse of the interiors of a few houses on Louisburg Square, at the heart of Beacon Hill. I wouldn’t say no to living there! 5.       I’ve read that Agatha Christie influenced you. Which other authors do you enjoy? Like most writers, I read all the time and am influenced by so many different people. Agatha Christie and Enid Blyton definitely defined my childhood reading (along with C.S. Lewis and a few others). I think Laura Lippman creates wonderfully complex stories and rich worlds. One novel that I read regularly (maybe because it’s short!) is The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark. She is such a craftsman, and is able to move through time so effortlessly in that novel. I like to read it to remind myself what’s possible. 6. I always enjoy “path to publication” stories. How long did it take you to write this and how did you go about getting it published?  My path is not a short one!About twenty years ago, I wrote another novel that didn’t sell, and I wound up getting discouraged and giving up for a while. I also had to focus on some basics – you know, like earning a living! Then, in 2004 or 2005,  I read Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories, and was inspired by the way she mixed genres – mystery and literary – and was able to infuse so much humor into the Jackson Brodie series. She also really tore apart the structure of a “mystery” novel and made it something completely unique, and that left me wanting to go at it again. But I didn’t start right away! I wrote a single page that sat on my computer for about four years.Finally, in 2010 I switched jobs and negotiated a month off. Free time like that doesn’t come around all that often, and I realized I could either travel somewhere or I could give writing another shot, so I spent the month writing, and then spent the next four years continuing to write and revise, and then about a year finding a new agent. My agent sent the novel all around New York, and it was resoundingly rejected everywhere. But I analyzed the rejection letters and was able to determine some trends – basically I had too much story – and revise the novel one more time.And it finally sold.   

Read More

Search By Tags