Archive for March, 2011

So as I mentioned before, Bantam tentatively contracted with me for a third book. I mean, I guess they did, because there was a sale notice in Publisher’s Marketplace, but I fear to jinx myself if I say “Bantam bought another book” before I’ve actually signed a contract. (Publishing contracts move very slowly; at least they have for me.)

Anyway once a publisher has said “Yes, go ahead and write another book,” there’s another intermediary hurdle to clear, and it’s called Progress Materials. For my second book, this consisted of three chapters and a synopsis. For this one, they’d already okayed a synopsis and only required one chapter. (??? Am I viewed as a proven commodity now? Do they not want to wait the amount of time they fear it will take me to crank out three chapters? Not sure. Didn’t ask.)

I sent in the one chapter this week, and once again found myself biting my nails worrying what my editor would think of it, and, more specifically, what she’d think of the heroine.

Kate is my first really beautiful heroine. Martha I think of as pretty rather than beautiful; Lydia is neither pretty nor beautiful (except of course to the hero), but Kate is a knockout, and keenly aware of it, and has maybe a bit too much of a sense of entitlement in consequence. Basically I kind of want to take the girl who’s usually the heroine’s trounced rival, and make her the heroine instead.

So I feared my editor would say, “I do not like this shallow social-climber who’s mortified by her bluestocking sister, and I don’t believe any self-respecting hero would like her either.” But no! She said she loves the set-up, and can’t wait for more!

So I’m feeling blessed today. To find anyone who likes the things you write is a blessing; to find a publishing professional who does is good fortune practically beyond measure.

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Plugging away on a few revisions to Lydia & Will’s story, plus digging in to Nick & Kate’s; scrambling to find out as much about them as I can, because I’m not one of those writers who drafts comprehensive character biographies before starting on Chapter One.  I start writing, the characters start talking and doing things, and gradually I piece together who they are.

But remember when I said that thing about how “high art” has more of a role for the muse, and posterity, while populist art – pop music, romance novels – aims itself more consciously at individual people alive right now? Well, the hero of the new work in progress just had this thought:

To be a London barrister was to walk every day in the paths of greatness, the prospect of taking one’s own place in the pantheon — Plowden, Congreve, Fielding, Dr. Johnson, Blackshear — always hovering.  Paradoxically, to be a London barrister also meant a daily engagement with posterity’s opposite:  the concerns and transgressions and immediate fates of the people who shared this planet, this city’s streets, this fog-heavy breathing air with him now.

Heh. My real-life preoccupations don’t usually show up quite so baldly in the stories I write. I feel vaguely plagiaristic.

But the more I find out about this hero and heroine, the better I’m liking them. Must cross my fingers that my agent & editor will feel the same.

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