Today I am delighted to be offering a comfy seat and a refreshing cuppa to the wonderful Nicola Morgan, who is whizzing around the interweb discussing her latest ebook, Mondays are Red. As those of you who know her can testify, I will also need to dust off a footstool for her customary, and impressive, red boots…
Although she now has around 90 books to her name, Nicola vividly remembers how she felt when she first achieved the status of debut author, and she has agreed to describe the experience for us today – over to you Nicola!
“The launch of a debut is a strange and mixed experience, full of excitement but not always in a good way. When Mondays are Red was about to come out, I said to my husband, in one of my more worried moments, “You know, I’m starting to think the best thing I could do to publicise this book is either say something really controversial or die tragically.” I hasten to add that I still have no plan to do either! The thing is this: when we’re actually writing our debut, we have no real sense of what’s coming. When the book is accepted, we’re given a publication date so far ahead that it feels entirely unreal. We go round telling everyone our book is coming out, with no understanding of what that means.
The date approaches and suddenly it’s all too real. We want to jump up and down and say, “Hello! Look – I have a BOOK out! Please notice me. I will do anything. I will – erm – take my clothes off or say something controversial or take my clothes off AND say something controversial. I’ll even DIE!” Yes, you will do anything for your book and anything less than extreme doesn’t feel enough. This is panic. Stage One thereof.
Then, about a week before publication, Stage Two occurs. This is characterised by exposure dreams. These involve dreaming about things like going to the bathroom with the door made of glass, or without a door; or walking along the street without requisite clothes, or being about to go on stage in only underwear. Because publication is exposure. People will judge us. It’s scary and somewhat horrible.
Anyway, the book comes out and almost everything is surprisingly rosy. Until someone, usually related to us, points out that he went into […insert name of tiny bookshop in tiny town…] and didn’t find our book. And suddenly we feel as small as an adolescent wasp and about as irritable. From this moment on, it’s a steep learning curve.
I sometimes think authors’ relatives and publishers should be forced to go on a course to show them what it’s like inside our heads, how many bright smiles we conjure up when inside we’re feeling belittled or stressed senseless, what it feels like when no one comes to an event or books don’t arrive or no one brings a cup of tea when we’ve talked ourselves hoarse or someone makes a snarky comment or we Google our name and find a less than glowing review, why sometimes we might behave a little stressedly, even a little badly.
But hey, for goodness’ sake, what am I complaining about? Despite all those things and more, a writer’s life is one I wouldn’t swap for anything. And the best thing I learnt was that (most) people don’t want you to be outrageous or die – just to write a book they will love. The worst thing I learnt is that exposure dreams are not just for the debut…
Good luck to all you writers writing what may be your debut novel. Savour the fact that you don’t have a deadline; write it from the heart and throw your best words into it. Oh, and don’t worry about doing any outrageous publicity: that sort of stuff is fleeting anyway. A good book speaks for itself. Just write.
Thanks for having me, Claire! I hope you enjoyed Mondays are Red.”
Of course I did enjoy this fabulous read, which deals with the fascinating topic of Synaesthesia and was actually Nicola’s debut YA novel, first published in 2002. As part of her ongoing publishing adventures she is now delighted to be producing the ebook herself, with a new cover and extra material, including creative writing from school pupils inspired by the book. For details about how to buy a copy (price £1.99 until the end of January), see Nicola’s website