Sweet Proposal was my first published book. My baby. The one that made me feel like a real live, proper writer. And it was Piatkus Entice that made the dream come true, back in November 2012.
The occasion when I knew it was actually going to happen for me was a very sparkly one. It was the Festival of Romance gala dinner and hoards of us had flocked to Bedford to wallow in lovely books for a whole weekend. We’d done workshops, been to lectures, spent far too much money on . . . yes, more books, and now it was the grand finale– the awards ceremony for authors of all sorts of wonderful novels. Lots of categories, lots of familiar, famous names, lots of excitement.
I have to say, wine had already occurred on the table I was sharing with my Romaniac buddies. The problem was that the food wasn’t going to arrive until after the awards were all dished out. I clapped along with everybody else, listening to the whoops of excitement from all corners of the glittering ballroom. When the noise eventually began to die down, I cracked, and started to eat my rather dry bread roll.
Only, the awards hadn’t actually finished. There was still a final exciting one to come – the Piatkus Entice prize. Three contracts for debut authors. I chewed away happily, hearing words like warm, funny and quirky. Then I noticed that people seemed to be staring at me and my table-mates were on their feet, cheering. Huh? The bread roll refused to budge. I gulped some wine.
‘Go on – get up there, you’ve won! You’ve got a contract!’ said Debs, nudging me out of my chair.
Since then, life has changed in many ways. The editing process with Caroline Kirkpatrick was a steep learning curve, but Caroline’s vision was clear and she knew how to polish something that was still definitely still rough around the edges. Eventually, we were both happy, and Sweet Proposal made its first appearance on August 1st 2013. I celebrated with cocktails in a 97th floor bar in Chicago. I don’t normally do this.
The next time a launch occurred for me it was just as exciting, even if the venue was my ground floor conservatory rather than at the top of a skyscraper. Little Boxes was published in November 2014 and book three is nearly finished. I learned so much from the publishing process with Piatkus that I felt like quite an old hand by this time.
The bonus was that when Little Boxes started to take off and sell in a bigger way, Sweet Proposal developed a whole new lease of life. I didn’t see that coming, so I must still a bit green, but it was a lovely surprise. Now all I need is an idea for book four . . .