Hello, all. It's Louise here, all set to entertain you with a Bastille Day post... This month, I'm going to talk about writing, and about that beautiful moment when you've wrapped up one project for the time being and you're all set to cast off on another. As far as I'm concerned, I’m in a really great place writing-wise. My debut novel’s not been out a year, its follow-up is wrapped up and ready for editing: normally, I'd currently be inhabiting that strange limbo between projects...
Except I’m not. As they used to say on the classic BBC children’s programme, ‘Blue Peter,’ I’m delighted to say that I can whip out another manuscript and proudly announce, “Here’s one I prepared earlier.” Yes, the third novel which I've had hanging around in suspended animation, and which has been clawing at my mind from time to time, just waiting to be completed, can finally be kicked into gear.
There’s just one problem. When I decided to embark on Novel #3, I deliberately chose to take a step away from historical fiction. This doesn’t mean a complete departure from history or archaeology. Far from it. I rather foolishly decided to re-interpret the standard time-slip novel by having my hero come back from the past and decide that really, life’s much better here in the future and that given the choice, he's not going back to the past from whence he came. His reluctance is justified: he was born and raised in Ancient Sparta, so he's got some serious complaints to make about childhood abuse and the miseries of life in a pretty strict authoritarian regime.
When I wrote the early drafts, I wasn’t quite sure how everything would come out in the mix and to be honest, I still don’t. It’s kind of literary (lots of allusions to the Classical world), it’s certainly speculative fiction and there’s a historical strand in there, too. In short, it’s certainly a departure for me and quite possibly the most difficult project I’ve ever embarked on.
And this is where I’m truly grateful to my friends at Hadley Rille Books. Writing is a very lonely profession: when you’re bogged down in the isolation that accompanies the creative process, it’s easy to get despondent. To have someone out there who can look at what you’re trying to do with an objective eye and who can tell you at a very early stage whether or not it’s working is an extraordinary luxury, and it’s one which as a writer I value more than anything. In the old days, literary agents fulfilled this role, but right now - as those of you who haven’t yet acquired a publisher or agent and are actively seeking one will know – it’s virtually impossible to blag even an agent. Most of the time you’re firing your manuscript off into the fog and having it flung back in your face without having any idea of why, exactly, it didn’t make the selection process.
In these unenlightened times, Hadley Rille Books is a rare and noble beast . Their writers are an investment: they encourage them and help them to grow. For a writer just embarking on their career, the extra support and guidance this provides is invaluable. It gives you the confidence, the self-belief and the energy to keep on writing. This kind of support is crucial when you’ve taken on a brute of a novel that you know will tax your abilities as a storyteller to the limits. It makes the difference between you tossing the manuscript into a corner in a fit of pique and your going the extra mile, grappling with the inherent problems and finding the gem that lurks within the rough chunk of mineral.
The HRB crowdfunding campaign is doing well so far, with over $2000 raised so far. But it would be so good if this wonderful little publisher could boost its presence through gathering the funds its needs to raise the bar and get its work out to a wider audience. So please, if you’ve read and enjoyed my book, if you’ve read and enjoyed any HRB title or if you’re a reader full-stop and you want your choice of reading matter to be diverse, varied and above all, interesting, check out the campaign and support it in any way you can.
Do it for all the untold stories out there, just waiting to be written, and for the characters whose lives have yet to be set down upon the page and granted immortality. Without your help, whether it’s through supporting the campaign or buying books or spreading the word about books you’ve enjoyed, there’s a whole plethora of fascinating tales that will never, ever see the light of day unless there are small, independent publishers like Hadley Rille Books to publish them and above all to promote them.
And that, I think, would be a great loss to all of us.