Since completing Nano Wrimo in November – which entailed writing 50,000 words in the space of a month, my own writing endeavour has somewhat stalled. A number of factors have contributed – a lack of inspiration, flailing self-belief, and an overwhelming pile of books that I’m trying to read my way through. And so, in need of some motivation, last night I attended an event on the Southbank called How to get your First Novel Published, held by the Women’s Prize for Fiction and Grazia magazine.
An annual event that’s part of the London Literature Festival, the evening brings together writers from varying stages of the novel writing process and aims to offer the audience the necessary advice to take them from ‘cradle to grave’. Hosted by one of my favourite writers, Kate Mosse, author of Labyrinth, Sepulcher and Citadel, the panel also included debut author Rachel Joyce, Curtis Brown Literary Agent Felicity Blunt and Penguin’s General Managing Director Joanna Prior.
Rachel Joyce, previously a radio script writer, is one of this year’s huge success stories, with her first novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry selling in the region of quarter of a million copies. She discussed her writing journey with Kate – a rare one that saw her signing with both an agent and an editor in the space of a day – and is certainly testament to the brilliance of her best-selling novel.
The panel went on to discuss the varying stages of novel writing before the audience was invited to ask any burning questions they might have and a number of topics were then discussed – from tips on submissions to the recent phenomenon of self publishing.
Many years ago, when I first read Labyrinth, I tore out the author’s biography. It stated that Kate Mosse lived between Sussex and Carcasonne, had founded the Orange Prize for Fiction and was a best-selling author – and I’ve held onto it for many years hoping that I would one day emulate a writing career as successful as hers. Many people say you should never meet your heroes for fear of disappointment, so when the evening had come to a close, I was hesitant to approach Kate Mosse. Knowing that I would regret it if I didn’t, however, my friend and I thanked her for the evening and she was as warm, friendly and down to earth as I could have hoped. I left the event feeling both awe-struck and inspired and more determined than ever to put pen to paper and finish my book.