The Next Chapter

A bit of a status update. I’m still waiting for feedback from one of the big London literary agencies on the full manuscript of Certainty that they (surprisingly) requested. I’ve just started writing the sequel in the meantime, which is called Mirrorball. I’m a chapter in, now, and it’s proving rather enjoyable and easy to write. That won’t last, of course – never does – but for now it’s a great feeling that it’s all clicking.

And today I read the debut novel of a hugely promising new author called Daniel Clay. The book is Broken, and it tells the story of a community that gradually unravels following a single, violent event, from the perspective of a comatose eleven year old girl. Surprising, shocking, scary, heartbreaking and devastating, it’s a genuinely fantastic work of fiction which takes the general setup of To Kill A Mockingbird and transplants it to modern Britain, filling it with compelling characters and an extremely well constructed plot.

There are various parallels between Clay’s life and my own. He wanted to be a writer for years, but had a day job as an accountant. He’s represented by the very agency that has requested my manuscript. His is a success story which proves that the so-called “slush pile” (the load of unsolicited manuscripts which litter the offices of every literary agency) can sometimes work. Amazingly, Broken was rejected by thirty literary agencies before it was finally picked up. Reading the final product, this seems absolutely insane. But it leaves me with great heart. That such a novel was passed over by so many people is proof that rejection isn’t necessarily an attack on your work – it’s just that you weren’t in the right place at the right time with the right material.

Daniel has kindly given up some of his time over the past week to help me out with the questions I’ve had about literary agencies and his own experiences, and he’s a lovely guy. So it was doubly satisfying to come away from his novel with the opinion that Broken is, without a doubt, one of the best debuts I’ve read in a long, long time.

In fact, I like it so much that I’m encouraging everyone to buy it. It’s well worth it!

Oh, and wasn’t Doctor Who brilliant? Like night and day over last week’s sorry attempt. Steven Moffat should write them all. Maybe now’s the time for the blog piece on New New Who, which I shelved following the Daleks episode that left me worried about where the show was going.

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