|Image by amboo who?, via Flickr|
When Warner Books bought it, the fear began.
Angel, she still remembered me; however, Warner had stopped publishing Regencies.
So the next fear was that I’d never find another editor/publisher who liked my work. I did, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here. So let’s move on to the next stage. After several books, my editors no longer expected to receive an entire manuscript. They began to give me contracts on the basis of a synopsis of 7 pages or so. At that point, the quivering question becomes what on earth made me think I could turn this bare idea, which seemed so promising at the time, into an entire novel. And how can I turn these names into real, engaging people?
I’ve never had much trouble with characters. Plots are another matter. The perennial fear, usually striking about 1/3 into the book, was (and is) failing to coming up with enough twists to make the word count.
It’s sad to reduce a novel to a word count, but publishers generally expect a certain length, so we mid-listers generally try to comply. Otherwise there’s always the dread possibility of having to pad or worse to cut, not for artistic reasons, simply to reduce the size.
Familiarity breeds if not contempt then at least the feeling that one will probably manage to complete the project adequately.
My next moment of terror came when the two publishers I was working for both decided to stop publishing Regencies (one in the middle of a three-book contract). Though I was quite happy to turn my hand to something else for a change, I had no idea whether I could write a competent mystery that someone would pay good money for. By then I was earning my living by writing, so it was quite frightening to find myself in that situation.
Twenty-three years later, I can say with some confidence that, yes, I can write mysteries. Now my fears stem from being in the opposite position from at the beginning of my career.
The Bloody Tower or thereabouts, I’ve been getting contracts without even a proposed title—Daisy Dalrymple Mystery #16, Cornish Mystery #3. I start without even the shadow of an idea in my head. What if inspiration fails to burgeon?
|Carola Dunn is author of the Daisy Dalrymple Mysteries, Cornish Mysteries, and multitudinous Regencies. The paperback edition of Superfluous Women is now available to pre-order.|