Sunday, 31 August 2008

Skin and Bones

At Left Coast Crime in Bristol, two and a half years ago, I attended a party held by the publishers Crème de la Crime. Among other things, there was a reading by a new writer called David Harrison from his book Sins of the Father. It was a gruesome and memorable scene. I later read the book and found it enjoyable.

Now, David’s career has taken a new direction. He has metamorphosed into a writer called Tom Bale, and he describes his next publication as a thriller rather than a crime novel. He tells me that, when searching for an agent, he suddenly received four offers of representation and found himself in the surreal position of having to interview prospective agents in order to choose one of them.

David (or Tom?) takes up the story:

’I signed with Tif Loehnis at Janklow & Nesbit UK, and after a bit of rewriting the book was ready to submit to publishers. Early feedback was positive, up to a point: they loved the opening, but felt a bit let down by what followed. Brooding over this, I suddenly realised what I'd done wrong. After an explosive start, when a young woman gets caught up in a killing spree in a small Sussex village, the story jumped forward several months. In doing that, the tension was lost. What it needed was to continue from the moment the massacre ended.

Around this time, my agent had approached Preface, a brand new imprint at Random House. The editor, industry legend Rosie de Courcy, had read the opening and loved it. A meeting was arranged, and in a remarkable show of faith Rosie offered me a two-book contract on the strength of my ideas for a drastic rewrite, which basically entailed ditching about 90% of the first version. How Rosie knew I was capable of such of a task, I have no idea: I certainly had my doubts in the months that followed.

But now, at last, it's done, and the consensus seems to be that this version is infinitely better than the original. Skin and Bones is scheduled for UK publication in January 2009, and translation rights have been sold to France and Germany.’

So, after years of striving to become a published novelist, David now has a chance to make it big. I shall keep my fingers crossed for him.

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