The Big Break is extremely happy to introduce Katie Ward on the blog as her debut novel Girl Reading published by Virago goes on sale today. This interview was carried out a couple of months ago and I have kept it back just for publication day.
Firstly, can I thank you for joining me today on my blog.
I’m delighted to be here, thank you for inviting me. It’s special because this is the first author interview I’ve done, so I’m going to remember it.
How long had you been dreaming of being published before you got that life changing phone call?
I was dreaming about it seriously for about 10 years or more. It’s strange because ‘dreaming’ implies passivity, that you are wishing and waiting for something. Actually there was a lot of work involved, a lot of rejection, a lot of stubborn self-belief. There was plenty of doubt along the way too; I wrote another entire novel before Girl Reading, which remains unpublished (because it’s not very good!). When that book had been turned down by practically everyone, I thought that I’d had my chance and it was time to settle into a stable public sector career. My husband didn’t allow that to happen. And as many people reading this blog know, the public sector is not the safe option it once used to be; you may as well do the thing you love.
What was your first reaction when you found out that your first book ‘Girl Reading’ was to be published? How did it make you feel?
The book deal happened gradually, over about two weeks. When my agent, Bill, started the process of showing Girl Reading to publishers, these emails started appearing from editors giving their feedback and the early signs were good. Then, after some days, the offers started creeping in too. It was quite stressful in a way, because I became addicted to my inbox! Bill did a great job because he negotiated three financially equivalent offers in the end, which meant we could just go with the publisher that felt right and the editor who I knew I would have the best relationship with. When Bill rang me to say the deal was done, it was a mixture of relief and hysteria.
What were you doing when you found out?
Oh gosh! I was at a conference for work. It was the break for lunch and I went outside to take the call on my mobile. I came back in feeling very emotional, but I couldn’t tell anybody what had happened because I was still keeping it a secret at that point. I was then introduced to a colleague who I knew by name and by email but had not spoken to before ... and I just spontaneously hugged him! I simply had to hug someone. To this day, the person concerned doesn’t know the reason behind it, he just thinks I’m overly-friendly when I meet people.
Who did you tell first?
My husband, of course. He was pleased but he wasn’t very surprised.
How long has it taken for your book to be published since the initial agreement?
Over a year and a half, because it’s preferable to publish new fiction in the spring. We signed the contract in autumn 2009, so it was too late in the cycle to publish in spring 2010, and we went for May 2011 instead. I was in no hurry anyway and happy to take the advice which would give my book the best chance.
What has been happening to your manuscript during this time?
Lots of work on it. I’ve been very impressed by the thoroughness of the editing process at Virago ― even more so when I read that other publishers are less conscientious or just spread too thinly. I’ve been very lucky in that respect.
How are you keeping yourself occupied as you wait for publication day?
Until recently I was still employed, but I have left my job now to be a full time writer, for a while at least. I’ve joined Twitter http://twitter.com/katiewardwriter and Facebook http://www.facebook.com/katiewardwriter this week, for the first time in my life. They say there is no zealot like a convert and it’s so true. And I’ve been planning my next book too.
What are your thoughts on the beautiful cover created for you?
I was delighted with the choice of cover image from the first moment I saw it. It gave me confidence. I felt that my publisher really understood my book ― they get it.
How did it feel to see your name on the finished book cover?
Your book will be released in May. How do you plan to celebrate?
I haven’t thought about it properly. There are some things in the diary, including a launch event being run by Suffolk Book League http://www.sbl.org.uk/ on Wednesday 25 May at the Ipswich Institute, 7pm, which anyone is welcome to come along to. I think that will be a very satisfying way to mark the end of one phase in my life and the beginning of a new phase. Also I have a number of reading group friends, so we might have a little get-together.
How would you spend a typical writing day?
Writing days, and non-writing days, start with my cats waking me up. Then I have breakfast, look at my email and start work at around 9am. I aim to write 800 words, which easily takes all day. I have a break at lunchtime and watch a DVD. In the evening I do something else entirely.
What advice would you give unpublished authors?
Keep writing, because you will learn, develop and improve that way. Keep going until you’ve got the best manuscript you can.
Thank you Katie for taking the time to talk to us and I am now gushing at being the first one to interview you. We wish you every success with the publication and hope it leads to many more for you.
Girl Reading comes out today, so make sure you buy a copy. I have mine and I can't wait to read it.
If you would like to know more about Katie then please click here to visit her website.