Friday 9 September 2011

The Big Break with Bryony Pearce

The fourth author to join us from The Edge blog is Bryony Pearce who debuted in July with her first book - Angel's Fury which I reviewed yesterday. If you would like to know more about The Edge blog, then please click here.  

Firstly, can I thank you for joining me today on my blog. 
Hi there, thanks very much for having me and I hope you liked the book.

What did you do for a living before writing became your chosen career?
I worked in business to business Market Research. I would speak to a company, find out what their business problem was, design some research to explore the problem, conduct the research, analyse the results and present back. I did a lot of employee satisfaction research, customer satisfaction, brand identity that sort of thing. I moved out of London in 2004 and went Freelance, with the idea that I would work three days a week and write two days a week. I only did that for a year and a half though, because I got pregnant with my daughter, which actually gave me a great excuse to give up the working side and focus on the writing (and child-raising) side.

How long did it take you to write your debut novel ‘Angel’s Fury’?
My first novel, Windrunner’s Daughter took me a long time to write. I started it in 2004 and won Undiscovered Voices 2008 with it. I’m still rewriting it. I wrote the first draft of Angel’s Fury in about seven months while I was waiting on rejections for Windrunner’s Daughter! Then there was a further year of work with my editor once Egmont took it on.

Where did you get the idea for the book?
My ideas came from a number of places. I suffer from nightmares myself, so Cassie clearly jumped out of that part of me.
One of the features of a number of my nightmares is particular scenery – a white town square with a clock in the middle. I thought I’d just made it up. Then I went on holiday Spain with my boyfriend (who I later married). As we were travelling through, we decided to visit Gibraltar, a bit of a nostalgia trip for me, as I had lived there for a couple of years as a small child.
As we climbed the rock, I mentioned to the guide that I had lived on the RAF base and he pointed behind me saying something like ‘you’ll have lived there then’. I turned and there it was – the scenery from my dreams. It was like cold water in the face. I had no conscious memory of that place whatsoever and yet my mind was recycling it in great and very accurate detail on a regular basis.
I really wanted to use that in my story and I did - when Cassie goes to Germany and sees her dreams come to life, it is based on that event.
I researched Hindu, Jewish and Christian mythology to bring the story together. A holiday to Bali gave me the reincarnation storyline and research into Lucifer for another story led me to the myth of Shemhazai and Azael.

Was ‘Angel’s Fury’ your first finished manuscript, or are there others lurking in the dark?
Angel’s Fury was the second full-length book I wrote, Windrunner’s Daughter was the first. I have another book that I’ve written since Angel’s Fury, currently called The Society, a ghost /
crime adventure that also involves Egyptian mythology. If Angel’s Fury does well, I’m hoping my publisher will look at it.

How long did it take you to find an agent?
I started trying to find an agent at the end of 2005. Sam gave me an offer after I worked with Cornerstones on Windrunner’s Daughter and won Undiscovered Voices 2008 so, three years. You hear about people taking much longer, I’m lucky it was only three.

How many rejection letters did you get before it was accepted?
I lost count of the number of agent rejection letters! Some were very kind and clearly wanted to help me, one suggested I use Cornerstones and another did ask to see the whole manuscript before turning me down. However, I also had letters from agents who obviously hadn’t even read the book, saying things like ‘your stories aren’t right for us’, when it was a novel. That kind of thing is frustrating. I don’t know how many publisher rejections Windrunner and Angel’s Fury got. Sam protects me from that sort of thing!

How many times did you have to edit your book before the agent was happy to send it off to publishers?
Angel’s Fury had one light edit before Sam sent it out. Then Philippa, the Egmont editor said they wanted me to make a few changes before they could offer me a contract. I made those changes while Riley was a baby and I got the contract when he was four and a half months old.

What was your first reaction when you found out that your book was to be published?
I screamed. Riley and Maisie thought I’d been injured, so I had to spend ten minutes calming them down before I could give Andy any details …

How long did it take for your book to reach publication after the initial agreement?
It felt like a very long time. I got the contract in May 2009 and Angel’s Fury was finally published in July 2011. 

What was happening to your manuscript during this time?
Lots of edits, proofreading and so on. It improved a thousand-fold, but it was hard having to wait so long.

How did you keep yourself occupied as you waited for publication day?
I wrote another book – The Society.

How did you celebrate on publication day in July?
The night before publication day I had a party in a local cocktail bar. On publication day I travelled down to London for lunch with my agent, Sam, my editor Philippa and my publicist, Jo. We had Thai food and champagne. Then I signed books in an air-conditioned office – which was exactly what I needed after all the cocktails the night before!

Can you tell us a little about your other writing projects?
The Society is about a teenage girl who sees ghosts. If a spirit touches her and leaves a mark she has to avenge his or her untimely death. She is forced to solve the murder of a classmate she cannot stand and becomes involved in a plot by Anubis to regain power.
Windrunner’s Daughter is set in post-apocalyptic America (after the eruption of Yellowstone) and is about a teenage girl who wants to do the ‘man’s work’ of Windrunning.
Aviators is about the end of civilisation and is loosely based on the Mort d’Arthur.

Do you write full time now?
I’m a full time mum. Writing has to fit in around my children.

Tell us what a typical writing day would be like?
I have no typical writing day. While I was editing Angel’s Fury, Riley did a nice two hour daytime nap while Maisie was at school, so I would write while he slept. Nowadays he doesn’t nap, so if I want to work I have to do it in the evenings after the children are in bed, or fit it in around his activities.

What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?
Take all the advice you can get and take constructive criticism on board. At the same time, develop a thick skin. I always allowed myself a day to wallow after a rejection; then forced myself to get up, look at why the book was rejected and try and fix it. You can’t take rejection and criticism personally.
Read everything, keep writing and keep learning.
Enter competitions (especially if they’re judged by editors or agents).
Use a literary consultancy like Cornerstones. 

What a fabulous interview with Bryony. It is lovely to see that she never gave up even after a lot of rejections and it is good to hear how she fits writing in around her role as a full time mum. Angel's Fury is available to buy now. 


  1. I love her story it sounds like she couldn't have been happier! :D

    I've still to read her book but it's own my wishlist :)

  2. Jules - Bryony makes is sounds so achievable. You must read the book soon.

  3. Fantastic interview. It's good to know there is hope to be a published author being a mum of young children and to keep going. The book sounds amazing and can't wait to read it. x

  4. Great advice :)
    I am so bad with taking criticism, can't do it but gotta learn

  5. This is a fabulous interview, with a lot of sound advice. The author has great energy and voice, which you've captured here well.

    (Vivienne, I've been out of town and am just now getting back into the swing of things, blogging wise.)

  6. Great advice to aspiring writers! Angels Fury sounds like a good read.
    That's something about her on holiday Spain and seeing the image from her dreams!


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