I am really excited about today’s guest, Jane O’ Reilly. I met Jane last year at a writing course run by the lovely author Julie Cohen. At the time Jane wasn’t published, so I am thrilled to see that not only did she get a publishing contract, but that her book is due to be released by Escape Publishing on April 1st.
1) I would love you to share your writing journey with my readers, because you are definitely an author who shows you should never give up. How long did it take for you to get your first book published?
From sitting down to write my first (awful) manuscript to the publication of this one, which is book number 5, just over 4 years. Put it another way – when I started writing, my youngest was 10 months old. He’s now at school.
2) Your debut novel, Once A Bad Girl, is about to be published. How are you feeling right now?
Both excited and nervous. Seeing the book go live on Amazon was a big moment!
3) Can you tell us a little bit about the book for my readers who have yet to set eyes on it?
Once a Bad Girl is a fun, contemporary romance about a woman desperately trying to save the family business, which is an auction house in London. When she discovers that a reclusive Oscar winning actress is selling her memorabilia, she thinks this is the answer to all her prayers – only it comes with strings attached, in the form of the actresses’ overprotective son. There is a film premiere, a public wardrobe malfunction, sex in a French orchard and a really embarrassing incident involving a pair of knickers.
4) Where did you get your inspiration from for it?
My husband is a dreadful TV remote hogger, so a lot of my inspiration has come from his choice of programmes. He went through a phase of being obsessed with Flog It, which inspired me to write a heroine who works at an auction house. Around the time I was writing the book, Elizabeth Taylor’s jewellery collection went up for auction, and after spending far too much time lusting after it, I decided some fabulous, big ticket items were just what the heroine needed. I’ve also written a book inspired by Top Gear, but I’ve yet to come up with anything for Ice Road Truckers.
5) How long did it take you to write?
Time wise, probably about 6 months, but this was split over 18 months and many, many drafts.
6) Were there times when you felt that it would never get published? If so, how did you work your way through them?
I always felt that if I worked hard enough for long enough, eventually something would sell. But there were many difficult days when I knew the book I was writing wasn’t the one, and when the day that something would actually sell seemed very, very far away. My advice is not to make publication your goal. Make writing better your goal.
7) Were you given any good writing advice that you would like to share with my readers?
Lots! I am a great believer in learning writing craft, and it wasn’t until I learned how to plot that my writing really started to improve. Write regularly, making it a habit. Finish your drafts. Writing competitions are a great way to get feedback and give yourself deadlines – for romance writers, the Romance Writers of America run lots of these and is a good place to start. The Romantic Novelists Association also runs a great scheme for unpublished writers.
8) What was your first reaction when you found out your book was to be published?
The email came in three days before Christmas, and I have to admit to being a bit distracted at the time, worrying about whether I’d bought enough presents. There was a huge sense of accomplishment, shortly followed by lots and lots of worrying. What if the cover was awful? What if the edits were impossible? What if anyone I knew read it and found out about the French orchard sex? Fortunately my husband, who is a very sensible man, insisted on lots of excitement.
9) How long did was it between the initial deal and publishing day?
Surprisingly quick. From offer to publication, just over 3 months. Epublishing generally has a much faster time to market than traditional publishing, which is one of its advantages. Plus my publisher, Harlequin Escape, is a fairly new imprint which allowed for the quick turnaround. That’s not to say that the book didn’t go through all the same stages of editing, copyediting etc, just that their response times were fast.
10) What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished writing a novella about a tabloid journalist who goes on a winter holiday to escape trouble at work and ends up sharing a tent with a man whose marriage she destroyed in the press. There is snow, a half-naked encounter with a moose and a Bear Grylls type hero (see TV as inspiration above).
11) Who is the one person that cheered you on and supported you through your writing?
Definitely my husband, who always encouraged me to keep going, and never at any point suggested I was wasting my (or his) time. Also my daughter, who said ‘writing books is such a cool job!’
12) What advice would you give to aspiring and unpublished authors?
Follow the three commandments of writing – write, read and submit. Social media and blogging get a lot of attention, but it really is all about the book, and the writing should be the priority. I didn’t start blogging until I had sold. Don’t be afraid to write badly, to write stuff which is wrong, and to write entire manuscripts again from scratch. There are lots of fantastic books about the craft of writing, and some very good writing courses, not all of which require you to sell a kidney (including the ones run by the lovely Julie Cohen, where I met Vivienne!). We also need to expect to be rejected (lots) and have the patience of a saint, as publishing frequently moves at a speed that makes a snail look like Usain Bolt.
Once A Bad Girl by Jane O’Reilly is published by Escape Publishing on April 1st.
To find out more about Jane O’Reilly: