Day 4 of the Debuts 2016 and I am pleased to welcome Alwyn Hamilton.
Alwyn debuts in February this year with her YA fantasy novel, Rebel of the Sands, which will be published by Faber and Faber.
How has your life changed since getting a book deal?
The biggest way that my life has changed has been quitting my day job. I balanced writing and the day job for years, squeezing writing in bit by bit on weekends and evenings. Deadlines and the amount of work around authoring that is not actual writing (accounts, promotion etc.) made keeping up with the book and the day job at the same time impossible, and fortunately getting the book deal allowed me not have to rely on my day job anymore to, you know, feed myself and pay rent. So I went part time in August and I'll leave my job entirely at the end of 2015 so that 2016 will be a year a full time authoring! It's exciting but daunting at the same time to lose that structure of the 9-5. But having eased out of working mode the last few months I'm now really looking forwards to it.
Have you seen the book cover and how did it make you feel?
For being an Art Historian, I am weirdly not always a very visual person, so I'm glad I didn't have an image in my mind for the cover when I wrote the book. I actively avoided trying to imagine a cover for REBEL OF THE SANDS because I knew if I got stuck in an idea of what it should look like I'd risk being disappointed by the final result. Fortunately I absolutely love my cover. It was covers for a while, with different ones in the U.S than in the U.K. Having seen them both in the flesh (in the paper?) I can vouch that they were both gorgeous in very distinct ways and I actually got a bit teary when I saw the ARCs. But I'm excited that it's now a single cover, and the same image is being used for both. I love the dark silhouettes on the desert landscape, it feels so evocative and classic, and I can't wait for everyone else to get to see it in it's final gold foiled product (that's the magpie in me, attracted to shiny things).
What are your hopes for 2016?
My hopes for the book for 2016 range from the ridiculously ambitious to the weirdly specific and intimate, and while I worry they would seem impossibly ridiculous or pretentious to list all, or indeed any, of them here, I have made a list. Stacey Lee and Stephanie Garber wrote a post for Pubcrawl back in August about "Index Cards of Power" which fascinated me. I was deep in edits at that point and losing sight of the book. So I sat down and listed everything I wanted it to be and how I wanted it to be received in 2016 on an index card, and it helped me focus in on what was important and focus on the fact that most of them are things I can't control. So all my 2016 wants are listed on a little piece of stationary that is stuffed in between my paperbacks on my bookshelf. I'd love to be able to say something zen, like that they are mainly to enjoy my launch year, but my biggest hope is that I will do folks proud. I don't think you have an appreciation until you've done it of how many people invest in you as an author, and in your story, when you're published, and how many people put their work and talent behind making your words a book. A lot of my hopes are that all of their hard work and trust in the book pays off.
Who did you tell first about your book deal?
My parents. REBEL OF THE SANDS sold in December 2014. In the weeks leading up my parents kept asking me what I wanted for Christmas (books, new socks?) and the only answer I had was "A book deal". On the day of the auction I couldn't focus on anything because I was so nervous. So I pretty much spent the day sending email and text updates to my parents in between being on the phone to my agent, so it kind of felt like they were there throughout. Then my best friend came to collect me from the office (she also prevented me from walking into traffic), so she knew about the same time I knew because she was sitting next to me when I found out. My flatmates also found out pretty quickly by virtue of being in the immediate vicinity of me in the immediate aftermath while I was like a pot boiling over with the news.
How have you kept yourself occupied in the run up to publication day?
I've heard so many stories of people driving themselves crazy with the wait between deal and publication. But even though it was a year ago that REBEL OF THE SANDS sold and it's coming out in a few short months, it honestly feels like it has gone in the blink of an eye. I've been kept plenty busy since then. There's been the work on the book itself, and then some early promotional stuff to do, like going to YALC in the summer, and then, with the book launching in Italy already, going to Lucca Comics and Games in October to promote it there. And then there's been the writing of Book 2...between all that and the day job I haven't had to worry too much about keeping myself busy.
Thank you Alwyn for sharing your thoughts in the run up to your debut. We wish you so much luck with publication.