Never Give Up: My Path to Published Author
Author Sara Bailey was about to give up on getting published when a life change brought the support and inspiration to get her moving again. Her novel, Dark Water, is out now.
I had more or less given up on getting a novel published. I’d written one (in an earlier version and with a different title) as part of my Ph.D. It had served its purpose, so I put it away and started to think about what to do next. While I was doing that, life took over.
I was stressed and unhappy and my father had just died. I decided to arrange a bench for him at a favorite beach and went up to see it put in place. I met with some old friends and an ex-boyfriend from when I was 16. Six months later I moved back to where I had grown up and where my novel, Dark Water, is set. I got married (to the ex-boyfriend) and my now husband read the book. He announced that I was insane to spend all that time working on a novel just to put it away. “You want to be a writer, then people need to read your writing, yes?” He made it sound so simple, haha. But there is something very liberating in someone having absolute faith in you. So, I pulled myself together and sent it out.
I collected some nice rejections – they were kind and very encouraging, but rejections just the same. Then an ex-student of mine told me that Blackbird-Digital had tweeted that they were looking for fiction. We both sent out our first chapter and waited. I got an email asking for the full manuscript, and then silence. My ex-student had hers accepted and I tried very hard not to grind my teeth. Then, out of the blue, Stephanie Zia, founder of Blackbird emailed me to say that although they’d decided not to take Dark Water for Blackbird, would I like to be the debut author for a new imprint, Nightingale-Editions. I jumped at the opportunity.
It’s been a fascinating process working on the edits to get the book ready, choosing the cover and blurb. The title changed as I was rewriting part of the ending and sat chatting one evening about some of the themes of the novel with my husband. He had been a diver for a while and told me what dark water meant to divers. He thought it fitted the book because there’s a moral ambiguity at the heart of it. Sometimes, an outside viewpoint can make a huge difference.
I’ve started writing the next one, which is which is also set in Orkney (an archipelago off the north of Scotland). ‘It is such an inspirational place to live – the island is rife with artists, photographers, poets, jewelers, textile makers, and storytellers. I think it has something to do with the landscape and the light. Or it may just be the long, dark winters – very conducive to getting down to creative activities.
Dr. Sara Bailey is a writer, consultant and lecturer who has been working with authors and screenwriters for many years, in Richmond-upon-Thames, Winchester and Southampton. She has a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from Bangor University. Her first book was published by Bloomsbury in 2013, Writing the Horror Movie, which she co-authored whilst hiding behind a cushion. Recently she has returned to her home of Orkney, the setting of her debut novel, Dark Water.
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