The verdict

I have been working on this book for almost two years now, and finally to call it a day and hand it over was quite an effort. The short wait for an editorial response hasn’t been easy – (irritable? me?) – but the imminent meeting to discuss the text with the very senior commissioning editor and her desk editor wasn’t an enticing prospect either. In this fragile state it’s too easy to imagine a disappointed response, dismay, even regret (‘Not quite what we’re looking for, after all’). I am not a natural optimist. So, trudging through the rain to the HarperCollins offices this morning I felt like a condemned person.

Actually, I’m sure it wasn’t a song for them either. Authors are protective of their beloved, and the tenor of these meetings is essentially critical… ‘Ahem. This is what you haven’t done; this is where you haven’t given it enough oomph; these are the dangling ends; and THIS is where there is far, far too much of your eager but essentially tedious background research…’ There’s probably plenty of unnerving scope for criticism to be too negative, and even more – writers being what they are – for it to be negatively received.

But, phew. This time they do like it. Genuinely. Of course there’s work to be done. None of it major. Most importantly, I’ve been so intent on managing my ambitious plot and painting the Victorian scene and marshalling the detail about theatre magic that I’ve let the characters go cool towards the end. It will take only a little pruning and a handful of scenes to be inserted or warmed up, and it’s easy to see how that can be done, but the criticism is so right that I can’t wait to get going on the job.

Apart from this, there was lovely discussion of cover ideas, and dates for the various editions. The hardback (probably) will be out in March next year (almost certainly).

Oh, and they want a different title. To me it has always been THE ILLUSIONISTS, but the call is for something more personal, more intimate. I’m thinking.

12 thoughts on “The verdict

  1. A lovely lot of clues there, Rosie! 🙂 Shame about the title because I’ve been calling the book ‘The Illusionists’ since you mentioned it! Still, a rose by any other name……….? There was never a serious doubt in your mind that your editors would like it, was there? I’m so pleased for you that they did though, especially if it makes for a quiet mind. Good luck with the ‘pruning’ and I am looking forward to reading the new book as soon as it’s available.

    • I’m not being disingenuous, honestly, Rosemary. I was quite anxious. All kinds of things can go wrong between pitching an idea and getting the approval for an outline, and writing the last line of a finished draft. Through all that time you’re on your own, however much external support may be on offer. You’re the only one who can write it – and there’s always the whisper in the small hours that you are writing it WRONG.
      Part of the intention in this blog is to chronicle the ups and downs between finishing a book and getting it to the point where it’s in your hand. I don’t believe there’s much written about this? So I’m trying to give the full picture.
      Publication still seems a long way off (March 2014) – but there is a lot to do in the interim. Pondering the title is just one of them.
      More news soon….

      • Hi Rosie,
        It never even crossed my mind that you were being ingenuous – honestly! 🙂 I suppose I thought that with so many wonderful best sellers to your credit, you wouldn’t worry so much! How wrong can you be? I’m like so many of your fans who more or less take your writing for granted and don’t think about the angst and sheer hard work that goes into the finished product. I’m sorry if I offended you. It wasn’t intentional. It’s right that you share the process with your public because most of us haven’t a clue and I do thank you very much for making the time and taking the trouble to do so. 🙂

  2. Hello Rosie, I recently saw a rather masterful story (as a movie) called “The Illusionist” perhaps this is why a name change is required. I`m five books into your reading list of stories and have 4 on order with Booktopia. Thank you for such varied, well researched and delightfully human stories that lead me all over the world into vast wilderness, the halls of learning, the quiet gardens of England or the humid and glorious vegetation of Bali. I wish you every success with your next book and look forward to purchasing a copy which I will pass on to my local library to spread the word about your work.
    May your adventures continue to be many and varied

    • Hello Francesca, thanks for this – so pleased to hear you are enjoying the books, and flattered to form a reading list. There are a lot of titles now, and they represent 30-odd years of writing. I began when my son was a baby, and he is 33 now… SO, there’s quite a lot of difference (and I hope development) from first to most recent.
      My friend Paul was telling me about the ILLUSIONIST movie only last week. He recommended it highly too, so I’m going to search it out.

      PS I believe all my earlier titles will soon be available as e-books (at present only the more recent are digitised). I’m really glad about this. Books can take all shapes and forms.

  3. Hello Rosie,
    I’m so pleased that a new book will be out in 2014! I have been waiting…..! All of your books have left me with such a variety of images that I reflect upon like old friends. The scenes of chubby little hands chewing through biscuits, the glory and beauty of Greece and the rugged snow peaks in far away lands always trigger a self-smile and the essence of my memory still serving me well! You are a fantastic writer and I am so happy that my hand wandered to that first book of yours at my local library. You’re in my top five list of authors I would love to lunch with!! Looking forward to the new story.

  4. Hello Ms. Thomas,
    I am thoroughly excited! I reviewed your Kashmir Shawl for The Romance Reviews and I cannot wait to bid for the ARC of your next project (nameless as it seems to be at the moment).
    I hope I may also have the chance to interview you, one day. Your writing is the kind of gorgeous work that made me want to become a writer in the first place, and I adore the way you bring worlds to life much like Pearl S. Buck introduced me to China through her “Good Earth.”
    Good luck with your finishing touches! We are all rooting for you – it’s always the last bits that are a bit hard, aren’t they?
    Joanna Celeste

  5. Hello,

    I am thoroughly excited to discover you are coming out with a new book. I reviewed your “Kashmir Shawl” for The Romance Reviews and I am now one of your lifelong fans. I will keep an eye out for your new title (nameless as it is at the moment) and will bid to review it when the ARC is available.

    Do you accept interviews by email? I am a Literary Associate for You Read It Here First ( and I would be honored to interview you for your next release.

    Joanna Celeste

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