Who wouldn’t welcome such a generous review, and in the New York Times for added prestige? Not me, of course. THE ILLUSIONISTS is my most recently published book, and the US market isn’t an easy one to crack, and this write-up will help sales (I hope) no end. It’s just that, well, it isn’t for the book I have this week finished writing, which is different, and therefore if a critic likes that one, does it mean she won’t like this one?
Therein is the writer’s Catch 22.
The book everyone’s reviewing and reading (ideal scenario, obviously) is very much not the book that’s occupying your thoughts by day and keeping you awake by night. And sometimes it can feel like lose-lose, because if people didn’t like that one, then this one will surely go down like the inflatable leaden object. Take DAUGHTER OF THE HOUSE, which I completed two days ago after a year of work. This one won’t be published until next May by which time, whether it’s praised or slated, I will no doubt be immersed in something else completely at odds with it, see above. The discomfort goes with the job, I know, and I’m just sharing this perspective. There are plenty of compensatory upsides to the writer’s life. (Now, just remind me…)
A solution might be to take the book that readers seem to like best, and keep recycling it. Change the names and so forth. But that doesn’t work either, as we all know from novelists who shall be nameless here. You can do it once maybe, twice at most. After that even your biggest fan will be begging for a break.
DAUGHTER OF THE HOUSE has been particularly interesting to write because it’s the sequel to THE ILLUSIONISTS. It takes the next generation of the Wix family from 1910 to the 1930s, and although the setting is still London generally and specifically the rundown theatrical world, it’s totally different in tone and perspective. I’ve never done a sequel before and I had to work out how much of the backstory to include and how much to take as read. The second book has to stand alone but it also has to be a continuation of the first, and I really enjoyed steering the middle path. Time will tell if I’ve been successful.
The book cycle revolves again. I’ll wait now to hear from my agent and my editor.
Will they like it?
What about the edit, the jacket, the marketing plan?
Oh, what the hell. Time for a holiday.
PS Thanks to those who are still following this sporadic account. For the last couple of months I have been too preoccupied with the day job deadline to do much blogging, but I hope that will now change. Coming up: news of the scary territory between submission and publication, and some travel, long-distance walking, and I hope FUN.