Ah, it’s delicious to dream up a story, invent characters, fall in love with a whole new world you’ve spent ages creating. It’s even more delicious when a publisher reads your beloved book idea and says, “Ooh, yes, please!”.
There’s a flip-side, of course.
It’s when your delicious dream of a story goes out into the world, and publishers don’t want it, usually because they’re publishing something that’s a bit too similar. That’s when you want to run away and drown yourself in a vat of chocolate. I mean, how could you know another author had gone and come up with an idea/character that’s hugely, coincidentally like yours?
You can’t. Not unless you’re psychic. And that’s why I’ve really enjoyed doing ‘The Idea Thang’ a different way, ie having an editor come to me and say, “Hey, how about playing around with THIS?”
Being pointed towards a THIS can make lots of authors come out in a nervous rash, I know. But I’ve come to realise that I actually like the challenge of taking an editor’s suggestion and decorating it with a whole lot of me-isms.
In fact, in the last two years, I’ve written about very ordinary angels (in my ANGELS NEXT DOOR trilogy) because editor Amanda Punter at Puffin wondered what I’d do, mixing up normal girls with magic.
For indie publishers Barrington Stoke, I set THE GIRL WITH THE SUNSHINE SMILE on a barge, because their MD Mairi Kidd lives on one, and she came up with the idea while we had tea and biscuits on deck.
And I have lovely editor Helen Thomas to thank for my newest novel – CATCHING FALLING STARS (Scholastic). “I’ve always loved an evacuee story,” she mused during one meeting, then looked at me meaningfully. “What if…?”
She didn’t need to finish the sentence.
“Me? Evacuees?” I mumbled, and the cogs in my brain began clunking and whirling.
And so in a couple of weeks (4th June to be precise), my first ever historical novel – and 80th book! – pings into the world. I’m hugely fond and proud of CATCHING FALLING STARS, and it wouldn’t have existed without my editor’s “What if…?”
Karen McCombie :c)