Writing Magazine

HOW I BROKE ALL THE RULES

My debut novel was published at the end of 2020. I’m particularly proud of it because it is exactly the novel I wanted to write, and I did, in my own way, and in doing so, I broke many of the rules that debut novelists are supposed to follow. And still it found its home, with an amazing independent press that publishes crime and loved it even though it wasn’t a conventional crime novel, and believed in it and didn’t care that it didn’t fit into any neat pigeonholes. So I’m here to say, write the hell out of whatever novel you want, because it stands as good a chance of being successful on its own terms as anything you might write with your eye on the market.

A little background here. is my debut novel but it isn’t the first one I’ve written. My first attempt was way before I started work at . I had a bit of a profile because I was the arts editor of a readers will be well aware. The fabulous agent quite reasonably wanted a novel that she could sell – ie, one that might be commercial. The novel I wanted to write was a grungy ghost story, but I tried my inexperienced best to make it a mix of the two things. The resulting attempt was a dog’s dinner and although it attracted interest from a major, it needed so much work that I lost heart. So I had a cry and put it in a drawer and thought, well that’s that then.

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