I ask Lucy a few questions about her book
What inspired your book?
There was no ‘one thing’ – at least not that I can remember (!)
I was aware of my own forgetfulness. My cluttered, distracted mind often results in silly mistakes, side-tracked intentions and confused moments.
I was coming out of a difficult patch in my life and faith and trying to re-orientate myself. I’d been reading through the Old Testament, and been struck how, particularly in Deuteronomy, God’s people are often called to remember him – not to forget all God had done for them.
I’d been feeling frustrated that things I’d learned in the past had slipped away from me. I’d studied for a degree in theology, which I loved – and it distressed me how the things I’d engaged with so passionately had then retreated somewhere in the dusty recesses of my mind.
But above all, I found I was forgetting the moments of profound revelation, the God-touches in my life. Instead of retelling my stories, I was allowing them to decay until the plot was hard to find.
I’d had ideas for books before, but none that took hold of me in quite this way. The book was part of my own journey, my own quest for remembering.
I ask the question: what does it mean to remember God in my life? If what I remember is essential to my identity, what am I choosing to dwell on day by day? Tell us about your writing journey
I struggled many years with a love-hate relationship with writing.
Many times I wanted to ‘drop it’ altogether and get on with other things. But it wouldn’t let me go. When at last I owned my vocation as a writer, I experienced a feeling of freedom. I couldn’t live my life thinking ‘perhaps I could’. I needed to grasp it and say ‘I will do this’, regardless of whether anyone else wanted to read my words.
I’m now glad that earlier attempts led to limited success. It took me until recently to discover my ‘voice,’ to mature into becoming the writer I want to be. I needed that time of waiting, internal conflict and ‘brewing’ – however difficult that was at the time!
As someone who struggles with CFS/ME, my life is by necessity punctuated by full stops – not always where I would like to put them!
I’ve had to be flexible in my expectations of myself and to accept the occasional ‘derailing’ of my dreams.
Please tell us about your publishing journey
I worked hard on my proposal before approaching publishers. I approached one publisher because I was acquainted with the commissioning editor and knew she would be constructive. The team was interested but they weren’t sure it would sell.
The second editor/publisher I approached was complimentary about both the idea and my writing style but, again, rejected the book.
I then started looking into a third publisher. As I researched them, I felt an affinity with them that I’d not experienced with anyone else. I needed more courage to contact them because of this! I got an out-of-office reply. The then commissioning editor wasn’t back from holiday until the next week. I was surprised to get a reply that next week, asking to see the complete manuscript (such as it was).
The team worked hard over the next few months to make publishing my book viable for them. I signed a contract with Darton, Longman and Todd in August 2013.
It’s worth finding a publisher who is a good ‘fit’ for your book, not just in genre and style but in ethos. What do they care about? What’s your common ground – and how can you bring this to their attention? Don’t just look at them as names on a list; look at the reasons you’d like to be published by them. Yes, it can make the rejection harder. But it will make an acceptance all the more sweet!
For me, finding a publishing team who grasped – from the outset – the ‘soul’ of the book, made a huge difference. I felt I could trust them with it. They wanted to publish my book because they liked it and they understood it. I feel very privileged to have been published by them, as a ‘new author on the block’. I’d love the book to sell well because I want to justify their faith in it.