As part of the blog tour for her new release India Black, Carol Carr has dropped by with a wonderful guest post on the road to publishing India Black. And what a road it was! Make sure you read to the end of the post for a giveaway of the book! Take it away Carol!
As you know, India Black is my first published book. But like many authors, I had to write more than one novel before I finally cracked the code to the publishing world. I’d always harbored a desire to write, but I didn’t act on it until my mid-forties, after I’d left a stressful job in a large company. My first novel was about the thwarted ambitions and nefarious goings-on at a huge corporation, which resulted in the CEO being knocked off by a ruthless underling (very Freudian, that - I must have been exorcising some demons). Even I could tell the manuscript reeked, and I didn’t bother to try to find an agent.
I wasn’t deterred by the quality of my first novel. I just figured I’d learned a lot about the craft and started a second. I chose to write another mystery, about a young female deputy sheriff in the Ozarks, subsisting on starvation wages and fighting the scourge of meth labs that proliferate there. I grew up in the Ozarks (yes, that part of Missouri so favorably depicted in “Winter’s Bone”), and I know the people and places well. This novel was good enough to find an agent, but not a publisher.
I knew I was making progress as a writer, but I hadn’t found a project that really fired my imagination until India Black appeared in my life. I’ve been asked how I came to choose the owner of a brothel in Victorian London as my heroine, and the answer is that she chose me. I’ve always enjoyed reading about smart, savvy protagonists, and I wanted to create one myself. But India just parachuted into my life, fully-formed and raring to go. We share some characteristics (or personality defects, depending on your point of view) which makes her voice come naturally to me, but she is much braver and adventurous than I would ever be.
She nearly died a natural death, however. I was halfway through the book when my house burned down. Staring at the smoking remains the morning after the fire, I wasn’t thinking of India at all. When I’d had some time to survey the damage, I was sure that India was gone. The thought of trying to recreate the first 150 pages of the book seemed overwhelming, in view of everything else we had to do to get our lives back on track. I was shocked when the salvage company delivered a disk with my half-finished novel, downloaded from the hard drive of my laptop.
It was eighteen months before I could turn my attention to finishing the manuscript. I was determined to wind it up quickly. I worked through June and July of 2008, and by August of that year, I was sending query letters to agents. Having gone through this experience with my second novel, I anticipated months of waiting. Instead, I got an email within a week of sending out the queries, asking to see the rest of the novel. The woman who requested it read the entire manuscript overnight on the day she received it, and I had an agent. I was lucky. My good fortune continued. An editor at Berkley Prime Crime purchased the novel, and I signed a publishing contract for two books.
I think the longest year of my life was 2009, while I waited for the publication date of January, 2010 to roll around. Oh, there were things to do, of course. I had to write a second book (due out later this year), edit the first, learn the mysteries of marketing, and other things, but it was still a long wait. I admit to making a beeline to my local bookstore to see how India Black looked on the shelf (sort of insubstantial, next to Caleb Carr’s books). The thrill hasn’t worn off yet, but I’ve had to focus on the next stage of the process, which is waiting to see if the sales figures will justify another contract with the publisher (I’m optimistic, thanks to the wonderful response among book bloggers). I can’t complain at all about the publication process – my experience has been charmed.
You can learn more about Carol and India at www.carolkcarr.com.
I have one copy of India Black up for grabs for those of you in the USA and Canada (sorry to my other international followers). Fill out the form to be entered.
Other stops on the India Black Tour:
*March 8th and 9th: Let Them Read Books
*March 14th: Deb's Book Bag
*March 19th: Historical Tapestry
*March 15th and 16th: Chrisbookarama
*March 16th and 17th: One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
March 17th: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader
* Guest post, interview, and or giveaway