When I talked to people about my first published novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, one of the first questions I’m asked is, “Is this the first book you’ve written?”
The answer is an emphatic “No!”
I’ve been writing stories ever since I can remember. In fact, I started out writing sequels or alternate endings to my favorite Nancy Drew stories. I was either going to be a “girl detective” or a writer. Needless to say, I chose the latter.
Later, in high school, I tried my hand at what is now known as “young adult” romances. You know the kind, the boy-meets-girl stuff, with a few kisses thrown into the mix. But I never found them to be completely satisfying.
After a short break from writing fiction, while I concentrated on a career in journalism, I returned to it, realizing it was always my first love. This time, however, I decided to try my hand at historical romantic fiction. It was what I loved to read, and it had all those juicy historical details found in the novels of the ‘80’s.
Thus was born Emerald Fortunes, later re-titled Emerald Fire, Tender Flame. A 600-page tome, it followed the lives of Rory O’Brien and Siobhán Kilpatrick practically from birth to death (or at least, to the happily-ever-after). Set against the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, it followed the characters around the country over a more than 20-year span.
Of course, that book never sold. As a historical, the time period was all wrong then. Anything after 1900 wasn’t considered “historical,” yet it wasn’t considered “contemporary” either.
So I went on to write several other manuscripts. The second, a story set in Victorian-era Montreal featuring a French-Scottish heiress to a shipping line, and the Irishman set on revenge, was shorter and better written, but several editors rejected it on the grounds that the setting was too “foreign.”
On to a third manuscript, still unfinished, and a fourth.
In my case, the fourth one was the charm. In Sunshine or in Shadow features the aforementioned Rory O’Brien and Siobhán Kilpatrick in a different time and place. It’s now available from Highland Press, and the sequel, Coming Home, will be released in 2010.
But I don’t consider those "other" manuscripts a waste of time. They may never see the light of day, but they were a valuable learning tool. They taught me how to write, what to write, and the experience has brought me to what I am today.
At last, a published author.