Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Haynes’

Things He Never Knew has officially been released! It is – The Day.

Friday, September 24th, 2010

And so…..here we are. We have arrived at The Day that I have been waiting for most of my life. The day that I finally become a published author!!!!!!!!!!!!! That’s right, Things He Never Knew is officially released today, Friday 24th September. The countdown to publication is over.

If we tally up everything that has been building to almost this precise moment, it’s quite a lot:

-          28 years of life for a start.

-          19 ½ years of full-time education (we won’t calculate the school/Uni fees as I’m not sure that my royalties will EVER cover them. Sorry Daddy.)

-          I estimate 300+ examinations (as in the test kind, not ill-health kind), including 11 GCSEs, 3 A-Levels, an AS-Level and a Law degree. And all the years of work they entailed.

-          One ‘discussion’ with my husband about exactly why I should be allowed to stay at home and write stories, rather than get up and go out to work like most people.

-          Literally thousands of hours of creativity poured into my various stories/poems/manuscripts.

-          Even more hours spent in perfecting Things He Never Knew so that I have told the story in the best way that I can, that it will hopefully draw you into Steph and Theo’s ravaged world and that you will be both intrigued by and sympathetic to them.

-          A LOT of determination and perseverance to get where I am now.

Obviously now that the book is released, it’s available online at www.amazon.co.uk and at www.waterstones.com, as well as at all good bookshops. Well, I say ‘all’, I don’t actually get told where it’s being stocked so the best thing if you hope to buy it from a bookshop is go in and ask if they stock it, and if they don’t or they’ve sold out they will certainly be able to order it for you.

And once you have it and you’re reading it, can I ask – please don’t take against poor old Steph too much. In a sense what she did wasn’t her fault and her best excuse is that it was unintentional, although an excuse is all it is. You will all see the drama that unfolds across the pages and although Steph deserves this, it isn’t a nice thing to have to go through. As for Theo, it would be easy to sympathise wholeheartedly with him, but I would ask that you bear in mind that he hasn’t been quite as accommodating or understanding to Steph as he might have. Over the next couple of weeks or so, a complete in-depth blog about the background to Things He Never Knew will be appearing here which will reveal why what happens in the book, happens. But for those of you who read immediately, do try and keep an open mind for Steph. And whilst I’m on the subject of Steph – I’d also like to make it clear that her character is not me! I wasn’t expecting so many people to make the assumption that it is; maybe I made a mistake in casting myself in the role of Steph on the front cover. But no, she is not me, nor anyone of my acquaintance. She is entirely fictional, she exists only in my imagination and in the pages of the book where the consequences of her rash actions are played out.

I’m going to leave it here for today because I think the events of the day kind of speak for themselves and I am happy to let a brief and reverential silence descend across Revelations and Revelry for now. I am thrilled, delighted and awed to have finally become a published author….it really is a dream come true for me. Thank-you to everyone who has supported me and bought it so far, I really hope that you all enjoy reading it and witnessing Steph’s apparently perfect life coming undone at the seams. I would love to have any comments on the book, either here or on my facebook page or via email, sarah@sarahhaynes.me.uk. I’m impatient to know what everybody thinks! So if you read it and have something to say, please do let me know.

So I shall sign off for now: Sarah Haynes LLB (Hons)…………and  PUBLISHED AUTHOR :-)

My display!

A short missive from Berkshire

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

This will only be a short post and actually I’m doing well to post it at all, because in direct contrast to last Sunday I find myself this week with almost no time to write. This is not because I am busy, in fact the direct opposite, but by staying at my mother’s house in Berkshire I have effectively moved back to the Dark Ages, with my mother being the enforcer of this. By Dark Ages I mean that things like watching television, using mobile phones and especially LAPTOPS are frowned upon. Anything involving modern technology is not popular in this household. If she could make us all go to bed when the sun goes down and use candles she would do. I got a new phone yesterday (pink Samsung Tocco Lite) and the only reason that I’ve been able to look at facebook, email, etc. is because she hasn’t realised yet that I can access the internet on it.

Despite this, I am managing to keep on top of the various publishing commitments that are arising; I have now seen a pdf file of the official promotion poster and I like it! It’s only tremendously exciting if you’re me, though. And there is one mistake on it which needs to be rectified which is unfortunate because they’ve all been printed already. The initial print run for my book looks like being around 1000 copies which seems quite a lot to me. I’m also not sure how they have arrived at this figure, especially seeing as the original number I was given was 500-600, but there must be a method.

I’m beginning to feel quite productive towards my next manuscript. It started well but I seem to have written myself into a dead end which, as any writer will know, is a nightmare. It usually requires a complete overhaul of the entire thing and possible restructuring. Unfortunately I know where I’m going wrong, and remedying it does indeed require many and various changes. Which is not really possible in this house where doing any writing has the guilty feel of an adulterous affair about it – snatched moments when I can sneak onto my computer and type a couple of sentences before my mother passes through the kitchen and says “What are you doing on there?”. Obviously the possibilities in her mind are endless. I’ve batted away any potential conflict quite swiftly so far with much talk of publishers and emails and deliberately asking her opinion on the various issues I’ve been dealing with, but I can see her getting suspicious before long.

Plus it’s very difficult to have the space and peace to be creative here. It’s a large house with quite a few rooms but each one seems to be occupied by one or more of my four brothers at any given time, not to mention my own children and the assortment of pets here. There are: two dogs, a handful of chickens, a tank of tropical fish, a tortoise and a pygmy hedgehog. This last is particularly annoying because it’s in a tank in the room that I’m sleeping in and for those of you not in the know about captive hedgehogs, they like to recreate their outdoor freedom by running fifteen miles a night – in a squeaky wheel. And I can tell you that listening to fifteen miles of squeaking per night becomes very tiresome.

But other than that, it’s quite peaceful here. The Aga is still switched on and therefore chucking out gallons of heat which is completely unnecessary, but at least the fire isn’t being lit every night. And there’s lots of wine to drink; that’s always appreciated. However, due to unforeseen circumstances we will not be attending the Burlesque night so there will be no talk of stockings I’m afraid. Well, I could talk about my own but I don’t think it would be the same.

Next time: to be confirmed!

Beginning at The Beginning

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

As an avid reader and incurably nosy person myself, I’m aware that when you read a book (if it’s good) you often want to know all about the author, the person whose mind this stuff has come from. What do they look like? Do they look like the kind of person to have had these thoughts, to have created these characters? Are they old or young? Well-dressed or more bag-lady? And most importantly do they seem intelligent? Creative? Worth reading more of? Clearly they don’t set this out for you, it has to be gleaned from the drops of information that they do feed you. But usually, upon looking for more information, you get a sparse account of their lives which runs something like this: “So-and-So was born in Leeds and attended Manchester University, graduating in Something Which Has Nothing To Do With Writing Whatsoever. So-and-So now lives in Hull with their partner and small child. XYZ is their first book.”

NO.

There’s something missing there – what about the bit in the middle? The all-important decision to become a writer/novelist/author, whatever term you want to use. What about the idea for the book, where did the characters names come from? How long did it take to write? Did they write during the day or in the dead of night? How did the rest of their lives fit in? And then when it was finished, how did they get it published? Because goodness knows, it’s far from easy for those of us who were not born into a distinguished writing dynasty or happen to have an old boyfriend who now edits The Times or some such publication. For me, I want to know warts and all. Although not literally. So I’m going to write about the whole lot. Me, my world and my writing in its entirety will be chronicled from this point onwards. And if I had warts I’d write about those as well.

So let’s go back to that first moment when I decided that I wanted to become a novelist (the bit before that is what can be found in my author bio, plus going to school in Henley and then Reading and having one brother and one sister which then spiralled rapidly to one sister, one brother, two step-brothers and one half-sister and one half-brother when my parents divorced and attempted to out-do each other with children).  I don’t remember the exact moment when I decided to be a novelist but I do recall that it was a definite decision which came almost immediately after my graduation (Law) as real life loomed and there was a distinct danger that I might have to do something constructive and purposeful. This always comes as a shock to students.

I don’t know quite what reception I envisaged for my announcement, but I can’t say that anyone I knew was thrilled. My parents looked a bit pale as they stared back at the last twenty years and an expensive education; the words ‘in vain’ were definitely floating around their minds if not actually being voiced. They hadn’t been too happy when I announced that I was having my first daughter, Molly, in what should have been my second year at University. But we’d got over that by the time I graduated. This event had undoubtedly lulled them into a false sense of security whereby they felt that I was actually on the road to employment. I don’t think they saw the bend in the road. Neither had my husband who looked aghast at the idea of years of supporting our expanding household alone whilst I filled my time writing a few stories (except I don’t think I presented it like that. The words ‘famous’ and ‘novelist’ and ‘millions of pounds’ definitely featured in my persuasive account of why I should be allowed to stay at home in front of my laptop.)

Like most writers who are just beginning, my first attempts at ‘novels’, as I optimistically called them, were atrocious. Badly-constructed with badly-defined characters with a plot that ground to a halt after 25,000 words. But this is part of the process. I was sending my work out to agents along the way and surprisingly I received some very positive replies. No-one was prepared to actually take me on, but it and they were encouraging so I persevered.

Then in March 2007, my second daughter was born and unbeknown to us at the time she had a genetic abnormality. Myself and my husband were plunged into a strange, nightmare world of tests and investigations and prolonged hospital stays as doctors attempted to find out exactly what was wrong and how badly she would be affected. Alice was diagnosed with something called 22q11 deletion, or Di George Syndrome. She spent much of her first year of life in hospital, either undergoing tests or being treated as an in-patient for whatever infection had arisen. Her health appeared to be going from bad to worse as each professional identified a new problem area. As a desperate attempt at escapism, I sat down one night in Alice’s bleak hospital room on the oncology ward and planned what turned into Things He Never Knew in a few hours. Start to finish. And from that very bare plan I crafted the book in whatever snatched moments I could. Life was busy and I made slow but steady progress. Then I put it on my desk where it lay, untouched, for about a year.

In April 2009 myself, my husband and Alice attended the Max Appeal conference in London. Max Appeal is the charity which supports sufferers of 22q11 deletion. During the conference we heard India Knight (@indiaknight) speak, and listening to her inspired me to dig out the manuscript and give it a heavy re-editing. That done, I chose three chapters that I thought were a fair reflection of my writing ability and sent it to a publisher. Having been knee-deep in rejections for the last four years I didn’t think much would come of it and frankly expected to have it back almost by return of post. But a few weeks later I received a letter asking to view the full manuscript. This was a good sign, but I wasn’t jumping with excitement yet, I’d been here before. Almost this exact spot in fact. So I posted the manuscript as requested, again not expecting much, but about a month later a letter arrived saying that the publishers liked it very much and wanted to publish. Drum rolls, champagne corks, vuvuzelas, etc., etc.? Not quite. Because although the offer to publish was a much sought-after, hard fought for offer, this is not the end of the battle to be a novelist. I’ll rephrase that. It’s not the end of the battle to be a successful, well-respected novelist, not by a long shot. So where we are now is just the end of the beginning, although I have to admit that I’m pretty pleased to be there.

Next time: working out how many times it was viable to reject the drawings for the front covers that the publishers were sending me; I use the term ‘drawings’ loosely. And how I eventually ended up with the cover that I did. Also it’s full steam ahead for the promotion side of things, as I realise that I am approximately six months behind where I should be. These days it de rigeur to start promoting yourself before the actual book is written. Plus assorted revelry as the summer holidays kick off…..