At 10 am UK time my first novel goes to print. I have been working on it, on and off, since we left France. In fact since before we left France. I remember having a long conversation with my agent while we were on our summer holiday in the Savoie in 2008. And that was about a re-write, so I had already written much of the first version.
In the end my agent got sick of editing the same book and told me that while she was delighted to represent my non-fiction, she would leave my fiction so someone else. So she effectively sacked me as a fiction writer. But I am still grateful to her for the idea behind the book which she came up with in her office in London some four years ago.
I had gone in to talk about writing the next ‘Great Gatsby’.
“Helena,” she said. “Chick-lit is your audience. Chick-lit is your level. Write a book about a woman who moves to France to run a vineyard with her family and finds out her husband has been having an affair.”
So this is what I did. Happily since she sacked me I have been able to ignore the traditional tenets of chick-lit. I have been able to be much more risque, ruder and generally more myself. I think it is a much better book now. Certainly more amusing and less predictable.
I always say that books are a bit like babies; you carry them, you nurture them, you try to make them as perfect as possible and then they’re out there in the big wide world – for everyone else to dissect and criticize.
This book has certainly taken a lot longer than a baby to make and carry, and there were times, especially during the editing and the proofing process, when I wondered why on earth I had committed myself to writing another book that probably won’t make me any money.
But now that it’s over (I literally just sent the final proofs off) I am already thinking about the next one.
So you see it is a bit like childbirth, you forget the pain and want to do it all over again.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2011