I am so excited. Why, you ask? Because Sophistikatied Reviews has it's very first author appearance. So I want to welcome Foz Meadows, author of the upcoming YA book Solace & Grief!
Because I know a ton of you, like me, are aspiring authors, Foz has taken the time to write about starting out as an author. It's very inspiring and it will make you even more excited about getting that current WIP done and out for possible publication! So welcome Foz, and thank you for your time!
First off, thanks to Katie for having me – I’m pretty new at all of this. Or at least, I’m new at the official, I-have-an-actual-book side of things. I’ve been writing stories with the intention of being an author for about a decade, which is more than a little weird, not only because I’m now in a position to use the word decade in reference to my writing life, but because, in all that time, I never really thought about what came next. The first goal was finishing a novel, which I didn’t manage until the end of my first year at university. After that, it was all about the publisher. Sure, I’d daydream about success – how it would feel to sign the contract, what I’d wear to the launch, going to conventions – but without any knowledge of how things would actually work. All my energies were focused on the task in front of me: finish the book, and find it a home.
Actually writing Solace & Grief was the easy part. After all, I’d had plenty of practice. For almost six years during school, I half-finished, scrapped and then restarted different versions of the same novel on a pretty much annual basis: the great Unpublished Work that preceded Solace, volume one of an epic fantasy trilogy. I’d beaver away at it for twelve months, look back at what I’d written, and inevitably decide to start over again, determined to make it better. Each new version was different to the last, until I realised that every tweak had steered me away from my original three-book arc. The story I’d started writing wasn’t the same one I was trying to finish. My writing had improved out of sight, but now I needed coherency and worldbuilding. I finished my final year exams, went nocturnal for a couple of weeks while recouping a year’s worth of lost sleep, then started nailing down how this new, final version would work. And then, throughout that year, I wrote it: the first novel I’d ever finished.
Then the hard part started: researching agents and publishers while trying to get their attention. As a starting point, I’d go into bookshops, find authors who’d written similar types of story, and make a list of who had published them. I tried to avoid making unsolicited submissions: even though I’d read about writers whose manuscripts were discovered in slushpiles, I couldn’t bank on being similarly lucky. And every time my book was rejected, I’d read through the whole thing and edit it. Over, and over, and over.
My brain rebelled. It was bored, and wanted something new to do. Suddenly, I had the idea for Solace & Grief. Without even meaning to, I found I’d started a whole new trilogy: urban fantasy rather than epic, YA rather than adult. The first draft flew by, and suddenly I was shopping around two novels instead of one. And even though I’d spent years of my life obsessing over the great Unpublished Work, in the end, it was Solace that caught me my break - albeit several drafts, a closed agency and multiple rejections later. Life is funny like that.
Or maybe not so funny, if I think about it. Because if it hadn’t been for all those years of working on that first novel – learning to start over when things didn’t work, challenging myself to make it better, building worlds and fixing errors and overcoming my own laziness enough to research publishing houses – I wouldn’t be sitting here now, writing my first ever guest blog in honour of the fact that I’ve become a card-carrying author.
The work doesn’t stop with being published. There’s always more to do, more to learn. I hope that Solace & Grief does well, but if it doesn’t, I know now that it won’t be the only thing I ever write. Whatever happens, I’m ready and able to put in the work; I’ve done it before, and I can do it again – because I love telling stories. Solace might be my first published work, but it’s not my first novel. And without the one, I never would have been able to write the other.
Thank you so much, Foz! And make sure you check out her book, Solace & Grief, available for purchase next month!