I’m thrilled to tell my readers my latest news: my memoir has just been signed to Gill and Macmillan and will be published next spring!
It’s funny to think of all that’s happened on the road to securing a book deal. Firstly there’s the writing of the book, and when the text is this personal and painful it’s like climbing a shattered-glass mountain with your shoes off. Then there’s the editing, which is where the real work in a book is, in my opinion. Cutting your precious words is, in ways, more difficult than writing them. Then there is the round of agents and publishers you have to contact, and the inevitably conflicting opinions and feedback they’ll give you.
I knew that my book had found the right home within minutes of sitting down with Fergal Tobin, the publishing director of Gill and Macmillan, and his colleague Nicki Howard, though I should probably tell you first about getting to the publishing house on the day as that was a story in itself!
I printed out the directions to City West (I’d never had to go there before) and I got in my car and started driving. I arrived ten minutes before the meeting and was feeling pleased with myself for making good time when I checked the internet on my mobile phone to find the address. That’s when my ideas about having made good time went out the window. I was supposed to be in Park West – bloody miles away.
I called the publishers; they seemed as amused as I was embarrassed, and I turned the car around and drove back down the motorway like a mad thing. It’s just as well the guards weren’t anywhere around as I’ve clocked up a couple of speeding tickets in recent times. More penalty points – no thank you!
When I got there Fergal Tobin told me “this is one of the most remarkable things that’s ever landed on my desk”. That was far beyond anything I’d imagined him saying to me. I was stunned. I still am. We talked then for about five or ten minutes about what final edits the book might need. It’s over a hundred and fifty thousand words, so it’ll need to be paired back a bit. I still thought we were having a hypothetical conversation when Fergal told me “we want to publish the book”. I just said “oh my God”, in that sort of way that words have of slipping out on their own. Then Nicki said to me “this is about more than just writing a book; this is about trying to do the right thing”.
I spent somewhere around an hour talking to Nicky and Fergal and I felt, walking back to my car, that I couldn’t have imagined meeting two people who were so supportive, so on board with the book, with the message of it and the intention of it. This has just been such a long road, and to have secured the biggest independent publisher in the land to help me is just mind-blowing. I am incredibly pleased and relieved.
I have to go back to the publishing house in a few weeks and give a presentation to the editorial team, explaining who I am, what the book is about, why I wrote it etc etc. It was explained to me how there are many people involved in the publication of any book, there are lots of people behind the scenes involved in design and marketing, that sort of stuff, and it’s these people I’ll be talking to. I’m really looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to the chance to stand over my work, to explain what went on in my past, why it happened, how it happened, and what I’m hoping to achieve with this book. Also I enjoy pubic speaking. I don’t know why; I just feel relaxed and confident when I have to talk to a large crowd.
It’s probably just as well, because I will be going public with my identity when the book comes out. I have always intended to do that, for my own sake, so it’ll be goodbye FreeIrishWoman and hello freedom, in a sense. Also I’m proud that I wrote this book on my own; it was a long hard road, and my name should be on the cover of it.
FreeIrishWoman – (for the time being!)