I’m very pleased to welcome Alison Brodie to Linda’s Book Bag today. Alison’s new novel Brake Failure will be released on 9th January, 2017 and is already firmly on my TBR pile. Brake Failure is available for pre-order here.
With Brake Failure on its way, I wanted to ask Alison about her writing history and she has been utterly honest in the telling me about it. I’m delighted to share her personal guest post all about second novel syndrome with you.
“Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”
Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is an English debutante, destined for Lady’s Day at Ascot and taking tea at The Savoy. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.
She is in control of her life, tightly in control … until fate dumps her down in Kansas.
Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart.
Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to explode. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car…
The Nightmare of Second Book Syndrome
A Guest Post by Alison Brodie
Imagine this: going into the major book shop of your local town and seeing your book in hardback set out along the shelves.
This is what happened to me. I hadn’t been expecting this display and I was stunned. This was MY book! I walked out of the shop in a daze and moments later I felt the tears crawling down my cheeks. My friend asked in shock: “What’s wrong?” And I said, blubbering: “I am so happy.”
So how did that dream become a nightmare?
Let’s start at the beginning. I’ve never had writing lessons, heck, I’ve never had much of an education, but I’ve always liked the look and of paper, with the urge to write something on it. It wasn’t until I was on a modelling assignment in the Highlands of Scotland that a story came to me. The landscape was breath-taking, the owner of the house that we stayed was also breath-taking; although a wee bit dour at having these London folk invade his territory.
Everything went wrong on that assignment, the weather, mostly. I was with another model, Pierra, and she was such a prima donna! Complaining at the least little thing, and waving her arms about like someone from a tragic opera. I did think she was wonderful, though. When someone is that beautiful you can forgive a lot.
Naturally, our dour Scottish host and Pierra struck sparks off each other. It was funny to watch, although the photographer and assistants didn’t seem to notice; they were too busy worrying about the light.
When I returned to London I started writing what would become Face to Face. It was a hobby; although I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing. Out of curiosity, I sent it off to an agent, Dinah Wiener. Within two weeks she secured me a two-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton. That was it! I was a writer! I was going to be famous. Nothing could stop me.
Immediately I sat down to write my second book. It was going to be so easy. The first one had written itself; in fact, I had enjoyed every second of it. I put pen to paper and waited, and waited … and waited.
Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
My mind was a total blank. Panic set in. I had a two-book deal with a top publishing house and they wanted the second book at the end of the year! Fear clouded my brain. Desperately, I started writing; slowly coming to a halt when I realised it was rubbish.
There were no characters in my head. No dialogue. No LIFE! I got 80K words down but it was rejected. I tried again. This time they published, but not to the fanfare that they had given me first time round. The book was called Sweet Talk. I don’t know if anyone bought it … somehow I don’t think so.
The experience put me off writing. I went to live in America for 2 years, and one day an idea for a story came into my head. I couldn’t ignore the characters who were desperate to be heard, so I started jotting down notes, reluctant to take it further. My characters continued writing the story in my head and I began to write it all down until I had The Double.
I sent The Double (it was called Famous Last Words at that time) to my agent, Dinah Wiener, and she immediately sent me an email saying, I quote: “It’s a really good read, a page-turner with good characterization and a splendid plot. I look forward to offering it, and to representing you again.”
Writers, I believe, have big egos. I immediately thought: this is it, I am back on track. Sadly, Dinah couldn’t find anyone who wanted to publish it. Was it because my second book had bombed? Probably. Publishers put a lot of money in publishing a book and they need to be confident that their writers can deliver the goods. At the time, the publishing industry was at an all-time low.
That’s why I advise new authors to have that second book tucked away before signing a contract. And if you are not ready to fulfil a two-book deal, admit it.
So there I was. I had no agent, no publisher. But I carried on writing because I HAD to. Characters appear in my head and want to be brought to life, they want to tell a story. So I just carried on writing … for fourteen years.
Last year, I became an indie author. I HAD to: I had so many manuscripts lying about doing nothing!
I published Wild Life, then The Double. In January 2017, I will publish Brake Failure, then Zenka in September. After that, I will publish the rest.
So here I am, an indie author (or am I a hybrid?).
What have I achieved so far?
I have entered a world where I have been embraced by fellow writers and book bloggers, finding friendship and support in places as far away as Brazil and Australia! I have overcome my techno phobia and become rather nifty on my laptop! With regards to publishing: I think one person bought a copy of Wild Life. I had some good reviews for The Double, ie, “The Double is another addition to author Alison Brodie’s body of work, and proof of her genius in writing fiction.” –San Francisco Book Review. (I think I might have sold 5 copies of that one.)
Now I have become a general pushing his troops to the front line of battle! I’ve got all my guns out! I am doing all I can to get Brake Failure noticed. I am sending review requests to EVERY blogger, networking on social media, everything! At the time of writing, it is 3 months before the release and already I have reviews, all of them five 5-stars, from professional reviewers.
“Everyone needs to read this book. It’s blooming brilliant.” -The Reading Shed
“A laugh-out-loud tale that will keep you flipping the pages.” –Tome Tender
“Hilarious.” –Lauren Sapala, Reviewer and Writers’ Coach
“5/5 Empowering … comical … refreshing.” -San Francisco Book Review
“OMG…I LOVED this book…going on the list of one of my favorites of 2016!” –Star Angel Reviews
This is going to sound like a big fat lie, but it’s not: what I want the most is not the money (although it would come in handy) it is actually getting my words in front of readers and knowing those readers have enjoyed my book so much, the world around them ceased to exist.
I hope, one day, I can contact Dinah Wiener and show her my reviews so that she knows that her faith in me all those years ago was justified.
(And we readers hope so too Alison.)
About Alison Brodie
Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. Alison was a photographic model for a wide range of products, such as Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up. She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.
Alison lived in Kansas for two years. She loved the people, their friendliness, the history and the BBQs! Now, she lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.
You can see what early readers think of Brake Failure on Goodreads.
All of Alison’s books are available here.