So the secret’s finally out.
If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll know I recently finished and delivered a book. You’ll possibly have realised it’s a time-travel story, and if you’ve really been paying attention you’ll have guessed it’s called Timebomb.
It’s the first of a three-book deal I signed with Hodder & Stoughton. In March! I’ve been keeping this secret for MONTHS! It’s been driving me nuts! It’s a good job I’m teetotal these days, otherwise I would certainly have gone out for a quiet drink one Friday and ended up telling THE ENTIRE WORLD!
Yes, this is a four-exclamation-mark kind of day.
So how did it happen?
At the end of last year I worked three books into pitches – that is the first ten thousand words and a synopsis. One was an alternate history war-story for adults, one was a fantasy mash-up which would probably have ended up YA, and the third was a YA time-travel romp called Timebomb.
I decided I was going to spend the year writing one of them, and picked the war story. I was chugging along nicely when Anne Perry dropped me an email. I’ve known Anne for a while. She and her husband run the Pornokitsch website. I call them the ‘The Pornos’. This does not amuse them nearly as much as it amuses me.
They were generous enough to shortlist my last book, Children’s Crusade for the 2010 Kitschies. The winner was Zoo City by Lauren Beukes. I’m not bitter (but what on earth happened to her, eh?)
The Pornos also co-edit amazing short story collections which they publish under the Jurassic imprint. I’ve contributed two stories so far, and found Anne to be a sympathetic and incisive editor. Also – whisper it – I think she might be much, much cleverer than me.
Anyway, Hodder, knowing a sure bet when they saw one, headhunted Anne in 2012 and gave her a commissioning editor job. Her brief: to beef up Hodder’s fantasy and sci-fi list. So when she emailed and asked whether I was working on anything at the moment, I sent her all three of my pitches by return email.
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got, from Simon Guerrier, was ‘pitch three to get one’. That is, send in three pitches for every opportunity and accept in advance that if they bite, they will never pick the one you expect. And so it was here. I thought that if they wanted any of them, the fantasy mash-up would be it, but Timebomb was the one they liked best.
They didn’t bite straight away – they wanted me to expand the text from 10,000 to 30,000 words and put more detail into the synopsis, which I did double-quick.
As I did this, I realised it was probably time for me to find an agent. I had been
stalking considering approaching Oli Munson for a while. He had a great reputation and represented a number of my fellow Jurassic anthology contributors so I figured we had common ground. The whole process was remarkably smooth. Oli and I met. I thought him a splendid chap and a safe pair of hands. He was kind enough to overlook my sweaty fidgeting, nervous tic and smoggy miasma. He read the pitch, liked it, took me on, and very shortly thereafter a deal was done.
Ever since then I’ve been biting my tongue and writing the book. Which is now done and dusted, delivered and being passed around the Frankfurt Book Fair like a hot potato as I sit here impatiently waiting for an opportunity to watch The Web Of Fear.
So it’s a three-book deal. It’s one long timey-wimey story. And I hope you’re going to love it. For now, I’ll just leave you with Anne’s announcement over at Hodderscape.