The long wait for overnight fame

My latest book – and my first paranormal crime – has been a long time in gestation. The original part of the story was written 30 years ago when Punk Rock was new and cutting edge. I was 23 years old and had no idea if I could write; I knew only that I had to.

A marriage, six kids, approximately 30 published children’s books, an award-winning fantasy trilogy, a bestselling fantasy trilogy, and a Masters in Arts Research... and now, finally, one of the first books I ever wrote is seeing the light of day.

Why did it take so long? The original story is set in St Kilda and is based on the adventures of a friend of mine who drove taxis; plus the dramas of a punk rock band that lived downstairs from me. Of course, this was the leaping off point and from there my imagination took over. I wrote the Guinevere and O’Toole story line and I felt it was a satisfying story.

But I was only 23, I figured I didn’t have enough life experience to write something really good, so I put the book away for a dozen years.

When I was 36 and had six children under 10, I came across the Harper Collins $10,000 Fiction Prize and thought why not enter my book. I pulled the manuscript out, cleaned up a sentence or two and sent it off.  I was over the moon when it made the long, short list. But it didn’t win and I was really busy with life and only just getting back into writing. And, because of my young children, I concentrated on writing kids books for a while.

In my forties I came up with a way to update the manuscript by introducing a second time line. I created a contemporary narrative thread, which tied into the story set in the ’80s.

So with my publishing record at the time, why didn’t it get published then?

Publishers often prefer writers to write in just one genre, or even only one kind of fantasy book, if they are a fantasy writer. My publishers weren’t interested in me doing anything outside the fantasy genre.

But I read across genres; and I will follow a writer across genres if I like them. In fact, if I find a writer I admire, I’ll read everything they’ve had published.

I’ve always been a voracious reader of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mystery. I loved Laurell K Hamilton’s early Anita Blake books. I’m a big fan of Simon Green’s Nightside series and who doesn’t love Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books? I don’t see why you can’t write a book that contains the elements of paranormal, with gritty realism and quirky fun.

With The Price of Fame I set out to deliver a convincing mystery, with vivid characters and a paranormal, spine-tingling edge. I just had to find a publisher who was willing to take a punt on paranormal crime set in Melbourne.

Enter the new independent publishing house Clan Destine Press.

What’s nice about this book being accepted by Clan Destine Press is that the publisher, Lindy Cameron, is an award-winning crime author in her own right. This means my book has met her high standards. It’s always particularly nice as a writer to have a fellow author say they like your book because, like an architect, they can see the framework holding up the story.

To differentiate this book from my fantasy books I discussed using a different name and decided to publish as RC Daniells as opposed to Rowena Cory Daniells. This way readers who like my books can find both the fantasy and the paranormal crime. I figure if I read across genres, then they probably do too.

A book’s cover is really important. Since both my husband and I have worked as graphic artists illustrating books and doing covers, we asked Lindy if we could have a go at the cover of The Price of Fame.

I wrote up a brief for my husband, where I talked about the feel of the book, the main character in the contemporary story line and her connection to the girl, Guinevere, from the original story.

My husband put a rough together and Lindy loved it. With a bit of tweaking we came up with a final version.

And yes, there is a cat in the story.

So there you have it; a book 30 years in the making.

I guess perseverance is a creative person’s greatest asset. Looking back, there was nothing wrong with the book I wrote at 23. The original story is still there embedded in the contemporary narrative with a couple of phrases rewritten. I could have given up and never written again, or given up on this story but I didn’t. I thought there was something worthwhile in the book and, 30 years later, thanks to Clan Destine Press this book will reach readers.

So you can see why the publication of The Price of Fame is particularly satisfying for me. I hope you enjoy my book.

And just in case you 'discover' me because of The Price of Fame... my three fantasy series are:

*** The Outcast Chronicles (Solaris 2012) is a story of persecution and betrayal. If there were people with magical abilities, mystics, living alongside us, how would we feel about them?  You only have to look at the way people who are different are treated in the real world to see. The persecution culminates in a siege of the mystics’ city and follows the mystics as they try to make a new home. The story explores themes of trust and tolerance.

** King Rolen’s Kin (Solaris 2011) is a rollicking fantasy trilogy. There’s an invasion, battles, monsters, betrayal, pirates and unrequited love. It explores the question of friendship and brotherhood, and how far you would go to protect a friend. There’s a second trilogy being written, which the publishers want me to submit as soon as possible.

*The Last T’En Trilogy (2000-2002) is a fantasy with a love story at its core. Instead of writing about the great battle and how the good guys defeat the invaders, I wrote about what happens after the battle. The last female of the royal family gets married off to the invader to cement their right to rule. The story explores the clash of cultures - she’s from a society where women are powerful, he’s from a patriarchy. The underlying theme is learning to trust those who are different.