Changing The Day Job

Added on 22 September 2010

Earlier this year I turned my hand to writing romantic drama; I should say, literary romantic drama - that would be gritty romantic drama written with style and panache and without melodrama, rather than, you know, something that would get turned into a two part, three hour TV movie with glossy American stars with white teeth.

Of course, I've pretty much been labelled as a crime author since page one of book one featured someone slicing the breasts from a corpse. Can't really blame anyone else but myself for that. I didn't see it as a crime novel, but when you stick six chopped up dead bodies in a freezer, people are going to jump to conclusions. And now, here I am, taking a dramatic swerve in direction, and there's nothing more likely to make someone in the publishing industry break out into arseholes and shit themselves to death than that. I'm really stuck with being a crime novelist forever.

It is, to be honest, also an easier way to label oneself in casual conversation. As yet I haven't quite decided on the required euphemism for romantic novelist, because obviously no right-thinking person wants to tell anyone that they're a romantic novelist.

Since I was doing this fabulous direction change, I thought I'd take the opportunity to send the book around publishers and such to see if I could anywhere. (So far I haven't.) As I was writing my introductory e-mail, explaining my shift in career emphasis, I could see them all rushing off to the toilet or, more likely, pressing the delete button. There's also, of course, the possibility that they read my romantic novel and didn't like it, which would be, like totally bizarre and stuff, but there's no accounting for taste. More likely, they read it and thought, how would we sell this? Don't know. Delete.

Last week this litany of publishing disinterest reached new heights. An e-mail arrived from someone I hadn't heard off, with the book's title in the subject line. This caused a brief moment of excitement, as generally people you've never heard of aren't going to write to tell you that they don't want your book. That would just be mean.

I was wrong.

A publisher I'd never sent the book to, sent me an e-mail telling me he didn't want to publish it, because it would be a hard sell and my existing fans wouldn't buy it. Explaining how he came to have the novel, he name-checked someone else as having sent it to him. The thing is, I knew the other person's name, and I know I never sent them the book either.

That's got to be a new low in rejection. Even people that weren't offered the book are saying they don't want it.

Nevertheless, it remains a work of magnificent intensity, written with panache, style and insight, and will see the light of day at some point next year. Regardless. A Room With No Natural Light. Coming to a bookshop near you in 2011. After that, like some sad TV actor who gave up the long running show to try to make it in Hollywood, but then ends up back on Casualty or Emmerdale, I'll return to being a crime author. It's so much easier to talk about at parties.