How do I reacquaint myself with characters in a book I wrote well over two years ago.
It all started when I flew off to Atlanta with two suitcases and a dream.
A dream to start and finish a novel, sell it and perhaps enjoy the southern sunshine and some chicken and waffles along the way. After MUCH procrastination and eating, I finally wrote the book and entitled it; ‘In Search Of Her Sisters.’ Most of my early titles only serve as a working title, so I didn’t get attached to the name, but did feel I was onto something with the story of these three orphans; daughters of Nigerian immigrants….
When after a few months my agent hadn’t sold it, I was advised by said trusty agent to ‘get on with the new one.’
Sighing like a 12 year old fed up with everything, all I could say was; ‘What?’ All I could think was; ‘I’ve put my blood sweat and tears into this one, I’m living thousands of miles away from home, so… no, I CAN’T GET ON WITH THE NEW ONE! What about this one? I like this one!’
‘Get on with the new one,’ was my agent’s terse response as she ignored my childlike petulance.
Part of the reason we get on (apart from her being a brilliant and loyal agent) is that she takes no nonsense from me and is rather straightforward. Plus, she knows when to repeat a sentence.
‘Get on with the new one,’ she said. Again.
After some metaphorical kicking and screaming, I did. Eventually. And I actually liked what I wrote and it allowed the sorrow of yet another unsold novel to sort of disappear. That’s the thing about being an author- you kind of have to get used to rejections. So many people think it ends the day you get published.
Anyway, fast-forward two years and a couple of novels later and boom! She sells In Search of Her Sisters- to a major publishing house! So I head along to a meeting with said publishers and I lose the ability to make any sense the minute my soon to be editor says; ‘I have always liked your work.’
Thoughts: My work? Why would this powerful industry player be liking my work? What am I- an author? Oh yeah, I have written and published 4 books during my brief history as a writer. Duh! What’s wrong with my brain?’ Perhaps I’m a little star struck sitting inside the offices of a publishing house. Yes. No, this was something more terrifying as in; I WAS TRYING TO REMEMBER THE BOOK. You know, the one she was talking about. The one I had written well over 2 years ago!
And then the moment became truly insane when she said; ‘So what do you think about character x doing situation x?‘
Thoughts: ‘Say what?’
I couldn’t even remember character X’s name let alone anything else. It had been two long years and 2.5 novels ago! I’d moved on. I was no longer the same girl, even my taste in shoes had changed. So all I could do was ‘umm’ and ‘ahh’ appropriately, hoping she wouldn’t make out the fraud in front of her. She probably would have if I hadn’t been honest. ‘I haven’t read the manuscript in two years… I may need a little time to reacquaint myself with the characters,’ I said in a posh accent that had also suddenly materialised. Of course she understood! And, phew! I knew it was better to avoid looking like an idiot in front of a very nice future editor. And after that moment of honesty, a relationship was sealed!
When I began the rewrite, I got to know my characters all over again! And what a lovely experience it was. Going through a manuscript after such a long break was like opening up a new book. I would gasp at the little twists I had inserted, having forgotten all about them and make comments like; ‘This is quite good, this!’
After a two year break, I was still in love with my book!!
So the moral to this story is; the characters in your book never really leave you, they are always there (and luckily, I still liked mine!)
So, let me introduce you to my OLD friends from my NEW book; Their names are Lana, May and Tina… the three characters of my soon to be published paperback novel, In Search Of Her Sisters… err no, sorry about that, it has a new title now: Orphan Sisters!
That’s right, Orphan Sisters (and for those of you who can’t wait for the paperback in a few weeks… you can download the e-book!)