Author: Jem Lester
Published: 7th April 2016
Morning all, I am delighted to be part of the blog tour for Shtum by Jem Lester. Jem is sharing his journey on how he got published. Don't forget to follow along the tour.
How did I get published?
This is a question I get asked a lot and for which there are two answers.
Answer one: In March 2011 I applied for and, was accepted onto, City University London’s MA in Creative Writing (novels). In September 2011 I began the two-year course, that focused solely on the production of a full length work of ‘literary’ fiction – a minimum of 60,000. This is where I began writing Shtum. In March 2012, I read the first 1,500 words above a pub in Islington as part of ashowcase for the MA. I had a fair amount of agent interest based on that, particularly from my now agent., Laura Williams, of Peters, Fraser and Dunlop, who was at the reading. In October 2013, Shtum won the annual City University/PFD Prize for the most promising manuscript and Laura Williams formally took me on as a client. The process of revision began. In February 2015, Shtum was finally sent out to nineteen publishers. Two months later, Jemima Forrester, of Orion, agreed a deal to purchase and publish it.
Pretty straightforward, eh? It’s technically correct, but does it really tell the whole story. Well, frankly, no. Quite apart from the struggles in writing the book, and the anxieties involved in the whole process; it only really outlines the past few years. Everybody has a backstory, it’s just the way you introduce it into the narrative.
Answer two: I started writing in my early teens and aimed to be published by the age of twenty-five (youthful optimism writ large!). I will be fifty in a matter of days. The intervening twenty-five years have been one long struggle to find the time, energy, self-belief and the words to succeed in what became an odyssey and a burden at times. In that time, I had jobs in journalism, marketing and English teaching; two children, one marriage, lost two parents and occasionally my mind. There were times when I didn’t write a word for months, other times when I couldn’t stop. I started countless novels, finished and sent two off to only one agent each – both rejected and into the cupboard they went. Wrote a television comedy/drama, rejected.
So, when people ask me about my path to publication, I generally reply that after thirty years it was pretty smooth going...
Shtum is available now