First and Foremost by Ann Evans

Having your first ever book accepted and published is a massive milestone in any author's career and I can still picture myself back in 1995 gripping the telephone and practically dancing for joy after just being told that Scholastic Children's Books wanted to publish Cry Danger.

It wasn't Cry Danger then, my working title was The Instructor but coming up with a new title was just one of the changes that had to be made before it could go to print. So as well as changing the title I also had to remove all traces of blood from a particular scene; I had to calm my main character down (in most scenes) as she was a bit prone to screaming at the drop of a hat; and giving the woodcutter the chop from my story as he was too scary.

All these changes and more I willingly made, and under the eagle eye of editor Anne Finnis, the finished book was something I was thrilled with and it ended up being translated into a variety of different languages.
Happily more books have followed since then, but I can't help feeling a special affection for the one that broke the run of rejections and turned me into a real life author!

After Cry Danger went out of print I brought it back as a 'print on demand' book, and now I'm excited to say, it's out as an ebook and can be found on Amazon. Needless to say the computer I wrote it on all those years ago has long gone. I think it was an Amstraad and used those little floppy discs (which weren't floppy at all).

So bringing Cry Danger to ebook status was a matter of sitting down with the printed book propped open and diligently typing it all over again. However in doing so, the decades seemed to slip away as I clearly recall my thought processes with every scene, and recalled how I'd re-work paragraphs until I was happy with them. I could even recall what was going on in my family life at different points in the story. Eighteen years or more? It could have been yesterday.

The story is about a girl who goes on an outward bound school trip to Wales – where danger awaits her. My son had just been on such a trip which is where the idea came from. Thankfully he didn't face the dangers and scary bits like my character, Sophie. But I was able to divulge from him all the activities he and his pals got up to. (Well at least the bits he told me about!)

Then just a couple of years ago my grandson, Jake was also going on a school trip to the same place. He'd read Cry Danger – he knew who the villain was. He was definitely nervous about meeting the fearsome Instructor. And the fact that the villain's character had the same name as his teacher, also gave him cause for concern for some reason.
“Don't be silly, Jake,” I told him. “It's just a story!”
And that's all it is, but for me a very special story.

What memories have you got about your first ever book?
The ebook version of Cry Danger.


Dennis Hamley said…
Mention of Anne Finnis brings back happy memories of early days at Scholastic: she was such a very good editor and I think when she went freelance she had even more influence. She once asked me to be the British RL Stine, the Goosebump man, but my nerve failed me. Fool. I could have been rich, rich, rich.

My first book (1974, God help me)had an even greater stricture laid on it than a new title and no blood and screams. I was told to lose the first three chapters. No arguments. Refuse and you won't be published. I was mortified: to me they were incredibly important as they started my writing career. But I soon realised they were rubbish after all and now their whole content is conveyed in about three hundred words. First big lesson learned. Next seventy big lessons still to be encountered.

But there's no feeling in the world quite like seeing and holding your own first book for the first time. However, I'm not tempted to put mine out as an ebook. That would definitely be a bridge, or book, too far.
Ann Evans said…
Oh Dennis, if only you'd taken her up on her offer!
I bet lots of authors have happy memories of those Scholastic days - the start of the SAS, wasn't it.
Susan Price said…
By 'SAS' Ann means The Scattered Authors Society, a definite reason to be cheerful - but we very rarely swing through windows on ropes and shoot people!
Dennis Hamley said…
Don't we? There, I knew I must be doing something wrong.
Rosalie Warren said…
Speak for yourself, Susan. No shooting (yet), but I've already swung through a few windows today!

My first published book was 'Charity's Child', published by tiny but wonderful Circaidy Gregory Press in 2008. Coincidentally, that is just out as an eBook, too.

Good luck with 'Cry Danger', Ann - the new cover looks fantastic!
madwippitt said…
You always remember your first!
More joyful than my first book was the thrill of my first short story being published, long before I even thought of writing a book.
Ann Evans said…
Thank you all for your comments, and madwippitt, I agree, my first ever thing to get published was a 'letter to the editor'in Weekend Magazine and I was over the moon about it. It earned me the grand sum of £1.50 and I was thrilled.
Karen said…
The first thing I ever got published was a poem about my brother when I was 11.The first thing as a 'grown up' was an article for Jackie magazine for which I think I got the princely sum of £17.50!

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