First Night Nerves - Karen Bush
One of the great things about the self-pubbing revolution is the re-appearance of many out-of-print books and the opportunity to get reacquainted with past favourites without breaking the bank by having to pay through the nose for battered seen-much-better-days secondhand copies …
Equally exciting, is when the enthusiastic response to the re-appearance of those books then leads to some terrific new fiction being produced – Caroline Akrill’s The Last Baronet being a great example of this. Like many other readers, I was a huge fan of her teenage and Young Adult fiction during the seventies and eighties, and rather sadly assumed that since then she had more or less given up writing activities. Well, the good news is that she is not only back, but on top form – and at least a part of the reason is down to self-publishing. To cut a long story short, a couple of years ago, after finding that her books weren’t available as eBooks I contacted her asking (well, demanding really) that she do something about it, as I was missing one or two titles that had vanished during my last house move.
She was initially a little doubtful about whether there would still be any demand for them, but after much nagging from me, went ahead and brought out Flying Changes as an eBook: it is amazing what people will do for A Quiet Life. It did rather nicely, and followed by the Eventing trilogy and then the Silver Bridle trilogy, the response was good enough to encourage Caroline to dust off and finally finish her first adult book. I was lucky enough to read it while still a WiP and loved it – it was great to see that she certainly hadn’t lost her touch, and if anything had refined and improved upon it.
The problem came when it was time to unleash it upon the world. Caroline found a new agent, but had less success in finding a publisher. Everyone who read it loved it and was enthusiastic about it: but were utterly baffled about how to categorise it. Was it humour? Family drama? Nostalgia? Romance? Whodunnit? It is a glorious blend of all of those, plus dogs, horses, farming and some sumptuous cooking thrown into the mix – in less skillful hands it could have been a real mess, but instead it is a gorgeous, delectable, Christmas pudding of a book. Nevertheless, unable to plant it firmly into any one clear-cut genre, publishers have been reluctant to take a punt on it – a familiar story to so many other writers as well as to us at Authors Electric.
But nowadays, we are no longer reliant on publishers to decide what does or doesn’t get to see the light of day, and Caroline decided to take the plunge into self-pubbing with her new book. Not without some trepidation – after all, as well as being a return to writing after a lengthy break, because this is also her first adult book, she is in some respects, breaking new ground: “Sometimes it’s hard for others to see us as anything other than the writer or the person we have been. It would be so easy, wouldn't it, to stick with the things we are good at and never try anything new, never try to push out the boundaries, never leave our comfort zone?”
“Moving from the junior to the adult list is fraught with difficulty. The one certainty is that once one has made the leap there is no going back. One must press on. So, here we are at last with The Last Baronet, my first mainstream novel, just launched as an eBook on Kindle and shortly to be available as a paperback from Amazon. I should be excited. I should be filled with delighted anticipation at what this leap into the general fiction market might represent for an author who has not put pen to paper for nearly 30 years. Instead I am a head case. I am positively twitching with nerves in case nobody likes it. It is no consolation at all to remember that it always felt like this. It is somehow all right while you are writing, there is always the knowledge that you can amend and improve things as you go along; you can backtrack and rewrite the wonky bits; you are still in control then. But once it is unleashed, OMG, that’s when the nightmares start…”
First night nerves are a familiar feeling for most of us the moment we hit that ‘publish’ button and wait for a book to go live … but fear not, Caroline. The book is terrific – I hope it sells by the shed load. But most of all I hope you are going to carry on writing now you have got back into it!
Here’s a brief taster:
‘Anna watched him do this, and afterwards would be able to say that she saw him put the noose around his neck and tighten it, but that her brain would not allow her to believe what her eyes had seen. And so she continued to watch, still unbelieving, as the man leaned into the wheelbarrow once more and lifted, with the most enormous difficulty, and only at the expense of truly herculean effort, some tremendously heavy object which appeared to be fashioned of stone, and was round, with a hole in the middle. A millwheel perhaps or a grinding stone, with the end of the rope attached to it. Then, succeeding in one massive and final feat of exertion, the man somehow contrived to throw the stone into the quarry and, with a grotesquely jerking and peculiar twisting movement, his body followed.
There was an audible splash.
The Last Baronet is available from Amazon as an eBook HERE
and will be appearing as a paperback in December.
PS Hoping that you'll buy Caroline's book in your droves - but if you are looking for an additional stocking filler or treat for yourself, then Sparks 3, our third annual blog anthology, should be out in good time for Christmas. And of course this year's fiction anthologies Ghosts Electric and Another Flash in the Pen are already out both as eBook and print editions if you haven't read them yet!
Why does it need to be categorised? I admit I'd find it impossible to put a label on it, except - 'witty, intelligent, lively story told with beautifully stylish writing.'
I've been hoarding it up until bedtime and looking forward to reading more.