I read an interview today with a woman who, last year, published her first novel, Home in the Morning when she was 61 years old. After having spent forty years writing seven novels she finally got a book deal. And what’s more she was raised Catholic in the north writing about growing up Jewish in the south, the book is nonlinear (i.e. the action doesn’t unfold chronologically) and she doesn’t use quotation marks for speech.
I read that and thought, Really? REALLY…?! You’ve been rejected for 40 years and then you catch your break with THAT sort of novel? Not only that but the agent she signed with is the guy who’s the U.S. agent for the bazillion-selling trilogy by Steig Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo etc.) Given that the Millennium trilogy has now sold more than 20 million copies world wide, I think we can assume that agent is currently the publishing industry’s answer to Lady Gaga. (So naturally I looked him up immediately and naturally every other aspiring author this side of the Milky Way has had the same idea because he is no longer accepting queries from previously unpublished authors. Damn! Missed it by <that> much. And by “that” I mean 22 months.)
Needless to say, the author’s message in this interview was NEVER GIVE UP! Apparently this woman knows of what she speaks. She has the persistence of Moses and the optimism of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm at Christmas. Oh yeah, and she’s just sold the movie rights to Hollywood so clearly she’s luckier than that woman in Texas who’s won the state lottery four times using scratch-off tickets.
So with that in mind, today I queried agent #26. At this point I have already worked my way though the agents who specifically mention an interest in historical fiction and are now tackling those who say the sort of thing that this guy says on both his website and in the Jeff Herman guide: he is looking for writers of both commercial and literary fiction “…as long as the writing is exceptional and the author’s have something truly unique to say.”
I suspect that all writers in my position like to think that we’re just a teensy bit exceptional and unique but just in case I’m not, I wonder: is Texas too far to buy a lottery ticket?