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17.6.13

Recycling - It's not just for plastics and papers anymore

I have a confession.

I recycled a novel.

Many years ago, all right, to be precise, it was four years ago this July, I had an idea. I was driving across a tumbleweed-infested scrap of Arizona desert on a very hot afternoon. There were monsoon storm clouds piling up in the sky to the northeast, but after 7 years' of living in the desert, I knew that the clouds would never make it over the Rim to give us the much-needed rain. At that moment I was listening to 'Fields of Gold' (the Eva Cassidy version) on the car stereo and I experienced a fierce rush of homesickness for a gentle English summer rain. At the time, I knew that wish would not be granted but I had to do something to put me in touch with those memories.

I wrote a story.

It was my first attempt to write a novel for publication. It turned into a 120k word historical set in England during the Great War. Oh, it had all the ingredients: the surly Mrs Bridges-type cook ruling the kitchen, the lovely old house set in even lovelier grounds, complete with a flourishing rose garden. It had a gentle heroine and a tall, handsome soldier who went off to war to defend the country where his true love lived. I completely lost myself in it, I lived it. I sat in my office at work, stared out the window and didn't see the Union Pacific line running past the end of the street, or the Pinal Mountains rising into a cloudless, hot, blue sky, I saw a bucolic English countryside, all lush and green.

Once it was all written, polished, ripped to shreds by a fabulous beta reader and polished again, I started querying agents. The letters went out all stamped with hope and optimism, and the rejections trickled in. All polite variations of 'Sorry, it's not for me.' After 100 or so attempts, I consigned my behemoth to the trunk and wrote a sequel set during WW2. But that's another story. Poor little WW1 historical had breathed its last.

Or had it?

A year or so later, I got to thinking. After all, I'd learnt a lot since those first hopeful days. I dragged the story out of the trunk, brushed off the dust and cobwebs and looked at it. I really looked at it. That's when I realised what the problem was.

The heroine was a total drip.

She didn't do anything. Things happened around her. Things happened to the people she loved and it was only right towards the end that she finally put on her big girl's panties and did something. Heck, no wonder the story put countless hardworking literary agents to sleep. So, I had a think. I decided she needed a life. She needed to do something. But, she was a girl from an upper middle-class family in early 20th century England. What I wanted for her wasn't possible.  I stepped back even further and looked at the bare bones of the plot and I had one of those light-bulb moments. I moved the story to the present day, I gave the main character, Grace, a career and I sent her boyfriend to Afghanistan.

The story is called 'Christopher's Medal'. It's set in England, centered around the grit and glamour of horse racing. Grace trains racehorses, she has a backbone and I love her. And the good thing is, my lovely editor at TEB liked it. So my recycled, amped-up shiny story will be released by Total-E-Bound in November. It's M/F, and written by myalter-ego S A Laybourn, but I hope you'll give it a try.

Watch this space!

2 comments:

Barbara Elsborg said...

What a great idea!! Though you do know that Downtown Abbey type tales are supposed to be the next big thing! LOL

sue laybourn said...

*bangs head on desk*

Whoops! Missed that train, didn't i?