Hello! I have a special guest on my blog today, the always-charming and soon-to-be-published author, Simon P Clark. Simon is my agency sibling and fellow member of We Are One Four, and his debut MG novel, Eren, is due to be published this September by Constable & Robinson, with a second book to follow.
I asked Simon what it's like to be staring down the barrel of book 2. Here's what he said...
The first time you sell a book is a special moment. It's a dream come true, really – something you always wanted but never expected. The world looks brighter when you hear the news. Twitter tends to be a giddy place and family are politely congratulatory, if somewhat puzzled. I remember when I sold my first book, of course. I blogged. I Tweeted (I Twit?). I was a happy author. When my agent told me the news, the fact that Eren - my Eren - was going to be a book was the only thing I could think about for a long, long time. Being told the news, incidentally, went something like this:
Agent: I have News
Me: Is it Bad Things? I hate Bad Things
Agent: No. It's good. We have an offer!
Me: They want my book?
Agent: Actually, they want two. It's a two-book deal.
Me: They want my book!
Agent: Yes, and another book.
Me: I don't have another book but really I'm sure it will be fine OK BYE.
Good times, indeed. And in the months that followed I rewrote Eren to my editor's suggestions, and had phone calls, and now there's even some artwork coming out, and talk of publication dates. It's a special magic, seeing words I thought up become an actual book. The final proofs will be in my hands in no time. Eren will be published.
But there's been this nagging thought at the back of my head for some time now. There's meant to be a second book. You sold them a second book and took the advance and spent it on cake. They're going to want it. You have a deadline.
Having trouble writing a second novel is nothing new, and a quick Google search will show plenty of sage and timely advice about how to beat whatever block you're facing. For me, the strangeness came from having a contract and a timeframe for this book before Eren itself was even done. In my mind, it's become The Phantom Book. It exists, in a technical and legal sense. Just not in an I've Actually Written It sense.
I'm so, so thankful that my publisher believed in me enough to buy a second book before the first had ever come out. That in itself inspires me when I'm feeling like things are too crazy. The book's coming along nicely, now, after a few false starts. I could probably have got things done earlier, but I'm proud of what I've written so far, so that's something.
The biggest worry for me is that I'll let people down. The expectation that I can write a second good book is in itself a compliment, and it's one I desperately want to honour. What if I submit this second book and the publisher just hates it? What if I really am a one trick pony? What if Eren was a fluke and their investment proves my undoing?
A chap could really destroy his career before it even started.
If things ever get a bit confusing, I just have to remind myself what an incredible life it is to be able to tell stories and makes books. My editor and my agent have been nothing but supportive and I know I can turn to them with difficult plot points or questions.
At the end of the day, the way I hold up my end of the bargain is simple: I write. I write the book because that's my job, isn't it? If I'm tired, I write. If I'm busy, I write. If I'm grumpy, I write and kill the characters horribly. I can always delete that bit later.
Having a second book to write has given me a great focus after the sudden shock of Eren being finished. Having a contract has given me the structure and the kick to get off my backside and get the words down. That can only be a good thing.
You can connect with Simon on twitter, facebook and his blog. You can also add Eren to your Goodreads list.