The story so far …
I had a two book deal for Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana. Given the state of the publishing industry, I was unsurprised to learn that the contract was not going to be renewed.
At that point, I found an agent and gave him the manuscript of De Nada Nirvana. (I’d previously been picked up directly by the publisher and had no agent. If I had my time again …) Anyway, he told me that he foresaw an excellent long term future, but warned me that we faced formidable obstacles in the short term.
How right he was! He now has the manuscript of Me, John and a Bomb as well as De Nada Nirvana.
Today I received a copy of a letter sent from one publisher to the agent that he thought I might like to see.
On the plus side, the letter said the following:
• ‘Cleverly and powerfully written’
• ‘… a controversial subject whilst remaining mostly unbiased’
• ‘I like the way the writing style changes to complement the content, for example when Sky and John are on the run the sentence structure changes to short and staccato sentences, reflective of the protagonists’ pain and mental state’ (Gosh – I hadn’t even consciously realised I’d done that!)
But it was, of course, a rejection. I can handle it! I know it’s just a matter of waiting for the right place at the right time. But I was bemused by this particular editor’s reasons for the rejection:
• …’you mention that Alper’s characters come from “a very different world to those we usually meet”. Although I realise this was intended to provide a refreshing change of perspective, to be honest, this was probably the most significant barrier for me – I really had trouble relating to them.'
I hardly know where to start with this … My characters are real people living on the margins of society. Although they are fictional, many people have told me they KNOW them. And they’re not THAT odd. I certainly live in their world … Some are homeless, some live in council flats, and the main characters live in a housing co-op where they have formed their own community. Some have problems with addiction, many are political activists. Many are damaged by abuse of one form or another.
Is this SO strange??? And don’t many books have characters that live in a different world to that of their readers?
And if all books published reflected only the experiences of those working in publishing, wouldn’t that be incredibly narrow?