by Alex Stone
I started writing stories when I was a kid and just carried on. It was something I did for fun. I could have amazing adventures without even leaving the house. But it wasn’t until 2014 that I wrote my first novel. Initially, it seemed like a crazy idea that I wouldn’t realistically finish. After all, I had a busy full-time job and family responsibilities. Time was a luxury I didn’t have. How could I possibly fit writing a novel into my day too?
But somehow I did.
When I finished writing, I didn’t really know what to do next. It seemed a shame to let all of that work lie on my computer unread by anyone but me. I was proud of what I’d accomplished, I loved the story, and thought it had potential, but who was I to know? So I submitted it to a literary agent.
Looking back now, I know it was too soon. Having studied a business administration degree and pursued a career in finance, I knew nothing about the technical side of writing. Structure, pace and voice, were terms I’d heard but didn’t fully understand. Nor did I really know how the submissions process worked.
The agent declined, of course. But, surprisingly, it was a really positive rejection. I didn’t realise the full magnitude of that until later. It wasn’t just a standard response. It was personalised with feedback and even praised my standard of writing. It was enough to motivate me to keep going.
I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I attended workshops and conferences, eager to learn. And I seized every opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers in person. The feedback was always the same; positive, encouraging, but still no.
Almost, but not quite.
My next step was to work with a mentor from Cornerstones Literary Consultancy. I had met Helen at a conference when I attended her workshop. I lingered behind afterwards and bombarded her with questions. I submitted my synopsis and the first chapter and then we had a chat about the options. She recommended a mentor for me to work with; Jonathan Eyers.
I learnt so much from his feedback. Annotated manuscripts with ‘describe this’, ‘more visceral’, and ‘more of this’, bounced back and forth between us. This wasn’t just teaching me theory and techniques, it was practical illustrations applied to my own work.
When my novel was completed I started the submissions process again. But this time the result was different. I was offered a four book deal with Boldwood Books. My debut, The Perfect Daughter, was published in October.
I still stare at the paperback in amazement. This had been my dream for so long and now it’s my reality. I have a book. An actual book.
Alex’s psychological thriller The Perfect Daughter was published by Boldwood Books in October 2021! Thank you so much to Alex for letting us see behind the book, and look out for our next author feature.