On #IrishWritersWed today I am delighted to welcome author Denise Deegan.
Denise writes for both adults and teenagers, as well as under her pen name Aimee Alexander, in which she writes contemporary family dramas, now international best-sellers on Kindle.
Today Denise has written an excellent feature for Swirl and Thread about ‘the many incarnations of one book – and how it is an example of the wonderfully changing world of publishing‘
It really is a very interesting behind the scenes insight into a world not that familiar to many of us so please do read on..
The Story of a Story
by Denise Deegan
The Accidental Life of Greg Millar is the most difficult novel I have ever written. It has also had the most interesting publishing life. This is the story of a story.
The Accidental Life of Greg Millar follows Lucy Arigho, a young graphic designer who is struggling to come to terms with the loss of her fiancé, a year previously. Into her life barrels, bestselling-author and father-of-two, Greg Millar. A few years earlier, Greg’s wife died during childbirth. He understands all that Lucy is going through. His energy, his way of grasping life and really living it jolts Lucy back into living again. She believes that Greg is driven by a philosophy: to really live life before it is snatched away. Lucy is wrong. There is a reason for Greg’s – increasingly bizarre – behaviour and it has nothing to do with philosophy.
The reason that this was a challenging story to write – without giving away the plot – is that I had to walk a tightrope between revealing Greg’s character and, at the same time, aspects of his behavior that were not character-driven. The Accidental Life of Greg Millar consequently took a long time to write. I struggled.
The novel was originally published by Penguin with a different title: Love Comes Tumbling and was translated into German and Dutch. It did very well. There was an interesting issue when the paperback was due to be published. Anita Shreve had a novel coming out with the same cover. Given her profile it was feared that my book would be lost. Our original jacket, one I loved, had to be abandoned. But such is the world of publishing. It was fine.
The novel sold well. I was contacted by many people who said that they were glad that I had written it and thrown a spotlight on the issue I had. One lovely woman told me that I had written her story. That meant so much to me. When the novel finally went out of print, the publishing rights reverted to me. By then, the world of self-publishing had exploded into existence. Attracted by a new adventure and the ability to reach a global audience, I decided to self-publish my back catalogue of novels.
I reread my stories and realized that I needed to edit them. It was so interesting to see how much language had changed over the years. It was all very subtle but definitely noticeable. It wasn’t just language that had changed, though. I had. I decided that some of my characters needed to grow up too! I hired a professional editor and began the process of ‘killing my darlings’ once more. I never do mind editing because the book is a solid thing by then and the work I’m doing is to improve it.
To mark the whole new adventure I was undertaking, I decided to create a pen name. Aimee Alexander is a combination of my children’s names. It was lovely to involve them in this new adventure. In fact, my son Alex features on the cover of Pause to Rewind.
I had never liked the title Love Comes Tumbling. People seemed to think it meant Love Comes Tumbling Down. It was actually supposed to mean: love comes but bumpily. I decided to scrap the name. There was such freedom in that.
The Accidental Life of Greg Millar was born. I still love it.
Purchase Link ~ The Accidental Life of Greg Millar (On offer for the fab price of £1)
My Aimee Alexander novels started to do very well on Amazon. They were read a lot and reviewed very kindly. One day, I was climbing into bed, sick, when I received a phone call from the UK. It was an editor from Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon, who was offering to republish The Accidental Life of Greg Millar. I had noticed how well Lake Union Publishing books do and agreed to another adventure, a third incarnation of my story.
The editing process this time was magical. I really believe that sometimes – if you’re lucky enough – you find an editor that you magically connect with and the result is something really special. It was only when The Accidental Life of Greg Millar was published in its third incarnation that I was fully happy with it. That is something I hadn’t truly admitted to myself until then.
I’m happy to say that the story that challenged me so hugely has become an international bestseller. I hope that its journey will inspire others struggling with a story.
Sometimes it’s the ones you really struggle with that most need to get out into the world.
Denise thank you so much for this fascinating insider post and for joining me on #IrishWritersWed. It really was very interesting to read about the metamorphosis of ‘The Accidental Life of Greg Millar’ over the years!!
For more information on Denise and her books please do continue reading and thank you all for taking the time to drop by!
Denise Deegan lives in Dublin with her family where she regularly dreams of sunshine, a life without cooking and her novels being made into movies.
Denise has been a nurse, a china restorer, a pharmaceutical sales rep, a public relations officer, an entrepreneur and a college lecturer. Her most difficult job was being a checkout girl, although ultimately this experience did inspire a short story…
Denise writes for both adults and teenagers. Her novels have been published by Penguin, Random House, Hachette and Lake Union Publishing. Writing under the pen name Aimee Alexander, Denise’s contemporary family dramas have become international best-sellers on Kindle.
Denise’s most recent novel, Through the Barricades, won the SCBWI Spark Award 2016.
To find out more about Denise please check out https://denisedeegan.wordpress.com/
Also on Twitter @denisedeegan