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How I Wrote My First Novel 'Circe' and Found a Publisher

Updated on June 12, 2014
Cover Of My First Novel Published By Mojocastle Press
Cover Of My First Novel Published By Mojocastle Press | Source

Inspired by Greek Mythology

Being deeply interested in the Greek myths (I can thank my Mother for that), I had approached Penguin with an idea for a funny novel about the exploits of the enchantress Circe who transformed people into animals. David Davidaar,in charge of Penguin India at the time, gave me the go ahead.

The Creative Challenge of Writing a Novel

My Creative Director at Ogilvy & Mather Direct where I was a copywriter, alleged that having a child (newly married, I was a couple of months into my pregnancy) would sap my creativity and turn me "bovine.". I was terrified. I wanted to prove her wrong and so I sat down and wrote my first novel, 'Circe.'

Dealing with Writers Block

I remember writing every day. Almost a chapter a day. I felt I’d lose the flow if I didn’t keep up the pace. At one point I had a writer’s block and found the solution in a dream. The Creative Whack Pack Cards also helped. These come with a book called A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Von Oech. The author shows you how to unblock the creative process or solve your problems by considering many different ways of looking at your obstacle including how someone you admire would do it.

The Greek Enchantress Circe By Wright Barker
The Greek Enchantress Circe By Wright Barker | Source

Feedback On My First Novel

I put the novel through the Internet Writing Workshop and was lucky to have a reader stay with me throughout the novel. He found it interesting and hilarious. When I sent it to Davidar, he wrote saying that no one was interested in the wacky exploits of a Greek enchantress. I sent it to Rupa. They said it wasn't "commercially viable."

However, my excellent tutor Dr. Hilary Johnson in the UK with whom I was doing a correspondence course in the short story, enjoyed the two chapters I sent her for feedback and urged me to keep sending the novel out despite it being difficult to categorise as it was highly original. Plus, it made her laugh, which was wonderful because I meant to make readers laugh and humour is said to be the most difficult form to master.

Another literary mentor, the late Roger Culpan, Administrator of the Warrington Writing Workshop in England enjoyed the writing too and gave me some valuable suggestions. I followed these and his response was: "The writer has found her voice."

I was on cloud 9. The very first publisher I sent it to - Electric Umbrella accepted it. But the management changed and there were problems and I had to wrench the novel from them. After which I sent it to Mojocastle Press and voila!

Greek God Zeus Features In The First Chapter Of Fantasy Novel Circe
Greek God Zeus Features In The First Chapter Of Fantasy Novel Circe | Source

Query Letter Hits the Mark

This is my query to Stephanie Kelsey, Editor in Chief of Mojocastle Press:

Dear Ms. Kelsey,

Oh I know what everyone thinks of me: wanton, femme fatale, promiscuous,fickle, with strange evil powers; and not to forget, never to forget - narcissistic.

Why can't I be narcissistic? I'm gorgeous, I have a heavenly voice, I weave cloth of unearthly splendour on my loom, I concoct great potions - turning man into beast, woman into gorgon, I brew storms from stillness. I also separate sex from love. I'm very proud of my ability to separate sex from love -whatever love may be. Most women can't. They get tied up with `love', like trussed fowls awaiting slaughter.

Thus opens my funny fantasy novel, Circe. Fantastic chick-lit. In 58,000 words, the immortal Greek enchantress samples various mortals on her quest for Mr. Right. A gay rock star, a nervous dentist, a confused matador, an alien Elvis look alike, an advertising executive, and more. Meet a flying carpet that was once a man, a Mayan sacrificial victim, a lusty mummy, Hecate of the three heads, gay fairies, a disoriented Merlin, an insecure Aphrodite, and Cloud Seeker, Circes cloud son by the incorrigible womanizer, Zeus.

My short, story, City of Victory was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in July, 2004.

Circe was published as an e-book by Electric Umbrella (now Mylero.com)in 2001. It is no longer with them.

Dolphin Girl and Other Stories was published by Har Anand, New Delhi -2002.

'Aditya, the Underwater Boy', science fiction novella for teenagers won second place in a national competition run by Nehru Children's Book Trust, New Delhi, and was published by them in 1999. Both books are still in print, and available through the internet.

My audio story'Panic' is on sniplits.com

I look forward to hearing from you and sending you the rest of the manuscript. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Anita Saran

Stephanie Kelsey loved my Query Letter and sample chapters and called it a hilarious romp through myths ancient and contemporary. The novel has fetched a couple of interesting reviews on Suite101.com.

And I got interviewed too online.

Here's a new review of the novel by Blaze McRob who owns the Angelic Knights Press:


Working With My Editor

For the first time in my life as a published writer, I had an editor assigned to me. I was thrilled. My editor Michele Dowdey said: I have to say I'm really enjoying this story. I love the humor and you have a unique voice. I edit for other publishers as well as Mojocastle, and believe me I see it all.

I barely had to rewrite a couple of sentences after Dowdey had gone through the manuscript. However, I had to replace a chapter with a new one and I wondered how I was going to get back into the tone, style and content of the story after a gap of 15 years. I added a chapter about Circe's discovery of chocolate as a substitute for sex in the ancient land of the Maya. No changes to that one. I was amazed.

Book Trailer of 'Circe' By Anita Saran

© 2014 Anita Saran

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    • SANJAY LAKHANPAL profile image

      Sanjay Sharma 2 years ago from Mandi (HP) India

      Congrats. I would love to read the novel.

    • Anita Saran profile image
      Author

      Anita Saran 2 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Thank you Sanjay. Circe is available on Amazon:

      http://www.amazon.com/Anita-Saran/e/B007P318WY

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      This is a great guide for aspiring novelists. Your sense of humor in the bit you supplied about Circe giving birth is really funny. Thank you for sharing your process of writing, and the ups and downs of getting your book published.

    • Anita Saran profile image
      Author

      Anita Saran 2 years ago from Bangalore, India

      I appreciate your visits and comments, grand old lady and glad you found the writing funny.

    • profile image

      Aashu 2 years ago

      I need help with a conclusion paagrraph?I am typing an essay on Italians, and need help on the conclusion paagrraph.Here is the essay:ItaliansItalians are warm, welcoming people, who love to relax, celebrate, and socialize with family and friends. Their celebration and relaxation usually takes place around a dinner table at a restaurant or at home, so they can enjoy the traditions of Italian cuisine. Italians have a strong passion for eating, but also enjoy talking.In Italy, conversation is considered an art form. If you were to walk the streets of Italy, or stop at a cafe9, you would notice people of all ages engaged in intense and animated discussions on a wide variety of topics, ranging from family, work, politics, gossip, food, drinks, and sports, especially soccer.From the largest cities, to the most rural of villages, there is one place that will always remain as the central meeting point of Italian culture- the Piazza ( meaning square ). No matter how big or small the Piazza is, you will always see people sitting, strolling, walking, talking, and interacting with one another. Piazzas are also the main focal points for festivals, gatherings, celebrations, and political events.To real Italians, lunch is a 1-2 hour affair with traditionally a two to three course meal, which explains why most places halt for two hours of the day. Stores shut down, banks close, and all of the streets are empty. At around 2 o’clock, people start to emerge from their houses and populate the streets again until around 19:30 when it’s time for dinner. After dinner, the streets come to life again as Italians stroll around the piazza to work off their meal or head off for their evening engagement. Italian food is high in the ranks of most delicious, richest, and most varied of all cooking, with dishes for every occasion. Their food plays a huge role in their life and culture. Every region has their specialty, not only pasta, but all varieties of meat and fish are cooked to old, handed down recipes, mouth watering puddings, and of course, nobody can beat their ice creams. Shopping may not be a national past time, but it is taken very seriously in Italy. The major cities, like Rome, Milan, Florence, are full of the most wonderful shops selling everything from designer clothes to the newest and hippest furniture to be found anywhere in the world. Milan has its furniture fair every year and furniture makers from far and wide will go there to see what is happening at the leading edge of furniture design. Leather is also a good buy in Italy, Italians know their leather and the finest gloves, shoes, jackets, and bags are worn by virtually all Italians. They glory in being chic, and are generally always beautifully turned out. Sports are a very important passion in the lives of many Italians. Football, being their main passion, with hundreds of football clubs with top soccer teams playing for their country. Volleyball is also much enjoyed as is rugby, with the rugby team playing for the European Challenge Cup. Italians place more value on the simple things in life ( family, community, enjoying a Tuscan sunset ) rather than the material things most westerners covet. There are plenty of happy farmers in Italy who want no more than to share a meal with others in their community. The Italian Language is a romance language, spoken as a native language by about 70 million people in Italy, San Marino, and parts of Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, and France. Italian is based on the Tuscan dialect, which beforehand was only available to upper class Florentine society. Unlike other romance languages, Italian retains Latin’s contrast between short and long consonants. In particular, among the Romance languages, Italian is the closest to Latin in terms of vocabulary.

    • Anita Saran profile image
      Author

      Anita Saran 2 years ago from Bangalore, India

      Aasha

      I see a need for an edit overall. As for the last paragraph, in an essay, you begin with a theme or a statement and the last paragraph goes back to it in some way. So you could say something interesting and general about Italians and Italy and then go on to prove it in the body of the essay. Then the conclusion simply reiterates the initial statement or premise. Best of luck!

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