How I Wrote My First Novel 'Circe' and Found a Publisher
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.
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!
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.
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:
Transformations of Circe
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