Today we are very excited to have Kate Harrison, author of Soul Beach on the blog!
Definitely not a romantic comedy…
Every book is a gamble, but Soul Beach was a bigger gamble than most.
Since my first book was published in 2003, I’ve written romantic comedies about love, life and friendship. As soon as I had the idea for Soul Beach, I knew it wouldn’t fit that mould.
But I was desperate to write it anyway.
The idea came when I was reading the paper. As I turned the page, a photo of a grinning teenage girl stared up at me, accompanied by a story about how the girl had lost her life suddenly. It wouldn’t be right to identify the story, but the article mentioned how the girl’s friends had immediately gone online to pay tribute to her on her Facebook page.
After that, I began to notice these happy photos, taken at parties or festivals, were always being lifted from Facebook sights. There was a strange sense that the young people pictured were living forever on those social networking sites, along with their messages and accounts of the lives cut short.
It brought back memories for me, too. As an 18-year-old junior reporter, I was often sent to interview bereaved families, and their grief at the loss of a son or daughter has stayed with me.
And the idea formed in my head of a website where all the members were the victims of sudden deaths, still unresolved.
Definitely not a romantic comedy …
I had been reading about the number of new YA books being published, and wondered if that might be the genre giving me the freedom to write this particular story. The reasons against writing it were strong, though. I had no track record writing this kind of book. No contract. No contacts. And my women’s fiction novels paid the bills, as well as being a real passion for me. Was it worth taking the risk of writing the idea, going back into the submissions process and facing the rejection all writers know about.?
Turns out the idea wouldn’t let me give up. The women’s fiction stayed my ‘day job’ and Soul Beach became my night-time hobby. My agent put me in touch with her colleague in the children’s section who gave me brilliant advice on how to steer the book. We cut out the school scenes I was writing to prove I know what teen life was like – and added in the mysterious voice of the murderer.
The book was sent off to publishers the week before the finale of the BBC’s Ashes to Ashes – and I was rather freaked out by some of the similarities in their dénouement. I got ready for rejections – though I still hoped my own passion for the idea would have paid off…
I didn’t have to wait too long before I got the best possible news! The book had been sent to the children’s department of my favourite publisher – Orion, who already made my adult books happen. And they loved it, and wanted to publish the trilogy…
It looked like my gamble had paid off.
Of course, selling a book to a publisher isn’t so much a happy ending, as the end of the beginning. There’s been a lot of hard work since, with fantastic guidance from editors Amber and Jen, a gorgeous cover design, a website, a book trailer….
But now the biggest gamble of all, as the book heads onto the shelves. The rest is up to the readers…
I am in the middle of reading Soul Beach now and absolutely loving it!! Have you seen the trailer for it yet?