Last night was an amazing experience. Hair raising, heart pounding at times, but invaluable to me…
One of my friends had set up a book group ago. When I joined last year, we met a couple of times, but with new babies, back to work and general life all getting in the way, School for Scandal needed a reboot… So my friend – who is herself a published author – asked if the group could read my unpublished novel, Jake’s Ghost.
I feel like I should say it was a difficult decision, that I hesitated. Could I subject my baby to criticism, see it ripped apart? Whether it was ego on my part (I think it’s well written), stupidity, or simply that I recognise that criticism is part of putting a work that you have created out there, I agreed.
So last night, over a Chinese takeaway, I met with ten women (most of whom I didn’t know) who had read some or all of a book I had written.
Oh my goodness.
They liked it, they enjoyed it, they called it “a real page turner”. They found it uplifting, empathised with my characters, fell for the bad boy. They though the sex scenes were spot on, and that was a relief.
The book covers many themes including identity, trust, domestic violence and abuse. The group identified the key ones as misconception, sexuality, bad boys and pick up artists, self esteem, religion, forgiveness, mortality and life.
There was much debate over whether Jake redeems himself or whether his actions are too little too late. There was disagreement over whether Saffron should get together with someone, and whether it should be Tom or Miles. Some felt elements should be drawn out longer – how Jake dies, whether Saffron slept with Jake. Should Jake narrate his own moment of revelation? I have to admit I took notes.
No one thought it was too long (amazing at 130,000 words) and everyone said it was easy to read.
The best reviews of the night?
“It’s like Jilly Cooper without horses.”
“It’s like Cecelia Ahern, but better!”
I’ll take those.
It was an amazing privilege to have my story read and treated as a proper book by a group of its target audience, and to find they really did want to read it and loved it was a fantastic gift. Thank you Tara, and School for Scandal Deluxe. Now to find an agent and get published…