What has been your greatest moment as a writer?
Have you ever had a moment, even if it was a split second when someone noticed you for the unique person you are or complemented you on a job well done? Do you remember what that feels like in your heart?
My two greatest moments have been getting my first book published at the beginning of 2011, thanks to the discovery of Kindle KDP and Smashwords, closely followed by my first review for it, which made me cry because I couldn’t believe that someone liked it.
Kiwi in Cat City was the first book I ever finished, in 2002. Although I wrote poetry and started stories, I rarely completed the latter. I sent three chapters of Kiwi to a big publisher who rejected it, saying they were not accepting any children’s books because they had been swamped with them since the success of Harry Potter. The letter contained no feedback whatsoever on my book, so I assumed they thought it was rubbish. I now know that’s common for such letters. But, back then this crushed my confidence so much that I never submitted the book to anyone again. No one read it and it just gathered dust in my drawer. I didn’t write another novel for ten years.
Around Christmas 2011, I read about self-publishing. I dug out Kiwi, typed it up, edited it, found a cover and published it. I think this is one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done. I thought to myself, even if no one reads this, I will have fulfilled my dream, which was to publish a book.
I contacted about twenty of the top book reviewers on Amazon and waited. Two replied. They loved it and I was overwhelmed. No one had read Kiwi and I thought no one ever would. I then met a lot of authors in the online writing groups who were just as crazy about books as me, and since then I’ve written 10 more. At the moment, I’m working on four. Basically, the feedback I got on Kiwi and the support I received from other authors inspired me. I would never have written another book otherwise and still just have the one, gathering dust in a drawer somewhere.
The Kiwi Series has six books now and I hope to write more. The characters go on adventures in different worlds, such as the UnderPaw beneath Cat City, the Land of Giant Mice, a haunted house, Father Christmas’ home, the watery Isle of the Serpent and back in time to Ancient Egypt. I love the characters in these books and writing them is like watching a cartoon rolling in my head – I just have to do all the voices myself!
Receiving a good review is the best thing ever. I never take them for granted and treasure them. I love reading them. My favourites for the Kiwi Series are those from children. It’s wonderful to hear what they think. It almost feels like they’ve read the book with me or stepped into it, running with Kiwi and turning into a kitten to go on an adventure. Then I’m reminded of being nine again and escaping into a novel, tucked up in bed with a torch under the blanket.
Of all the reviews for Kiwi in Cat City, the one I love the most is from a girl called Emily who said, “This series just gets better and better. There is magic everywhere.”
The most magical thing for me has been publishing Kiwi in Cat City, because it fulfilled a dream I’d had since I was a kid. I don’t know if I’ll ever be a successful writer, but I do know that I’m thrilled that the books I’m writing are being read – at last. My advice to any budding author is to write away and don’t give up. Write stories that remind you of your childhood dreams.