Yesterday I had a cover reveal and extract from Blind Side by Jennie Ensor, now if you read it, I promised I would tell you more about the book today, which I will do, but first I have a guest post from Jennie Ensor
My journey to publication
Thanks Lorraine for having me on your blog, it is great to be here!
For this post I thought I’d say something about how Blind Side – my debut novel – came to get published, and my journey from hopeful writer to proud author.
It’s been a long journey. The idea of writing a novel was planted back when I was 15 and my English teacher compared my writing to Richard Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica. But it was only a dream then, such a wildly unlikely thing –I went to a secondary modern school and didn’t know any writers.
After university I travelled and drifted from job to job not knowing what I wanted to do, ending up in Australia. Finally, in my 30s, I found something I wanted to do and was good at. Inspired by John Pilger’s investigative reporting, I studied journalism and worked as a freelance feature writer. My passion was social justice issues, from accidents in coal mines to forced marriages.
I started writing novels and poetry in late 1999 after returning to live in London, the year my mother died of cancer. This was a turbulent time in my life which seemed to unlock a creative flood inside me. By 2015 I’d had quite a few poems published and had written three novels without finding an agent, which had long been my goal. One of them, Blind Side – or Ghosts of Chechnya as it was then, I was determined to get published first, because I had faith in the story and I’d worked so hard on it over the years (on and off from early 2005, when I first had the idea).
The novel received many rewrites and a lot of attention on the Authonomy.com writing community. After the site closed last July I decided to get my act together and began submitting the novel direct to publishers. I had an offer from the independent publisher Unbound that November – they had selected my novel for publication, conditional on me crowdfunding the cost of producing the e-book.
Whether or not to accept was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make – I knew it would be a hell of a lot of work to raise over three thousand pounds through my not-exactly-huge network of loved ones, friends and fellow writers. The book would have to be funded via a set of £10, £20 and upward ‘pledges’, with a limited number of the higher pledges available so that the book has to obtain a large number of supporters in order to be funded.
What swayed me to accept was the realisation that, succeed or fail, this would be a great chance to get started on building a ‘author platform’ – that dreaded word, sorry – which is so important for authors these days. (To help connect authors with readers, all Unbound authors have a virtual ‘shed’ to keep their book’s supporters up to date with news and give insights into the production process, etc.) For years I’d shied away from anything involving self-promotion, burying myself in writing and paying scarce attention to social media. To cut a long story short, I got the book funded in March, after three months of infuriating my husband, relatives and friends 🙂
The rest of the process is much like that of a traditional publishing house, though with more author involvement. A fabulous cover was finished a few weeks ago with plenty of input from me and further stressful decisions. With the help of a top editor I re-worked the novel, enhancing the thriller aspects, fleshing out parts of the plot and bringing forward key plot points. The amount of work needed was daunting at first but I quickly realised I was doing the right thing.
By the time this post goes out, fingers crossed everything will have been sorted, and Blind Side will be available to buy. For my sins, it is the first title in Unbound’s new digital list of mostly genre-focussed fiction. Finally, all the hard work has paid off – and I’m off to find a bottle of champagne.
About The Author
Jennie is a Londoner descended from a long line of Irish folk. For much of her life she’s been a wandering soul, but these days she lives with her husband and cuddle-loving, sofa-hogging terrier in a lively part of north London. As well as from reading and writing novels, she loves poetry. Her poems, published under another name, tend to inhabit the darker or the surreal side of life.
While on an extended trip to Australia, Jennie studied journalism and worked as a freelance print journalist, covering topics from forced marriages to the fate of Aboriginal Australians living on contaminated land.
When not chasing her dog, lazing in the garden with a book or dreaming about setting off on a long rail journey with a Kindleful of books, Jennie can be found writing or doing Writing Related Stuff. WRS can include singing and playing the piano (vital for destress), and watching thrillers/spy dramas on TV (research). Her second novel will be ready in fairly soon, a dark and unsettling psychological thriller.
Author web & social media links:
Blind Side social media:
The story begins in London in 2005, a few months before the 7/7 bus and Tube bombings. Georgie agrees to have sex with Julian, her close friend from their university days. Wary of relationships after previous heartbreak, she is shocked when Julian reveals he has loved her for a long time but felt unable to tell her.
Soon afterwards Georgie meets Nikolai, an ex-soldier recently arrived from Russia. Despite her misgivings, she can’t resist him; Julian struggles to deal with Georgie’s rejection. Realising how deeply war-time incidents in Chechnya have affected Nikolai, Georgie suspects that the Russian is hiding something terrible from her.
Then London is attacked…
BLIND SIDE explores love and friendship, guilt and betrayal, secrets and obsession. Can you ever truly know someone? And what if you suspect the unthinkable? An explosive, debate-provoking thriller that confronts urgent issues of our times and contemplates some of our deepest fears.
Published by http://www.unbound.co.uk/books/blind-side
you can pre-order a copy at https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01IX1953A