Back in 2015 I visited London’s Foundling Hospital Museum for the first time. It is an emotive place and I couldn’t get the heart-breaking stories it told – about the tokens desperate mothers left in the hope that they might, one day, be able to retrieve their precious child – out of my head. My book, The Servant, is the result.
Founded by Royal Charter in 1739, The London Foundling Hospital came into existence after seventeen years of effort by retired sea captain, William Coram, to make ‘Provision for Foundlings’. His eventual success was due, to a great extent, to his gaining the support of sixteen ladies of high rank, headed by the Duchess of Somerset. Their signatures on The Ladies Petition was presented to George III in 1735.
Initially, it was a short story – The Gingham Square – sent off to a Fish competition which also offered the bonus of a critique of your entry. The story itself (fortunately, as it turned out) failed to be placed, but the feedback I received from their editor was more than positive. It suggested that while the scope of what I had written was overwhelming for the short story form, it had the potential for something larger: a book.
Reader, I set my shoulder to the wheel.
Producing The Servant been a tortuous process which would have been impossible without the support of the outstanding input of other members of ninevoices. Extracts were read out loud at our WIP meetings, red pencils were flourished over purple prose, tactful hints made about pruning my obsessive use of research material, with even the odd encouraging cartoon added in the margin.
Finally, last September, I learned from the invaluable pages of Writing Magazine that the Historical Writers Association, in partnership with Sharpe Books, were promoting a competition to find an unpublished historical novel. The prize was £500 and a publishing deal. To my delighted amazement, after the excitement of being shortlisted, I discovered that I had won.
Our followers will know that I have been writing and submitting for years and, despite having a couple of short stories published and some encouraging feedback from agents, rejection was the absolute norm. Until now.
Please let me encourage all you other writers out there to keep going. To keep entering competitions. And to find some like-minded writing friends. Not to mention a few supportive beta-reading dogs to rest an encouraging head on your knee.
‘The Servant’ is available to buy on Kindle from today, at £2.99: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B087N8H9PB/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=the+servant+maggie&qid=1587807272&sr=8-2