Today I’m pleased to welcome Carol Lovekin to the blog. Carol’s novel, Ghostbird, was published by Honno on 17 March 2016 and was recently longlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker prize.
Today Carol talks about what has happened since her novel was published.
A is for Author
As part of Tenby Arts Festival week, the book fair hosted and organised by Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press is becoming a hugely successful annual event. Last year I had recently been contracted to Honno; my book, Ghostbird, was going through the various processes involved in bringing it to publication. Copy editors and proof readers were scrutinising every word, the cover was being designed. Blurbs were being prepared. (A blog tour was mooted – I had to look that up.) Outwardly calm, if bemused and idiotically smiley, inside I was fizzing with excitement. Along with two friends I went to the book fair, largely to support the Honno authors I’d already met, and to see what it was all about.
To be honest, I loitered round the edges, delighted to be there but with no book, feeling very much like the new girl. (I was a writer and not yet thinking of myself as an author.) To my delight, I was made to feel anything other than an outsider. Encouraged to join in the group photo, at every turn I was reminded that next year, it would be my turn.
This September, I went back to Tenby. With my book. Seven months on from being published I can honestly say it was a massive thrill. Looking back over the year, the time has flown. Amazing things have happened and my life is not in any way how I imagined it the day prior to being told Honno was making me an offer for Ghostbird.
A launch in the Aberystwyth branch of Waterstones passed in a happy blur. A blog tour meant people I barely knew reviewed the book – said amazing, breathtakingly generous things about my writing. (Joanne Harris endorsed it!) Ghostbird was chosen by the Welsh Books Council and Waterstones Wales as their book of the month. It was discussed on a BBC regional radio programme. And when the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize longlist nominations were announced, to my authentic astonishment, I found myself in the company of, amongst others, Edna O’Brien. Edna O’Goddess O’Actual O’Brien! (I’m mostly Irish – in my view, she is Ireland’s greatest living novelist.) It’s relative of course – I only needed a single nomination and thanks to the wonderfully supportive book blogger Anne Williams, I got it. (There were lots more nominations after that – it was a jolly week!) I was never going to make the shortlist, it didn’t matter. I was in the game; my book considered good enough to be counted. (Fifteen votes with reviews for the shortlist, people!)
I’m never going to be famous and it wasn’t the plan. Past the age of pursuing a career, I write because I genuinely love to. I show up each morning because it matters and I’m writing to catch up. (And I’m still much more a writer than I am an author. Authors have badges with their name on and sell books at book fairs, writers write.)
When I decided to take my writing seriously and submitted those first fifty pages of Ghostbird to Honno, what I hoped for was a chance to prove I was good enough. Being traditionally published defers a level of validation. Being published by a prestigious women’s press, one that doesn’t consider age and whose only criterion is the quality of the writing plus a strong Welsh connection, is a privilege. The continued support of my sister authors and the team at Honno is a delight.
I’m currently editing my second novel. Who knows where I’m going with that. It’s a process – I’m working hard and maybe one day I shall be its author and accompany it to book fairs. Whatever else happens in my life however, for a few days at least I can say, I was on a list with Edna O’Brien.
About the author:
Carol has lived in Wales since 1979. She writes contemporary fiction in which the everyday is threaded with elements of magic. Ghostbird is her first traditionally published novel. It was released in March 2016 by Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press.
About the book:
“Someone needs to be forgiven. Someone needs to forgive
Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are. Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.
In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.”