Today’s post by debut author Suzanne Rindell
We have a copy of Suzanne’s novel, THE OTHER TYPIST, up for grabs today. Just leave a comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win.
People seem to find it interesting that I worked at a literary agency while writing my first novel. My fellow writers in particular seem surprised. “Didn’t you have to read some pretty bad stuff sometimes?” they ask. Or, an alternative version of the same thing: “Didn’t that interfere with your own creative process?” And then, there is the question that actually weighed most heavily on my heart: “Do you find your passion was divided between your writing and other people’s projects?”
I thought about that last question a lot, and not just in retrospect, but also during the time I worked there. Working in publishing is more or less a round-the-clock endeavor. You need to be kind of obsessive in a way, because your job is to constantly think about what makes a good manuscript good, and what makes a book work – and by “work,” I mean appeal to a lot of readers. These are necessary questions for an editor or an agent to constantly ask, and they are certainly not bad questions for a writer to ask herself, as they are questions concerned with connecting to one’s audience.
I was lucky; I worked at a well-reputed agency. Our “slush pile” (i.e. unsolicited submissions) was of a higher caliber, and while working there I encountered a number of great manuscripts that way. But one month, we had a particularly dry spell. I came home from the agency one day, frustrated that I wasn’t finding my “dream manuscript” in the slush, and decided: I’ll write the manuscript I want to find myself! That day, I decided to run with it and started the first chapter of my novel.
After that, I spent little tiny periods of time – usually very late at night or very early in the morning – adding a little more to my novel. I found this daily act didn’t take away my passion for agency work – instead, it enhanced it! I still wanted to find great manuscripts, and I felt the act of writing everyday helped hone my instinct for giving sharper editorial advice and spotting talent in others. I was as obsessed with their projects as I was with my own. The experience wasn’t competitive, either. Instead, I felt a larger sense of community. I wanted (and still want) my fellow writers to succeed, and raise the bar for other writers. In my opinion, writing is like real estate: you don’t want to be the nicest house on a crummy block. You want to live in a dazzling neighborhood that inspires you to make bold renovations.
Realistically, I am forced to admit I don’t have the time to work full-time at an agency anymore. Book tours and related obligations have shown me there are sometimes spells where I simply don’t have the hours to work for other writers as their primary agent in the manner they deserve. Nonetheless, I still hope to find some sort of middle ground; some way to continue discovering, helping, and supporting my fellow authors within the publishing community. Because if you ask me, writing while cheering on and mentoring other writers is truly a win-win situation.
For fans of The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Great Gatsby comes one of the most memorable unreliable narrators in years.
Rose Baker seals men’s fates. With a few strokes of the keys that sit before her, she can send a person away for life in prison. A typist in a New York City Police Department precinct, Rose is like a high priestess. Confessions are her job. It is 1923, and while she may hear every detail about shootings, knifings, and murders, as soon as she leaves the interrogation room she is once again the weaker sex, best suited for filing and making coffee.
This is a new era for women, and New York is a confusing place for Rose. Gone are the Victorian standards of what is acceptable. All around her women bob their hair, they smoke, they go to speakeasies. Yet prudish Rose is stuck in the fading light of yesteryear, searching for the nurturing companionship that eluded her childhood. When glamorous Odalie, a new girl, joins the typing pool, despite her best intentions Rose falls under Odalie’s spell. As the two women navigate between the sparkling underworld of speakeasies by night and their work at the station by day, Rose is drawn fully into Odalie’s high-stakes world. And soon her fascination with Odalie turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.
About Ariel Lawhon
Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of She Reads, novelist, blogger, storyteller, and life-long reader. She lives in Texas with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart.