Friday, 6 November 2009

Fantasy Dragons And...

I often spend idle moments imagining that I’ve invented something really useful that’s got potential to change people’s lives. What I’d give to be the guy who came up with the idea for the vacuum cleaner or even 'post it' notes or the universal phone charger that’s on its way soon. (Really – it’s coming…You can soon dump that drawer load of useless phone chargers). This thought process led me to think about what I’d do -what I’d say - if I had to give a ‘Dragons Den’ type pitch of my novel, rather than submit to agents in the normal manner. Immediately I put together a fantasy five top agents. Can't say who they were, but two men and three women prevailed and the following fantasy will now feature in my top ten. (Easily pleased on the fantasy front, I am)

Me: “Good morning. (Nervous, rather twitchy smile) My name is Fionnuala and I’m a writer. (Alcoholic? No. Wrong show) I’m here this morning to pitch my latest novel ‘Plumb Crazy’. (I breathe, try and make eye contact with each of them. They look like they wish I’d disappear, as I begin a ‘blurby’ pitch)
‘Plumb Crazy’ is a story of love, loss and the healing power of friendship. 97000 words, it's told from the point of view of Samantha Roubicek who, following redundancy from advertising, has retrained to be a plumber - a job she loves. Her life takes a turn for the worst when she’s suddenly blindsided by recurring flashbacks of the accident that killed her mother two decades ago, an event witnessed by Sam aged ten. As Sam unravels, she falls for a client, falls out with her best friend and cheats on her policeman boyfriend. She finds herself unable to move forward, reluctant to re-visit her past – her life resembles a blocked u-bend. (I like this line, so I risk eye contact. One of the women is scowling. Crap. She’s heard all this before. Double crap.)

Can a much needed break in France with friends help? Will a new work contract on the 2012 Olympic site provide the security she secretly longs for? And will Sam be strong enough to hold her family together when her ex, newly in charge of cold case reviews, reveals the identity of her mother’s killer?”

(I smile more confidently than I feel) “Has anyone any questions?”

Lady No 1: “Where do you see your book fitting? Which genre and why?”

Me: “Commercial women’s fiction. It’s chick lit with issues – a la Marian Keyes.” (Crap!!! Did I say that out loud? Did I actually compare myself to the Queen of Keyes out loud to a dragon!! She is smiling back now. I think it's pity.)

Man No 1: “Chick Lit has died a death. What makes you think you can resurrect it?

Me: (I want to make a quip about Lazarus but wisely decide against it) “Women still buy the majority of books that are sold. Most women still want to buy books that are written for women, by women covering issues dealt with daily by women. Give a woman interesting characters she cares about and she will want to read on and on, and of course buy the author’s next book.” (I’m pleased with that last bit. I want them to know I’m not a one trick pony. Man number one is sighing aloud so I throw a few facts and figures at him from The Bookseller. He looks bored. Who invited him? )

Lady No 2: “Tell me what’s unique about your manuscript?”

Me: “My main character is a young woman living in East London. Having been through the glamorous world of advertising she decided to re-train in a trade normally dominated by men – interesting, considering her character is a committed commitment phobe in her relationships. (She’s nodding. Yay!) This plus the background of her working on the 2012 Olympic site, I think makes her quirky and different.”

Man No 2: “What experience do you have in the world of writing?”

Me: (I can feel a hot flush travel up my neck and fill every facial capillary I own. This is the one I’d been dreading. I don’t have a ‘Writer’s CV’ I’ve been published on ezines but they’re not going to be impressed. I’m not a journalist, I haven’t ‘done an anything’ in creative writing. Crapology.)
“I’ve been writing for years, learning, honing the craft. I’m a member of many online writers groups and I blog personally and as a member of the Strictly Writing team.”

Lady No 3: “Yet you compare yourself to Marian Keyes?”

Me: (I'm sure I just heard a snigger. No option but to brave this one out) “Er, yes. Even Marian Keyes was just Marian Keyes, a wannabe writer, when she’d written Watermelon. (Oh dear. She’s just snorted aloud. I think I’ve lost her. In the words of Deborah Meaden – ‘she’s out’.)
“I guess what I’m trying to say is, I write character driven fiction. Like Marian Keyes, I write about characters I believe women will care about, empathise with. I try and do this well within the structure of an interesting plot. Plumb Crazy, whilst primarily dealing with Sam’s unravelling also has the story of Sam’s mother’s unsolved hit and run as a core thread throughout the book. Unlike Marian Keyes, I’m here because I need an agent to read, love and ultimately sell my work. (She’s back! She’s nodding! She’s not out!)

A voice: “Well, I don’t know about my fellow dragons but I’d like to read your manuscript.”

See that’s the great thing about fantasy scenes. We can control them. Believable or not, I opted to end this scene with a dragon, any dragon, butting in to reveal they thought the idea of me being the next MK was in fact a possibility??!!** Ah happy days. They're the best, these moments we have alone in our heads!

Now back to Nano and the newest WIP, one I’ve decided to have a little fun with. Because of the route this morning has already taken, I've also decided this next scene in chapter two will continue the fantasy theme - though this one involves black lace and a married couple, though not to each other...

10 comments:

Geraldine Ryan said...

I don't know why but I got a little teary when I got to the Dragon offering to read your MS. It was like I was watching you on screen. I'm a sucker for fantasies and I do hope yours comes true! (Er, have you ever considered writing a script?)

Fionnuala Kearney said...

Aw Geri..See I stopped it there in case they changed their mind! Script writing is something I'd love to try...Ssssh!

CarolineG said...

Well I think Plumb Crazy sounds brilliant. If I were a Dragon, I'd take you on! I reckon you should try and target some agents while this post this still active!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

I think this is really persuasive - and well thought through. Like Caroline says, get it out there! I love the title and the concept. Go for it, girl! (and good luck with NaNo).
Susiex

Karen said...

Well if they didn't want to take you on after that, it's their loss! Sounds brilliant and 'different' enough to make it stand out. I think you're onto a winner :o)

Fionnuala Kearney said...

Thanks folks - although I have to confess this post wasn't meant to be a broadcast for the ms!!

Jenzarina said...

Lordy, I felt terrified just reading this - I think my palms have gone all sweaty! Thank goodness we don't have to pitch direct to an agent.

But you've got my vote. She's hired! I'd read that.

Samantha Tonge said...

Love the sound of the book, Fionnuala, and this post really had me gripped!

The Virtual Victorian said...

Good luck with Plumb Crazy, Fi - what a shame it's not the done thing to send in a proposal with a cover letter just like your post. I'm sure it would grab some attention.

Jacqueline Christodoulou said...

Oh Fi that post is just great! If only we could pitch our novels to agents like this.
I often think of your book and Sam, good luck with your submissions.