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17 March 2014

Kate Hamer: what’s happened since I signed my book deal

by Kate Hamer From Our Students

Since signing a two-book deal with Faber last September for her debut novel The Girl in the Red Coat, former Curtis Brown Creative student Kate Hamer has entered a new phase of her life.

It seems incredible that it’s been only half a year since The Girl in the Red Coat was sold to Faber by my agent Alice Lutyens at Curtis Brown. In that half year it feels like everything has changed – but writing this blog has made me ponder what has also stayed the same. For a start there’s my family. After the initial excitement, I am just Mum and Kate again – and that’s of course how it should be.

What about writing itself? I think it’s a very common story that I started writing from a very early age – 10 or 11 – and never lost that impulse. But something happened for a period of a couple of years – I stopped recognising the imagination. It sounds silly, but caught up in a busy working life and raising children, I began to think of these strange thoughts and imaginings as something extraneous to what needed to be done in the world – possibly even as something slightly unhinged. The realisation of how I was cutting such an important part off was my first step back into a writing life.

The biggest single wonderful change is the freedom to completely immerse myself in writing, and it feels doubly sweet because of that experience. I treat it like a job – I’m at the computer by 9.30 am – stop for a lunch break and remind myself to take computer breaks. I try to end the day with either a walk or some yoga because being glued to the computer means you can be almost immobile for most of the day. I’m working on edits for The Girl in the Red Coat with a wonderful, wise editor Sarah Savitt at Faber. Spring 2015 – publication date – which once seemed so far off is starting to seem very real. There are discussions about marketing and publicity campaigns. I’ve seen a rough version of the cover from the Faber design team that captures the book brilliantly.

When I started writing this piece I wanted to thank everyone that’s helped me along the way but it started sounding like an Oscar speech. But, hell, I’m going to do it anyway because one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t do this on your own. The relationships you forge along the way are as important as in any career, any job.

There’s Alice Lutyens, who I think is the most brilliant agent in the world (I guess I’m biased). My lovely, perceptive editor and the whole team at Faber, who have made me feel so welcome and brought cake to our meetings. The Curtis Brown Creative crew of fine and talented writers (James Hannah and Tim Glencross both also have deals – and I was very excited to pre-order Tim’s book Barbarians on Amazon recently, remembering us all reading our work in that Curtis Brown boardroom). We still meet nearly three years on and it provides such a backbone of support and general egging-on. Anna Davis who runs the CBC course with passion and integrity. The course has stood me in such solid stead through this whole process and, because of it, I now have the heads-up on how the publishing industry actually works. That’s been unbelievably helpful – hopefully meaning I don’t look too much like a rabbit in the headlights!

I’m sure there’ll be ups and downs along the way. But what I’ve realised is that writing may be a solitary business, but being published is certainly no one-man band.

If, like Kate Hamer, you would like to take our Three-Month Novel-Writing Course (or our Online Novel-Writing Course), click here for more information.


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