Loraine Peck developed her debut crime novel on our online novel-writing course, and subsequently secured representation with Curtis Brown’s Alice Lutyens and Curtis Brown Australia’s Pippa Masson. Loraine now has an exciting two-book deal with Australian publishing house Text – The Second Son will be published in February 2021.
We caught up with Loraine to find out more about The Second Son and her path to publication …
You were a student on our online novel-writing course back in 2017 – how did your time on the course impact your approach to writing?
I came into the course with an 80,000-word first draft, so I had a plot, but my characters were wafer thin. The online novel course, with Lisa O’Donnell, gave me the tools to dig deeper into my characters, experiment with POV and really test my plot. Critiques from both Lisa and my fellow students were immensely useful, even after the course, as I wrote the third and fourth drafts. I also learned to own my book and fight for it.
Many of our students find writing friends for life on our courses – are you still in touch with any of your coursemates?
I met two of my best mates in the first week. Charlie, Robbie and I finally met, in person, in Oxford last summer. I flew in from Sydney, Robbie from New York and Charlie drove from Leicestershire. Emma, Veena and I are also great mates on different continents and read each other’s work avidly. Tina, Paul and I stay in touch and cheer each other on from the sidelines. There’s also a WhatsApp group with Kath and Sarah, and our whole tribe has a Facebook group we use to update each other. The support has been enormous and powerful. It’s changed my life.
You’re represented by Curtis Brown agent Alice Lutyens, can you tell us a little bit about how you worked with Alice to get your book ready to submit to agents?
Alice read The Second Son in two days and told me she loved it. It was one of the happiest days of my life when she decided she wanted to represent me. Then the work began. We went through three rounds of new drafts. Alice would give me notes about where the plot or characterisation or interaction was falling down and I’d have another crack. It was incredible having a publishing professional invested in my book in this way. After working together for six months, Alice said the book was ready to send to market. That’s when she got Pippa Masson involved. Pippa is also with Curtis Brown, based here in Sydney. I am doubly blessed with two super smart agents.
Your debut novel The Second Son is to be published by Text – what was the first thing you did when you heard the news of your book deal from Alice?
I screamed, jumped up and down and then I may have cried. Both HarperCollins and Text Publishing wanted to meet with me and then both put in offers. These offers were discussed, then a second round of offers came in from both publishers. Alice, Pippa and I agreed Text had the winning offer. They had a bigger intention for the book. It amazes me daily that I’m a writer now.
The Second Son is a crime novel with family very much at its heart. Can you tell us a bit more about your novel and the inspiration behind it?
Two brothers, four gangs, one woman. What could go wrong?
Johnny Novak was born and raised in a violent crime family. When his older brother is murdered, Johnny is forced to step up and promise revenge. He knows he needs to get away from his father before he has to teach his own son how to use a gun. But first he must find his brother’s killer and pull off the drug heist of a lifetime. As the gang wars escalate, Johnny’s wife, Amy, leaves to protect their ten-year-old son. Kidnapped and held to ransom, Amy won’t play victim. Finally, Johnny understands he is fighting a war on many fronts and his biggest enemy may be within his own family. The Second Son is a story about a son stepping out of the shadows, a wife discovering her own strength and the unbreakable bonds of family.
My husband’s stories of his childhood and teenage life were fascinating and horrifying. Johnny Novak was inspired by my husband’s choice to walk away from a seemingly predestined life of crime.
If you could pass on one piece of advice to aspiring authors what would it be?
Enrol in writing courses, learn the craft and write the book you want to read. Because you’ll be reading it over and over and over.
Finally, what’s next for your writing – can you give us any hints about book two?
I can see the finish line on the first draft of book two. Johnny and Amy may have escaped from Sydney, but they haven’t been able outrun their past, or their family.
Do you have a brilliant story idea? If you want to work on your novel with like-minded writers and publishing professionals, take a look at our spring three-month novel-writing courses, which are open now for applications – study online with Suzannah Dunn or in London with Charlotte Mendelson.
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