We’re SO happy to be able to say that Lesley Sanderson is now our 41st student to get a commercial publishing deal! (The very lovely) Lesley was a student on our London-based Six-Month Novel-Writing Course back in 2015. She’s just signed a contract with Bookouture for her psychological thriller, The Orchid Girls, plus one further novel. The audio rights to The Orchid Girls have been sold at auction to Audible. We asked Lesley to tell us more …
Your debut novel, The Orchid Girls will be published by Bookouture in November. This is the novel you were working on during the CBC course with Erin Kelly, then titled On the Edge. What else changed while you were on the course, and since?
Everything! I had a vague idea of the plot when I started the course and getting feedback on this was invaluable, resulting in lots of changes. I moved some of the action abroad and added new characters. In particular, the telling of the past story changed from straight flashbacks to a mixture of flashbacks, diaries and newspaper reports. With each new draft I’ve written, something else has changed. It’s a very different novel to my first draft.
The Orchid Girls is a thriller which features a same-sex relationship between your protagonists Molly and Grace. Was it important to you to write about this relationship? Do you think crime thrillers need more diverse characters?
Yes, this was important to me. Teenage relationships between girls are very intense and I wanted to explore this on a deeper level – society had different attitudes twenty years ago and I wanted to see how the characters were affected by their past and the different choices available today. Crime novels and psychological thrillers are so popular at the moment – strong characters are essential and it’s important to me that characters reflect the diverse society in which we live.
Bookouture will be publishing your second psychological thriller in March 2019. Are you finding the process of writing a second novel very different from the first?
The second novel is very much a work in progress but it it has been totally different. My plot is thrashed out before I start, character arcs plotted and chapters planned. Things inevitably change as you write, but the foundations will be solid.
Are you still in touch with any of your CBC course-mates?
Most of us are in touch via email and a Facebook page and there is a monthly meet up with occasional critiquing sessions. They are a hugely supportive group.
What is one piece of advice you would pass on to authors working on their first novel?
Never give up, no matter how hard it gets – the highs and lows are all part of being a writer.
Finally, what is next for you, are you working on any other writing projects?
I have lots of ideas for future psychological thrillers and hope to write many more.
Find out more about The Orchid Girls here.
Lesley was a student on our 6-month selective entry novel-writing course in London. Find out more about our courses (both in London and online) on our courses page.