One of the reasons it took so long to find a publisher was because Stone Girl is dark… and it’s for teens as well as adults which makes it a complex book to place “in the market”.
I was told librarians would reject it. So far I’ve found this to be true and that’s just in conversation.
The many, many rejections I received from publishers usually said something about how they didn’t know where it would fit… it was too gritty, too confronting, they just couldn’t back it.
So I stripped it back. I took out one part that everyone was troubled by. A shame, I thought at the time, because it represented a section of society that deserves to have their story told. That said I understood why this could be too much for young people.
A funny thing happened when I cut that out. Sophie became stronger! The part that was removed had left her damaged and by freeing her from this she became less haunted, more sure of herself and what she needed to do. It was a blessing in the end.
I really try to shut out the voice of restraint when I write. Let things fall as they may so long as there’s sense to it and it fits with the character and place. You can fix it later because it’s better to go too far than not far enough and end up in the dead (boring) zone.
Shocking is fun to read. Life is shocking. Being shocked soon gives way to realisation of the truth of a matter.
I trust in this much more now and the second book, Sand Child, is full of things that may be rejected or labelled unacceptable… but who wants to forsake their own reality to fit into someone else’s idea of the world?
Looking straight at the truth as you see it and writing it without apology isn’t wrong. It’s harder to do but – I’m hoping – worthwhile finally.