First Book Friday: Mindy Klasky
Welcome to First Book Friday!
A long time ago, on an internet far, far away, there was an online writing bulletin board called the Rumor Mill. A young writer named Jim used to visit every day, learning about manuscript format and markets and writing scams. One of the people he encountered was a writer named Mindy Klasky (mindyklasky on LJ).
Mindy was a “real” writer, who had recently sold a fantasy series to Roc. I remember being in awe that this person had actually done it. Looking back, I think this was my first “Hey, I know that author!” experience. From my perspective, it looked like such a wonderful experience, all jellybeans and unicorns and rainbows.
So it’s fascinating for me to read the story from Mindy’s POV and learn what her journey was really like.
Once upon a time, I wrote a novel. We’ll code name it NOVEL ZERO, for reasons you’ll soon discover. After a couple of weeks of poking around, I landed an agent. We’ll code name him Agent X, for more reasons you’ll soon discover.
Agent X tried to sell NOVEL ZERO for five long years, averaging one rejection every twelve months. (Yeah, I could write a separate post about how the wrong agent is worse than no agent at all, but I’ll spare you.) During my long wait, I broke up with Agent X twice, but I took him back both times.
Meanwhile, I wrote another novel, The Glasswrights’ Apprentice [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy]. It had all the things I love in traditional fantasy – a medieval city, strict castes, a thousand gods. And it had a thirteen-year-old heroine who witnessed an assassination and was accused of being the killer, necessitating her masquerading through her society’s castes to find the true murderer.
Agent X took twenty-four hours to (allegedly) read APPRENTICE, and then he said that it was flawed in all the ways that NOVEL ZERO was flawed, and oh, by the way, he was breaking up with me.
After great gnashing of teeth, I searched out other agents. On March 31, 1998, I signed a one-year contract with Richard Curtis. Then, for one entire year, I waited. I started work on another fantasy novel, SEASON OF SACRIFICE.
At the end of 365 days, no deal had appeared.
But on the 366th day, I got an email from Richard with the subject line “A Bite” and the content: “Roc wants APPRENTICE. They asked about sequels; I told them you had two.”
I was thrilled. Overjoyed. I leaped for the phone, only to find that Richard had left the office for the day. I started to plot sequels, spinning out story ideas that I had never considered before.
That night, I went to the theater, to see a lousy murder mystery. About half-way through the first act, I was pummeled with a brutal realization: The date was April 1, 1999. April Fools’ Day.
I quickly convinced myself that Richard Curtis was the cruelest man in the world.
I did not sleep that night. I phoned Richard’s office at 9:00 a.m. I held my breath as my call was transferred from the receptionist to my agent. I started crying when I found out that he wasn’t the cruelest man in the world.
Roc did, indeed, buy THE GLASSWRIGHTS’ APPRENTICE. My initial contract was for APPRENTICE, a sequel, and SEASON OF SACRIFICE. I quickly signed a second contract for three more Glasswright books.
Alas, the Glasswright books eventually cycled out of print. But this month, the Author’s Preferred Editions have been (finally!) issued as e-books. The series is also available, for the first time, as trade paperbacks. (You can read the first chapter of each book on my website.)
I’ve loved writing my speculative fiction novels, and I look forward to crafting many more. And I think that April Fools’ Day should be a national holiday.
First Book Friday | Mindy Klasky, Author
March 4, 2011 @ 10:36 am
[…] http://www.jimchines.com/2011/03/first-book-klasky/ […]
March 4, 2011 @ 11:50 am
I loved The Glasswrights’ Apprentice 🙂 I’d like to read Novel Zero, though. 🙂 And Angent X needs to find another line of work. I’m a fast reader but I’m not sure I could have read The Glasswrights’ Apprentice in a day.
March 4, 2011 @ 12:48 pm
Did you ever tell Curtis about the “April Fool’s Day” worries you had?
March 4, 2011 @ 2:04 pm
Russ – I actually started to revise Novel Zero a few years back, and now I can see that there isn’t enough “there” there… It’s a quest fantasy novel that is really good as a quest fantasy novel, but doesn’t add anything new to the genre! (And Agent X actually passed away a few years ago. I mourned his passing … in a somewhat rueful manner. He was a well-intentioned man who got outpaced by technology.)
Mary – I told Richard about my worries a couple of years ago, and he laughed, saying, “Your editor and I thought about that at the time.” ::grin::