It’s been a while, but First Book Friday is back, at least for today! Previous entries in the series are indexed here, and the submission guidelines are over there.
Kari Sperring (LJ, Twitter, Facebook), aka Kari Maund, has written many books, though she’s relatively new as a fantasy novelist. She joins us to talk about selling her first books (both nonfiction and fiction), and the importance of being very specific when making wishes…
You probably don’t want to know about my first book. I realised a few weeks ago that it’s twenty years old this year. I can see it from where I’m sitting writing this, its dark-brown cover a little battered with use, though the silver embossed writing proclaiming author and title is as sharp as ever. I’m still proud of it, after all this time, even though back on the day of its publication – summer 1991, I think, though the exact date is gone from my memory – I greeted it with mixed feelings. I’d wanted to be a published writer since I was six or seven, but I’d failed to be specific in my wording. One must be careful what one wishes for: there it was, my first book, the product of four years of research and study and writing: Ireland, Wales and England in the eleventh century: some paradigms for political interaction.
It’s still out there, in libraries, on shelves, in second-hand bookshops, though it’s been out of print now for a decade or more. Four years of my life between two neat brown covers: the clean final version of my PhD dissertation, published by an academic press, without fanfare or advance, though it earned me about £2000 over the next seven or eight years. I still like that book, I like its carefulness and orderliness, its sharp clear arguments and twenty years on I still stand by my conclusions. It’s been a good friend and a good ally and in the end it may be what I’m remembered for, if I’m remembered at all. It sits there over my desk in a short row with my other five non-fiction books, and the jumble of my articles, my first career in a foot or less.
I’d forgotten, you see, as a young child, to make my wish specific. Perhaps, at six or seven it hadn’t really occurred to me that non-fiction was written, just as much as fiction. I’d wished and won and my wish was not what I’d expected. I wrote my second book – and that one was a novel – while Ireland, Wales and England was in the press, and sent to off to a handful of British publishers, and failed to sell it (though the rejection letters were very nice). I wrote the third, too, and sent it out while I was working on my next research project (which is extant in various articles) and my second academic book (which is the one you really, really don’t want to read, as it’s a reference book of the most specific kind – A Handlist of the Acts of Native Welsh Rulers, 1132-1283). That book – third novel, equal third book – was Living With Ghosts [Amazon | B&N | Mysterious Galaxy].