When we booked them, they were three unknown debut writers. Now they are this year’s fiction publishing sensations.
Candice Carty-Williams’s Queenie went straight into the number one slot for hardback fiction sales and it is currently trending on the BBC Sounds app. The Sunday Times has just named Elizabeth Macneal ‘this summer’s hottest author’ and Anne Youngson is the oldest debut novelist to be shortlisted for the Costa Book award.
How does it feel to strike gold in your first outing as a published author? Here are some of their reactions.
Only three years ago Candice was working in publishing but couldn’t imagine writing her own book. Then she won a place to go on a week’s writing retreat. On the first day she produced 8,000 words, and by the end of the week had written 40,000. “It felt a bit like an outpouring,” she told the Guardian. “I think Queenie had been brewing for a very long time.”
Its reception has been “absolutely phenomenal,” she says. “I’ve had hundreds of messages from women who have similar backgrounds to Queenie and have gone through the same things.”
Elizabeth Macneal threw her first novel in the bin. It was her tutor, Joe Dunthorne at the University of East Anglia, who fished it out and persuaded her to finish it. Seven months later The Doll Factory was the subject of a bidding war, a six-figure advance and had deals in 29 countries. “I always thought the phrase ‘my jaw hit the floor’ was preposterous, but my mouth fell physically open when I found out,” Elizabeth tells the Sunday Times.
Anne Youngson had worked in the motor industry all her life and although she had written a few short stories for fun, she only started her first novel, Meet Me at the Museum, when she retired. She had enrolled to study creative writing at Oxford Brookes University and her tutor put her in touch with an agent. When the book was shortlisted for the Costa Prize, it helped, she said, to destroy the myth that you could not be published “unless you are gorgeous and 25”.
To hear more, meet the authors and find out about their fantastic novels, come along to the Methodist Church in Chipping Norton 12pm Sat 27 April. Then this summer, you can be the person who has already read the book that everyone is talking about.