My oldest friend remembers me telling stories when I was five years old, but I didn’t decide to be a writer until I was ten. That was when I discovered not all authors were dead. My life took detours, as life will.
In my twenties, I despaired of ever being a real writer, because I was too tired at the end of a boring work day to write at all. Instead, I put boredom to good use and became a chartered accountant. As my own boss, I had a small consulting practise and wrote part-time in a garret, albeit a dry and relatively warm one. During that time, I signed up twice in a private (but written) contract with myself to see what I could accomplish in the next few years in return for a lot of penny pinching to buy myself time.
Alone in my garret, I had no idea that there was anything like a literary scout. So I was shocked to find out that the manuscript of my first novel, The River Midnight, had been leaked to German scouts. As a result of the buzz (which I thought had something to do with bees), The River Midnight was a prize-winning, national best-seller. It sold across North America, the UK and Europe in a matter of weeks, just in time for my wedding, thus enabling the purchase of her garret and the house around it.
Having learned the secret of success, I knew that writing my next book would be easy, fast and make piles of money, and that as a new mom of two perfect children, I would spin stories, change diapers, and in my spare time learn to speak Chinese. I did change diapers, many of them, I learned one phrase in Chinese, and took to my bed with the flu for a month while deciding whether I ought to give up writing altogether. Instead I got up and slowly wrote The Singing Fire, which garnered much critical acclaim and the assurance that I had avoided the second novel curse: “Toronto’s Lilian Nattel proves her debut was no fluke” (Nancy Wigston).
Now that my kids were toilet trained, life was obviously too undemanding, for I decided to embark in a new direction and write the most challenging book of my career. As a true optimist and slow learner, I again expected it to be fast and easy. The writing gods had a good laugh. Eight years and ten drafts later, Web of Angels was done. And I don’t care if the next one is easy or not because in the end the gods gave me a gift: Web of Angels is an important book and she was privileged with the writing of it.
P.S. I am now well into the next book–and it’s not easy! (I was secretly hoping it would be.) But I can’t wait to share it!