About two or so years ago, not long after I began serializing my then-named novel, All the Night a Song, I got a random message from the sister-in-law of  a friend of my wife from England–and we’ve been chatting ever since. Chloe was immediately a kind and supportive reader of my work, and has grown to be a very close friend and professional colleague. We’re both currently in the same boat, as it were, represented by agents, manuscripts out to editors, amassing a kindly pile of passes and rejections. It’s been good to have a friend who is trudging through the same muddy bit of the publication process.

Last year, just after landing my agent, Chloe asked me a few questions and posted a great interview on her own blog, Made by the Potter. It’s about time I repay the favor!

 

Tell us about your Manuscript that’s currently out on submission.

The Art of Letting Go tells the tale of retired physicist Rosemary whose apparent respectability masks a secret. Lying in a nearby hospital is a comatose man she has good reason for hating, and she now has to decide whether he lives or dies. When abstract artist Ben arrives in Rosemary’s village, the secret of her dark past is threatened. But Ben too isn’t quite what he seems. With their lives unravelling around them, they must decide whether to trust each other, choosing between the insanity of telling the truth, or the madness of maintaining their lies. The book is told through four first-person narratives and, scattered throughout, contains a potted history of abstract art which is used as an analogy for the deception and madness filling the lives of Ben and Rosemary.

Is this the first novel you’ve written?

This is my first novel to grab an agent. I wrote a children’s novel a few years ago which didn’t quite make it, and I first started writing because a friend of mine dared me to enter a novel writing competition for undergraduates while I was doing my science degree. I got shortlisted for that and the bug really bit, so novels have been (and are!) a learning process for me rather than a sudden revelation.

It seems that you’ve done rather well with short story contests over the past several years. I know you’ve won an award or two.

It’s exciting and challenging to enter competitions. I did OK in one or two at first, but I didn’t win any until I decided I was going to take writing seriously. Although it’s not as prestigious as being published by a magazine, I prefer submitting to competitions. I especially love themed competitions, where you are being judged by your originality within set parameters – can you think outside the box and still write well? I haven’t won any big competitions, so my current ambition is to make a prestigious shortlist.

Do you still work on short fiction?

I concentrate on novels now, but short fiction is my reward for finishing the latest draft of what I’m working on! A flash fiction of 300 words is a great way to clear your mind of a novel.  They’re a different skill to novel writing but when you’re starting out, they teach you so much about the craft of writing – plotting, characterisation, economy of words, dialogue – much quicker than writing a novel could do.

 

Wishing Chloe the best of luck as her novel continues to be circulated amongst the editors.

The rest of this interview will be continued in a few days, where Chloe and I chat about some of the little differences we’ve discovered between UK and US in regard to the publishing industry, and also about what we do in the meantime while others decide the fate of our writing careers!

More soon!

-A

*Chloe Banks is represented by David Haviland at the Andrew Lownie Literary Agency.