I’m delighted to welcome Aly Sidgwick to my blog today. You can buy her book Lullaby Girl from Amazon here. Black & White publishing kindly provided me with a copy of the book. I loved it and you can read my review here. Aly is going to tell us a bit about how Lullaby Girl came about.
Follow the yellow brick road.
When I started writing, I did it purely for myself. My exciting new (secret) hobby. I had no formal training, though I’d loved writing stories as a child and had always been an avid reader. I didn’t tell anyone I was writing for the first year or so, and that meant I had no feedback whatsoever. Until then I relied on my own judgement, and taught myself through basic trial and error. I’ve always been of the mindset that it detracts from a piece of art if you talk about it too early. I need to get past a certain point before I let others in, and the creation of that first draft is almost holy to me.
The first two pieces I wrote weren’t strong enough. That’s clear as day to me now, but at the time I was so enthralled to have created something that I approached agents immediately. Of course, they knocked me back. I was constantly rewriting, though, so each time I sent off my manuscript it was slightly improved. Then came the big breakthrough. An agent in London wrote to say my story hadn’t quite ’worked,’ but that the anxiety-based parts were very strong. She said that a certain passage reminded her of Knut Hamsun’s ’Hunger’ (one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received!), and that she’d be interested to read anything else along those lines. That set my mind ticking. I started ’Lullaby Girl’ the very next day, and whilst it didn’t quite match what’d been suggested, I was excited by the story. I was unsuccessful with that agent, but caught the attention of another, and did two structural rewrites for them, ending in another rejection. At that point I was crushed, and considered giving up. My Danish flatmate offered to introduce me to her publisher friend, who could maybe offer some advice on mentorships. So I went along to meet Janne from Black & White, and to my surprise she loved my book! Over the next year I carried out further structural edits. Then Black & White accepted the manuscript, and I signed on the dotted line.
I’ve been lucky. Very very very very very very lucky. Some writers go their whole lives trying to get published. For me, personally, it’s taken five years of constant effort. Rejection became part of my everyday life, but in the end it shaped the writer I became. It made me determined to improve, and more than anything it made me realise how much I care about this. If I hadn’t wanted this so badly, I don’t think I’d be a published author by now. I’m so grateful to have made it this far, and can’t wait to dive into book two!
About Aly Sidgwick:
ALY SIDGWICK spent many years in Oslo as a tattoo artist and comic strip-artist. She studied illustration in Edinburgh, before rediscovering her passion for writing. While living in Malmö in Sweden, Aly was inspired by the Scandi setting to start writing her first novel. She became obsessed with the story and didn’t tell anyone that she was working on it for six months, until her friend read a draft and encouraged her to pursue it. Her spare time is devoted to reading, painting, travelling and drinking lots of black coffee. Lullaby Girl is her debut novel.