Here’s a thing: The Witch’s Kiss is our debut, but it’s not actually the first book that Liz and I have written together.
We began TWK in the summer of 2014, but we’d started writing together two years earlier, on a project I’m going to call Rookie Novel 1. RN1 took a long time to get into shape. More than 18 months passed before we thought it was up to sending out to agents (perhaps at some point I’ll post up here for your amusement the ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE query letters we wrote back at the beginning). But – lack of experience notwithstanding – we did end up with two full manuscript requests for RN1 from big London agencies. Still, that was as far as we got. And two requests on perhaps twenty queries didn’t seem that encouraging. So by mid-2014 we decided we really needed to either forget the whole thing or write something new. (Of course, we were both addicted to writing by then, so something new was really the only option).
Then, after re-reading a bunch of fairy-tales, Liz had an idea: a male sleeping beauty, in some sort of historical setting. And something to do with jars of hearts…
And I thought: let’s not do medieval. Medieval seems like the go-to setting for fantasy. Let’s do Anglo-Saxon. A male sleeping beauty who is asleep for more than fifteen hundred years.
And we both thought: witches. Twenty-first century witches. How cool would that be?
We didn’t start writing straight away. Because we were writing together (and also because we’re both complete control freaks) we like to plan. We wrote an initial 14 page outline. Then a more detailed chapter-by-chapter outline, that was at least twice as long. Then we divided the chapters up and off we went.
More or less.
There was a lot of re-writing. A lot of re-writing stuff the other one had already re-written. A lot of underlining in red and adding comments like: ‘SERIOUSLY???’. But, by the end of five months (November 2014) we did have a complete manuscript. Then we read the whole thing through and decided we needed to completely reorganize the middle sections. That Christmas was kind of busy. Still, by the middle of January we were ready to start submitting again.
The next couple of weeks were fairly….terrifying. (We were not particularly chilled about the whole thing). We were over-the-top nervous about misreading the submission guidelines. We panicked that we were sending out the wrong version of the manuscript, or the wrong manuscript altogether. And every time one of us got an email we had a heart-stopping moment of fear, convinced that a rejection had just landed in the inbox.
But funnily enough, this time turned out not to be that terrible at all. Within a couple of weeks, we had three offers of representation from three fabulous agents. We had a choice!
We chose the lovely Claire Wilson from RCW, and that is definitely one of the best decisions we’ve ever made in our short writing career.
Next week, I’ll write about the next stage of the process: from agent to bookshelf.