Today I officially signed with an agent. One of the most exciting things about writing Devil in the Red Dress has been the opportunities it has opened up. It was impossible to guess when I went into Court 1 in the Four Courts a little over a year ago that the trial I was about to cover would actually change my life.
We knew when Sharon Collins and Essam Eid first came into court that it was going to be an interesting trial. Not many trials pass through the Four Courts that have quite that combination of sex and scandal. There was money, there was an internet plot and Eid himself looked like the quintessential mafiosa…he even had a Las Vegas connection. Even though nobody had died, or maybe because of it, it had all the elements of a first class thriller. It was hardly surprising that one of the main topics of conversation during those long weeks the trial was running, revolved around who would play what in any eventual movie.
Even the accused chipped in to that one. Eid was quite happy to offer the suggestion of Al Pacino to play himself. Sharon wasn’t quite so forthcoming – I think she had her sights set on writing the script herself!
As far as I was concerned it was a book waiting to be written. I had been wanting to write a book for some time and had been looking around for the right plot. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was little…I used to look at the books on the shelves in the library and dream of my name being on the spine of one of them. Ever since I can remember I’ve made up stories. I became a journalist so that I could earn my living from writing and telling stories – even if they weren’t ones I had made up myself.
I might have got waylaid for several years in radio but I’m finally where I set out to be…writing for my living. Devil was something that was an extension of that living, a true crime book like those written by many of my colleagues. I’m proud of it and still get a kick out of seeing it in book shops but I didn’t really expect it to lead anywhere beyond that. A local story for the local market. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do and Devil won’t be my last foray into the non fiction market but true crime books written about high profile trials don’t always have a very long shelf life.
What’s been remarkable about Devil is that is has opened more doors than I thought it would. For the last few years I’ve been working on a novel. It’s very, very different from what I do on a day to day basis but it’s something I love doing and I have always believed in the story. In case you’re curious it’s a satirical fantasy, not the swords and sandals variety but more rooted in reality, a little like the work of Jasper Fforde or Malcolm Pryce although it sounds so cheesy to compare myself to two successful authors when I’m only starting out.
Being totally subjective I’m not even sure it’s as funny as either of them or if I’m even making a fair comparison. I’ve spent so long pitching the book to various agents around the place that pat comparisons like that have a habit of tripping off my tongue whenever I describe the book to anyone – something I’m going to have to work on if (when?) it finds a publisher. Basically the plot, without going into much detail here and trying not to be overly cryptic, has journalists, a referendum, dodgy politicians and a sociopathic, womanising mythical beast as one of the main characters. As I said, it’s a little different to the stuff I write on a daily basis…I don’t do the politics beat.
Before Devil came along the novel had been sitting in a yellow folder in the top drawer of the filling cabinet and, to be honest, I was thinking of passing it over and started on something else. But last summer changed all that and that is how I came to start this post with the sentence “Today I officially signed with an agent”. She will be handling the novel, and it’s two sequels and, as anyone reading the last couple of days posts will have realised, this summer I will be working on fiction rather than fact (except when I have to pay the bills).
I still feel slightly awkward writing about fiction in anything other than a purely theoretical basis. I normally write this blog as a journalist and changing key in this way feels like baring a private part of myself that I’m not used to sharing. But this is getting serious now and with any luck I’ll be writing the blurb by this time next year. Today was the first step towards that and I’m looking forward to the work ahead.