By Michelle Dennison AWA Julianne Alcott
A few weeks ago, I received the email that most writers only ever dream about receiving . . .
‘I am delighted to let you know that we have decided to offer to publish your manuscript. If you are happy to take this further, then I’ll send you more information, and a draft contract you can go over with a fine toothcomb, and we’ll go from there.’
I think I stared at the screen for a few minutes, my brain trying to register what I had just read. It took a long time to filter through all those neurons, and leap across the necessary synapses, before the information made an impression.
I sent this particular novel to a publisher because it was the first one I had completed. I sent it, because I had done all I could; it needed to go to the next level.
The idea came to me when I was seventeen… 1990 to be exact. I wanted to write love stories, but hadn’t had any personal experience with actually having a man in my life.
No problem . . . I just invented one.
His name was Nick Donovan. He was tall, dark and handsome. Elegant, suave and very comfortable with himself . . . My dream man. I still have the sketch I made of him, gazing thoughtfully into the distance and wearing a decidedly 90s sweater.
My main character also had a sketch drawn of her. She was short (like I am) and blonde (not like I am). I called her Samantha, Sam for short.
So there the journey started for the three of us. A journey that was to break us, mould us, and see us change into quite different people.
At the end of 1990 I met a man. We were never together romantically, but being around him made me re-consider what was important when looking for a member of the male species.
This one was a mechanic… He had absolutely no dress sense, awful rusty car and greasy hands, but I found that these things didn’t matter to me. He was friendly, genuine and really cared about people. He spent hours in a borrowed tuxedo posing with me in my back garden, because my camera had broken, and I had no photos of my matric dance.
Nick Donovan had a drastic makeover. I had learned the importance of character, and the value of a good heart, and the new Nick was immediately more realistic. He was sometimes annoying, often exasperating, and a constant source of anxiety to Samantha as she has to decide whether she could have a happy life if she allowed herself to love this man.
Gradually the story took shape. Sam and Nick would be separated, and it would be caused, somehow, by the fact that Nick is an identical twin.
It was only when I did a year of psychology at college in 2003 that all the pieces fell into place, and I knew what I wanted this novel to be.
Finally, in 2011, I had done all the work I could on ‘Greater than Gold’. We had made the journey together. It had grown up as I had grown up. The time had come for me to let it go, as all parents must do with their children.
To let it spread its wings and send it out into the world to make a life for itself.
It is a comfort to me to know that our journey together has not yet finished.