Journey to publication
The Empath – What’s in a name?
A lot of people will see the name ‘Empath’ and associate it with sci-fi and fantasy. There’s some really great characters on the screen and on the page who bear that label. When the idea formed in my mind, Aeron took the word ‘Empath’ and made it her own. In a human spiritual sense, an Empath is someone who experiences another person’s feelings as if they are their own. There are real people out there with real sensitivities but Aeron takes it to a whole other level. The book itself crosses genres and has elements of mystery, romance, but it is a thriller. More accurately though, it is Aeron’s story and she is empathic but her ‘burdens’, as she would call them, make her even more aware of the things in life that most of us will never see or experience. The title evolved from her own description of herself because for me as an author, I want my characters to come to life. I may write the words but they tell the story.
Should you buy the book, you will learn that Aeron is not the kind of person you will forget easily. I hadn’t planned on her uniqueness but it all stemmed from her name and that is all that I had in the beginning, her name.
So why Aeron?
That comes from me. Right up until the time that I popped out as a howling purple babe, everyone thought I was a boy. My parents had a name all picked out for me, the middle one being Aaron. The unisex version being Aeron, I gave her not just any name, but one that held personal importance to me. If you’re wondering, in Hebrew Aeron/Aaron means ‘mountain of strength,’ which you will soon realise is perfect for her.
Writing The Empath.
I had a plan meticulously worked out for the novel, every second of every scene including the ending when I sat down to write her story. I was confident that the plan would be executed, it would be in third person perspective and I would have a book that I was happy with. It wasn’t the first or even tenth time I had sat down to write a novel so I expected no big surprises…
How naive I was!
Two weeks before I turned thirty, I wrote the first line of the novel “My problem is that I know too much.” And from that moment on Aeron took my carefully written plan, screwed it up into a ball and wrote her own book. I spent a fortnight locked inside her world, inside her head, inside her heart as she dragged me through every drama and crisis that she faced. I didn’t have to put obstacles in her way, they seemed to materialise and the day before my birthday, we finished (somewhat exhausted) together.
The book that Aeron unleashed ended up bringing together everything that I had learned. It took into account all the teachings from the experts on the Writer’s Workshop Self-Edit Course, the conferences, the books and the critiques from industry professionals.
I did face a rocky ride trying to sell the story of such a different woman and a wonderful agent and guide of mine told me this,
“Forget what everyone else thinks, what do you think? You have to believe in your book.”
Well, I did. In fact, I loved it and I wanted more. One book with Aeron would never be enough. A novel is a piece of the author’s soul. Its story becomes embedded within you until you breathe the same air that the characters do, their blood beats in your veins. You live their stories with them and they become ‘real’ to you.
That meant that I wanted a place for Aeron to call home. I wanted a publisher who loved her like I did and who was willing to put their faith in my ability to make her come alive for the reader. By fate, chance, luck or something higher, I ended up chatting to an immensely talented author while researching a different project.
I read her work and loved it, then I read another author from the same publisher and loved that too. The feeling was growing that the publisher could well be the perfect place… but would they like her?
Holding my breath, I sent off an email to ask if they liked the idea. They did and so I hopped to and fro on the balls of my feet and consulted ‘The Editrix’ Debi, who had been with me since the self-edit course, cheering me on and lending me her wisdom and that wonderful author who led me to the publisher in the first place.
Would they like her?
Both ladies gave me sound advice and encouragement but I was the one who had to take the chance. I was terrified. Would they like her? Would they dismiss her? Was the book American enough, real enough, had I given Aeron the best chance at shining? Should I re-edit just in case…
Fortune favours the brave, right?
Eyes closed, deep in prayer, I hit the ‘send’ button. The week that followed wasn’t the happiest week in a personal sense and so by the time I got an email in my inbox from the publisher one week later, I expected a no.
It wasn’t a no.
They loved it.
Stunned, is not a strong enough word.
Bedazzled was that publisher and I know that I couldn’t have found a better home if Aeron had strolled out of the pages and picked them herself. I get a sense that she, and I will thrive there in the arms of the BINK Empire.
Well, that was back at the beginning of 2014. It would prove to be a big year for me. The Empath was released and I really couldn’t have anticipated with amazing response that Aeron would provoke. It was through guidance and the patience of my editor at Bedazzled that took Aeron’s story to a whole other level. I met a whole host of American friends who gave me a flood of support and a massive welcome. Many of the readers who gave me a chance, even when they wouldn’t normally look at cross-genre books or anything with paranormal, I am very honoured and grateful that they took the chance on her and me. As I write this update in January 2015, Aeron has been a runner-up for a Rainbow Award, has been nominated for the Goldie awards (announced in July) and more importantly stands as testament to what belief can achieve. If you are a writer, there is nothing more essential than to believe in yourself and to love what you are doing.
I ‘ll leave you in the capable hands of Aeron and her thoughts on dreams.
“There are some folks in life who are just meant to tread a whole other path and I happen to be one of them. Now, I ain’t saying that I’m better than nobody and I ain’t pretending like being an outsider is a lot of fun. It ain’t. What I am saying, in a roundabout kinda way, is that you can only be one person… yourself. So it stands to reason that you should make the most of those tools you got and use them to find your dream.”
Oh and as for the author? Sunflowerhead… you know who you are!