It was one of those perfect moments. I was living every novelist’s dream.
There we were, sitting at a table in a restaurant in Nova Scotia overlooking Halifax harbor. Just me and my publisher. We were attending a conference for Canadian booksellers. I had delivered the keynote speech earlier that afternoon. It went well. So did the book signing that followed. I was feeling good.
Little did I know that things were about to get…
…. even better.
I was four books into a seven book contract with the publisher. As we waited for our dinner, my dining partner—a vice president in the company, young, genial—buttered his bread. He looked up at me.
“Jack, what are you going to do for us next?” he asked.
I let the question linger for a moment. I wanted to savor it.
For thirteen years I’d labored unsuccessfully to land my first book deal. Then it happened. At a writer’s conference in Mt. Hermon, just outside San Jose. I made the contact that got me a four book historical fiction deal. After the first book released, the contract was expanded to seven books. And now the publisher wanted more.
He was asking me. That’s what I was savoring.
I told him about an idea I had that was set in ancient Greece. He chewed his bread. Listened thoughtfully. Nodded. Swallowed.
“I like it,” he said. “Would it help if we sent you to Greece to do the research?”
The offer blindsided me. All of my research to that point had been in the library. The thought of being sent to Greece to research a book was beyond my dreams.
“How much time would you need?” he asked.
My mind jumped into overdrive. What airport would I fly into? The story was set in the northeast region, what had once been Macedonia. I’d have to rent a car. Which side of the road do they drive on in Greece? Would I need a guide? Everything was a blur.
The clock was ticking. He was waiting and I still hadn’t answered his question.
I chuckled. “You’re catching me off-guard,” I said. “I really haven’t…”
“If we sent you over there for a month,” he said. “Could you do the research in a month?”
Be still my heart.
“Yes,” I said with confidence. “I could do the research in a month.”
Great story, isn’t it? And it’s true. Every detail.
What’s also true—
Within one month of Nova Scotia and dinner by the bay, the publishing house was bought out by another company. None of the executives went with the deal. Neither did my offer.
Welcome to the world of publishing.
Late at night, on those hard days when the words won’t come and sales reports are disappointing, I remember Halifax and dream of Greece.