Since then, I've been travelling slightly less and waiting anxiously instead. I'm going to share the responses I get from publishers over the following weeks for both projects I've been working on. The Ghost Continent was awarded a £10,000 Scottish Arts Council grant in 2008, and I finally managed to finish it this year. It's about a real-life Scottish childhood friend of Mary Shelley's, called Isabella Baxter Booth, whose husband suffered bouts of madness. It's 1823 and it's a time of revolution in the world of psychiatry - new methods are being tested in the wake of new discoveries. So I've put the two elements together to write about a woman who marries the wrong man, and a man who makes a disastrous career choice - with ghosts and a bit of gothic horror, too.
So far, I've had about 10-15 rejections. A variety of reasons: a) I didn't love it enough; b) I couldn't follow it; c) it's not commercial enough; d) we've got enough historical fiction right now. One editor did love it enough to recommend publication but the sales dept knocked it back. Plenty more to hear back from in the coming weeks.
My non-fiction proposal, Rebel Muses, won an arts council grant from Creative Scotland of £5500 in December 2011, which gave me lots of hope and confidence. It follows on from Between the Sheets in a way, as it is also looking at relationships between writers. This time though, I'm focusing on a specific period (the early 20th Century), and a specific role, the literary muse. I've taken 12: Vivienne Eliot, Lucia Joyce, Zelda Fitzgerald, Alice B Toklas, Ada Dwyer Russell, Vita Sackville West, Nora Barnacle, Laura Riding, Georgie Yeats, Ottoline Morrell, Genevieve Straus and Violet Hunt, for the book. I'm arguing that they all rebelled against the constraints of the role in some way, and some succeeded in that rebellion, whilst others tragically failed.
So far, there's been early interest (it's been sent to five publishers initially), and one editor loved this enough too, to recommend it for publication. Once again, though, the sales dept knocked it back, citing its lack of commercial appeal. Just the beginning for this one. Lots more still to go.