Yeti Rescue Party Time!

Yeti cake...mmmm...

Yeti cake…mmmm…

A HUGE thank you to everyone who braved the frosted London streets and came to my Yeti Rescue party on Thursday night. It was amazing to have people there who’d travelled from so far away – it meant a lot, thank you!

The party was held at Waterstones in Islington. I’d had a special Yeti Rescue cake made for the occasion and ordered-in plenty of wine to toast the release of the second book in my Sammy Feral series. Mmmm, cake, wine and books – the stuff that dreams are made of.

After schmoozing with guests and signing a few books, my lovely editor introduced me and Sammy Feral and gave me a gorgeous bunch of flowers from the Quercus team. I then made a little speech (tried very carefully not to go on too long!) and did a short reading from the book. It was the first time I’d ever read aloud from Yeti Rescue, and I managed not to stumble over my words too much! Once again all those drama lessons in school paid off and standing up in front of a crowd didn’t seem too frightening.

Reading from Yeti Rescue

Reading from Yeti Rescue

During my little speech I commented on the fact that Sammy Feral has been such a journey for me. I started writing the first book when I was still living in Bath. I’d been writing Will Solvit books for Parragon Books under the pseudonym Zed Storm, but I wanted more. I wanted to write books that had my name on the cover, books where I had a bit more creative freedom and ownership. I’m so proud of the work I did on Will Solvit, but I knew that the next time I had a bright idea for a story; I’d do things slightly differently. I’d get an agent and get a proper book deal, one where I had royalties and copyright and all that ‘proper author’ stuff.

I was standing in a queue in Sainsbury’s when I first had the idea about a boy who worked in a zoo. By the time I got to the till I’d decided that his name was Sammy Feral. I started to write my little idea down and play about with it on paper. The very first draft of Sammy Feral was a million miles away from what the book ended up becoming. I had Sammy and his family travelling to India to live at a werewolf research centre. There was a different baddie – some kind of evil witch, whose name I can’t even remember. After I had signed a deal with the Miles Stott Literary Agency, and the brilliant Victoria Birkett had agreed to be my agent, she stuck her neck out and said, ‘I think this book would work better if you kept the story at the zoo.’ So I re-wrote the book, keeping all the action in the zoo, and it was of course better for it. I removed the weird witchy woman (maybe I’ll use her in another book at some point) and created a different baddie instead. I honestly lost count of the times I re-wrote the first Sammy Feral book. Each time I’d try to improve the story, make it funnier and tighten-up the pace and plot. I got up early before work so I could write, I went to cafes in my lunch hour to write, I cancelled on friends in the evening so I could stay at home and write, write, write. There were moments where I questioned my sanity, and my decision to focus on a story that at that time didn’t even have a book deal. But I was stubborn, and I wanted to finish what I’d started, and do it as well as I possibly could. After what felt like half a lifetime, I had a story that my agent felt confident submitting to publishers. The story I ended up with was infinitely better than what I’d started with, and I was so proud of all the hard work that had gone into it along the way. I knew it would mean the world to me to see my story in print, and finally hold the book in my hands.

Luke and I were in Brazil, and half-way through a 9 month travelling adventure, when I found out I’d got a book deal. There were a few tears, some bad Brazilian wine and a phone call back home and then we were off on the road again. I remember having my first phone call with my Quercus editor from a public phone box in Peru. And I worked on my edits whilst travelling through Bolivia. I saw a mock-up of the front cover soon after getting back to the UK, and I couldn’t have been happier. John Kelly had somehow taken the characters I had in my head and translated them into such cool-looking sketches. I showed friends the cover and they said it reminded them of Tim Burton and I beamed with pride. Yep, my book was seriously cool.

I soon got the news that Quercus wanted to commission another two Sammy Feral books, so I got to work writing Yeti Rescue. Whilst the process of writing the first book had been a long one, and pretty bumpy at times, this time around was a lot easier. I planned the story to within an inch of its life, I did character profiles for every person and creature in the book, and I set myself out a clear schedule for writing. I still had to do a couple of drafts, and work on edits and re-writes, but I’d learnt so much the first time that everything just seemed to roll a little more smoothly the second time around.

Yeti Rescue Party Cake!

Yeti Rescue Party Cake!

I hope I’m writing books for the rest of my life. I hope I’ll be holding my latest first edition in my hands and thanking people for coming to launch parties when I’m well into old age. But I don’t think I’ll ever get over the joy and pride I feel at seeing a book with my name on it. From an idea standing in a queue in Sainsbury’s, to a three book series and a launch party with a cake that has my book cover on it – it’s an incredible journey, and one that I will never tire of. Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, you know who you are…:)

 Next blog I shall try not to be quite so sentimental…I promise…

 Peace, love and stories,

Eleanor xxx

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