Friday, October 18, 2013

Neal Doran - Getting 'The Call'


At the beginning of this year I chose my magnificent seven Future Stars and I've been working with them on their amazing writing projects. So I was over the moon (and not surprised at all) when one of my Future Stars, NEAL DORAN told me he'd been offered a two-book deal! His first novel, Dan Taylor is Giving Up on Women is available on Kindle now - and it's brilliant. I asked Neal to tell what it felt like to be offered his book deal...


I had a clear idea how it was going to be when I found out I was going to be published.

My family would know I’d got ‘The Call’ because of the music that played. For years Rosalita (come out tonight) by Bruce Springsteen had been an essential part of the dream. If you don’t know it, it’s a fantastically uplifting song, written when Bruce was astoundingly young, about him trying to get his girlfriend to sneak out of her parent’s house for a big night out (it’s cool -- the characters are probably late teens/early twenties, it’s not about two 40-year-olds who still live with mum and dad). It’s medically impossible to not jump up and down when you hear it, and it has this line…

Whoa, so your daddy says he knows I don't have any dough,
Well, tell him this is his last chance to get his daughter in a fine romance,
Because the record company, Rosie, just gave me a big advance!


Now, this might not seem that relevant at first. I accepted, ooh, weeks ago, that I’m never going to be a rock star. And I was expecting to hear from a publisher not a record label. But it was this line, so full of exuberance, vindication, and joy that became part of the moment that would make the work worthwhile. It was going to be the soundtrack to jumping off a table, twirling my wife around the kitchen, and throwing my kids up in the air (and catching them). It was going to get the party started.

I imagine every writer has something like this - a scenario that they can play out in the head, of what it’ll be like when they get the news they’re going to be published. It was one of those things you have to think about a lot when you’re stuck with a half-finished novel that looks in urgent need of CPR and you aren’t sure it’s going to pull through. It’s insulation for your hopes when the cold reality of another auto-response agent rejection comes in, or you get told -- yet again -- that you’ve written a funny book, but men don’t read rom-com, and women don’t read rom-coms written by men.

I knew that getting there (and I had to believe I’d get there) would involve being on the wrong end of rejection. I knew it was going to be a case of one step forward, one step back. There were a lot of times when it just felt like all the steps were being taken on a travelator going the wrong way.

But you go through all that to get The Call that means you have a book deal.

But when it happened, I wasn’t anywhere near the CD player, or the kitchen table. Instead, I was stuck in my home office, bleary-eyed and on a day job deadline. Kathryn from Carina UK called, and BAM! Out of nowhere I had a two digital book deal. Someone had mucked about with the travelator, and suddenly I was heading in the right direction. But life didn’t change in that second. Corks didn’t pop. I had a very late night ahead of me at work, I could only text my wife the news as she was in a big meeting, and the boys needed to get their chicken goujons before football practice.

For days I kept going in a kind of trance. I told lots of people and said I was really delighted. But if you’d heard me, I don’t think you’d have thought I’d achieved something I’d been working towards for years, and dreaming about for decades. It was a couple of days later before it really hit me. We were going away for the weekend for my birthday, it was a big one, and one that I’d set as a deadline for something to happen with the novel. Heading out of town and looking for a place to stop for ice-cream, I put on one of our in-car compilation CDs.

The guitar, Hammond organ and sax of the E Street Band blared, and Bruce started calling out his gal, Rosie.

It sank in. The setbacks and the self-doubt, the re-writes and the rejections had all been worth it. Dan Taylor Is Giving Up On Women was going to be published! I’d made my deadline by a day…

I looked out at the road ahead, the windows down in the early spring sunshine, my wife and two sons joining in with the ‘Hey! Hey! Hey!’s to one of my favourite songs.

I’d done it.

The thing with being in a car with the windows open, is it’s much more likely you’ll get something in your eye...

You can follow Neal on twitter @nealdoran and on Facebook.

2 comments:

Dot said...

Great post, very inspirational! Well done!

Aurelia B. Rowl said...

Yes, I appear to dust or perhaps an eyelash in my eye right now, too. Congrats!

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