Stephanie Butland

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Books are LONG. Writing them is LONG. Publishing them is complicated and exciting and – well – LONG.

The book that will be published in April has had a bit of a journey. I wrote it out-of-contract with no idea of whether it would ever see the light of day. That’s not really a big deal – many novels, and almost all first novels, are written out-of-contract, and I’d always rather be writing than not-writing – but it did make it a precious thing, something that, for a long time, only I wanted, only I cared about.

I knew it was the best thing I’d written. But I knew, too, that that was no guarantee of anything – publication or readers or anyone else giving my manuscript so much as a second look. So when it went out into the world I was, quite frankly, a wreck.

The world liked it. I was un-wrecked.

Yet even after the auction in the UK, and the auction in Germany, and the pre-empt on the auction in the US, and the sale to Norway – it all felt a little bit unreal. The strongest memory associated with the book wasn’t the excitement and announcements and general publishy shenanigans, but the it’s-just-you-and-me mornings in the studio where part of me wondered whether more sleep might have been a better use of my time than writing a book that might never see the light of day.

This was the book of a thousand titles. Now it’s called LOST FOR WORDS. (The sale was announced in the trade press as WHAT LOVEDAY KNEW. The proofs went out as BETWEEN STRIKE AND FLAME. Buy me a gimlet and I’ll try to remember a couple of hundred of the other titles we considered.)

It’s coming up to a year since I chose my UK publisher. Since then I’ve had the pleasure and privilege to work with an amazing editor, who took the rough unpolished jet of my manuscript and showed me how to exert pressure in some places and move softly and gently across others. Together we created something much closer to the darkly shining stone of a novel that I’d wanted to write. That, in itself, has made those 6am alarms worthwhile.

Publication date is April 20 in the UK. Things are just starting to ramp up, ready: I’m really excited about some of the plans we have for Loveday’s story.

Like I said, publication is LONG. And a great deal of it – especially in the early stages – is only really of any interest to the author. So I’ve avoided boring you with too much detail, and/or doing those non-specific and really annoying ‘wow and exciting thing happened can’t wait to tell you about it but not telling you about it’ posts. So I’ve been quiet, and quietly working away at the next novel.

That’s about to change. I saw my publisher last week and we did a fair amount of event planning and what I’m going to call ‘strategising’, although it was basically: clever PR and marketing people saying ‘we thought that we might….’ and me squealing with excitement.

The official cover will be released later this week (buy me another gimlet and I’ll tell you about the covers). But for now, here’s the new proof cover, which includes the best endorsement I will ever have. I think you can guess which one it is.

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Here’s an Amazon link and here’s a Waterstones one if you want to read more. (Other booksellers are available and your local independent bookshop will be delighted to pre-order a copy for you.) There may well be the previous proof cover showing, with flames licking up the side, but the book is the same.

So. Here we (nearly) go.

Stay tuned.

And, as ever, thank you for your patience.