stephanyI have recently signed with New York agent, Stephany Evans of FinePrint Literary Management. Everyone I’ve told understandably wants to know what’s next, when will it be published, how much have I been paid, etc. Which is hilarious given the reality that what’s next is simply waiting.

Well, waiting and doing some background work, which is almost as challenging as researching a novel. Coming up with comparable titles is an endeavour that requires massive reading. Since I’m a slow reader this requires great stretches of time. Listening to books while I’m driving speeds things up a little, but still…

One friend suggested I post the request for comparables along with my synopsis on Facebook. That garnered a couple of great suggestions, such as Man Booker prize winner, “The Gathering.”

The Gathering by Anne Enright is described thus: “It is a novel about love and disappointment, about how memories warp and secrets fester, and how fate is written in the body, not in the stars.”

Another book I chose was Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, because the character Deanna reminds me of my protagonist, Brett.

In a New York Times book review, Jennifer Schuessler wrote of Prodigal Summer:
“Barbara Kingsolver’s new novel is all about sex, and she doesn’t waste much time on foreplay… (there are) plucky heroines, liberal politics and vivid descriptions of the natural world…”

Here is the synopsis for “What the Living Do” which is now on submission:

Thirty-seven-year-old Brett Catlin is fascinated with the dead: the roadkill she buries for her job; the father and three-year-old sister she lost to a long-ago fire; the baby she aborted when her last relationship soured. When she is diagnosed with cervical cancer, Brett believes it’s payback for the deaths she’s caused.

After she refuses the recommended hysterectomy, her 27 year-old boyfriend, Cole convinces Brett to try alternative treatments – which ultimately fail.

A trip to assist her mother after a stroke brings Brett face-to-face with the underlying reason she resists the constructs of a committed relationship, family, and home: an encounter with the cousin who sexually exploited her after the fire when she was eleven. Brett surrenders to the belief that she can’t ‘bear’ children and resolves to have the surgery, but discovers that she’s pregnant.

Brett must now either forgive herself and bring new life into this dangerous world, or do as the doctor suggests and ‘kill two birds with one stone.’

While researching books for comparable titles, I found this nugget:

Ann Patchett, speaking about her latest novel, Commonwealth, said this: “…I have a real fear that the whole publication of this novel is going to center around questions of autobiography, which isn’t nearly as interesting as whether or not the book is any good. Most of the things in this book didn’t actually happen, but the feelings are very close to home. Or, as my mother said, “None of it happened and all of it’s true.”

I love that.

“None of it happened and all of it’s true.”

I also found this:

About beta readers, Louise Erdrich, said. “I talked to Gail Caldwell quite a bit about Shadow Tag and Last Report. She describes this wonderful state when there’s ‘fire in the room.’ When there’s a fire burning in the room, and it’s illuminated and warm, you can’t stop reading. …”

Since the author can only feel the heat in their own bones, discerning draft readers are crucial.

I’ve been asked to find well-known authors to read my story and write some nice words about it. This is a daunting task – to ask someone to: Read my book! Read my book! One has to only hope that there will be a fire in the room when a seasoned author takes precious time to consider one’s story.

I am very fortunate and grateful to Nick Bantock for writing this lovely blurb for the novel:

“Deepam Wadds writes from a place of deep compassion. She understands her characters’ hearts and minds and because of that she is able to paint their landscape and allow them to pass through their rights of passage in an utterly convincing way.

‘What the Living Do’ unveils a poignant mirror, carefully formed to re-assure its readers that the shadow-corners of their lives are both seen and understood.”

I’m still on the lookout for one more willing author to say a few words, but for the time being I’ve fulfilled my agent’s wishlist.

Now we wait.

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