My guest today is Isabella May, a fellow romcom author who also lives in Spain. Welcome, Isabella, can you tell us how you became a published author?
It’s often said that the author’s journey is full of twists and turns, deviations and hairpin bends. That’s definitely been the case for me! My career has always been about books. First I spent 15 years selling foreign rights for children’s books – an exciting career which took me all over the world, then I set up my own small foreign rights agency, after that I became a boutique literary agent (as you do), I even co-founded an online women’s magazine and helped set up its bookclub… and finally, I decided to stop hiding behind the (mostly brilliant!) words of others and start writing my own novel.
For many years I’d had a burning desire to dispel the myth that an abusive relationship is abusive all the time (sadly from experience); to write something dark, balancing it equally with something light, empowering and hopeful… also weaving in cake and travel, romance and comedy, all set against the backdrop of the publishing industry. I really don’t do straightforward plots!
The process from scribble to polished manuscript took way longer than I ever imagined. Never one to do things by halves, I decided to start brainstorming as I breastfed my new-born baby boy. Six years later, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’, my book baby was also born. Fast forward to 2019 and I’ve had three romcoms published with Crooked Cat Books. I am also about to go indie with novel number 4.
But how did I get from pen to publisher?
Well, I joined two local writing groups, either side – quite literally- of my house here in Spain. I also signed up for a creative writing course run by local author and writing tutor/flash fiction judge/columnist, Lorraine Mace. This was a very smart move and proved to be the turning point. Lorraine taught me how to truly write a novel, and over the next 6 weeks, I realised just how much of my – then – 120,000 word manuscript would have to be cut.
Many darlings died!
After that I distanced myself from my manuscript for a while, polished and edited it endlessly, and then a year or so later, I began to sub. I don’t think anyone much enjoys the submission process. Then it felt daunting. Now, as an author with a loyal readership; an author who has proven herself and her craft, it’s something else entirely to receive those poison arrows of rejection. My writing isn’t the easiest to pigeonhole since it fuses many genres and bends many a writing rule. Happily, the small independent press, Crooked Cat snapped me up and have proven a wonderful platform for my first three books.
I still dream of a big publisher taking the same chance. This time around I’ve had a couple of full manuscript requests from the giants for my brand new gelato-infused novel; I also have an open door from one of the UK’s top literary agents… if I can write something a little darker next time. Needless to say, this has given my confidence a huge boost after months of doubting my talent because I’m not exactly ‘the marketing dream’.
But in my book the industry desperately needs more variety. Life isn’t simple, rather a fusion of everything. Multi-genre authors simply reflect that.
So, until then I’ll stay true to my muse, my voice, my stories and my characters. It’s been quite a Eureka decision this past week but it feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders and it’s wonderful to have the creative control of going on an indie adventure.
Here are some of Isabella’s books
Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.
Cake, cocktail, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.
Costa del Churros is her third novel.
You can contact Isabella here: