A warm welcome today to Eric McFarlane, author of the hilarious ‘A Clear Solution’ which is published by Accent Press. Hi there, Eric, can you tell us how managed to get your first book contract?
I’ve always loved reading and writing and from my teen years onwards would scribble thoughts and ideas into a succession of notebooks (some of which I still have). Only well into my industry career did I try to convert some of these ideas into short fiction and later still submit some to print magazines (this is still in the stone age pre-internet). But writing a novel wasn’t even on the horizon. It was redundancy that gave me the kick to start.
I’m a scientist by training and spent most of my working life in the pharmaceutical industry. We were given five months’ notice and I found that my own work evaporated overnight. How to fill the time? Well, why not write a novel? After all, novelists made lots of money, didn’t they? Write a novel and sell it. How difficult could it be? I was a shade naïve in those days!
I’ve always enjoyed reading humour so let’s have a humorous novel with a laboratory background. That was how A Clear Solution began.
Over the next few years, I had an on/off love/hate relationship with the novel. I also learned more about the publishing industry and concluded that writing a novel wasn’t a guaranteed path to fame and riches (pause for laughter). Then a comment in an article that humour didn’t sell led me to abandon it and attempt a thriller instead. Before that was completed, I moved on to an SF novel. So, at one point, I had three incomplete novels in different genres. I remember clearly telling myself – finish something, you idiot. A Clear Solution was the closest to completion so that’s what it would be. Eventually, novel in hand, the hunt for an agent or publisher began.
During the next months and years, more than fifty agents and publishers turned it down. It could have been dispiriting (OK, it was dispiriting) but there were several notes during that time with positive comments which kept me hopeful. While submitting I naturally continued to write and completed a sequel – The Allotment Society – finished the SF novel – Soul Rider – and worked on the thriller.
One of the publishers I submitted to was Accent Press and I was elated to find, during an Australian holiday, an e-mail from an Accent Press editor who was reading my submission and liked it. Could I send the rest? Could I? Well no, I couldn’t, not until I returned to the UK three weeks later but that wasn’t a problem. The surreal element was that this editor, working for the Welsh Accent Press, was currently living not 50 miles from where I was staying in Melbourne. Some time later, A Clear Solution hit the shelves to much acclaim (well, from me at least) but the sequel has yet to find a home.
Currently, I’m working on another humorous crime series this time written from a first-person, female pov. This has proved an interesting challenge. Perhaps at some point, Hazel Perkins and the Cone of Doom may nudge itself onto the shelves.
What a journey, Eric! Perseverance is certainly the name of the game! Congratulations on your success and wishing you lots of luck with your humorous crime series. 🙂
Here is Eric’s book
Eric lives with his wife and a large garden in the wilds of West Lothian, near Edinburgh, Scotland. After a long and undistinguished career in the pharmaceutical industry, he now divides his time between his writing, a part-time business as an internet stamp dealer, and playing Scottish fiddle music with a local group.
Check in next week to read Wendy Percival‘s writing journey.
And if you want to read about my writing journey, I’m talking about it over on Tom William’s blog here.