Three Pics To Pub #3 - Fiona Mitchell The Maid's Room

My third guest for #3PICS2PUB is Fiona Mitchell, author of The Maid's Room, published last month by Hodder & Stoughton.

Fiona has kindly sent me a copy of her book, and I think it's one of the prettiest covers I've seen. I cannot wait to read it. I hope you enjoy Fiona's inspirational journey to publication. 

The First Draft I wrote the first chapter of The Maid’s Room when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka in December 2010. I’d travelled there from Singapore where I was living at the time. Back then, women working long hours as live-in domestic helpers in Singapore had no legal right to a day off. Some of them were made to sleep in tiny windowless rooms, while others were forced to sleep outside. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could treat another human being so abominably, so I started to write as a way of trying to find some answers and venting my anger. Writing, researching then rewriting, meant that it took me seven years to complete that first draft.

The First Draft

I wrote the first chapter of The Maid’s Room when I was on holiday in Sri Lanka in December 2010. I’d travelled there from Singapore where I was living at the time. Back then, women working long hours as live-in domestic helpers in Singapore had no legal right to a day off. Some of them were made to sleep in tiny windowless rooms, while others were forced to sleep outside. I couldn’t fathom how anyone could treat another human being so abominably, so I started to write as a way of trying to find some answers and venting my anger. Writing, researching then rewriting, meant that it took me seven years to complete that first draft.

The Rejection Letters It was only when I’d ‘finished’ writing my novel that I discovered I’d need a literary agent to get traditionally published. And so the submission process began – an experience otherwise known as HELL. The rejection letters flowed in, and my initial optimism crumbled away. After receiving thirty or so rejection letters (I gave up counting after 20), I decided to work on something new. My second novel was a literary love story set on a remote Scottish island. Not much happened in it, apart from lots of sex. I sent this book out to agents too, and all of them gave it the thumbs-down. (This is a picture of some its shredded pages.) A writer friend of mine persuaded me to return to my first book, so I took its core idea and wrote a new story around it, one punctuated with hope and humour.

The Rejection Letters

It was only when I’d ‘finished’ writing my novel that I discovered I’d need a literary agent to get traditionally published. And so the submission process began – an experience otherwise known as HELL. The rejection letters flowed in, and my initial optimism crumbled away. After receiving thirty or so rejection letters (I gave up counting after 20), I decided to work on something new. My second novel was a literary love story set on a remote Scottish island. Not much happened in it, apart from lots of sex. I sent this book out to agents too, and all of them gave it the thumbs-down. (This is a picture of some its shredded pages.) A writer friend of mine persuaded me to return to my first book, so I took its core idea and wrote a new story around it, one punctuated with hope and humour.

The Actual Book I sent this new book out, and several agents asked to read the full manuscript. They all said no, but somehow I managed to scrape my shrivelled ego off the floor and kept going. I found an editor who helped me untangle my mess of a plot, then literary agent Rowan Lawton agreed to represent me (which still feels like a small miracle). Rowan and her team took my manuscript to Frankfurt book fair and got me my very first publishing deal in Denmark. I was sitting in a supermarket carpark when I read that email and whooped very loudly indeed. Later that evening, a publishing house in Norway offered on my book too. And the following week, I signed further contracts with Penguin in Spain and Mondadori in Italy. My book went to auction in the UK, and I signed with Hodder & Stoughton who published The Maid’s Room in hardback in November this year. At my launch party, I was elated to be holding my book in my hands. It felt like holding seven years of toil, grit and a refusal to give up, even when carrying on seemed like a fool’s errand. It just goes to show that no matter how many knock-backs you have, getting published is all about perseverance.

The Actual Book

I sent this new book out, and several agents asked to read the full manuscript. They all said no, but somehow I managed to scrape my shrivelled ego off the floor and kept going. I found an editor who helped me untangle my mess of a plot, then literary agent Rowan Lawton agreed to represent me (which still feels like a small miracle). Rowan and her team took my manuscript to Frankfurt book fair and got me my very first publishing deal in Denmark. I was sitting in a supermarket carpark when I read that email and whooped very loudly indeed. Later that evening, a publishing house in Norway offered on my book too. And the following week, I signed further contracts with Penguin in Spain and Mondadori in Italy. My book went to auction in the UK, and I signed with Hodder & Stoughton who published The Maid’s Room in hardback in November this year. At my launch party, I was elated to be holding my book in my hands. It felt like holding seven years of toil, grit and a refusal to give up, even when carrying on seemed like a fool’s errand. It just goes to show that no matter how many knock-backs you have, getting published is all about perseverance.

THE MAID’S ROOM IS PUBLISHED IN HARDBACK BY HODDER & STOUGHTON