We’ve all heard the expression ‘It’s never too late’. Maybe we’ve read it in some magazine, heading up a piece on somebody who has accomplished incredible things against immeasurable odds. And we’ve nodded and thought good for them, glad I’ve never had to go though that, and turned the page.
Once, I used to react like that. Not any more. Let me tell you my story. Briefly. I’d been a successful UK writer for many years – you can read my bio here, or check me out on Wikipedia. Then in 2007, my writing career suddenly ditched. My publisher Usborne, a big mainstream London house, decided not to take the 5th book in my teenage Spy Girl series. Then my top London agent couldn’t place any of my children’s books – for five successive years from being dumped by my publisher, I wrote a book a year – they all ended up going nowhere.
I got really down. The only thing I loved doing, my escape from the world and my solace, had been ripped away from me. Out of a sense of despair, I decided to change genre, market and style. It was a huge risk, but I moved from teen fiction to adult fiction, from adventure to historical crime. From sassy and pacy to more classical storytelling. And I decided to sack my agent and go it alone – yep, if I’m going to burn my bridges, I do it properly. Oh – and did I mention that I was 63 years old at the time? But hey, it’s never too late …
When Diamonds & Dust, my first story about two Victorian detectives Stride and Cully and their adventures in 1860 London was accepted by Crooked Cat Books, a small UK publisher, I thought all my Christmases had arrived at once. The publishing date was set for second week in November 2013. I had a HUGE Facebook party set up. And then I received the news that any woman dreads: I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer. Once again, it looked as if my newly fledged career was about to come crashing down.
Two days before being admitted to hospital, I had my Facebook launch party, thanking God that there was a screen between me and my lovely guests, so nobody could see my tears. Post Christmas, two operations done and dusted, I picked myself up. I decided to refuse radiotherapy – I wasn’t convinced of its benefits. Instead, I began write the sequel, the writing filling the role that therapy and post-op treatments could never fill.
The launch of Honour & Obey in 2014 coincided with my first annual check-up. As the hospital date drew nearer, I was nervous. I’d gone against my surgeon’s advice. There was 60% chance that the cancer would return. This time I told some of my writing buddies on Twitter, and they were wonderfully supportive. When my consultant told me I was cancer clear for the next 12 months, we celebrated online and off-line! Honour & Obey came out last November, and has already garnered a slew of wonderful 5* reviews here and in the US. I am so grateful.
So here we are in 2015. I’ve just finished writing the third book, Death & Dominion. It will be published in November, a couple of months after my 65th birthday and probably just before my second cancer check-up. And then? I guess if I’m still cancer clear, I shall start writing the 4th book. It’s never too late …
Carol Hedges 2015
Carol Hedges is the successful UK author of 13 books for teenagers and young adults, one ebook and one adult historical novel. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes and her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal.
Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery is her first adult novel. It was published in 2013 by Crooked Cat Books, and is available as book and ebook on Smashwords, Nook, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or to order in bookshops.
The second book in the series: Honour & Obey, A Victorian Crime Thriller is now available via the same outlets. The third, Death & Dominion will be published later this year
Find Carol on Twitter: @carolJhedges
Read her award winning blog: http://carolhedges.blogspot.co.uk
Send her a Friend request on Facebook
Visit her Amazon author page: ow.ly/oZclh
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Guest posts are the opinion of that author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Gilda Evans or others posted here.