Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Karen Harper’s latest work, Mistress Shakespeare, is in stores now.
Although I was actually published for the first time in the spring of 1982 and have written almost fifty novels, the truth is that every book is, in one way or the other, a first book, a first sale.
For one thing, it’s thrilling to know publishers and readers (hopefully reviewers too!) like my work. That excitement never goes away, nor does the first time I see that book "in the flesh," that is, in paper or audio book format. An old telephone company ad urged customers to "Reach out and touch someone." That’s the way I react each time I have a new sale or see my new book. I feel I and my characters are reaching out to readers.
Secondly, there is something new and special about each book. MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE is very important to me for several reasons. It is the first book I ever wrote in first person, where the heroine tells her own story. I found it a fabulous way to really get inside the main character, in this case, to see things through Anne Whateley’s eyes. It makes her tough times and her passionate love for-’and arguments with!-’Will Shakespeare really come alive. It also puts the author and the reader right there, up close and personal in the heroine’s life. We suffer with her and triumph with her. We see Tudor London with her for the first time, we understand her admiration for the ultimate rock star of the day-’Queen Elizabeth I. It was such a powerful way to tell a story that I used first person in my next historical novel, THE QUEEN’S GOVERNESS, which will also be released this winter.
Lastly, MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE carries the impact of a first sale for me in that it is a story I have been wanting to tell for years. I love visiting England and reading English history, especially the Tudor era. I used to teach Shakespeare in high school where the students put on an Elizabethan Festival each year, including dancing, jousting, play scenes-’and a (mock!) beheading. I find all the main characters so compelling that I had to tell the real story of Shakespeare in love.
And when I held MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE with its beautiful cover in my hands the first time, I was as thrilled as I was with my first sale years ago.