May 11 2009
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. Tate Hallway writes paranormal romance for Berkley. The latest Garnet Lacey story, Dead If I Do, is in stores now.
Nothing in my life has ever been accomplished by going in a straight line. I started college thinking I’d be a political science major, and ended up with degrees in both English and history. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a comic book artist or maybe lawyer (since I loved debate club so much). Now I write books.
My path to publication was equally crooked and full of left turns, false starts, and any number of surprises.
On-the-job boredom inspired me to start a novel. My first attempt, which has thankfully never been published, was a story about a twenty-something lesbian who is mistaken for a boy and entangled in a prophesy involving reuniting Northern Ireland and the Republic. There were a lot of difficult-to-market aspects to that book, not the least of which was the sympathetic IRA gunman hero and the fact that the lesbian ends up having an affair with him. Not to mention that the whole thing suffered very much from being the first novel I ever wrote from start to finish. There were a lot of long, boring stretches of "As you know, Bob," where I informed the reader of every aspect of Irish fairy lore I’d ever read.
However, it got me curious. If I finish this thing, what do I do with it? A lot of the friends that I foisted my proto-book on agreed that it was better than they thought it would be and told me I should really think about publishing it- like that was something I could just, you know, go out and do, like applying for college or something. Since the path to publication wasn’t at all self-evident, I ended up taking a class at a wonderful institution called "The Loft" here in Minneapolis/St. Paul (http://www.loft.org)
Best move of my life, and probably the most straight-forward. From my instructor (and later my colleagues, with whom I started a writers’ critique group that’s still meeting nearly fifteen years later,) I got all the basics about craft and the submission process. Of course, at the time, I thought I was going to be a science fiction novelist-.
Four published books and a failed career later, I’ve finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. Well, at least for now.