Debbie Howells

My year of being published…

By on 5th January 2016 in Blog Posts

It’s surreal that almost exactly two years to the day since I first walked through Pan Macmillan’s doors, I’m on another train to London. As then, I’m meeting Trisha, who’s now my editor. I’m even wearing the same chevron-printed tunic! It’s the week before Christmas, the first bright morning in days, a hint of sun, a watery pastel-streaked sky.

The train is crowded; my head too – with thoughts of the meeting we’re going to, the paperback publication of The Bones of You, like the end of this amazing year just days away now; of my children, my new home, the fading of someone dear to someone who’s dear to me. A Christmas that this year, will be different.

It’s been a year in which I’ve pushed myself, challenged long held beliefs. It’s no exaggeration to say it’s a year that’s changed my life. To be a published author is a path so many writers seek, in every sense a privileged one, yet one only some of us are lucky enough to walk. There have been other changes too, heralding a life that can only be different, going forwards.

A mixture of emotions is churning under the surface. Excitement, and still an element of disbelief, because even now, there isn’t a day that I take any of this for granted. There’s heartfelt gratitude, and mostly hidden, like the characters I write about, for so many reasons there’s been sadness, too – and a kind of grief.

You can’t see that though. And like the train I’m on, I’m propelled forwards, the inertia of the past falling away. My year of being published has been a fantastic, incredible year of meeting readers and writers, of photoshoots, magazine articles, radio interviews. I’ve made new friends and discovered the truly supportive network that exists amongst fellow writers, the bloggers who review and tweet to their followers, not to mention everyone involved in the publishing process. They’re something else I don’t take for granted – this amazing team of people behind the publishing of my book, because I know from other writers, it isn’t always like this.

There’ve been moments I’ll never forget. Seeing each new, beautiful cover design; the night of my very own launch party, one of the most memorable evenings of my life; walking into bookshops and seeing my book on the shelves. Attending my first events as a published author! And oh my, it took some believing that I belonged there!! Peter James, I still think I should have recognised you in Harrogate – and thank you, so much, for that awesome quote. Linwood Barclay, I’m sorry when I gave you a lift to the station my car smelled of dogs.
Just a few days remain of this year. The Bones of You has been selected for Richard and Judy’s book club – it’s them I’m on my way to meet today. Such a privilege – it already means next year gets off to an unbelievable start. I hope it’s a year of hope and happiness for everyone, if that’s not too much to ask for. The end of a year is the start of another, as all endings are, the beginning of something new.

But throughout all of this, there’s something else I’ve held in my mind. While the Bones of You is fiction, the emotional abuse portrayed isn’t. It’s real and the shadow it casts can be life-long. While I was writing, I hoped that it might help even one victim recognise what was happening to them and in doing so, take a step towards freeing themselves from it. Such a great thing, if my book could do that. Then in a more poignant moment, I recently discovered that it has done just that and helped someone to talk about the abuse they had suffered. It may not matter to anyone else, but that my book has helped one person’s life to change, even slightly, is something I hold close to me, of which I’m quietly proud.

Emotional abuse remains one of the worst kind of secrets. The accounts of victims can seem both outrageous and unbelievable, until you accept such things do happen, and believe me, they do – and more often and closer to home, than any of us would like to think. To the most unlikely people too.

It’s something I’m driven to write more about. Watch this space…

2 Reader Comments

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  1. Carlie says:

    Reading your blog cheers me up so much, and gives me hope. I wish you every scrap of luck the universe has to offer, because I know how much you’ll treasure it.
    Onwards, that woman: blaze your trail, change those lives.

  2. Debbie Howells says:

    Your lovely words brought tears to my eyes…Thank you so much, Carlie. I wish you loads of luck too. I’m sure your time is coming x