Today’s guest is a very talented writer who I met at my first residential writing course back in 2012. Fin C. Gray has recently published his debut novel, Duplicity, and has come along to share his experience about writing and publication. Without further ado, let’s go over to Fin.
Fin C Gray
I started writing Duplicity as the required submission for my Creative Writing MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. It was one of the reasons I chose to do the degree: I finally wanted to force myself to finish and commit to a novel. I finished the book in late 2016 and graduated with Merit in 2017. I spent the following year polishing and proofreading Duplicity (which at that time was titled Bad Religion – I changed it because many people thought that title was too provocative).
When I was satisfied that the manuscript was in good shape, I began to submit three-chapter samples to various publishing houses that seemed to fit my brief, mainly finding them from Artists and Writers Yearbook. That’s when the waiting game seemed to begin, although I found later the REAL waiting game starts after you sign your publication contract. After a month or two, after hearing nothing from anyone I had approached, I got an email professing interest and asking me to submit the full novel. This was a great surprise to me, especially since I had received no rejections thus far. A week or two later, I received a second request from a New York-based publisher.
A short time after, both publishing houses offered me a contract, and I felt like I was in a uniquely luxurious situation, given the considerable expectation of rejection I had galvanised my emotions with. I got The Society of Authors to vet the contracts for me as I felt like a fish out of water, and I knew that they offered this service to their members. Ultimately, I went with the London based house who had first requested my manuscript. I signed the contract with them on November 7th, 2018. My book was eventually released on November 28th, 2019. That’s what I mean by the waiting game starting after signing the contract.
In the two months since publication, I’ve busied myself promoting the book on various social media platforms, and I have also begun work on my second novel. For this, I wanted to try something completely different, and I have turned to an idea that I first had for a book over twenty-five years ago. It occurred to me that I maybe should have attempted this for my MA course, but as it is a work of Young Adult fiction, I might have subsequently doubted my ability to make any mark in the adult fiction market. So, in a way, I’m glad I have taken the route I have. It may prove to be a mistake to hop genres at this early stage of my writing career, but I feel I need to get this out of my system. I think it might be fun to write something less dark and challenging than the first. I also want to force myself to tighten up on my writing timescales. Three years seems too long for one book, in retrospect, especially since you can expect to tack on another year for the publication process, as it turns out.
Thank you, Fin, for sharing your experience of writing and publishing Duplicity, and congratulations on the MA. Do come back and visit ‘Patricia’s Pen’ once you’ve finished novel number 2. It sounds very exciting.
Let’s find out a little more about Fin.
About Fin C Gray
Fin C Gray was born in Central Scotland but has spent his time between London and New York for the last twenty years. Now semi-retired, he invests in theatre and film. An avid traveller, Fin enjoys making trips abroad learning about cultures and customs. He is a graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University where he was awarded an MA in Creative writing with Merit in 2017. This book was the result of this degree. He is now working on his second novel and hopes to write full time in the future.
Fancy a taster of Duplicity? Read the opening of the first chapter below.
Daniel wasn’t set to go home yet. Jenny would be there already, and Mum wouldn’t be back for at least an hour. He ducked down as he passed the house. No way was he going to let Jenny tag along and spoil this for him. Dad would kill him if he knew – and if Jenny knew, Dad would know too. There was nothing surer than that.
‘Don’t ever let me catch you going to that lorry park, son. Right? I’ll whack your arse if I ever hear that you’ve gone there.’
When he’d asked Dad what was wrong with the lorry park, all he’d said was, ‘Just do what I tell you, OK?’ What could be so bad about it? OK, it was dusty, and his school uniform would get all dirty, but he could shake it off in their back yard, in the wind. Nobody would know. The dust blew over the road onto their house nearly every day, anyway. It could just have got on his blazer from the wind, couldn’t it, if anyone asked? If Mum asked. Probably there was a lot more of it in the actual park, mind, so he’d more than likely have to shake it off.
Mum and Dad seemed to love moaning about the park. Dad even spoke to Black Jash, the owner of the café, about it and got angry with him. He was shouting a lot, something about it being the café’s responsibility and that he should pay to get it tarmacked. Black Jash had shouted back at Dad. He’d got very red in the face. Daniel hoped that Black Jash would get the lorry park tarred over. Because then the tar lorries would come. Nothing smelled better than hot tar, and Daniel loved to step on it while it was still sticky. Not sticky enough to dirty up his shoes, mind. That had happened once when he was much smaller, and Mum had been mad at him. She said she couldn’t afford any new shoes and that he’d have to go to school in bare feet. She was joking, but he had believed her.
Better than the tar itself were the big black lorries that poured the thick, black, lumpy stuff out. What a roar they made. And the roar would turn into a grindy, scrapy noise when the back started to rise and the tail-gate opened up. Oh, how he would love to pull the lever that tipped the tar out of the back. He’d jump out of the lorry as it tipped and watch the tar spill out the back, like some big metal robot mouth throwing up black sick.
And then there’d be road rollers. Rollers, with their hissing and banging, were probably even better than the tar lorries. Yeah, he’d rather have a go on a road roller than a tar lorry, any day. He could pull the thing that made the smoke whistle out of the chimney at the side of the cab and watch the roller flatten out the mounds of tar as flat and black as liquorice toffee.
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To find out more about Fin and his writing please click on the links below