I had the idea for One Apple Tasted while working as a features writer at a magazine. It came to me suddenly, when a ‘what if?’ thought popped into my head. I had a four-week gap between magazine contracts (I specialised in covering maternity leave contracts at that time being flexible and easily bored).
My friends at the Royal Society of Literature invited me to write in their library – then a huge draughty room with a broken window in Bayswater. It was freezing, and I typed like a fiend for five weeks wearing fingerless mittens, ending up with 100,000 words. It was probably some of the happiest days of my life, almost matching having my babies and getting married. I landed an agent almost immediately who was so enthusiastic that I thought my days as a jobbing writer and editor were about to be replaced by a career as a novelist at last.
The publisher Victor Gollancz was very interested, but someone higher up the food chain kicked it out. Rejection after rejection persuaded me to give up and I asked the agent to stop sending it out.
It languished in my bottom drawer, while I got on with working for magazines such as Tatler, Country Living, Vogue and Elle Decoration and for the Times and the Telegraph. A few years later, I was interviewing the PR guy from Authorhouse about self-publishing for a magazine, and he asked if I had something I could upload to see how it all worked.
I wasn’t even sure if One Apple Tasted was in a fit electronic state but found an old floppy disc and managed to get it converted to a modern format. When the galleys came back to me electronically I realised it needed a hard edit, and immediately set about doing a second and then a third draft. Then I had fun designing a cover, and writing blurbs, but just left it, sitting on the Authorhouse website as a PDF without going on to self-publish.
But it was this self-publishing effort that led to it being picked up by Lorne Forsyth, then in the throws of relaunching Elliott & Thompson. I had given him access to the PDF, and this format made it easy for him to get a good impression, which led to an offer of publication. To say this was a wonderful moment would be an understatement.My publisher Mark Searle has been a pleasure to work with, and I was surprised when the manuscript came back with what seemed to be quite minor recommendations for change.
I did some satisfying slashing and burning, and hope that you will like the final result, with its beautiful cover designed by Lawrence Mynott.