Enchanted Ever After is coming two weeks from today. The paperback will also be available then (actually, a few days before that so they can be shipped). I don’t know about the audio. There’s been some holdup in the contracts over there.
Since I’m coming to a close on the Enchanted, Inc. series, I thought I’d look back on how it all began. I usually tell the story about when I got the specific idea, but the groundwork actually came much earlier.
It probably should have been a sign that my first published book was a romance novel about a woman trying unsuccessfully to write a romance novel and realizing that what she needed to be writing was fantasy, but I still kept plugging away at romance, banging my head against that brick wall. My romance writing career came to an end when my editor at Harlequin returned the manuscript we’d been going back and forth on for about a year with a photocopy about the upcoming US publication of Bridget Jones’s Diary, which had been a hit in the UK, and how that sort of thing might be the next trend. Her note to me was about how that seemed more like the kind of thing I should do, that the book we’d been working on would probably make a better single-title book than category book, and she enclosed the business card for an agent she suggested I contact.
I had a minor panic attack because that sounded to me like a polite kiss-off, but Jenny Crusie (who I knew from some online groups, and I’d given her a couple of PR leads) talked me off the ledge. She said that if they just wanted to get rid of me, they’d have rejected the book, not recommended an agent, and the agent my editor had recommended was her agent. I talked to that agent, who said she wasn’t sure why they’d rejected it because it was the perfect category book. She guessed the line was about to fold (it did). She didn’t think she wanted to work with that book, but she said good things about my writing.
The problem was, no one in the US was publishing those Bridget Jones kind of books. They were republishing the British ones, but it was a couple more years before they started looking for American authors writing that sort of thing. That was the era of the single-title contemporary romantic comedies with the cartoony covers, and I kept trying to turn that book into one of those — unsuccessfully. Then the American publishers started looking for chick lit books, and I came up with a few proposals that didn’t go anywhere.
Meanwhile, my life had all the ingredients for a chick lit novel. My job was going in some annoying directions — the bosses who’d been supportive had left, the tech bubble had burst so we’d lost clients, and my new boss was threatened by me and shutting me out of things I should have been working on, so we lost even more clients. I dreaded work, even though I was working at home. My dating life was sputtering. Everyone I went out with who seemed promising disappeared without a trace or a word after a couple of dates, in spite of leaving the last date with discussions about a specific thing we ought to do together the next time we went out.
I’d gone on a couple of vacations to England, where most of my souvenirs were books — more of the chick lit books I couldn’t get in the US, and I’d picked up the first few Harry Potter books. I’d read those over the holidays, so in mid-January I guess that’s what was on my mind when I climbed the stairs one morning to go to my home office and had that “Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter” idea burst. I liked the books about young women struggling with job, family, friends, and dating, and I basically had been Hermione Granger when I was a kid, so I related to her school life. What I wanted was a book that had all the chick lit stuff, but with magic, or something like the Harry Potter books, but about adult life other than school. Actually, my first thought was that I’d love to check my e-mail and find an offer for a new job that would take me away from what I was doing. Then I thought it should be a magical job. Then I had the “Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter” flash. At the time, though, I was just thinking about what I wanted to read, not that I wanted to write it, though I did get that “ooh!” shiver that told me it was a good idea. I just ignored that shiver because I was trying to write something else at the time.
There was no magical job offer (unless you count the idea that gave me a writing career), and I got laid off a couple of weeks later.
It was more than a year before I started writing that book.