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Novel Ideas: An Author's Journey

By Lillian Lumley

First time author Lillian Lumley

For most authors, all we dream of is the day we publish our first book. The day when all the late-night frustration at the blank document on our laptop, the tears of frustration at the stream of rejection emails, and the days of saying, “just one more submission!”, are worth it. Someone has recognised our hard work!

My experience as a debut novelist has been both daunting and exciting. At the beginning of my journey, I knew no other authors, so I had little guidance on the process, and at times it was tricky to navigate. I didn’t set out to be an author, after school I followed my passion for science. However, I am equally as passionate about reading and writing, so that became my favourite hobby. Little did I know that it was destined to become much more than a hobby.

I was first inspired to write my novel, The Ones In Between as I was constantly being told hilarious and humiliating dating stories by friends, strangers and everyone in between. The further I travelled, the more ridiculous the stories became, and I envisaged everyone in their own version of Bridget Jones’s Diary.

When you decide to become a writer, the first piece of advice you come across is 'write what you know'. And even though my debut novel is entirely fictional, every author knows that most of the time, true events are what inspires the broader narrative of their novels. Authors love keeping friends and family on their best behaviour by warning, “Be careful, or you might just appear in my next novel!” And although it might be easy to write what you know, my best piece of advice is write what you enjoy writing. Write the story that keeps you coming back to your laptop, not because you have to, but because you want to.

When I began writing The Ones In Between, I didn’t know how the story was going to end. When I finished the first draft, I wasn’t happy with it. So, I went back and re-wrote the entire story. I then gave it to my sister to read, and she thought it was mediocre, so I rewrote it again. After the third draft, I gave it to my mum to read. She gave me lots of suggestions and was integral to the editing process. After the sixth draft, I was ready to put it out into the world. I submitted my manuscript to several Australian publishers. Each publisher has a uniquely different submission process and meeting the submission requirements is important, because you won’t be considered if they’re not met.

Once I submitted it, it took around three months to hear back from my publisher. Once I accepted and signed the publishing contract, it took approximately 18 months to go to market. During this time, the book goes through an official editing process, as well as designing the front cover, and the preparation of media and marketing opportunities. It’s a long process, but it’s worth it in the end. Now my debut novel has been published, it’s only the beginning of my journey as an author.

Local to Hawthorn, Lillian works as a research scientist and recently became a first-time published author with her young adult fiction novel, The Ones In Between. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Melbourne and a Master of Biochemistry from Free University Berlin. Lillian loves travelling, sport, her friends and family and of course reading and writing.

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