Kristina McMorris, author of Letters From Home, was great in that she agreed to write a guest post to go along with my review of her book. Enjoy!
THE BLISS OF LITERARY IGNORANCE
Did I always want to be a writer? Nope.
Was I a voracious reader before deciding to pen a book myself? Nuh-uh.
What, then, prompted me to take on a project as ambitious as a novel—and one set during World War II, at that? In two words: blissful ignorance.
If I'd known what I was getting myself into from the beginning, I would have undoubtedly run screaming in the other direction—for the amount of required research alone. Thankfully, by the time I realized how little I knew about the craft, or the crazy publishing business, I'd already completed an entire manuscript. There was no reason to give up quite yet. At least not without a decent try.
You see, I had no idea that World War II novels weren't considered "popular" in women's fiction, nor did I know that romance and 1940s didn't mix. In fact, when I entered RWA's prestigious Golden Heart contest in 2007, the most applicable categories were Short Historical, defined as "before World War I," and Contemporary, described as "after World War II."
After scratching my head at this odd and notable gap, I flipped a coin and went with Short Historical. To my amazement, I became a finalist. When I started sending query letters to agents, I touted this accolade. I also included quotes from a few bestselling authors who were kind enough to endorse my manuscript. (I'm trying not to cringe now at the thought of what those poor gals had to read.) Mind you, I wasn't aware that presenting blurbs for an unpublished novel was a rarity.
And yet, those very quotes helped obtain requests for material, which led to representation, which ultimately led to a publishing contract. If I'd known the "rules" first, if I'd known to steer clear of a World War II setting, if I’d known how little I knew about, well, all of it…I would have recognized the wisdom of opting for another career path. And I would have missed celebrating my official book launch this week.
All thanks to blissful ignorance.