C.J. Tudor, author of the Frankfurt Book Fair sensation The Chalk Man, talks to us about her experience so far. The MM Agency has sold rights to her fastest-selling debut novel in 38 territories including major rights deals with Penguin Random House / Michael Joseph in the UK and Penguin Random House / Crown in the US.
In this interview with C.J. Tudor, she tells us about her path to publication, her work with the MM Agency up until submission and the craziness that has ensued as the world became gripped by The Chalk Man.
What made you decide to submit to the MM Agency?
I read an interview Madeleine did with Novelicious. Then I visited her website, read the submission guidelines and looked at her authors. I just had a gut feeling that it was the right agency for me. And I was right! I couldn’t have found a better agent. Madeleine is phenomenally brilliant – the whole team are – and bloomin’ lovely too!
Did you think it was important to meet Madeleine before accepting her offer of representation?
Absolutely. You have to meet in person to make sure you get on, but also – without wanting to sound pretentious! – that you share the same vision. If you have different ideas and expectations, it just won’t work. Plus, Madeleine took me for tea and cake, and I’m anyone’s for a cream scone!
How did you find the editorial experience with our agency editor Anna Hogarty?
Brilliant. Anna was great at picking out the points which needed clarification and honing, and also at recommending parts that it might be better to be cut. But she didn’t try to change the feel of the book, which is really important. I’m not particularly ‘precious’ about my writing, but you do have to be on the same page (no bad pun intended!). Anna listened to my input, so it was a real collaboration.
Were you expecting to work so closely editorially before we submitted to publishers?
Yes, actually. I knew a little bit about the process. We went through several rounds of edits, and I’m extremely grateful that we did. It made all the difference when it came to submitting. We were even tweaking the day before submission. In fact, right at the last minute Madeleine said, ‘I think we should change the title’. All along the book had been called THE CHALK MEN. Madeleine thought it should be singular – THE CHALK MAN. And she was definitely right!
How do you feel about the international success of THE CHALK MAN so far?
It’s bonkers! Obviously you dream of your book taking off, but it really is just a dream. I’ve had my fair share of rejections, got close but no cigar, and then spent many years ‘in the wilderness’, writing but not submitting. I was working as a dog-walker (in between looking after my three-year-old daughter) when I wrote THE CHALK MAN. I told myself this would be my last submission before I called it a day. So the response has been overwhelming, and a bit surreal!
What are you working on now?
Another dark, twisty-turny thriller, provisionally titled THE RESIDENTS. A teacher returns to the small Nottinghamshire village where, 25 years ago, his sister disappeared . . . and then came back. It’s about re-visiting the past, losing those we love, and how far we would go to hold on to them. Hopefully, it’s also creepy as hell!
The Chalk Man will be hitting bookshelves on 11th January 2018, a date to certainly mark in your diary.