My Journey to Publication: Go Seek by Michelle Teahan

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go seek

By Michelle Teahan

Michelle Teahan discusses her path to the publication of her debut novel, Go Seek – and the many people who helped her along the way.

My first attempt at writing a novel was over a decade ago. It was a YA novel that wasn’t long enough or edited enough (or at all). In hindsight, it wasn’t good enough, but I was desperate for someone to see its potential, so its flaws didn’t stop me from sending it out to agents. Instead, I convinced myself that it was for the experience of going through the submissions process. Having attended various events organised by Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, such as ‘How to get published’ and ‘Dates with an agent’, I was eager to put everything I’d learned into action.

I knew how to write a cover letter and a synopsis, how to send my submission out and who to send it to. I had everything to a tee. The only thing I was missing was a book I felt confident about. A pretty crucial element of any submission.

When nothing came of that YA novel, I started to realise that I should be writing the kind of thrillers I enjoyed reading – something I’d never seriously considered before as I’d always felt a bit embarrassed about writing about things that were dark and twisted, but I finally decided I couldn’t let that hold me back. I had to write what I wanted to, what I enjoyed writing about and trust that my family and friends would understand that it was fiction, and they weren’t in any danger, despite what my browser history may contain!

That was the first turning point. The words came easier, the plot flowed, the characters surprised me at every turn, something I had heard seasoned writers talking about and had always assumed they’d made up. I found myself enjoying every part of the process and my love for writing was restored. I also learned that, despite my constant attempts at being a plotter over the years, I am actually a pantser, through and through. It surprised me, but I discovered that what I loved about writing was sitting at my computer and having absolutely no idea what was about to happen. I found it incredibly freeing whilst I was writing my first book, though now that I’m writing my second, this time to a deadline, it’s a little more terrifying than thrilling . . .

The next, very important, step on my road to publication was being fortunate enough to attend a summer course of creative writing in Cork city library in 2018, taught by Catherine Ryan Howard. That was where I learned two very important things. One, I learned how to pace a novel properly, something I hadn’t been able to get right before. And second, I learned that there was absolutely no point in trying to get my book published until it was finished. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t – not to me at least. I was so focused on getting published that actually getting my book written was constantly being put on the back burner.

Thanks to Catherine I learned that there was no point in worrying about the ins and outs of publishing, making contacts, increasing social media presence or any of those things until I had a book written. And not just any book, a book that I felt was good, that was polished, that had been written and re-written and then, just for luck, re-written again. And so, that’s exactly what I did. I wrote Go Seek, then I re-wrote it and then I re-wrote it one more time.

The only stumbling block was that I’d taken what I’d learned too much to heart, and I couldn’t bring myself to send it out to agents, even after the third re-write. You see, unlike my previous attempt at getting an agent, this time I had put so much time and effort into writing my book that I knew the rejections would hit that much harder. During those first few years of trying, I never really expected anything to happen and found it easier to reassure myself that any rejections I received were because I hadn’t tried my best. This time I had, so out of fear I did nothing. Until one evening, sitting on my couch, reading Catherine’s book The Nothing Man, with everything she had taught me swirling around my brain, I opened up my e-mails, wrote my cover letter, attached my synopsis and my first three chapters and sent Go Seek out into the world. And the rest, as they say, is history . . . except not at all.

Then followed edits with my agent and a long, long, long (did I mention it was long), anxiety-inducing wait while Go Seek went out on submission to publishers before it finally happened – before I got a publishing contract and a lifelong dream of mine came true.

Sometimes I still can’t believe it. I had imagined it happening for so many years, in so many ways that there are times where it almost doesn’t seem real, that this is just another scenario I’ve made up.

Although I must say, the one thing that assures me this isn’t a dream is the hard work, because if I thought for one second that writing a book was hard – wonderful, enjoyable, exciting, and satisfying, yes – but also hard, writing a book to a deadline is a whole lot harder. But yes, it’s still all of those positives listed previously. If it wasn’t, there’s no way anyone would be insane enough to do it.

(c) Michelle Teahan

About Go Seek:
go seek

YOU LOOKED AWAY FOR JUST A MINUTE.

Your daughter is gone, and only you can find her.
Because you know exactly who took her.
And they’re making her pay for your past.

To save one child, you must leave the other.
You must return to your old life.
And become the woman you left behind years ago.

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
Now it’s your reality.

Exhilarating and breathless, with an emotional core, GO SEEK is a non-stop high-octane thriller that will take you on an unforgettable journey through the darker side of Dublin’s streets as one mother seeks revenge for her daughter. For fans of Adrian McKinty, Andrea Mara, K.L. Slater and TAKEN.

‘A twisty and gripping debut!’ CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Michelle is a qualified Medical Scientist but her passion has always been writing stories. She loves creating strong female characters, putting them in the worst types of situations and seeing how they react. She lives in County Cork, Ireland with her husband, two young daughters and a giant ginger cat.

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