My Path to Publication: The Almost Truth by Anne Hamilton | Magazine | Interviews | Literary Fiction
Almost Truth front

By Anne Hamilton

The (Almost) Truth is Stranger than Fiction . . .

As the self-confessed longest emerging writer in the history of writing, I am delighted to say that the 8th April 2024 is THE day. The day my debut novel, The Almost Truth, is published; the day I can legitimately call myself an author; the day I’m out of the starting gate, ready to take the next steps in my writing career.

Several people have suggested things to do to mark the day: whisk myself away for a decadent spa experience; send myself a Fortnum & Mason hamper; tour local bookshops with a signing pen in hand… but it’s a Monday. Most likely I’ll be walking the dog through the old graveyard before engaging in the weekly tussle of the number 3 bus – and then scrolling though social media, heart in my mouth to see what people are saying, if anything at all, about me and my debut novel.

The Almost Truth is the first of a two-book deal from Legend Press (the second, The Island in April is due, fittingly, next April) and is an opportunity I almost missed. An early version of the novel was a winner of the Irish Novel Prize 2021. I didn’t snag an agent – though I got some excellent feedback from all the professionals I met, and I have reason to thank every one of them – and eventually, after half-heartedly tweaking it here and there, I put the novel in a metaphorical drawer and moved on.

I currently live in Edinburgh – sliding between here and Mayo – and it was shortly after the Novel Fair, I received what I thought was a general flyer for a forthcoming charity anthology from Edinburgh’s One City Trust. It was only when I read the very last two lines that I understood I was being invited to contribute a 10,000 word short story to be published, launched at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and would include highly acclaimed authors like Ian Rankin and Irvine Welsh. Er…Me? It’s absolutely no joke that I replied to the email asking if they were sure they had the right person. Turns out they had (so they said; obviously I didn’t believe it) but nobody knew where my name had arisen from. It later surfaced as being Jenny Brown, literary agent, who had heard me speak at Bloody Scotland.

Anne Hamilton

So, expecting to be called out any minute, I wrote my story, The Finally Tree. The brief very conveniently matched (loosely) with my defunct novel, and I used two characters and a single plot strand to create the new work – pleased with myself for being so efficient and satisfied that the core of the unwanted novel would go into print. And it did, as one of six stories that formed The People’s City (Birlinn 2022).

In the meantime, I’d submitted my other novel, The Island in April, in an open call, to Lauren Wolff-Jones, Commissioning Editor at Legend Press. I am a person who definitely judges a book by its cover and I’ve always loved those designed for Legend’s original titles; my novel would fit nicely in there, I thought. When Lauren came back asking, ‘Have you got anything else?’ I took that as good and bad: she didn’t want the book I’d send but she liked my writing enough to read another MS. I dusted off what would become The Almost Truth and sat down to wait for the, hopefully nice, rejection.

It never came. I got on with my editing work, tutored my creative writing classes, and put it all down to experience. Until a couple of weeks later, when I received a slightly surprised-sounding email from Lauren saying something along the lines (but far more politely) of, ‘You haven’t replied to my email offering you a 2-book deal; most people reply immediately. Are you interested?’ Once I’d read this a hundred times and checked it wasn’t spam, I searched through my emails and sure enough, found an earlier one with the subject header ‘Two-Book Deal’. I couldn’t type back quick enough to reassure Lauren I really wasn’t playing it remarkably cool, rather, and not for the first time, I had lost the thread. Literally.

After that, things were remarkably plain-sailing: we talked on Zoom, we agreed the edits, I signed a contract and publication dates were set for both books, a year apart. Nothing much happened then – from my point of view – for about nine months, until the deal was made public, announced in The Bookseller (me! In The Bookseller!) and Book Brunch, and the cogs of the publishing wheel started gathering momentum towards D-day.

The Almost Truth is not my first book to be published, that was the travel memoir, A Blonde Bengali Wife, about my work in Bangladesh. But that too was an unexpected journey. It found the now-retired literary agent, Dinah Wiener, whose words were, ‘I’ll never sell it but I love it and it makes me want to go to Bangladesh myself.’ She did exactly that, met a man running a small and unofficial orphanage for children with disabilities, came back and said, ‘Let’s start a charity to support him.’ That (in 2007) became Bhola’s Children, and we both remain trustees to this day. Three years later I was studying for my PhD in Glasgow, and randomly met a local indie publisher on a panel, who – long story short – published A Blonde Bengali Wife in 2010.

So, it’s been quite the journey to publication, and equally, this is only the beginning. The Almost Truth runs with the tagline, ‘an extraordinary novel based on real events’, which is another story in itself, but the actual truth of my path publication is certainly (almost) stranger than fiction.

(c) Anne Hamilton

About The Almost Truth:

Almost Truth front

A compelling story of family, secrets, identity, and a reminder that love and life can surprise you… right until the very end.

When Alina’s son, Fin, traces his long-absent birthfather, it’s the catalyst for decades of secrets to implode in Alina’s neatly ordered life.

With the sudden appearance of Rory, and the ever-present pull of a very different life in Bangladesh, she’s left reeling.

Three relationships, all of them built on half-truths. All Alina can truly be sure of, is that you can choose your family, you just can’t choose who they will turn out to be.

An extraordinary novel based on real events.

Winner of the Irish Novel Fair 2021

The Almost Truth by Anne Hamilton is published on the 8th April 2024. Order your copy online here.

About the author

Anne Hamilton is passionate about diverse and inclusive voices in her writing. The Almost Truth (forthcoming April 2024) and The Island in April (Spring 2025) explore identity and the complexity of relationships in some way or another. Anne lives between Edinburgh and County Mayo with her newly teenage son and even newer puppy. She balances being a single parent with a chronic neurological condition and freelance work as an editor and in adult education.

Anne Hamilton’s first book, the travel memoir, A Blonde Bengali Wife, was published in 2010 based on her experience in Bangladesh, with proceeds going directly to the charity Bhola’s Children. She is also one-fifth of the persona Gill Merton, who created the collaborative novel, Entitled (2022). The unpublished manuscript of The Almost Truth was the winner of the Irish Novel Fair, and a short story adaptation of it is included in an Edinburgh Charity anthology, The People’s City, titled The Finally Tree. The Island in April has been listed for a number of prizes, including the Lucy Cavendish Prize, the Yeovil Prize and the Blue Pencil First Novel Award.

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