Debbie Howells: My Year of Being Published

Debbie Howells: My Year of Being Published

The train is crowded, my head too – with thoughts of the meeting we’re going to, the paperback publication of The Bones of You, like the end of this amazing year just days away now; of my children, my new home, the fading of someone dear to someone who’s so dear to me. It’s been a year in which I’ve pushed myself, challenged long held beliefs. It’s no exaggeration to say it’s a year that’s changed my life. To be a published author is a path so many writers seek, in every sense a privileged one, yet one only some of us are lucky enough to walk. There have been other changes too, heralding a life that can only be different, going forwards.

A mixture of emotions is churning under the surface. Excitement, and still an element of disbelief, because even now, there isn’t a day that I take any of this for granted. There’s heartfelt gratitude, and mostly hidden, like the characters I write about, there’s been stress, too – and grief.

You can’t see that though. And like the train I’m on, I’m propelled forwards, the inertia of the past falling away. My year of being published has been a fantastic, rip-roaring year of meeting readers and writers, of photoshoots, magazine articles, radio interviews. I’ve made new friends and discovered the truly supportive network that exists amongst writers, the bloggers who review and tweet to their followers, not to mention everyone involved in the publishing process. There’ve been moments I’ll never forget. Seeing each new cover design; the night of my very own launch party; walking into bookshops and seeing my book on the shelves. Peter James, I still think I should have recognised you in Harrogate – and thank you, so much, for that awesome quote. Linwood Barclay, I’m sorry when I gave you a lift to the station my car smelled of dogs.

Just a few days remain of this year. The Bones of You has been selected for Richard and Judy’s book club – it’s them I’m on my way to meet today. It already means next year gets off to an unbelievable start.

Throughout all of this, there’s something else I’ve held in my mind. While the Bones of You is fiction, the emotional abuse portrayed isn’t. It’s real and the shadow it casts can be life-long. While I was writing, I hoped that it might help even one victim recognise what was happening to them and in doing so, take a step towards freeing themselves from it. Such a great thing, if my book could do that. In a more poignant moment, I recently discovered that it did just that and helped someone to talk about the abuse they had suffered. It may not matter to anyone else, but that my book has helped one person’s life to change, even slightly, is something I hold close to me, of which I’m quietly proud.