My writing career began with a bang. In 1985 my first novel ‘Doves and Silk Handkerchiefs’ was awarded the Constable Prize for the best first novel from the North of England, being judged from 400+ entrants. The decision was unanimous. Chairman of the judges was Kenneth McLeish who, besides writing them, then reviewed books I think for the Telegraph, and then for the Sunday Times. I can’t recall how many judges there were, but I do remember they were all writers and included Pat Barker, a subsequent winner of the Booker Prize. Ken McLeish told me that the judges, in discussion, had likened the book to Marquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. Heady stuff. He also introduced me to his agents, A.P.Watt Ltd., the oldest literary agency in the world. Clarissa Rushdie was my agent, Salmon Rushdie’s first wife. I was up and flying.
The Editorial Director at Constable, Robin Baird Smith, loved my work. Two more novels appeared quickly, ‘Grandmother, Grandmother, Come and See’ and ‘The Brightside Dinosaur’. By 1991 I was in paperback, all three novels published by Penguin in one volume under the title ‘Brightside’, commonly known as the Brightside Trilogy. I wasn’t just a published writer, but I also faced a writer’s future, didn’t I?
Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! A great support team had slotted in around me, and I took it all for granted. That is not how it is supposed to happen in this industry. It might have happened to me, but to me and few others. I was about to write that I had taken my eye off the ball, but I didn’t even know there was a ball there to be watching. I had no idea what I was looking at. That triumvirate of, agent, publisher and publicist is what every writer worth his salt should strive to build and maintain, and I had received the lot without the effort of having tried my hand at the construction. I had never received a rejection letter in my life. I had never had to write a synopsis. My books generally received super reviews. And in the midst of my sunny success tragedy and death removed my supports, one by one, and I didn’t have the common sense to even attempt to replace them. After all I was G.H. Morris, winner of the Constable….blah! blah! blah!
And nobody came. And why should they have come? Who on earth was I expecting?
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