A Short History of Stolen Lives

A few people have emailed me to ask why this book has required so much rewriting and so many versions, so I am going to document the novel’s history in this post. It will also serve as a guide to exactly how topsy-turvy the world of publishing can be.

I finished the first draft of Stolen Lives in November, 2011. It was the second novel I had written, but my first in the crime genre and the first in the Danny Sanchez series. An agent with whom I had formed an email acquaintance during my failure to find a publisher for the first novel agreed to take a look at Stolen Lives (I) and liked it. I signed up with his agency four weeks later. He suggested several changes to tighten the book up, which I made to the first draft. This amended draft, Stolen Lives (II) was then sent out to publishers. Meanwhile, I began work on the follow up Danny Sanchez novel, Scarecrow. Broken Arrow

In April of 2012, the German publisher, Goldmann, purchased the translation rights to Stolen Lives (II). I signed the contract that same week. The editor was happy to push ahead with publication, but I didn’t want there to be any discrepancies between the German and English versions of the book, so suggested we waited until I had secured a British publishing deal and had created a definitive draft of the book. Goldmann agreed.

The only problem was that no one in the UK wanted to publish the book. By January of 2013, Stolen Lives (II) had been rejected by nearly every publisher in the UK. However, Salt Publishing had shown an interest in Scarecrow, and wanted to know if I could make this the first in the series.

After a flurry of emails to Germany, Goldmann agreed to look at Scarecrow. Thankfully, they liked it, and Die Stunde Des Puppenspielers (as Scarecrow is known in Germany) became the first book in the German series. By this time I was halfway through the third Danny Sanchez book, Broken Arrow. Meanwhile, Salt agreed to take a look at Stolen Lives (II). A few months later, they said they might consider publishing the book, but it would require major changes.

I spent the next few months introducing these changes to the text and created Stolen Lives (III). To my surprise, Salt then rejected this third draft as they did not feel it was as good as Scarecrow. It was a major kick in the balls at the time, but I now see that they were right. Releasing a noticeably inferior book as my second publication could have seriously harmed my reputation as a writer.

In the Autumn of 2014, I finished Broken Arrow. I sent this to Salt and Goldmann. Salt agreed to publish the book as the second in the Danny Sanchez series. However, Goldmann decided that they still preferred Stolen Lives to Broken Arrow and wanted to publish that as the second book in their series, thereby kicking into touch my hopes to have the two series run in parallel.

Goldmann said they were perfectly happy to publish the very first draft of Stolen Lives, but over the years, my ability as a writer has grown and I decided to really sit down and dedicate my efforts to producing a draft that would equal (and hopefully exceed) the quality of Scarecrow and Broken Arrow. The creation of this current draft, Stolen Lives (IV) is the process I am documenting in this blog. I’ve managed to get quite a bit of work on it done this weekend, so I’ll write again in the next few days.

Cheers

Matthew

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