Next month, Espionage will appear in book stores. It’s my first novel to go on sale—so to say I’m excited would be an understatement. I think what I’m most looking forward to is presenting my characters to an audience larger than my test readers and publishing house. Peter, Jacques, Genevieve—they’ve been a part of my life for a long time now, and I’m ready to introduce them to readers.
I started working on this book a long time ago—when I was a sophomore or junior in high school. My English teacher assigned a creative project toward the end of the term. Some of my classmates worked on scrap books; some of them painted or built something. I wrote a short story. We were given a set amount of hours we were supposed to put into our project, so before I started writing, I re-read some of my favorite WWII-era books by Alistair MacLean. When I did begin writing, I was aiming for something like MacLean or Jack Higgins, two of my favorite authors at the time. That short story turned into chapter one of Espionage.
I know saying I wrote the first chapter in high school (fourteen or fifteen years ago) might throw up some red flags. For anyone not interested in reading something a high school student wrote, let me mention that I’ve re-written those early scenes a few dozen times. I’d be surprised if as many as 5% of the sentences I wrote back then are still in the book. And don’t worry, I won’t take a decade to write the sequel. Book two is actually already finished—I’m still tweaking it and having some test readers look at it before I send it to the publisher, but it’s pretty far along in the revision process.
So why did book one take so long? I had some ideas on how to turn the short story into a novel shortly after finishing it. I even turned a few school assignments into research projects on D-day deception schemes. But I didn’t really get to work on my manuscript again until I graduated from BYU. I picked it up then, spending a couple evenings a week writing or doing research. I had a first draft done at the beginning of 2005. Then I revised—a lot. I did some additional research. I revised some more. I added characters, rewrote scenes, deleted bad sentences, and then did the same thing again. I started looking for an agent or a publisher at the end of 2006. No one was interested at first. But each time something didn’t work out I went back to my manuscript and made it better.
In May of 2010 I received word from Covenant that they wanted to print it. Working with the publisher has been a bit of an adventure in itself: waiting for the estimated release date, wondering what the title would be and what the cover would look like. And lots of additional tweaking.
This isn’t the end of the journey for Espionage, but I do feel like it’s a milestone. For better or for worse, there will be no more revisions on Espionage. Now I’m looking forward to seeing my book in print, hearing the audio version, going to book signings, and hopefully reading some positive reviews. I’m also looking forward to the next book, because I’ve got some new characters in book two, and I’m eager to introduce them to readers too.