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Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen Fry
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Arthur Conan Doyle

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The Small Fortune of Dorothea Q - Sharon Maas

When Sharon Maas first made it known to her then-agent and then-editor that she was thinking about writing a book set in her native Guyana, she met with blank incomprehension and utter rejection: "Guyana? Whyever would anyone write about that little backwater country; a place nobody knows anything about and which probably at least half her projected readership wouldn't even be able to correctly point out on a map? No no no," she was told, "stick with what is safe and what people know. And if you want to write a book set in an exotic location, write something set in India. You know India, right? You've lived there – so you can just as credibly write about that. And there are plenty of people out there who do want to read books set in India. It's even a sort of literary trend these days. You'll fit right in."

 

Sharon's response, after actually having published three books in which Indian settings played a crucial role, was to refuse to work with anybody who was not open to her own ideas about the construction and settings of her books; even if that meant not having any literary agent at all, nor a publisher, for the foreseeable future. The one thing she did not do, however, was stop writing. And looking for a new publisher, who would accept her without any preconceived notions about which niche to fit her in. Over a decade after the publication of her third novel, The Speech of Angels, she finally struck gold – so now here it is, the book (or first of several books, hopefully) that might never have gone to print if its author had not finally found a publisher willing to take her on solely on the strength of her writing, and accept the chosen setting as an asset rather than a burden.

 

Read the full review on my own website (ThemisAthena.info) or on Leafmarks.