Deals around the world - a life-changing week / by Rosie Walsh


I guess I'll just dive straight in: 

THE MAN WHO DIDN'T CALL has been sold in the US, in a deal of dreams, to the legendary Pamela Dorman, who'll be publishing it as GHOSTED. At the time of writing it has sold to twenty-one other countries around the world. 

It's a month since this all began to unfold, and I'm still mad as a box of frogs. 

It began on a dismal Thursday in January. I came out of Pilates to find a string of increasingly excitable emails from my US agent. 'Everyone's fallen in love with your book overnight,' she said. 'When can you start taking calls?'

Of course my phone ran out of battery at that moment. I ran blindly across Bristol to my home and my phone charger. Then I spent two days on the phone to editors in New York. I didn't stop shaking. I didn't manage to eat a thing. God knows what I said to any of them. I was in a lamentable state.  

But oh, how happy I was that Pam ended up being the one who acquired the book!  I loved what she said about my novel. I loved what she said about publishing, and fiction, and writing, and basically everything. I can't believe I'm joining a list like hers. To a woman who spends day after day sitting in a silent room, juggling words and worries and pennies, it's nothing short of a miracle.

My partner, George, was in a tiny village on a tributary of the Congo when this was going on. He was making a documentary about an itinerant people and their relationship with the vast Congolese jungle. He was hot, bitten and happy. His life was simple. He slept in a hammock and was madly in love with a wild jungle dog called Bongo. It took many days before I was able to speak to him, on a terrible satellite connection, and tell him that our lives had changed. (The photo on this post is of us, ten days later, after he flew back into Heathrow. We sat there on the motorway for two hours, swearing and giggling in disbelief.) 

A writer's life is both privileged and strange. Many hours are spent alone and in silence; we receive feedback only once every few months and often haven't the faintest grasp of either the merits or the downfalls of our manuscript. Can I do this? we ask ourselves, frequently. Is there really any point? Will anyone care?

Well, yes. What if you're sitting on a manuscript - an idea, even - that could capture the imagination of editors around the world? What if you've told yourself that the rejection you had last year - that one rejection, from just one agent - means that the book is doomed?

Under no circumstances should you give up. Because one day it could be you sitting on the floor in your Pilates pants, on the phone to a legendary editor who's fallen in love with your book. It could be you with your heart hammering in your ears and your legs shaking and your voice talking for you because you've forgotten how to speak.  

Just try to remember to eat, and to pee. 

So, a brief and, I hope, not too self-indulgent list of thank yous:

Thank you to Allison Hunter of Janklow & Nesbitt, my wonderful US agent, who has been with me from the very beginning. Without her brilliant timing and clever ideas, I'm not sure it would have worked out quite as it did. 

And as for that Lizzy Kremer. Never before have I felt such a keen sense of gratitude for her wisdom and support. Without her superb masterminding of my career (and, indeed life) I would be lost, and this book would not have happened.

Alice Howe, Emma Jamison, Emily RandleCamilla Dubini and Margaux Vialleron at DHA have been remarkable, getting my book published in so many languages. I love their emails and phonecalls - not just because they keep bringing such incredible news, but because they all seem to be working on this submission with such excitement and pleasure. 

I'm also very grateful to everyone who bid for my novel, successfully or otherwise. I have printed out each and every bid letter and will treasure them all forever. Several made me cry. 

Finally, thanks to Sam Humphreys at Mantle in the UK, who bought this book before I'd even finished it. Thank you, Sam, for your painstaking work, your brilliant ideas and your kindness and patience. My book says thank you, too. It accepts that you made it a much better thing.