Unbound Firsts

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Thursday, 4 August 2022

Seven years, thirty rejections: a debut novelist's journey.

Paul David Gould, writer of Last Dance at the Discotheque for Deviants, selected as one of our inaugural Unbound Firsts Titles, shares his writing journey and how it all began...

"Getting a novel published has been a lifelong dream. So the day I found out that Unbound Firsts would be publishing mine, I wept with joy. People talk of writers going on a ‘journey’; for me, even getting a novel written had been a long, self-doubting slog.

The itch to write first struck at the age of ten, when I scribbled a children’s story (think the Moomins meet Beatrix Potter) in an exercise book from Woolworths. Taking my cue from a Ladybird book on Charles Dickens, I bought myself a fountain pen and an inkpot too. Because that’s what a ‘proper writer’ looked like.

Aged 14, I penned (literally, in fountain pen again) another children’s story, 170 pages long, which I sent off to Puffin Books. It was gently rejected … After that, in early adulthood, my writing dreams were ‘on hold’ – ‘I’ll get round to it one day,’ I thought – as I grappled with study, university and making a living.

I was, however, determined to use the Russian I studied at university. This took me to Moscow in the early 1990s. It was both exhilarating and depressing: a surreal moment that I felt I had to capture. For a while, I thought I’d become a foreign correspondent.

My fiction breakthrough came in the shape of Faber’s Writing a Novel course. Here, thanks to the ‘You Can Do It’ tuition of novelists Esther Freud and Tim Lott, I produced the first chapters of what would become Last Dance at the Discotheque for Deviants.

Some 110,000 words, seven years, ten rewrites, six titles and 30 rejections later, my agent steered me in the direction of Unbound Firsts. Its bold project to publish debut writers of colour attracted stiff competition, and I doubted my chances – so it was all the more of an honour to be selected.

Being published by Unbound Firsts not only strikes a blow for under-represented minorities –writers of colour, LGBT writers, working-class writers – it also is also a blazing light at the end of a long, long tunnel."

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Subscribe to Unbound Firsts and receive two first edition paperback copies of our first titles: Solange Burrell's Yeseni and the Daughter of Peace, and Paul David Gould's Last Dance at the Discotheque for Deviants.

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Subscribe to Unbound Firsts and receive ebooks of our first two titles: Solange Burrell's Yeseni and the Daughter of Peace, and Paul David Gould's Last Dance at the Discotheque for Deviants.

PLUS:

  • Two ebooks
  • Your name in the back of both books
Choose this reward