Wednesday, 20 August 2014

first manuscript query - allison tait of 'the mapmaker chronicles'

Australian writer Allison Tait joins me today to answer the big questions about her first manuscript.  In the process of writing my own, I've wondered what led other writers to this point and how old they were at the time.  I've discovered there's often a difference between the first manuscript and the first actual book published and a full resume of jobs until that point.  It's fascinating to discover the back-story and I'm delighted Allison has agreed to share hers with Stonefruit Season readers.

Allison writes fiction, non-fiction and features - and writes regularly about writing, life and .... whimsy at allisontait.comThe Mapmaker Chronicles, her first series for children (9+), will launch on 14 October 2014, with book one: The Race to the End of The World.  I'm a regular reader of her blog which is a lovely community for writers, both new and established.  I have also become a huge fan of her podcasts, So you want to be a writer, co-hosted by Valerie Khoo for Australian Writers' Centre, which feature tips, insights, motivation and interviews with writers from around the world - well worth checking out.

At what age did you write your first manuscript?
I was 29 and it was a romance novel - aimed at Mills & Boon. I was working in magazines at the time and thought that romance novels made complete sense for me. I'd read hundreds of them in my late teens, they had a specific market, and they were relatively short. What could possibly go wrong? As it turned out, quite a lot and it wasn't until I won a mentor in a competition that I was gently steered in the direction of broader women's fiction. "I think you have too much to say for a category romance novel," were her exact, diplomatic words.

What jobs did you have until then?
I've worked in various roles in magazine publishing (editorial assistant, sub-editor, features writer, features editor) almost my entire career, apart from three memorable months as a (very bad) receptionist for a homewares company. 

What was the catalyst for your first full-length work?
After I received those gentle words from my mentor, I turned my attention to longer manuscripts and I've since written two for adults, one of which got very close to publication, and two of which I'm still reworking. I've also, now, written 2.5 children's novels, my series called The Mapmaker Chronicles - the first of which, Race To The End Of The World, will be published in October 2014, and the last of which (the 0.5) is nearly at complete first draft stage. The children's series has been THE MOST FUN I've ever had with writing and I'm keen to do more of it.

Words of wisdom for budding writers
I've written a lot of stuff on my blog over the years but it all boils down to three things:

•You don't 'find' time to write a novel, you make time. Make it a priority. It's more important than The Block or Offspring or anything else on tele, for starters.

•There is no perfect time or place to write a novel. There is only now, there is only here. Sit at your computer or pull out your notebook and start right now.

•Finish the damn book. You can't edit a blank page and you sure as heck can't publish half a novel - push forward when it gets hard and remember you can always go back and fix it later. You'll learn to love editing…

Thank you Allison for your wonderful insights and taking the time to answer my questions.  Best of luck for The Mapmaker Chronicles - Book 1 is available for preorder now.

Over to you readers - are you writing too?  If so, please leave your answers to these questions in the comments section of this post.


  1. I can't wait to read it - I think Archie and I may fight for it!

    1. Tom thinks it will really hook him in just like 'Adrian Mole'!! Will be a great one to get!

  2. Replies
    1. It was a pleasure Allison and thanks again for your time! All the best for the book launch!

  3. My middle son is sooo excited about reading this. xx