Book One/Two: Full Steam Ahead

Welcome to the first installment of Book One/Two!


Since I got a book deal, the most common question I’ve been asked is why the book isn’t coming out for a year. The next most common question is how in the name of the fudge I’m going to squeeze the writing of a whole book into the time between now and next April, when – as evidenced by this thesis of a blog post – it took me approximately five times that to write the one I’ve just finished. (Darling, let me tell you: we’re both dying to know the answer to that). So between now and next summer, I’m going to do a monthly series called Book One/Two, where I update you on Distress Signals‘ publishing progress and my attempts at doing this all over again. Consider this the prologue and this the first proper installment. If you want to get future installments by e-mail, look for the sign-up box in the sidebar and footer. 

Got all that? Good. LET’S DO THIS.




Getting a book deal is a really weird experience. There’s a huge burst of excitement (when you get the news), then nothing for ages (because you can’t tell anyone the news), then another huge burst of excitement (when you’re finally allowed to tell people the news) and then nothing for ages again (because publication is AGES away so no wheels are turning yet). That’s why I didn’t start this back in March, when I got the deal, or back in May when I was allowed to tell you about it. It’s really taken until now – September – to have anything to tell you about. But much like waiting for buses, after seeing nothing for ages, lots of things then come along at once…

PicMonkey Collage


As I said, getting a book deal is a really weird experience, not least of all because at first, everything is happening by e-mail and phone. There’s nothing tangible, nothing you can hold in your hands, nothing that proves you aren’t dreaming the whole thing. The first time I did get something tangible was when I was given a copy of Atlantic’s trade catalogue, which was mostly exciting because Jesse Eisenberg was in it which helped convince my sister that this was A Big Deal.

I saw that catalogue in early April and at the start of this month, I happened to see the lovely Francesca at Atlantic tweet that the new catalogue was in. When I asked her whether or not I was in it, she tweeted a picture of the Distress Signals page for me. Complete with ISBNs and everything!

Distress Signals will be out in Ireland and the UK (and Australia and New Zealand) on June 2nd 2016, by which point I’m sure you’ll already be sick to the teeth of hearing about it. That’s the plan, anyway. The audio rights have also been sold, so we’ll have an audio version too. Which will be weird, I think. Imagine listening to someone else read your whole book aloud…? Bonkers.



I got an e-mail from my agent to say that Corvus/Atlantic were looking for my Proper Author Photo. At the time, the one I was using was a selfie I’d taken in my bathroom which, thanks to my iPhone’s selfie camera thingy, was flipped around and so didn’t look like me at all. It was also, in terms of pixels, the size of a postage stamp.

I enlisted the help of Steve Langan at (who I cannot recommend highly enough), told him I wanted to avoid leather jackets and exposed brick walls and spent a pleasant but somewhat weird Sunday morning posing in various Dublin lanes. The results are above.

The Manuscript

So yeah, that’s all very exciting – but what about the actual book? Well, last we heard my third official draft – my first with my editor at Corvus/Atlantic – had been sent off to the copyeditor. I got the copyedits back yesterday and went through all the corrections/suggestions on screen. The book has already been through a lot so it was mostly grammatical corrections and consistencies – things like e-mail/email, capitalizing brand names, etc. The copyedit has now been approved by my editor and is winging its way off to the typesetters.

The next time I see it it’ll be in page proofs: mocked up pages of my actual book. I don’t know how I’ll react to that, seeing as all this hasn’t really sunk in yet.

But if I need some bringing back down to earth, I only have to think about:




Yes, you read that right: I have to deliver Book 2 by the end of April 2016.

The book I haven’t written a word of yet.

Yes, really.

*eye twitches in new anxiety-induced nervous tick*

But I’m not panicking. I was, for a while back there, but I’m okay now. Because I know I can do it. Moreover, I have to do it so whether or not I think I can is irrelevant.

Here’s the thing: it actually did not take me that long to write Distress Signals. Yes, I thought about it for about two years before I actually sat down and wrote a proper draft, but the actual writing-down-words bit was done in just a few months. So I know I have enough time to actually think up and write down 100,000 words. What concerns me is that I don’t have the incubation period that I had with the first book. I don’t have the luxury of it. But maybe, in some weird way, it’ll be a good thing. More exhilarating. More dynamic.

(That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.)

Where am I right now with Book 2? I have a plot outline – the most important bit for me – and between now and Christmas, I’ll chuck up a Vomit Draft. Then over Christmas that draft will go to my agent and my agent’s in-house editor for feedback, notes, etc. Come January, I’ll sit down and write another, proper draft, and that’s the one that’ll go to my editor at Corvus/Atlantic in April.

(Right before I knuckle down to study for my university exams in May, which are right before the launch of Distress Signals in June… Oh dear god.)


*eye twitches again*

So that’s all the news for now. Join me next month for the next installment of Book One/Two when we’ll hopefully have… drum roll, please… A COVER! 

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28 thoughts on “Book One/Two: Full Steam Ahead

  1. thenovelprojectchronicles says:

    Wow, getting the book deal an amazing achievement. Congratulations. I have to say also that I really admire your honesty about the emotional rollercoaster that getting the deal has been for you. It’s a part of the process that I haven’t heard much about. It’s a such a great idea for a series of blog posts and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

  2. glasgowdragonfly says:

    Congratulations! Love the head shots & especially the untouched original (jests!) – thanks for sharing your insights. I’m a writer on a mission myself and was wondering if after you do your “vomit draft” you write another draft from scratch using this as the basis, or whether you edit & mould this first one. I’ve seen quite a few references to this aspect of drafting lately and must admit I tend to not do a full blank page redraft from scratch. Interested in your thoughts. Best wishes!

  3. Write This Down says:

    Haha, I definitely laughed at the headshots. Original is always good because it’s authentic, although you look way too nice to have T-rex tendencies. They honestly all look great. Glamour shots would be great too, positioning your hands in an awkward, uncomfortable pose. Either way, congrats to the book deal. Hopefully we can grab some copies here in the US? Will there be a kindle version?

  4. brmaycock says:

    I always see people’s deadlines and think ‘whoah.’ Lot of pressure there but given to you because they know you’ll deliver. Best of luck, looking forward to reading all:)

  5. javajazz1 says:

    I can’t even imagine how much work it must be to have to write a whole book by that deadline! One thing that occurred to me about the incubation period is that it might naturally shorten as you continue to cycle through this process. Well, that’s what I find in music, at least. Perhaps it is different for writing. In any case, good luck on your project!

  6. carolynswriting says:

    Oh Catherine, I just saw the head shots and snorted very inelegantly! You look FABULOUS but I loved the captions! Congratulations and thank you for letting us have a look at the publication process 🙂

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