So, from then onwards, I did. I wrote and wrote furiously (and, of course, read furiously). I was very into South American magic realism for much of this time, so a lot of my output was highly embarrassing – but it served a purpose.
Eventually, in my early 20s at my kitchen table in Brighton, I wrote a novel called The House of Correction – which was full-length, finished, and pretty good. It won me the attention of a few agents (to whom I had been writing unsolicited for a few years, as I had literally zero contacts in the publishing world). After a few more dramas along the way, I ended up signing with Caroline Hardman, now of her own agency Hardman & Swainson.
The House of Correction had some exciting near misses, but in the end it didn’t sell – which broke my heart somewhat at the time, but now I can see might have been For The Good. The best thing it did for me was to hook me up with Caroline – who is The Most Awesome Agent in the World and, very luckily for me, has been working with me ever since.
Over the couple of years after that, I wrote a few more finished novels – some of which I remain full of love for, but they didn’t quite sell either. The main thing I was hearing was that they ‘fell between stools’ and ‘didn’t quite fit in’. I’ve always been a fan of the coming-of-age novel where not a lot happens (inspired by the likes of Esther Freud), so I was writing these ‘adult’ novels that were only-just adult and not really substantial enough, pretty but flimsy.
Amazingly, it was Caroline who suggested that I try writing a novel for teenagers. At the time, I wasn’t even sure if I liked this idea! Then I had a go, and it was like everything suddenly fell into place – like meeting a Good Boyfriend after years of messing about with losers, that same feeling of ‘oh, I SEE – it’s supposed to be like THIS’. I could not believe how easy I found it to slip back into those teenage years – how easy and how FUN.
It took doing this to make me realise quite what an overgrown teenager I am – I feel closer to my 14-year-old self than I do to my 21-year-old self. The things I like haven’t changed one little bit.
Quite a lot of work later, the result is Gemini Rising. It’s a classic girls’ school story, very firmly based in reality and driven by character and relationships, but with a spooky edge that (I hope) makes it a bit more interesting.
I think it’s really fun – I loved writing it, I feel pretty proud of it, and I am fairly certain that I would want to read it even if I hadn’t written it. Whether you are a teenager or not, I hope you agree!
Eleanor lives in Brighton, where she can mostly be found hanging around in cafés and record shops, running on the beach, pretending to be French and/or that it’s the 60s, and writing deep into the night.
These days, you can read her personal and ill-thought-out ramblings on her blog, The PerfectMixtape or more succinctly on Twitter at @eleanor_wood.
Gemini Risingis out now - get your copy here