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M. L. Stedman p3

M. L. Stedman talks about the auction process where publishers bid for her first novel The Light Between Oceans, and lists some favorite books...

She said the novel took about two years to write, starting in March 2008. The first draft was finished in a bit of a rush in June 2009. She said she had an agent by then and the first draft was finished in time for the agent’s maternity leave.
But things didn’t pan out, and the book had no agent for a while and went into abeyance. She was philosophical about this: the world wasn’t obligated to run after her book. When writing the second draft, the pressure was off and she asked herself “What would the characters really do?”
She said she wasn’t writing toward a place to end the book. She was just letting the characters be who they were and acting consistently with their nature. She said this requires the writer to hold their nerve. She said she wanted the ending to be uplifting in some way, and affirming the human spirit. She said it would depend on individual readers whether they thought the ending was uplifting.
She said she wanted Tom and Isabel to stay together at the end of the book, too: to have a strong love that survived their decisions and the consequences. That they would have a deeper connection by the end of the book.

Then the book ended up with its current agent, and they started submitting it to publishers in 2011.
As soon as an agent gets more than one publisher interested in the book, they set up an auction. These auctions go through rounds. In the first round there were 11 publishers interested in the book, she said. The auctions went through a couple of rounds until she chose the publisher. It was first published in Great Britain by Doubleday, an imprint of Transworld Publishers in 2012, and in Australia by Vintage, an imprint of Random House Australia.
She said the agents were very good and knew how to present the book to publishers.
Noah Taylor reads the audio book version. “He has a very meditative way of reading, which is very nice.”

She said she had recently signed a contract whereby Steven Spielberg’s company Miramax optioned the novel for a film, to be produced by Harry Potter producer David Heyman of Heyday Productions.
Some of her favorite books included Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, and Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford. She had recently read and enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The Idiot by Dostoyevsky was another favorite, as was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger. Other favorite authors included Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, Emile Zola, PG Wodehouse and Andre Gide.

– copyright Simon Sandall.