There are times when we might be tempted to focus on writing what’s currently “hot” in the market. But maybe . . . there are times when we need to take a few risks, as proven by author Kara Issac’s story. ~ Dawn
Write the Crazy Book!
“Have you ever thought about writing a book set in New Zealand about the Lord of the Rings movies?” It was a writers’ conference in late 2013 and the question had just been posed by an editor who was considering two of my manuscripts. Needless to say, neither of them had anything to do with hobbits.
“Um, no,” was my ineloquent reply, and I hoped my face didn’t show exactly what I thought of the idea. In my head I was thinking: New Zealand? Lord of the Rings?Are you serious? In the seven years I’d been serious about writing, there was one piece of advice I’d been given repeatedly. American audiences aren’t interested in international locations. And now one of my dream editors was suggesting I not only take my writing back home but add in orcs and elves? It was one of the craziest things I’d ever heard.
The next thought that flashed into my head was as unexpected as her question. A disillusioned tour guide and a failed entrepreneur. A week later, I flew home, where I fully intended to let the crazy idea die and start working on something that might actually sell. But it wouldn’t. The characters named themselves Jackson and Allie. An American and a New Zealander. Their unwanted backstory started finding crevices in my mind to fill. And so, after a few weeks, I emailed my agent, Chip MacGregor, to see what he thought.
Much to my shock, he came back thinking it was a great idea with lots of potential if I did it right. The whole world had officially gone crazy, and because I was five months pregnant and had no other sparkling ideas for a new story, I decided to join them.
Six months later, I finished the manuscript. A fun, quirky romantic comedy about second chances that was mostly written in a haze of sleep deprivation. In the interim, the publishing house where that original editor worked had stopped acquiring contemporary romances. I was convinced I had written 90,000 words that were predestined to gather dust in my agent’s collection of unsold manuscripts before he’d even read it.
I asked him no questions about what happened to it from there because I didn’t want him to have to tell me every editor he’d pitched it to had turned him down.
Three months later, he told me a publisher was interested. But I didn’t let myself dare to really hope. I had been to so many editorial committees and publishing boards—including getting an offer from a publisher only for it to get pulled when they decided to review their entire fiction line—that allowing real hope to take hold felt foolish.
In December 2014, Howard Books made an offer and it finally sank in. Where Chip had pitched two commercially appealing manuscripts that fit within all the boundaries for what we knew publishers were looking for, God had chosen the crazy book that I had predetermined was never going to fly to be the one that opened the publishing door.
So now I say go write that crazy book that breaks all the rules you’ve been told for success but has lodged its way into your heart and won’t let go. You never know where it might take you.
A disgraced scholar running from her past and an entrepreneur chasing his future find themselves thrown together—and fall in love—on a Tolkien tour of New Zealand.
Allison Shire (yes, like where the Hobbits live) is a disgraced academic who is done with love. Her belief in “happily ever after” ended the day she discovered her husband was still married to a wife she knew nothing about. Jackson Gregory was on the cusp of making it big. Then his girlfriend left him and took his most guarded commercial secrets with her. To make matters worse, the Iowa farm that has been in his family for generations is facing foreclosure. Determined to save his parents from financial ruin, he’ll do whatever it takes to convince his wealthy great-uncle to invest in his next scheme, which means accompanying him to the bottom of the world to spend three weeks pretending to be a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan, even though he knows nothing about the stories.
When Allison leads the group through the famous sites of the Tolkien movies, she and Jackson start to see each other differently, and as they keep getting thrown together on the tour, they find themselves drawn to each other. Neither expected to fall in love again, but can they find a way beyond their regrets to take a chance on the one thing they’re not looking for?
Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. When she's not working her day job as a public servant, chasing around a ninja preschooler and his feisty toddler sister, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. Her sophomore romantic comedy, Can’t Help Falling, is another crazy book about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious teacup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England and was named an RT Reviews Top Pick for October. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac