FEATURE: Shaun Baines’ Inspirations On New Book Pallbearer | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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We caught up with author Shaun Baines to find out more about the release of his new novel Pallbearer. The book is out now as an ebook.

When I read how JK Rowling struggled to get her first book published, I thought I was living a charmed life. The publication of my first book – Woodcutter – went like clockwork. Write book. Check. Get agent. Check. Publishing deal. Check. I assumed I was set for the same level of world domination as the wizard lady.

Turns out I was wrong. My struggles came with the second book – Pallbearer.

Pallbearer sees the return of Daniel Dayton as he defends Newcastle and his family from a new designer drug. Angel Maguire leads a rival gang, battling the Daytons and her own crippling illness. Meanwhile, Daniel’s daughter displays a disturbing inclination toward violence.

The first Dayton novel Woodcutter was released in 2018. It was written in response to a move to the Scottish borders. I was surrounded by beautiful countryside and fresh air. Naturally, I decided to stay inside and write about gangsters. I didn’t think anything would come of it so I was thrilled to be picked up by an agent, even more so when Woodcutter was published.

I’m not saying Woodcutter sold enough copies to buy a yacht, but it received great reviews and is currently longlisted for the People’s Book Prize. I’d done a good job and the next step was to write the sequel.

And that’s where it went wrong.

Not long after writing Pallbearer, I received an email stating my agent was leaving his job. It landed with the sound of a death knell. Agents are important for lots of reasons. They shape a writer’s career and explain away the intricacies of the publishing process. For me, they offer validation, holding back the insecurities that plague many authors.

My agent would no longer be there to help, which can be a dangerous thing. The publishing world is a minefield and putting a foot wrong can mean losing that very same foot.

I submitted Pallbearer to other agents. While they were interested in a stand-alone novel I was writing, they didn’t want to represent a sequel as they’re difficult to sell without the rights to the first book. Which I didn’t have.

I was getting despondent. Pallbearer represented a year of my life. While other people were going to the pub or spending time with their family, I was writing a book no-one seemed to want. I was about to give up. I already had a job that caused me enough headaches. I didn’t need anymore.

It’s an agent’s role to submit a manuscript to publishers on the writer’s behalf. Without one, I decided to approach publishers myself. Slipping on the bullet proof vest, I lay in wait for more rejection.

I was wrong again, but this time in a good way. I submitted to Sharpe Books Publishing, who loved Pallbearer and expressed an interest in further work.

But Sharpe Books were unable to take on Pallbearer without the rights to Woodcutter, meaning an awkward email to the original publisher – “Thanks for making my dreams come true, but I’ve found someone new.”

I waited nervously for a response, expecting fire and brimstone, but they were typically gracious and released me to love again.

Pallbearer is now published, to my relief and delight. It is available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback. I can only hope it does as well as the first book. Meanwhile, Woodcutter is to be republished by Sharpe Books and I’m writing the third instalment, which will be ready by the end of 2019.

I’m as far away from being JK Rowling as I am being Harry Potter. I do have a scar on my forehead, but that’s a drunken story I don’t want to get in to.  There are some lucky authors who get it right the first time around. The majority of us take more rejection than is psychologically healthy. We persevere until we find people who see us the same way we see ourselves.

Like Daniel Dayton says, “Keep cracking heads until it all comes right.”

Shaun Baines’ Pallbearer is out now.

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