The moment my lock script was picked from the pile of slush

Simon Lendrum, author of The Slow Roll, which he started during confinement after quitting his job.


Simon Lendrum, author of The Slow Roll, which he started during confinement after quitting his job.

The March 2020 lockdown was a curious time. It was, for me, compounded by the fact that I was coming to the end of (I thought) a planned career break. I had left my role at the head of an advertising agency in 2019, with the intention of finding my next role after a short break.

Then Covid hit. I found myself, like so many others, wondering how to navigate the deepest period of collective uncertainty in my life. Without any work to distract me and never too far from a cliché, I decided to finally write the novel that had been in my head for years.

The early days involved staring at a blank screen, typing words and then deleting them, doing housework, scrolling through social media, excessively walking the dog; basically anything except actually writing.

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Finally, something miraculous happened. I wrote a paragraph that I didn’t hate. Then another. Before long, a chapter emerged. I had no synopsis to follow, no plan. I just had to follow where the story took me, create new characters to allow events to unfold, hoping for the best.

At some point towards the end of level 3 of the lockdown, I had a first draft. What had started as a title – The Slow Roll – with a vague idea of ​​a central character who is a gamer by night and an amateur detective by day, was now a manuscript. That’s when the hard work really began.

The cover of the book Slow Roll.


The cover of the book Slow Roll.

I thought advertisers were pretty resilient. Having creative ideas that have been enslaved for weeks and discarded in a second is normal. We dust ourselves off and start over. Authors? A whole other level. Writing a novel can take a few months. For some, it’s the culmination of years of creative endeavour.

But only a small part of the books written each year arrive in bookstores. The journey from triumphantly typing The End on a manuscript to getting published is a harrowing one, even for best-selling authors.

If you’re looking for a master class in dealing with rejection, talk to a writer who always has a smile on his face. They nailed it.

Andy MacDonald / Stuff

The Nelson Book Fair kicked off with a bang on Saturday morning at Founders Park with people racing in the hope of snagging top titles.

After a few months, I had two polite refusals, as well as three requests for the complete manuscript. Seven submissions remain unacknowledged and unanswered two years later.

Everyone needs someone to support them from the sidelines and for me that person was a wonderful UK-based writer called Dea Parkin. She thought The Slow Roll was worth publishing and pushed me to keep trying. So I gave him a final push.

A few months passed, and I put my manuscript firmly in my bottom drawer, starting work on another book (masochism, I admit). Then a funny thing happened. I received an email from Kevin Chapman of Upstart Press. He complimented the book and felt like talking.

After five years of thinking, four months of writing and 18 months of pitching, The Slow Roll had a home. As publication looms, I had time to wonder what was different about my submission to Upstart Press where other submissions had failed. The answer provides both hope and perhaps a bit of frustration to other writers.

The difference, I think, is just luck. My manuscript just landed at the right time, when the Upstart Press team was in the right frame of mind to be picked up by a crime novel set in Auckland featuring gamblers, gangsters and white collar criminals . Whatever the reason, chance struck.

Unlike some of the characters playing poker in my novel, I was dealt a good hand. The lesson, which works much better for writing than for playing, is to keep playing until you win. Luck will eventually come your way.

The slow rolling by Simon Lendrum ($39.99 RRP, Upstart Press).

About Cody E. Vaughn

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