Guest Blog: Jane Hardstaff – Believing in the Possible.

Jane Hardstaff 2015Finalist in Undiscovered Voices 2012, author Jane Hardstaff takes a break from writing to share her thoughts about her UV journey…

It was all delightfully anonymous. To begin with anyway. I’d been writing alone, almost in secret, desolate and hopeful at the same time. Loving but sometimes hating my characters and the world I was creating. I’m hardwired to doubt myself. Yet I still believed in the possibility that someone, somewhere, might fall in love with my creation.

So when I heard about Undiscovered Voices, I stalked it for a couple of years, going to talks, wondering about it all, writing my book, thinking should I send it in? Should I? In the end I thought, what do I have to lose? If it ends up in the pile of the unchosen, no one will ever know. It didn’t quite turn out that way.

The Executioner's DaughterThree years later, I’m looking back and shivering with the randomness of it all. What if I hadn’t walked to Kings Cross on the last day of submission, to deliver my MS? What if no one on that panel had been remotely interested in my characters or my story? One of the judges told us that you need one person to really love your writing. One person who will champion your submission, fight tooth and nail against other equally passionate judges. This was my first lesson. It’s all so subjective. What I also observed is how many of the longlisted – who didn’t make the anthology, but had obviously written wonderful books – went on to find agents and publishers.

One of the judges told us that you need one person to really love your writing.

So write the best book you can. Make the best art you can. Then pluck up the courage to send it out into the wide world. Undiscovered Voices is many things – exciting, supportive, competitive – but above all it’s a revelation. While it’s happening you will feel part of something. UV gathers together some amazing people: agents, editors, art directors, designers and organizers – many of whom are writers and illustrators themselves. The publishing world can seem so distant when you’re sitting at your kitchen table at 6am trying to write before you go to work. Undiscovered Voices will scoop you up, lay its treasures before you and help you believe in the possibility that one day your words or pictures might live inside other people’s heads, not just your own.

River Daughter by Jane HardstaffJane Hardstaff’s first novel The Executioner’s Child appeared in the 2012 Undiscovered Voices Anthology. Two months after UV12 was published, she signed with Gillie Russell at Aitken Alexander. Six months later, after much rewriting and a title change, Egmont bought The Executioner’s Daughter. The book and its sequel, River Daughter, were published in 2014 and 2015.