Sara writes about working with Fiona.
When a literary agent called to ask if I was happy to work with Fiona I was excited. Fiona had already earned a reputation on the competition circuit. She was clearly talented but the agent felt she needed a little help. Fiona wasn’t convinced by the idea of persisting with The Maid’s Room; she was very close to giving up on it. But after reading the first chapter and her synopsis, I asked her to call me.
When I spoke to Fiona I was surprised by her unassuming nature. I listened as she told me her story: the interest she’d had from different literary agents, how that initial spark had produced nothing concrete, how no one had given any constructive feedback. When talking to her I suspected that it was a structural problem because the ideas and the writing were all intact. Finally, I said: If someone bothers to pick up the phone on your behalf to find you an editor in this business, you’re on the home run. Don’t give up.
So Fiona sent me the manuscript which I read in two days. She had three different story strands and voices, which meant three character arcs to consider along with the chronology of each character’s journey. Structurally it was a big ask and I wasn’t surprised that she’d got into a pickle. After reading the report she asked if we could meet. We then worked out how we could alter the chronology so that each character’s story was in sync. and talked about the power of a strong ending. It took two more rewrites but on the third read I had that lovely moment when I could pick up the phone and say: you’ve nailed it! It still brings tears to my eyes when I think of her response. Working with writers like Fiona is so rewarding and I feel privileged to have been part of the journey.