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Parlour MAVEN: Dorothy Koomson on Becoming a Best-Selling Author

When journalist Dorothy Koomson set out to become a novelist, not even twelve rejection letters could stop her. The South London-raised Ghanian writer who contributed to newspapers like New Nation to pay her bills, finished each day at home, writing her novels voraciously. And after many of her stories never saw daylight, she was inspired to write by a friend and her first published novel The Cupid Effect came about in 2004, as part of a hard-earned two-book deal with Time Warner publishing. Now Koomson has eight novels under her belt, more than 1.5 million copies sold and hew newest work, The Rose Petal Beach, is on shelves just in time for the holiday season.

Koomson will be among the four esteemed speakers featured at the next I’mPOSSIBLE Conversation in London tonight, Wednesday, December 12, so in true Parlour MAVEN fashion, we talked to her about everything from how she began to her tenacious rules for publishing success.

Parlour: What gave you the courage to write and send out The Cupid Effect to those publishers?

I didn’t need courage, I’d wanted to be a published author for years but it was determination that kept me going. I’d written other books that never saw the light of day. But in 2002, while I was working on the book that would become The Chocolate Run, I visited a friend in Leeds where I came up with the idea for The Cupid Effect, the story of a woman who inspires others to follow their heart. I went back to London, wrote the first three chapters and sent them to various agents who all rejected me. When I finished writing The Cupid Effect and again sent it off to a few agents — they all rejected me again. I believed in the story so much that I sent it directly to a publisher because I had nothing to lose. And after all the rejections, I knew another one more wouldn’t kill me. Three months later it was accepted as part of a two-book deal. It was very hard to get published without agent back then, and today it seems virtually impossible.

What was the first thing you did when you got your book publishing deal?
I sat down with the letter and read it repeatedly, I couldn’t take it in. I think the shock of my dream finally coming true made me a bit laid back.

You’ve just released your eighth book, The Rose Petal Beach, what inspires you?
I can write anywhere. When I’m finding excuses to not write I decide I need an office or a hotel for a few days, but really I can write anywhere. When I was a journalist working in central London and writing my books, I used to write on the train to and from work. I just need a pen and paper or keyboard.

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