Despite what they say, it won’t change your life!

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By Martina Reilly

This is dedicated to all the future authors out there. It’s for those who have just found their first killer opening sentence, those who have just put a ‘The End’ on their first full-length novel, those who’ve submitted to an agent/publisher for the first time. To those who’ve just been in to sign their first contract. I salute you. I’m sure your book is brilliant. I’m sure everyone should read it. I hope they will. But just in case they don’t, keep your heart safe, keep your feet on the ground, keep faith with yourself and believe. ♥

I wrote my first book when I was fifteen and when I’d put ‘The End’ on it, I knew, in my bones that I had written something a bit special. I knew it by the way I felt about the characters, the way I kept thinking about them long after they’d strutted off the page and out of my life.

And so I got older, got money, bought a word processor and typed it all up. And I was right. The book was published.


I thought that the minute my little novel hit the stores, the world would sit up and take notice, I thought the bookshops would be falling down with customers, I thought that I’d be rich and a little bit famous and be taken seriously. To be honest, the thoughts of all that fame scared me.

But I needn’t have worried. Though my book was translated into three languages, won an award and hit the best-seller lists, it didn’t change my life at all. Eighteen more books have followed and it’s been a roller coaster journey. I have had many editors, publishers, high advances, crappy advances, been dropped, been taken on, had stinking bad reviews, had amazing reviews, sometimes for the same book. I’ve had my books turned into plays, I’ve had music written about my books.

But none of this changed my life. Not the good stuff or the bad stuff. I believed that I was a good writer and money or the lack of it didn’t change that fact. What has changed my life are the people I’ve met along the way – the wonderful fans who buy my books, the people in the shops who are so kind when I visit but mostly, the other writers. I would never have met such generous souls if I’d let that first book stay in its box.

So, the moral of the story is, write for love, believe in yourself, take everyone else’s opinion with a grain of salt and don’t wait for a book to change your life – only you have the power to do that.


Martina Reilly has had many careers. She’s been a lounge girl (she can avoid a grope at close quarters), a supermarket packer (she knows you can’t pack a bottle of bleach in with a packet of digestives), a public servant and she’s trained as a drama teacher. But no job has ever given her as much pleasure as the one she has now. It involves lots of sitting about, drinking coffee and concocting elaborate lies. Nope, she’s not a politician. Martina Reilly is an author. She has written four teenage books and fifteen adult novels. Her latest, That Day in June (Hachette), is out now.


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