On… a new book series

Well, I have some news. (Clears throat.) I’m writing a new book series for St Martins Press in NYC.

I’ve been dying to tell you guys about it for the longest time – since May, when I first began working on it with them – but then I didn’t want to jinx myself. (A watched proposal never sells.) But now I finally can.

It’s called UNION STREET. The official line is ‘the first in a series of novels about a group of young women living together in a brownstone in hip, downtown Brooklyn, and trying to figure out love, life, and adulthood.’

The longer story is that back in May, when my (amazing and awesome) US agent Jill Grinberg said St Martins Press wants to know what you want to do next, I said, I want to write a book or a series about that incredibly difficult and exhilarating period between graduating university and one’s late 20s. Because it is so fun, but so hard, and no one ever remembers that. It’s hard to get a place to live, and to survive on peanuts, and get the bus home in the rain when you can’t afford a cab. It’s hard to get a job when you have no experience, and it’s impossible to get experience without a job. It’s hard to figure out men, particularly when they’re seriously immature at 22, and to reacclimatize to the post-college dating rules.

In a nutshell: it’s hard to figure out, not just what you want to do with your life, but how you’re going to get there.

I said that I thought of it as a cross between The Babysitters Club, The Group and The Best Of Everything. But, you know, seriously darn funny. It wouldn’t be chicklit, and it wouldn’t be YA – it’d be something different.

Little did I know that they are interested in exactly this new genre. They’ve even coined a term for it: New Adult.

So we started talking. I wrote a proposal. Then I wrote characters. And settings. And themes. We talked some more. I wrote plot outlines. We talked again. I wrote more plot outlines. I wrote three chapters. We talked again. Then I rewrote those three chapters. Then I updated the plot outlines.

And then it all came together in a lovely shiny new book series deal.

So now I’m writing my socks off. I’ve stopped freelance copywriting for the moment (that was my day job that kept me in lipstick and cigarettes – coming up with straplines and slogans, aka, fun with words, for ad agencies in London). Instead, I am spending a bit of time in distraction-free Zurich, where my husband Fox’s job is based right now, and of course I’ll be London and in Brooklyn a lot over the coming months too. All I do is write. And think. And write some more. And maybe go for a walk. And then write some more.

It’s wonderful.

Working on a great project like this is like being in love: it consumes your every waking thought and most of your sleeping ones.

I’ve alluded in the past to various other ‘projects’ but I’m tired of being all mysterious ‘n’ shit, so, they’re just TV pilots and screenplays. And maybe nothing will happen with any of them, or maybe something will. Either way, I’m really enjoying myself. And that’s the whole point or everything, isn’t it?

I don’t know what happened when I turned 30, by the way. I was just enjoying myself, working in advertising and going out and being silly for years, and then suddenly I thought ‘I can do more than this’. So I am.

I’ve gotta write now, dudes. More later. x

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11 thoughts on “On… a new book series

  1. catherineryanhoward.com

    Gemma that is FANTASTIC news! How could you possibly reveal that in a tweet that contained not one single exclamation mark? If there were me I'd have to have a separate tweet just to contain them.

    It sounds amazing and more importantly, something completely new. You can start a whole new genre.

    Well done and get back to writing! :-)

  2. green ink

    Congratulations!! What wonderful news – I wish you all the best – your success, your hard work and your drive is so inspiring! Can't wait to hear more x

  3. suzymca

    Somehow I ended up here from twitter, and glad I did. Looks GREAT, seeing as I simply cannot leave my early 20's behind. Should you ever include a character in passing who's called Ian The Psychopath, who has a pierced penis and may have sheered off part of my, um, a girls cervix with it the first and LAST Time, I'll smile (kind of) fondly :) Will keep an eye out for the debut here in Canada!

  4. Melissa

    i'm so excited for you! sounds like a fun series! i was thinking a cross between "reality bites" and "st. elmo's fire." :) good luck with everything!
    when you're in the states, you should take a side trip to washington dc. some cool people live in that area. ;)
    aren't you just loving your 30's? i am! i'm not afraid to say i'm turning 35 this year.

  5. Maddie

    I'm so excited for all these new things! I love your writing, and I am thrilled about the new series in Brooklyn. I don't live in Brooklyn–but I am a 24 year old girl living in Manhattan trying to figure it all out. I love that you're going to write about how fun AND tough these years can be. I love my life…but I live in a closet and am a bit uncertain of the future! At the chance of sounding crazy, if you want to explore some different parts of the city for research, please let me know! My friend Christina also follows you on Twitter (@thatsbway), as do I (@maddsfelix), and we can show you some cool, lesser known places!


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