It’s taken six years and 115 drafts before Maria Lewis’ debut novel Who’s Afraid hit the shelves, but for the 27-year-old journalist, the extensive time and effort has been worth it.
Introducing her urban fantasy book at its official Sydney launch on Thursday evening, Maria said her core piece of advice for aspiring novelists is to never give up.
‘One thing that people don’t say or never talk about is having endurance,’ Maria told 100 guests invited to the launch at Kinokuniya book store in Sydney’s CBD.
‘Writing the book is generally step one, and then there’s the editing of it and then there’s the trying to stay in love with it after you’ve read it dozens of times,’ she explained.
‘Even when you get a publishing deal, you’ve got to try and get it out to people, you want to make people believe they want to read your story.
‘It’s been six years. It’s a really, really long time and it can be really disheartening sometimes and really hard to be patient.’
Who’s Afraid follows the story of protagonist Tommi Grayson, who travels from Scotland to New Zealand to unearth truths about her family history and heritage.
And while there’s tipped to be werewolves, somewhat expected of an urban fantasy read, Maria has dared to add a new element to the genre.
Opening up about her decision to make Tommi’s character biracial, Maria said: ‘The world is a diverse place and I wanted to see that reflected in the genre’.
‘Honestly one of the things that can be really tricky about (this) genre is like you have worlds with dragons, or vampires or whatever but you can’t have worlds of racial diversity.’
Elaborating on how the cultural mix in her book has received, the author explained: ‘People seemed to get it straight away’.
‘A lot of international publishers really loved her. They loved what she’s about and saw what I was trying to do. They saw a gap in the market that they thought she could fill which is the same reason I wrote her.’
With the likes of Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe and award-winning director Quentin Tarantino having a copy of the book, there’s no doubt Maria will not be the one afraid of the novel’s future success.