Orla’s Code – How a London Author is Reinventing Herself
Fiona Pearse moved from Dublin to London to immerse herself in the Information Technology working world. She spent weekends and evenings crafting a mystery that her publisher, against Fiona’s desire, named The I.T. Girl. Craving greater control over the fictional work, Fiona terminated her publishing contract. She returned her original title, hired a splendid cover designer, and published the work herself as Orla’s Code – evoking personality and mystery.
The book is a lively, enjoyable read that follows the day to day foibles and frustrations within an IT office in London. A young programmer finds her day riddled with back stabbing, bickering, romance, and a mystery. The code? Computer code. The mystery? Read the book. Captivated and hooked, I finished it in one sitting. Fiona tunes into daily details most of us can relate to – sandpapering furniture, feeling squeamish after joining a running group, bickering with workmates. She also immerses us in a world where IT code that shaves off milliseconds of process time keeps the financial world vibrant.
There is a bigger story behind this story: how this young woman found a publisher, then ditched them to wrest greater control over her work. With self-publishing on the rise, Fiona took the reins to better deliver her story to a targeted audience.
I asked Fiona questions about change, challenges, and how she juggles her day job with writing and publishing.
Many aspire to be accepted for publication. After accomplishing this, you decide to go your own way, terminate the publishing contract, and self publish. What gave you this incentive / courage?
I was actually accepted by an independent publisher, rather than one of the major houses. It was still an intense relief to get the contract – a feeling of all the hard work being worthwhile! But over the six months that we worked together we had different ideas on marketing. I actually liked what they did with The I.T. Girl, as they called it, but I didn’t feel like it was reaching the right readership and I realized I really wanted to control the image and marketing myself. That is why we parted and as soon as we did I started to enjoy the self-publishing process. I probably would not have left a major publishing house because their distribution reach just cannot be competed with. Although it is different if you are already an established author; E.g. Polly Courtney who left HarperCollins to self-publish, when she already had three successful novels.
You too are an Irish woman working in IT in London and undoubtedly parts of this book contains slivers of autobiography. Are there other key aspects about living and working in London which you wish you could have included, but which did not fit the story?
I think you always have to simplify reality when you want to fit it into a self-contained story. One of the things I love about London is its diversity but I wasn’t writing about the city itself, I was writing about corporate politics and I think keeping the scope of a story to its essentials is important.
As you say, the book contains slivers of autobiography. Like Orla, I also joined a running club when I came here first and when I bought my apartment I spent a lot of time painting and doing DIY. So it was fun writing about those things – write what you know!
You juggle full time work, writing, self-publishing, marketing, and enjoying life. What insights have you learned about staying balanced, but still focused?
The hardest thing I find is balancing writing with marketing. I often sit down on a Saturday morning to get some writing done and then find myself online. I try to blog, do guest posts and interviews regularly. I also write poems and interview other writers. All these things are great for bringing traffic to my website but take away from new writing! There is one advantage in not having a contract with a major publisher – there is no pressure on me to produce my next book. So I don’t actually force the pace. I think one of the most important things in writing is not writing – I often take a break for a few weeks so that I can get a fresh perspective.
Can you provide any insight into your next work?
I have just finished the first draft of my new book, Beverly, and I’m really enjoying working on it – I’ve got the bug! It is a story about two female flatmates in London who are also best friends. One needs a favour from the other and is asked to give up something in return. The exchange changes the dynamics of their friendship and one of the questions dealt with in the story is: are friendships supposed to last forever?
I look forward to reading the book and finding an answer.
Goodreads are giving away free copies of Orla’s Code for the month of February. Enter to win your copy: https://www.goodreads.
You can learn more about Fiona and her writing here on Google Plus.
Best of fortune with your venture, Fiona!