Over the weekend I gave out copies of Prayer & Prey to a group of people to read and critique. Now I just have to wait until they get back to me with their thoughts. This first group of readers are all women, one a workmate of mine and a fellow writer, one a friend who also happens to be the wine rep for the cinema, and the third, a complete stranger who is here on holiday from Australia. I think this is quite a diverse group, and will be interested to hear what they have to say. When they have finished with it, I have another group of readers lined up, this time including two men.
I'm really unsure whether the book will appeal more to women or men. I've always thought of it as a mixture of romance and western, but having had a discussion about what makes a romance novel with one of my writing groups, I've realized P & P doesn't fit the structure of a romance. Apparently your lovers have to meet in the first chapter of a romance novel, even if they don't fall in love right away. It took me almost two thirds of P & P to get Danny and Alice into the same part of Victoria!
The inspiration for the novel was the Gauntlet challenge laid down by one of my writing groups. In this, we were challenged to write in a genre or genres that we did not consider our own. In the first round we picked genres for each other; in this, the second round, we used a random generator. My genres were sports and western. I started writing a short story, but it kept getting bigger. When I got close to 10K, I realized I had way too much to say about these characters and the story was demanding to be a novel. So I did the March NoWriMo challenge and knocked out a first draft between the 1st and 31st of March.
The draft my readers got over the weekend is somewhat different to that first draft, most significantly the ending. I wonder what they will have to say. I'm intrigued because I'm sure more work is needed. I find it difficult to believe a book can come together this quickly after having worked on both Assignment 9 and Holding it Together for so many years. Even my first book, the one I barely admit to having written, took longer than the five months I've spent on P & P. But I believe very strongly that I was a better writer going into this project.
So I shall just wait and see what comes from these critiques. And then I'll be diving back into rewrites. Again.