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Success story Rosie Alison

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Magazine

Success story Rosie Alison

Rosie Alison has just been shortlisted for the all-female 2010 Orange Prize for fiction with her first novel, a great vindication for this author whose first book was many years in the writing.

Alison is the wife of UK book chain Watersone’s founder Tim Waterstone, but decided not to use this connection. It took her eight years to write the novel whilst raising her family and having a full-time job in TV and film production.

The book has already been working as a word-of-mouth seller, yet it was repeatedly rejected by publishers and then ignored by the literary establishment. Alison recalled today how she did two rounds of submissions. Her first draft – ‘which I knew wasn't ready but I hoped I might work with an editor’ – was turned down by 10 publishers. Her second attempt went out to nine publishers, eight of whom said no and one – the small independent Alma Books – said yes. ‘All you need is one,’ said Alison. ‘To be honest I'm not in the least bit bitter, I'm completely philosophical about it. It's par for the course.’

Her novel follows a young girl's wartime evacuation to Yorkshire and the unravelling relationship of the couple who put her up. ‘I allowed myself no expectations for anybody liking it or reading it. It's certainly not going to be everybody's cup of tea but people who do tune in to seem to get very moved by it, so that's very rewarding.’

The other Orange Prize shortlisted novelists were another debut, Attica Locke for Black Water Rising, Hilary Mantel for Booker winner Wolf Hall, Barbara Kingsolver for The Lacuna, Lorrie Moore for A Gate at the Stairs, and Monique Roffey for The White Woman on the Green Bicycle.

Our last Success Story: Hilary Mantel

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