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August 13, 2014

To Digital or Not to Digital, That is the Question! Guest post by Caroline Healy, author of BLOOD ENTWINES


Caroline Healy's newest book, BLOOD ENTWINES is interesting for a number of reasons. Not only does it have a cool concept --- it follows a girl named Kara whose recent blood infusion allows her hear mysterious voices, and her strange connection with a demon-possessed boy, Jack --- but it also has an interesting format. Instead of being published in print, BLOOD ENTWINES is a digital only book. Read below to hear Caroline's thoughts on writing a digital only novel, and how it differed from the more traitional publishing process.

When setting out to write a book, you don’t really think about the end product. That sounds kind of silly but for me, I didn’t set out thinking that one day my book would be published by Bloomsbury. I just sat down at my desk and scribbled on a piece of paper, doodled around the edges of the page, agonized about the name of my protagonist, and got up and made myself a cup of tea. Procrastination 101!

The next day I sat down for a while, threw down a few pointers on a notebook, jotted a half-hearted plan, then went and met friends for lunch.

And so it goes. I didn’t sit down with the express notion of writing a book, be that an eBook or otherwise, but day after day I found myself returning to the desk, returning to the crumbled pile of papers. I graduated to a keyboard and I wrote a couple of hundred words, then a couple of thousand. Then I couldn’t type fast enough; the protagonist was doing crazy things and I couldn’t keep up with her. She unfriends the coolest girl in her year, she befriends a total stranger, she plans to punch her stalker in the mouth if she can get her hands on him. All in all, she is whirl-winding in craziness. And I could barely write her out fast enough.

Every day, same time, same place, I found myself moulding this crazy idea in a bigger, crazier idea ---into the form of a book; a fully-fledged 250 page book.

I was totally hooked and completely baffled.

I was a reader, not a writer. I wanted to read, every story, explore every world on the pages of books. I've always dabbled in writing. I've kept a journal since I was young, I started a few projects on summer holidays from school but nothing ever got finished. I never considered seriously for a minute that I could, would, should be a writer.

After I finished the first draft of BLOOD ENTWINES, I realized I had a full book and no idea what to do next, but I knew that I wanted to keep going. I knew that I had finally found something that I loved doing. I've have had a number of jobs and never felt at home...this, to me, was like coming home. 

So I edited a bit and then some more, then I asked a few people to read it, took on board their feedback and stared to look around at publishing houses, agents and competitions.

I entered the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair on the off chance and my book got short-listed. I entered the WowFactor 2013 novel writing competition and I got long-listed (I was in London when I got the email telling me I had made the longlist and I remember jumping around my friend’s living room, crazed with excitement).

I submitted the manuscript to Bloomsbury and got a call and a contract and an editor and a publishing deal, more or less in that order.

I knew it was with their digital imprint and I hadn’t really thought too much about this until I became embroiled in the process. Digital books get turned around quicker, so I was having rapid fire responses to my editor and suddenly the cover was ready and a date set for publishing. I had to learn all about Goodreads, book blogging, book trailers, cover reveals and Rafflecopter giveaways.

The digital world of publishing is a new beast and the potential is limitless. For me, as a traditional reader and I thought, a traditional writer, it was a massive learning curve. This whole experience is a massive learning curve. Digital books are consumed by people who have digital reading devices. It is safe to say they are comfortable with social media, the electronic consumption of books, book blogging, online ratings and all the other things that go with digital books.

I am comfortable with both mediums. My award-winning collection of short stories, A STITCH IN TIME, was a printed book so I have experienced both processes.

I think that both forms have their own merits but the scope of digital publishing and dissemination is far reaching and the potential is endless. Just look at Hugh Howey and his WOOL empire. You don’t set out with an express idea about how the story/book process will culminate; you just have a destination in mind and hope that you make it. 

Caroline Healy is a writer and community arts facilitator. She recently completed her M.A. in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University, Belfast. 
She published her first, award winning collection of short stories, entitled A Stitch in Time in August 2012. Her work has been featured in publications such as Wordlegs, The Bohemyth, Prole and the Irish Writers’ Centre Lonely Voice.
She writes literary fiction and young adult fiction, with her Y.A. book Blood Entwines released with Bloomsbury Publishing in August 2014.
Caroline loves drinking tea from mis-matched china, doing yoga, as well as reading, writing, talking and thinking about all things bookish. She also has a penchant for cake and dark chocolate.