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WHAT THE LIGHT REVEALS author Mick McCoy on what he learned from his latest novel

Today we welcome author Mick McCoy to share with us what he learned from writing his newly released novel What the Light Reveals.

PLUS readers have the opportunity to win 1 of 2 ebook copies of What the Light Reveals — entries open worldwide.

Mick McCoy - What the Light Reveals

What the Light Revealed about writing What the Light Reveals

I made it through the wilderness
Somehow I made it through
Didn’t know how lost I was until I found you

I’m a huge Madonna fan … or I could be lying … yeah, I’m lying. Honestly though, what do you expect from a paperback writer? Lying is our job description.

By the way, there’s nothing wrong with Madonna, her music or being a fan, and despite my ambivalence for Her Madgesty, her lyrics do illustrate the long and thorny journey from my story’s original idea to the publication of What the Light Reveals.

How long? Fourteen years. A truly ridiculous length of time. And the truth is that for seven of those years, I didn’t even know I was lost, let alone how badly.

In the Dark Ages between 2004 to 2011, life was busy happening. I’d decided a few years earlier, after the publication of two novels — Burning Sunday (1999) and Cutting Through Skin (2001) — that raising a family on a writer’s wage was beyond me. But while chugging along with financially gainful employment, while that family was raising, I couldn’t switch of the tap through which ideas for a third novel kept flowing.

Notes were jotted, scribbled out, embellished. Background research began at the State Library of Victoria, reading transcripts of my uncle Dave Morris’s appearances before the Espionage Royal Commission in 1954-55.

It was the outrageous bias of the commissioners, and of the Queens Counsel prosecuting ASIO’s flimsy ‘evidence’ on Mr Menzies’ behalf, and of the newspapers reporting Dave’s testimony, that convinced me there was a story worth telling. That, and the book my aunty Bernice wrote — Between the Lines — about their lives together, in Australia and later in Russia. And my cousin Paul’s first-hand recollections of life in Moscow.

The cost to a family, that’s the thing. People, not just headlines.

A first draft was written, then a second, a third and a fourth. I was wise enough to realise no one was waiting for Mick McCoy’s next novel, but I was ignorant enough to think draft four was ready to send to my agent. Then the publishers she sent it to, sent it back, with sometimes polite but more often wordless rejections. Worse, my agent delisted me from her roster.

I didn’t blame her. And it was my acceptance of the delisting rather than the publisher knock-backs that did me the most good. I realised my story was lost, but I still didn’t know how badly.

It was during the second seven years from 2011 that the light progressively revealed the story and how to write it.

The key was to get quality feedback. To put the story in front of writers and editors whose eyes and minds were fresh and who could see the story’s broad forest wilderness for each page’s trees. Some pages worked well, some scenes and chapters were strong, but the story didn’t and wasn’t.

They are the found ones who helped me through the wilderness, who showed me what the light might reveal, and I thank them all.

Through feedback garnered from serial workshops with local writers, then two rounds of redrafting with my UK-based editors, I wrote another four drafts. That’s eight in total. Talk about a slow learner! And then a ninth once my publisher said ‘yes’, bless him.

The light revealed that the story is not about faith in communism or capitalism, or about living in Melbourne or Moscow. It’s about loyalty and betrayal, truth and lies between those you should be able to trust and love unconditionally. It’s about our families, the place where — despite all the scrubby undergrowth — we most want to belong.

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Disclosure: If you click a link in this post and make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Mick McCoy What the Light Reveals What the Light Reveals Synopsis:

In an increasingly divided and intolerant world, What the Light Reveals is a beacon: a novel that brilliantly captures the sometimes devastating consequences of individual belief. Conrad is falsely accused of passing military secrets to the Russians. His life and that of his family is turned upside down by discrimination and fear. Unemployed, misrepresented by the media, betrayed by relatives and threatened by strangers, Conrad sees no choice but to uproot his family from their homeland to start a new life in Moscow.

It is also the story of Ruby, and of her and Conrad’s adopted son Alex, and biological son Peter, and of the tension and intrigue that confronts them and shapes their lives in two countries. Russia lives and breathes in McCoy’s superb evocation of it, but Australia is never far away. As Peter says, ‘Tell me again why we’re still here?’ Told with suspense and rich in characterisation and surprising plot twists, this is a novel of both heart and intellect, a book about the need to belong, about what a family is and why we all need one.

(Transit Lounge, March 2018)

Praise for What the Light Reveals:

‘A story about an Australian family facing the ruin of both bonds and belief. Atmospheric, intensely original and utterly unforgettable.’ — M. J. Hyland, author of Carry Me Down and This is How

‘McCoy has given us that special thing: a powerful, singular vision of the complexities faced by individuals existing alongside each other as a family. This novel is beyond good storytelling: it is taut, evocative and sensationally unique.’ — Sarah Schmidt, author of See What I Have Done

What the Light Reveals is available from:

Amazon | Kobobooks | Booktopia(Aus)

About the Author, Mick McCoy

Mick McCoy is the author of Burning Sunday, shortlisted for the 1999 Age Fiction Prize, and Cutting Through Skin. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Check out Mick’s website and connect with him on Facebook or via Twitter.

Worldwide Giveaway - What the Light Reveals

Book Giveaway

Thanks to Mick’s What the Light Reveals publisher Transit Lounge, we have 2 ebook copies to giveaway.

  • Open worldwide, entries close midnight 28 March 2018
  • Earn extra entries in the draw by spreading the word via Twitter , Pinterest and Facebook/Google+/Webpage
  • The 2 winners will be randomly selected and announced on our Facebook Page

SORRY, ENTRIES CLOSED – See winner announcement