In August 2006 I signed a two-book contract with Penguin Group (NZ), a highlight in my writing career, as I had long fantasised about having a novel with an orange penguin on the spine. My contract came about after I sent my manuscript, Ribbons of Grace, to Penguin and another large publishing company who also offered me a contract, although just for the one book. The lure of a Penguin and the offer of their two-book deal proved irresistible, especially after my trip to Auckland to meet the Penguin team who proved to be great fun, as well as highly professional.
Then the hard work began. Over the next few months, under Geoff Walker and Rebecca Lal’s astute tutelage, I reworked the manuscript until it was ready to go to an external editor. This phase was a significant learning curve for me. While I am a confident academic writer and have in recent years also developed some skills in short fiction, Ribbons of Grace was my first novel. I had a lot to learn. It was an important book for me – one I had wanted to write since childhood when I was present at a party in Arrowtown, Central Otago, New Zealand, and overheard an adult conversation about a Chinese miner who was discovered to be female after he died.